Monbiot May Be Right, But He’s Not Doing Anti-Nuclear Forces Any Favors

Worse Nuclear Disaster Unfolding in China Than Japan. Say what? At the Guardian, the eminent and often courageous British environmental reporter George Monbiot writes:

The nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan is bad enough; the nuclear disaster unfolding in China could be even worse. “What disaster?”, you may ask. The decision taken today by the Chinese government to suspend approval of new atomic power plants. If this suspension were to become permanent, the power those plants would have produced is likely to be replaced by burning coal. While nuclear causes calamities when it goes wrong, coal causes calamities when it goes right, and coal goes right a lot more often than nuclear goes wrong. The only safe coal-fired plant is one which has broken down past the point of repair.

He would have us bear in mind:

I despise and fear the nuclear industry as much as any other green: all experience hath shown that, in most countries, the companies running it are a corner-cutting bunch of scumbags, whose business originated as a by-product of nuclear weapons manufacture.

But if coal’s

combustion is not curtailed, it could kill millions of times more people than nuclear power plants have done so far.

It’s tough for those opposed to nuclear energy to gain traction when the likes of George Monbiot aren’t wholeheartedly behind you. But if you read the rest of his column you’ll see that his reasoning, as usual, is impeccable. I think many opposed to nuclear energy might be like me — willing to concede Monbiot’s point, but constitutionally incapable of voicing support for nuclear energy, even only as a stopgap measure. We gag over the words.

If Monbiot is right, nuclear energy may just be the all-time lesserest of two evils.