Published: March 15, 2012
By Kim Tae-gyu
From the perspective of Greenpeace activists, Patrick Moore is a traitor. He went from being a proactive antagonist of nuclear energy to an avid proponent of the “risky” energy source.
The long-time environmental leader, who was a centerpiece in establishing Greenpeace as the world’s largest environmental activist organization, says he had plenty reasons to do so.
Moore, one of co-founders of Greenpeace, said in a speech at Ewha Womans University Thursday that conventional environmentalists have failed to give the right answers to the foremost sufferings of humankind.
“The environmental movement is a major obstacle to the realistic achievement of fossil fuel reduction around the world,” said Moore, now an outspoken promoter of nuclear energy.
“Many activists oppose nuclear energy, hydroelectric projects, many wind farms, genetic enhancement and do little to promote geothermal energy, which I think is more important than wind and solar put together.”
Moore, who once regarded atomic energy as the worst brainchild of humans, is now criticizing the so-called renewable energies such as wind and solar power.
He said that wind energy can be mainstream only when the government offers heavy subsidies. Worse, it is very unreliable since there would be no power when winds do not blow.
As far as solar power is concerned, Moore said that the two most viable methods available of photo-voltaic panels and solar thermal stores are the most inefficient ways of generating electricity.
As alternatives to make base load power, Moore pointed to nuclear energy, geothermal power and hydro-electric power generation.
In particular, Moore stressed the significance of nuclear power as around two fifths of global carbon dioxide emissions are from fossil fuel-fired power plants involving coal and gas.
He claimed that the security concerns around nuclear energy are overblown even in consideration of the terrible accidents that happened at Three Mile Island in the United States, Chernobyl in Russia and Fukushima in Japan.
“No one died from radiation at Three Mile Island or, to date, at Fukushima. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports 56 deaths attributable to the Chernobyl accident,” he said.
He added that people frequently come up with much higher casualties for the Chernobyl accident in 1986 but WHO concluded that the figure is 56 after an in-depth study with a majority of people losing their lives fighting a fire.
Moore even went as far as to claim that the explosion of nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan did not dramatically increase cancer rates of residents that were exposed to radioactive materials.
He said that the numbers are comparable to more than 1 million people, who die each year in accidents involving vehicles and 3,000 to 5,000 coal miners who die every year.
Moore currently serves as chair and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies, a consultancy focusing on environmental policy and communications in forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, mining, biodiversity, chemicals, energy and climate change.