Letter to the Independent: Not Going Nuclear

The INDEPENDENT has played a key role in the greenwashing of nuclear power over the last five years, from its trumpeting in 2004 of James Lovelock’s support for nuclear (omitting to mention that he had been a virtually life-long nuclearphile) to its forlorn attempt now to pretend that ‘the Green movement’ is backing nuclear. What evidence does the INDY produce for that extraordinary assertion? The backing for nuclear, allegedly, of the following four individuals: 

1) Mark Lynas, who has in fact backed nuclear for some time now and is no new convert. Lynas’s most important book is ‘High Tide’, about the impact of global over-heat through rising sea-levels. It would be interesting to hear what the impact will be of rising sea levels upon
nuclear power stations – nearly all of which are built right beside the sea…
2) Chris Smith, Labour peer. When I last looked, Labour were strongly pro-nuclear – so no great surprise there. Smith is not a green, merely a Labour appointee.
3) Stephen Tindale, formely of Greenpeace. Sadly, Mr. Tindale has leant towards the Labour line politically in recent years, and (unlike some other major figures in green pressure groups) has been notably unsympathetic to the Green Party. His defection to the nuclear lobby is therefore again little surprise.
4) Chris Goodall, one lone Green Party parliamentary candidate. If Chris had actually come out strongly and unequivocally in favour of nuclear power, that would have been a bit of a blow. But he didn’t. His nuanced words have it seems been twisted by the INDY to imply stronger support for nuclear than he actually feels.
So: It is simply untrue that ‘the Green movement’ is leaning towards nuclear power now. The INDY is guilty of hype and sensationalism: shoddy reporting. A further key example of this is the crazy statement in Sarah Arnott’s gushing pro-nuclear ‘news’ article (24 Feb.) that nuclear power has “no carbon emissions”. This is a dreadful distortion: yes, nuclear power has no carbon emissions up its chimneys – but the carbon emissions it generates from mining, transportation, refining, processing, and (most crucially, because open-endedly) dealing with its waste stream, are huge.
All this is a shame, because it will seriously tarnish the credibility of your (generally excellent) environmental-news team, and the (richly-deserved) strong reputation of Geoffrey Lean and Michael McCarthy.
I urge the INDY to come back to reality. Nuclear could never be a responsible choice for anyone who takes the future seriouly, as Greens by definition do. For gifting our descendants with vast piles of toxic waste is nothing less than a mortal crime against our children, and
their children, and their children…

Cllr. Rupert Read, Green Party Prospective MEP for Eastern Region

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