March 26, 2011

Greens for Nuclear: Useful Idiots

Alexander Cockburn writes at Counterpunch:

On the recruitment of Greens to the cause of the nuclear industry, Martin Kokus sent us the following very interesting letter:
“Instead of saying that global warming rescued the nuclear lobby, I would say the nuclear complex invented global warming. I was working on man-made climate change during the 70's and I think that even the biggest conspiracy theorist is underestimating the role that the nuclear complex played in shaping the debate on AGW. When I say nuclear complex, I am not just referring to the power lobby, but also the weapons manufacturers, the military, the nuclear labs, the academics who are funded by nuclear labs, and those who think that there is some huge geopolitical advantage for the west to go nuclear.

“The nukes were pushing AGW from my earliest political memory. In 1973-74, the Hoover Institute funded a tour by Edward Teller where he described co2 as the real environmental problem and nuclear power was its only solution. (I am sure that you are aware that the Hoover Institute is now espousing AGW as a liberal conspiracy.) During the same time period Bernard Cohen, head of U of Pitt's Nuke Labs, self-appointed expert on safety, and proponent of nuclear power was funded by Americans for Energy Independence (AEI) to do the same thing. One of the organizers of AEI was longtime Cohen associate Zalman Shapiro who was the subject of a series of Counterpunch essays by Grant Smith in regards to the Israeli nuke program. These speakers were not sponsored by climatology departments but by nuclear engineering departments.

“I was in the first US seminar on man-made climate change at UVA. We were worried about particulates, land use, deforestation, and most of all the introduction of agribusiness into the third world. My profs dismissed AGW in about 15 minutes. But even then, one of our contract monitors from Oak Ridge AEC was pushing me to get interested in the greenhouse effect. I also remember Outside magazine (which I always considered right wing and phony environmentalist [indeed, its interest is clearly in conquering nature —Ed.]) doing a series that considered AGW to be the most serious environmental threat. I always found this interesting because there were absolutely no data behind it.

“The real money came into AGW after Thatcher got elected. I am sure that you are familiar with the Centre for Policy Studies', a conservative British think tank, decision to hype AGW. Well, the Reagan administration more than matched that money. We funded half the Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s climate group. The UEA was the scene of the recent Climategate scandal. The Hadley Centre and the UEA were the incubators for the IPCC. The money was monitored by what used to be the AEC lab at Oakridge which is now under DOE. The older climatologists were ignored in this funding buildup. In fact, existing funding for non co2 climate change research disappeared.”