A few months back I had a conversation with an important left-leaning philanthropist (his foundation’s annual grants total more than nine figures before the decimal point) who said that the single greatest error of his long career was opposing nuclear power back in the 1970s and 1980s.
I have slightly heterodox views on the subject of nuclear power. I’m not against it of course, but I also think the typical self-congratulatory leftist narrative that Jane Fonda and her friends stopped nuclear power—to which most conservatives buy in—is wrong. I think nuclear power declined in the 1970s because it was not cost-competitive with coal power, among other sources. Nuclear power then and today requires a lot of government subsidies, whereas it should be made to stand on its own like other energy sources. To be sure, the environmentalists did a massive disservice with their propaganda campaign, and surely at the margins made existing and in-progress nuclear plants still more expensive. (Which reminds me of another story: I once asked a French conservative I know how it was that France could supply 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear while we killed off ours. “Ah, but it is seeemple, you see,” Max told me; “In our country, our Communists supported nuclear power, while your Communists opposed it.” True that; the French left-leaning unions like the jobs of their nuclear industry.)
All this is prologue to a sequel to our notice here several months ago about Pandora’s Promise, a pro-nuclear power documentary film produced by and about a bunch of left wingers who have changed their mind about the issue. The ice is breaking on this issue with some on the left—a development I never thought I’d see 35 years ago when anti-nuke nuttery was at its peak. But not everybody is on board with this revision. The film’s director, Robert Stone, recently screened the movie down in Australia, and managed to summon up a great example of liberal courtesy and thoughtfulness (sarc alert) as seen in this five minute video: