Pro-Nuke Filmmaker ‘Disappointed’ By Backlash From Environmental Groups

December 13, 2013 - 12:47 PM

 

Robert Stone

'Pandora's Promise' director Robert Stone (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) –  Documentary filmmaker Robert Stone says he is surprised and disappointed by the backlash his pro-nuclear power film, “Pandora’s Promise,” has received from major environmental groups, such as the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.

“The vitriol has been a little surprising,” Stone added. “The film is really an attempt to solve a problem they claim to care about.”

Stone told CNSNews.com that the “major message” of the film is that: “First, nuclear power is absolutely necessary if we have any hope of averting a climate catastrophe; and second, just about all those arguments against the technology we took for granted - the fears about safety, nuclear waste, weapons proliferation – are not borne out by the facts.”

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, was shown at theaters this summer, and aired on CNN in November.

“I’m disappointed that the leading big environmental groups are so negative they don’t even want to engage in a conversation, they just want to attack,” said the self-described  “passionate environmentalist.”

“The anti-nuclear groups are up-in-arms because it challenges their core beliefs.”

Stone admits he himself was once opposed to any form of nuclear power. “I was against nuclear power because I was against nuclear weapons and, like a great many people, I conflated the two. But almost everything I thought I knew about nuclear power turned out to be wrong,” he said. “Many people have privately acknowledged for some time that we need a lot of nuclear energy to solve our climate problems, but very few will say so publicly.”

Future energy demand was of the things that convinced Stone that nuclear power was not only feasible, but necessary.

“I’ve never been an activist. I’m a documentary filmmaker, who tends to look at the world from a bit of distance,” Stone told CNSNews.com. “But running the numbers about how much energy the world will need in the coming decades and how to provide that energy without leaving future generations with a planet that is not viable, we can’t get from A to B. There’s no way forward without a really big ramp-up of nuclear power.”

China and India are both “moving ahead rapidly with nuclear energy,” Stone pointed out, while the U.S. lags behind. One problem, he says, is that an abundance of cheap natural gas is making the cost of building new reactors prohibitive in the U.S. The other problem is government regulation.

“We have the best nuclear technology in the world, but it’s impossible to build projects here because of the regulatory framework,” he said. “The more likely scenario is that 20 to 30 years down the road, we’ll be buying reactors from China.”

When CNSNews. com asked Stone if the opposition to nuclear power was mainly an economic or a political problem, he replied: “It’s absolutely a political problem that’s exacerbated by the fact that many people who care the most about energy policy are passionately anti-nuclear and only see renewable energy as the solution.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration (EIA), the U.S. generated 4,054 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2012. About 68 percent came from fossil fuels (including coal, natural gas, and oil), 19 percent was generated from nuclear plants, 7 percent came from hydropower, and just 5 percent from other renewables, such as wind (3.46 percent), biomass (1.42 percent), geothermal (0.41 percent), and solar (0.11 percent).

Stone said that the title of his film - named for the mythical character Pandora, who opened a box out of curiosity and released evil into the world  - is an “apt metaphor” for nuclear technology.

“It is true that splitting the atom led to nuclear weapons, a horror that should be eliminated from the earth,” Stone said. “But in the myth, Pandora found hope at the bottom of the box.”