The Corner

The Other Nuclear Option

Interesting piece in the Times today on the rift among Greens over nuclear power. Here’s the opener:

WASHINGTON, May 14 – Several of the nation’s most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming.

Their numbers are still small, but they represent growing cracks in what had been a virtually solid wall of opposition to nuclear power among most mainstream environmental groups. In the past few months, articles in publications like Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Wired magazine have openly espoused nuclear power, angering other environmental advocates who maintain an unyielding stance against it.

Stewart Brand, a founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and the author of “Environmental Heresies,” an article in the May issue of Technology Review, explained the shift as a direct consequence of the growing anxiety about global warming and its links to the use of fossil fuel.

“It’s not that something new and important and good had happened with nuclear, it’s that something new and important and bad has happened with climate change,” Mr. Brand said in an interview.

For many longtime advocates of environmental causes, such talk is nothing short of betrayal. Because of safety fears that reached a peak during the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and unresolved questions of how to dispose of nuclear waste, environmentalists have waged unrelenting campaigns against plants from Shoreham on Long Island to Diablo Canyon near the California coast.

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