Pop Culture Tidings

I don’t think I will be venturing into spoiler territory if I point out that the galactic villain of The Avengers: Infinity Wars, whose name is Thanos (close to or perhaps derived from the ancient Greek word thanatos, for rule of death), is a Paul Ehrlich-style Malthusian. In the movie Thanos expresses his ruthless determination to reduce the population of the entire universe dramatically because of “scarce resources.” What a perfect rendering of environmentalism! Down with people! Let us not forget that Ehrlich often openly embraced “coercion,” while many other environmentalists have openly embraced authoritarianism as necessary to forestall our supposed environmental crisis. (See this old post as an example.) I call such people “democracy deniers.” Heh.

Needless to say, it is the would-be totalitarian crisis mongers that represent a greater threat to humanity than any environmental problem. Nice of Hollywood to be spreading this message, even if inadvertently. We’ve come a long way since Soylent Green, which included a bonus pro-Malthus sermon on the early DVD versions.

Meanwhile, my pal Michael Shellenberger notes another unlikely pop culture reversal, on the TV show “Madam Secretary.” Whereas Hollywood for years did its best to demonize nuclear power (thank you, Jane Fonda), a recent script of the show ran as follows:

The secretary of state was meeting with the president in the Oval Office. Both were shaken by a military confrontation with the Russians in the Arctic circle — one that required they get help from a Chinese icebreaker — and were sharing a drink.

“You know what I can’t get out of my head?” the secretary said. “That Chinese icebreaker can push through 20-foot thick ice at seven knots for two years before refueling. Do you know why?”

The president didn’t hesitate. “Because it runs on nuclear power.”

The secretary responds, “We let a transformative, carbon-free technology get buried in fear and ignorance —”

“— and now we’re suffering the consequences,” replies the president.

It gets even better. The plot of the episode revolves around an overseas energy trade show of some kind, which natural gas people have somehow come to dominate to the exclusion of nuclear power. More from Michael’s summary:

Later in the show, Secretary McCord confronts the leader of CDF [an anti-nuke environmental group, obviously a stand-in for the Environmental Defense Fund], Bella Rossi, and demands she help fund the clean energy pavilion, which once again includes nuclear thanks to McCord standing up to the natural gas man.

Rossi: CDF is still worried about the threat of a meltdown.

Staffer 1: That fear has always been way overblown — if non-existent.

Staffer 2: And barring some technical moonshot, we’re not getting to 100 percent renewables before the ice caps are gone.

Rossi: Between us, I get that modern nuclear plants using light water reactors are virtually accident-proof.

Staffer 3: Then what’s with all the “bathe the planet with radiation” stuff?

Rossi: Official party lines. Our members? They think that any support for nuclear takes money away from renewables.

Secretary McCord: So educate them!

Rossi: It’s not that simple. I have to think about my donor base… I need to fight global warming and I cannot do that without them!

Staffer 1: You can’t win that fight without nuclear power!

As Shellenberger points out, “in the course of just a few minutes, seven million viewers learned more accurate information about nuclear power — and the severe limitations of renewables — from “Madam Secretary” than they will learn from network news all year. . . While “Madam Secretary” rightly holds anti-nuclear groups to account, no institution has done more to undermine our largest source of clean energy than Hollywood.”

Even if you’re a climate skeptic, it is worth noting when Hollywood goes against leftist orthodoxy on at least one major part of the story.

By the way, did I mention that Shellenberger is running for governor of California on the gonzo platform (for a Democrat) of keeping nuclear power and building housing? It’s so crazy it just might work!

Meanwhile, what to drink if you’ve run out of Soylent Green: