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Pro-Nuclear Environmentalism: Should We Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Energy?

From: Technology and Culture
Volume 56, Number 4, October 2015
pp. 789-811 | 10.1353/tech.2015.0107



In light of repeated failures to reach political agreement on effective policies to combat climate change, pro-nuclear environmentalists have set out to reverse the traditionally anti-nuclear inclinations of environmentalists. This essay examines the ideological commitments and assumptions of pro-nuclear environmentalism by performing a critical, historical analysis of the nuclear-environment nexus through the prism of documentary film. We focus on the work and career of documentary filmmaker Rob Stone, whose most recent production, Pandora’s Promise (PP) (2013), has emerged as a central statement of this creed. PP actively forges a new political imaginary that replaces the apocalyptic image of nuclear fallout with that of catastrophic climate change. In terms of its rhetorical and visual strategies, however, PP also reveals that pro-nuclear environmentalist arguments have a long lineage. A close study of such continuities reveals a number of political implications that call for reflection as well as caution.