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Pandora's Promise: Is nuclear energy really the only way to save the planet?

Dr. Charles Till, a co-developer of the purportedly accident-free Integral Fast Reactor, is one of the nuclear-energy proponents interviewed in Pandora’s Promise.

2 out of 4 stars

Title
Pandora's Promise
Directed by
Robert Stone
Genre
Documentary
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2013

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.

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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