"If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it."— Amory Lovins, environmentalist, Mother Earth News, Nov.-Dec. 1977
"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun."— Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, and Dr. John Holdren, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment, 1970, p. 323
"The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet."— Jeremy Rifkin, environmentalist, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 19, 1989
Nuclear is the one technology around which the entire environmental movement is united against ...
We thought that we were running out of fossil fuels. That would cause other technologies to become more cost competitive. And the mere running out of those fuels would limit human development, ..., because we simply would not have the energy. Fossil fuels ... we just keep finding more and more of it ... by the time we run out we would've destroyed the planet.
This was another assumption that I think we got wrong: we also thought that as you provide societies with more energy it enables them to do more environmental destruction. The idea of tying us to the natural forces of the wind and the sun was very appealing in that it would limit and constrain human development. What we've actually found in recent decades particularly with what's happening in the developing world is that the more energy you give a society the less environmental damage they do, primarily because of lower birth rates. And that's the key driver. The areas with the highest population growth are those with the least amount of energy.
My turn [away from anti-nukes] really came out of making my last film which was about the history of the environmental movement and seeing that the tools and the tactics of the movement that had been developed in the 1970s to tackle things like air pollution and water pollution, and had been very effective, had failed with climate change and the other thing I got to know a lot of environmental activists and leaders and, every single one of them, if I took them out to have a drink privately, ..., every single one of them thought that we were doomed. That there was no hope. That the climate crisis would over run everything and it was all over no matter what we did. And that really made me question things because if these people who were publicly saying that we can solve the problem with wind and solar and efficiency - quietly don't even believe that their own solutions work - why should I follow these people? Quite a number of them didn't have children - which I thought was quite interesting too. The only people I met on that journey, making that film, who had hope for the future were people like Stewart Brand who said there is a path out of this ... and it's using nuclear power.
Patrick Moore is the co-founder of Greenpeace, who left when they became too extreme for him.
The shift to climate being a major focal point came about for two very distinct reasons:
- The first reason was because by the mid-'80s a majority of people now agreed with all of the reasonable things we in the environment movement were saying they should do. Now when a majority of people agree with you, it's pretty hard to remain confrontational with them, and so the only way to remain anti-establishment was to adopt ever more extreme positions. When I left Greenpeace, it was in the midst of them adopting a campaign to ban chlorine worldwide. Like I said "you guys, this is one of the elements in the periodic table you know. I mean, I'm not sure if it's within our jurisdiction to be banning a whole element"
- The other reason that environmental extremism emerged was because world communism failed. The wall came down and a lot of peaceniks and political activists moved into the environmental movement bringing their neo-Marxism with them, and learned to use green language in a very clever way to cloak agendas that actually have more to do with anti-Capitalism and anti-Globalization than they do anything with ecology or science.