I keep wating for a credible author to write a piece about the alleged “nuclear renaissance” that doesn’t make me gag a little. Today will not be that day. Hendrik Hertzberg writes a piece for the New Yorker that basically repeats all the same names and talking points, but goes one step further: this passage gives me exactly zero confidence that Hertzberg knows what he’s talking about:
Such founding fathers of the environmental movement as Stewart Brand, the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, and Patrick Moore, an early stalwart of Greenpeace, now support nukes. James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a climate-change prophet, favors the so-called fourth-generation nuclear systems, which would substantially reduce the amount of nuclear waste. Hans Blix, the former U.N. chief weapons inspector, is another supporter. So, within limits, are liberal senators like John Kerry and Barbara Boxer. And so is President Obama.
I assume I don’t have to spend a lot of time talking about Moore, Brand, or Hansen. But Hans Blix’s position on this list puzzles me. Whatever Blix’s political views are, and he seems to have had a role in the Swedish centre-right earlier in his life, the reason Hertzberg is including him on this list is basically because Blix opposed the war. Fine. But Blix’s views on nuclear power are neither novel nor surprising, nor would any informed progressive be confused by them.
Blix was the head of the IAEA for 15 years. The IAEA’s job, before it was enforcing non-proliferation, was to proliferate: to aid the spread of nuclear technology to the developing world.
So Hertzberg’s inclusion of Blix on this list makes no sense at all, like discovering that the Secretary of Agriculture is in favour of corn exports, or that the Secretary of the Treasury favours a strong dollar. It’s a non-story. Unless you’ve just decided to recycle the same well-trod copy from countless reporters before you, but want to give an impression of originality by using a slightly different set of names. Too bad Hertzberg stepped in it.