Among mainline US environmental groups, there is nearly unanimity that nuclear power remains as bad an idea today as it was during the heyday of the Diablo Canyon protests. But at the grassroots level, opinion is split.The admission that large numbers of people within the environmentalist grassroots are pro-nuclear is vitally important. These people are the greatest allies that nuclear power has. For instance, this guy. And if the contest is really between a "revolution in human consciousness" and new nuclear plants, we've already won the war.
Embedded in the energy debate is a deeper discussion of expectations and ecology. That is, what kind of world do we want to live in?
The argument over nuclear power reveals a long-standing tension in the environmental movement between those who say there are technical fixes to the greenhouse gas challenge, and others who believe that we need a wholesale restructuring of society if we are to avoid global meltdown. To embrace a new round of nuclear reactor construction is to say that we can have our climate and eat all the energy we want, too; it is, in some ways, a maintenance of the status quo. To oppose nuclear power is to suggest that we need to reform the ways in which we live. For if we can find a way to create lifestyles that don’t demand as much electricity, then the nuclear question is moot.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The New Environmentalists
I'm thrilled that this Earth Island Journal article is finally available online. I first read "Will Nuclear Power Split the Green Movement?" last fall. For an inside account of how the nuclear debate is playing out within environmentalism, I've seen none better.