Patrick Moore bills himself as “the sensible environmentalist” and claims to have been a leader of the international eco movement for more than 30 years. Others say that when Moore exhausted his supply of social concern 25 years ago, he didn’t just retire from Greenpeace, he defected to the other side. Eco-Traitor, in Wired, says Moore has been called “a sellout, traitor, parasite, and prostitute — and that’s by critics exercising self-restraint.”
Today, Moore earns his living either defending against or contributing to the myths and misinformation that distort ecological debates. Which of those depends on your point of view. After a failed effort at fish farming, he set up shop as a consultant, promoting logging, aquaculture and biotechnology. Now, the former environmentalist — AKA Eco-Judas — plays mostly in the international major league of nuclear power.
In 2006, Bill Tieleman challenged the fish farming advocate after Moore spoke to the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture in Vancouver. Moore had denounced beleaguered west coast commercial fishermen as a vested interest and Tieleman quotes him saying,
“anti-aquaculture activists should be forced into the corner where they belong.”
After Moore’s attention focused on promoting nuclear power, a National Post article in 2008 said,
As Dr. Moore’s supportive op-eds pop up in newspapers across the country, foes depict him as a well-greased “greenwasher,” a spokesman who abuses his Greenpeace bona fides to give enviro-legitimacy to corporations.
“Every time he opens his mouth, the first thing he mentions is Greenpeace,” said Jim Riccio, nuclear-policy analyst in that organization’s U.S. chapter. “He keeps on cropping up wherever the government wants a reactor. He goes in there to greenwash for the industry whenever they want to build.”
Moore is co-chair of an American, industry-funded initiative, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, which supports nuclear energy and aims to:
- Facilitate construction, approval, and operation of a new fleet of nuclear energy facilities;
- Ensure federal financing programs will support expansion of nuclear energy;
- Increase federal government grants and loan guarantees to the nuclear industry;
- Establish public funds to manage used nuclear waste;
- Maintain liability immunities to protect industry from the cost of nuclear incidents;
- Keep the nuclear industry number one on the list of most subsidized industries in history.
Eliminating all the financial risks of the nuclear industry is not sufficient. The next step will be to follow the lead of independent power producers of British Columbia. That is to have government contract in advance for the generated power output at prices four to six times its value in the market.
Some people worry about nuclear safety but Moore’s group is not concerned because they have a set of facts proving that nothing can go wrong:
- Redundant monitoring and failsafe measures are installed to automatically shut down a reactor if anything out of the ordinary is detected, although not always on Fridays and, of course, “shut down” is an ambiguous term for nuclear reactors.
- Nuclear power plants are a minuscule source of radiation because of their advanced design and sophisticated containment structures, which are always effective, unless they are not.
- You would have to live near a nuclear power plant for over 2,000 years to get the same amount of radiation exposure that you get from a single diagnostic medical x-ray, unless the reactor leaks radiation.
Of course, they are so free of concern about safety and viability that they want ordinary citizens, through government, to bear all of the financial risks through grants, guarantees and free liability insurance.
The push toward nuclear may pause for a while while Japanese officials fight radiation releases and possible meltdowns at five major nuclear reactors. The nuclear power industry there boasted of safe operations but Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) suspended operations a decade ago following several accidents in its reactors and revelations of cover-ups on the part of the company. The Japan Nuclear Safety Agency discovered that Tepco had falsified inspection reports for years, covering up its findings of cracks in core shrouds and recirculation pipe systems in its nuclear plants. A series of mishaps caused many Japanese to conclude that operators and regulators were routinely concealing accidents and incompetence.
These scandals and a fatal incident at the Mihama reactor in 2004, led to a massive improvement in inspections and oversight by Japanese officials. Without those changes, the nation today probably would have experienced even more horrendous consequences from radioactivity following the 2011 quake and tidal wave.
Rather than relying on Moore’s non-science advocacy group, check out this more balanced examination of the nuclear industry.