On the Stands: Utne Reader on Nukes

"Atomic energy, once the bête noir of the movement, is receiving a second look from many dedicated ecologists who are suggesting that, in a world threatened by climate change, splitting the atom may be preferable to burning the carbon. Many people are beginning to wonder: Can nuclear power be green?"

That is the introduction to the article by Jason Mark, who answers the question with a resounding no. He finds "a striking amount of unanimity among the leading environmental organizations that nuclear power is not a smart way to address climate change." He also finds that this view is not shared by the grass roots.


" Rank-and-file environmentalists are divided on whether building new reactors can serve as an antidote to spiraling greenhouse gas emissions. While there is not quite a vocal grassroots green movement in favor of nuclear power, the ambivalence among many environmental activists shows that the nuclear industry's hopes of convincing Americans to embrace atomic energy are not unwarranted.

A review of some of the most popular green news and opinion websites reveals a lively discussion about the merits of expanding nuclear power generation. For example, when Grist.org asked readers "In light of the mounting threat of climate change, does nuclear power deserve another look?" 54 percent of respondents said yes. A poll on Treehugger.com showed 59 percent of readers conditionally in favor of atomic energy."

The author concludes that this is because nuclear power has not been a big issue for many years, and also because of demographics: "For an entire generation of environmental advocates, nuclear power is an unknown. The vanguard of the environmental movement consists largely of college activists who have never had to confront the arguments for and against nuclear energy."

Read the article, originally from Earth Island Journal, on ::Utne Reader.