Could going green really be the same as going nuclear? That’s the argument presented in this nuclear energy advocacy documentary from Robert Stone (Earth Days), which suggests the public’s knee-jerk fear of nuclear energy is naive and risks derailing our best hope for preventing an environmental catastrophe.
While the idea is provocative, especially in the aftermath of Japan’s post-tsunami Fukushima disaster in 2011, the movie’s focus is narrow. The five nuclear converts surveyed are journalist-authors who all seem to have reached identical conclusions: There’s Richard Rhodes (“To be anti-nuclear is basically to be in favour of burning fossil fuels”), Gwyneth Cravens, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Mark Lynas (author Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet) and Michael Shellenberger, of the pro-nuclear environmental group Breakthrough Institute. Also interviewed is scientist Dr. Charles Till, co-developer of the Integral Fast Reactor, which purports to be both accident-free and capable of recycling waste material.
The film’s tone is boosterish, and the cursory treatment of the cost of a nuclear-based energy overhaul, or the viability of renewable energy, tends to arouse skepticism rather than allay it. Opposing voices are limited to vintage clips of anti-nuclear protesters and one gotcha confrontation with septuagenarian anti-nuclear crusader Dr. Helen Caldicott, and that supports the impression that Pandora’s Promise is less an exploration of the subject than a well-constructed sales pitch.
At the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.