Monbiot goes Nuclear

George Monbiot has a moment of clarity:

It’s a devastating admission to have to make, especially during the climate talks in Durban. But there would be no point in writing this column if I were not prepared to confront harsh truths. This year, the environmental movement to which I belong has done more harm to the planet’s living systems than climate change deniers have ever achieved.

As a result of shutting down its nuclear programme in response to green demands, Germany will produce an extra 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. That’s almost as much as all the European savings resulting from the energy efficiency directive. Other countries are now heading the same way. These decisions are the result of an almost medievel misrepresentation of science and technology. For while the greens are right about most things, our views on nuclear power have been shaped by weapons-grade woo.

We may have mentioned the Germany faux pas here and here.

What follows Monbiot’s terrible admission is generally a plea to his fellow greenies to look again at nuclear technology, specifically a GEH proposal to build an Integral Fast Reactor at Sellafield in the UK, capable of using the waste radioactive material from other nuclear plants. The alternative plans for the waste – as described by George, at least – do seem far less palatable.

All in all it’s an interesting read and, if one is being rational, then supporting GEH’s plan seems like a no-brainer:

So we environmentalists have a choice. We can’t wish the waste away. Either it is stored and then buried. Or it is turned into mox fuels. Or it is used to power IFRs. The decision is being made at the moment, and we should determine where we stand.
I suggest we take the radical step of using science, not superstition, as our guide.

That last line is the kicker though, and probably explains why George’s is likely be the only green voice calling for a new reactor in Cumbria. Sad, but true.

A fully referenced version of this column is available here.