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Greenpeace eases opposition to nuclear a bit November 5, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in environmentalists, renewable energy, reprocessing.
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Few organizations have been as stridently anti-nuclear as Greenpeace. They’ve taken credit for scuttling nuclear plants (and doing nothing as coal took their place) and made opposition to nuclear energy a near-religious experience. However, with concerns about global warming and the growing realization that only nuclear can provide abundant, low-cost, always-on energy that society needs, even Greenpeace is holding back on the criticism.

In October, Greenpeace ran an advertisement in the Times of London about climate change and for the first time, there was no explicit policy against nuclear power. Instead there were stipulations for any new fossil power plants to come with CO2 abatement and for renewables to make up 15% of all energy. The ad promoted “low-carbon” energy but did not rule anything in or out of that.

Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven adopted the same language in an open letter to British politicians which said: “If we don’t change the politics and take real action here and internationally we will lose our chance to save the climate… So far bold action has been trumped by short term interests.” Greenpeace UK executive director Stephen Tindale welcomed the change in its stance as a “positive step.”

Tindale, who ran Greenpeace from 2000 to 2005, is one of four prominent British environmentalists who are now lobbying in favor of nuclear power. Tindale reversed his opinions on nuclear power earlier this year to support it as a bridging technology to a time when renewables can take the major role in power generation.

Uranium is one of the most plentiful minerals in the Earth and we could power civilization for hundreds or even thousands of years with it, especially if the US reprocessed spent fuel like other nations, so we see it as a fairly permanent technology. Indeed, given the intermittency and unpredictability of renewables, we have no other choice if we are to sustain civilization as we know it.

“Only nuclear power can now halt global warming,” said James Lovelock, creator the Gaia theory, which regards the Earth and its abundant life as a kind of “organism.” We look forward to Greenpeace further moderating its stance along with other forward-thinking environmentalists, and taking a more all-of-the-above approach.