March 14, 2011
The images of the tsunami and the loss of life in Japan are horrifying. But before the sun set on the second day of this tragedy, Greenpeace International released an obscene, tasteless “I told you so” press release as part of their anti-nuclear campaign. If they had been anything but deceitful in their ambulance-chasing motives, I would not have been so sickened by this organisation’s behaviour.
The March 12 Greenpeace press release compares the Japanese nuclear industry to Chernobyl, and, assuming that the worst is going to happen, they conclude that:
How many more warnings do we (sic) before we finally grasp that nuclear reactors are inherently hazardous? The nuclear industry always tells us that a situation like this cannot happen with modern reactors, yet Japan is currently in the middle of a potentially devastating nuclear crisis.
They had had no factual basis to jump to such conclusions on Saturday, so why didn’t they just wait a few days before using the earthquake and tsunami tragedy as an opportunity to rant? Even now, 24 hours after, while the situation at Fukushima is still unclear, it is far from the Chernobylesque image Greenpeace would be pleased to have you believe is happening. If Greenpeace had waited, and the nuclear risk was contained, then they would not have been able to score any effective points in their campaign – that would have been a lost opportunity. This is deceitful – responsible organisations would wait until the facts are in before jumping to conclusions. As I have said elsewhere in my blogs, Greenpeace doesn’t care much for facts (they sometimes get in the way of winning).
Why is Greenpeace so wrong?
In crisis preparedness and risk management, worst case scenarios are always the baseline for planning. An 8.9 magnitude earthquake followed by a direct hit from a tsunami with 10m high waves goes beyond the worst case scenario that could have been foreseen (they had expected the Big One to hit further south where three plates meet). Given the age of the reactors, it is a wonder that they survived at all, let alone released so little radiation. Rather than trying to drum up images of Chernobyl, the nuclear industry will learn very much from the Japanese situation in their safety by design approach. Greenpeace can’t find it in their bones to trust man to do the right thing, but to see the Japanese bouncing back so resiliently so soon after the sixth worst ever recorded earthquake is a tribute to their scientists and engineers. Greenpeace should commend the authorities instead of mocking them as untrustworthy.
Secondly, this is a natural disaster of Biblical proportions. This is not a man-made disaster no matter how hard Greenpeace tries to obfuscate. Even if all of the nuclear reactors melted down, it would pale to the loss of life from the forces of nature in just a few short hours. Greenpeace gets more donations if people believe that nature is a victim of the forces of man so they need to twist reality to make it look as if man is responsible here. When Japan gets back on its feet, authorities will begin to work at improving the means to protect man from the threats nature pose. More research and more preparations – something the rest of the world will learn greatly from.
Greenpeace ended their press release by declaring that Japan must abandon nuclear and go renewable:
Greenpeace is calling for the phase out of existing reactors, and no construction of new commercial nuclear reactors. Governments should invest in renewable energy resources that are not only environmentally sound but also affordable and reliable.
Facts really don’t matter here at all. A footnote to their press release acknowledges that the Japanese nuclear industry produces 47,000 MW of capacity (29% of their energy mix). The average wind turbine can produce 1.8 MW when the wind blows. Do you really think that Greenpeace bothered to do the math?
Greenpeace should apologise for their disgusting opportunism. But to apologise assumes a sense of humanity. As their arrogance is legendary, I don’t expect Greenpeace to think a little more about humanity and a little less about the planet. But at a time when humanity has taken such a blow, I wish they would just shut up.David Zaruk