Greenpeace founder supports nuclear energy

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace

An article supporting nuclear energy written by Patrick Moore appeared in the Washington Post Outlook section yesterday. Moore was a co-founder of Greenpeace who currently co-chairs an industry-funded initiative, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, which supports increased use of nuclear energy. Moore and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) spoke during the opening session of the 2005 American Nuclear Society's Winter meeting in November.

Moore says that his views have changed since founding Greenpeace, and he now believes that using nuclear energy can help counteract catastrophic climate change from burning fossil fuels. Says Moore, "The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2 annually -- the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles." Moore also cites reports from the Clean Air Council that coal plants are responsible for 64 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33 percent of mercury emissions.

"Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2 emissions annually," says Moore. "Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely." Moore points out that the average cost of producing nuclear energy in the United States was less than two cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with coal and hydroelectric. He predicts that advances in technology will bring the cost down further in the future.

According to Moore, British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, also believes that nuclear energy is the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change. Concerns about past accidents in the nuclear industry were also mentioned, as he claims the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as example, calling it "an accident waiting to happen. This early model of Soviet reactor had no containment vessel, was an inherently bad design and its operators literally blew it up". He also recognized the difficulty of dealing with nuclear waste.

Moore was a founding member of Greenpeace in 1971 and was instrumental in its early campaigns, but left the organization in 1986. Greenpeace is known for its campaigns of nonviolent direct action against atmospheric and underground nuclear testing.