Nuclear Lies and Those Who Tell Them
By Ryan Oak, GCC 3011 student
One of the largest environmental advocacy groups in the world has been lying for far too long. Nuclear energy could’ve been the solution to climate change we needed years ago, and Greenpeace continues to advocate against the best interest of the entire world.
The history of Greenpeace is rooted in anti-war and anti-nuclear weaponry advocacy, as well as advocating for a greener, better future for humanity. So why is it that they have, for so long, railed against practices that would help to serve this better future for humanity, specifically advocating against and directly lying about nuclear energy? Nuclear technology has been all but stagnant since the cold war, and not because of its “dangers”. In fact, the total number of confirmed deaths ever caused by nuclear energy incidents totals in the hundreds. In contrast to this, thousands upon thousands of people die each year in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries. According to OurWorldInData.org, which cites a 2007 study by Markaynda and Wilkinson, the death rate per terawatt/hour for nuclear power sits at only 0.07, compared to 2.82 for gas, 18.43 for oil, and 24.62 for coal. Compared to our most common sources of energy, all of which are emissions producing, nuclear power is incredibly safe. So Greenpeace’s advocacy against nuclear energy makes no sense from this standpoint.
For a direct example of Greenpeace inflating and directly misrepresenting nuclear energy, look to their reports on Chernobyl. Though disputed, the WHO determined in 2005 that alongside 45 confirmed deaths relating to the accident, there may be up to 4,000 people who died due to fallout-related symptoms out of 600,000 people within the exposure zone. The Greenpeace report on Chernobyl puts this estimated number at 200,000 people. This implies that 1 in 3 people within the exposure zone for the Chernobyl incident has died due to radiation causes since the incident occurred in 1986.
Another area that is less understood about nuclear, also because of Greenpeace’s history of misinformation on the subject, is the reality of nuclear waste. The entirety of nuclear fuel waste in the past 60 years totals to about 1200 cubic yards. This accounts for only .02% of all “nuclear waste” that the media commonly attributes to the production of nuclear energy. The rest is in contaminated materials that only need a few years in a warehouse to shed their radiation before they can be properly recycled or disposed of. Overall, while nuclear has obvious downsides, it could be the future of the entire planet’s energy supply, nearly entirely clean and extremely safe, if not for the efforts of Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear energy propaganda.
In 2010, President Obama announced $8 billion in federal loans for the construction of the first new nuclear reactors in America since 1977, over 30 years ago from the time the loans were announced. The new reactors would be expansions to the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Burke County, GA, pictured above. Without Greenpeace and other misinformation surrounding nuclear power plants, we could’ve been expanding our nuclear grid for the past 40 years, rather than just starting up before we reach the turning point. I think that large organizations focused on environmental activism like Greenpeace should be forces for progressive change, and yet the future of our planet’s climate is reaching critical levels l with no real solution in sight due to their aggressive anti-nuclear campaigning. It’s very sad to see that an organization that could be a very useful tool for change in this world has wielded their power so carelessly, and set us so far behind where we could be in the renewable energy transition.