When Scare Tactics Backfire

| Greenpeace Canada believes Toronto’s Pickering Nuclear power plant is putting the city’s residents in mortal danger. So last week, the group distributed leaflets around town warning of impending radiological disaster, each leaflet carrying a pill made of seaweed that was supposed to represent an anti-radiation iodine pill. Alarmed and bewildered, residents alerted the police, who intervened, ending the campaign. [%comments]


Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, is clearly pro nuclear energy.


Has he been ostracised by Greenpeace?

Are there radically different factions of Greenpeace or do they all have a common global agenda?

Is seems to me that 'Greenpeace' has become very vague.

Tariq F

Funny - I live just outside Toronto and didn't hear about this. (Although the map on the link shows that I'm just outside the affected zone, meaning Greenpeace sadly won't be giving me any yummy seaweed pills.)

Their position sounds unlikely to gain any traction here. Ontario's plan is to increase nuclear energy from 19% to 35% over five years, allowing an end to coal plants. If Greenpeace wants to replace Ontario's nuclear power with "green energy" it needs to come up with viable alternatives and show how it affects everyday people (through, say, their taxes and power consumption and availability) rather than scare them - particularly since their anti-nuclear viewpoint isn't shared by other greens.


President Barack Obama's first budget a week ago proposes scrapping all spending on Yucca Mountain except for what is needed to answer questions from the NRC on the license application "while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal."

The lack of a permanent storage site for nuclear waste has been a significant impediment to the expansion of nuclear power in the US. Despite the vague talk of other options for waste disposal, this plan means that plants will have to continue to store their waste on-site, and above ground, making the construction of new power plants very difficult. And given the amount of time and money required to prepare the Nevada site so far, it is unlikely that another solution will be forthcoming anytime soon.

While environmental advocates are usually the first to promote clean-energy subsidies, many have been lukewarm towards nuclear power. Some of this aversion is due to safety - while there are 104 nuclear power plants operating in the US currently, the specter of Three Mile Island still haunts the industry. Some of it is cultural, feeding off an aversion towards the "unnatural" in the environmental movement.

Yet of the various zero-emissions energy sources, nuclear power has been the most significant success, generating 80% of the electricity used by France. (The only alternative energy that comes close is hydrothermal, which generates a similar proportion of Iceland's energy. But Iceland has both a smaller population and extraordinarily favorable geography for power generation.) Because of this success, some within the environmental movement have been pushing for increased nuclear power as the best option to combat CO2 emissions.

But, like the majority of the environmental movement, Obama has a record of being less than wholehearted in supporting nuclear power, even as he pushes for subsidizing less quantitatively promising - but politically safer - sources of alternative energy. The safety problem with nuclear power is a real and significant challenge, but by piling up waste at over a hundred discrete sites, this move will likely only exacerbate the problem in the short to medium run. In the long run the risk may decrease, if only because nuclear power generation will stop altogether as old plants are shut down.

The cynic in me must note that the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is from...you guessed it, Nevada.



I think the point is correct - people are increasingly ignoring the real and tangible environmental harm caused by nuclear power and have an inflated idea of how much it could contribute towards phasing out fossil fuels - both biases cause nuclear power to be overemphasized in the energy debate. But just as the original author said, this tactic seems to have backfired somewhat...


Let's face it, Greenpeace resort to these tactics because they know they will get media coverage this way. Otherwise, people don't care. Their causes are worthless. They do more damage then good. More people die each year from coal mining then nuclear energy production. I'm sure the only danger they claim is that there is a Nuclear power plant in Pickering, not that there are un-safe practices there. Greenpeace is nothing but a terrorist organization.


Lauri: "people are increasingly ignoring the real and tangible environmental harm caused by nuclear power and have an inflated idea of how much it could contribute towards phasing out fossil fuels"

Please explain further.

Nuclear power is not perfect, but it is the best option available to us in terms of being clean and efficient.

If you are against going nuclear, please tell us what the optimal solution is.


I believe the wild card here is the danger and financial cost of transporting then storing the high-level radioactive waste safely for thousands of years. Of course, thinking ahead more than one or two generations does not come naturally for any of us.


Bottom line:

Green Peace is Anti Corporation/Globalization


Pro environment

EVERY decision/protest/action is based on an anti Corporation/globalization stand point; NOT a pro environment standpoint...

sad really...

When they ask you to buy 10$ cereal because its not GMO'ed... Ask them what the Billions eating GMO'ed rice to live will do when its gone?

The ask for action, but they next to never present solutions... They are there to slander the companies... It's frustrating...


Publicity is a backfire when publicity is the desired effect?


#1 Ian and #8 Gregory, thanks for saying what I was thinking.

The fact that Greenpeace founder is pro-nuclear energy makes all the sense in the world, since it's the least-polluting source of energy out there. How can Greenpeace members/manifestants be so wrong?

They should be protesting against Canada's killings of baby seals instead.


re support for Nuclear Power
" In the long run the risk may decrease, if only because nuclear power generation will stop altogether as old plants are shut down." Where will the waste from the old plants be disposed of ???
The problem with Nuclear Power is the way in which current consumers of power will leave to their great grandchildren (many times removed) a problem which they (current consumers) are not willing to address fully.
We do have the option of raising taxes on carbon, fostering development of alternatives and taking the burden upon current consumers to pay for what we use and how much we use.
Kicking the can down the road and hoping for a technological magic bullet is imprudent and dangerous.
A decision to use nuclear is immoral because its benefits for those who come after us pale in comparison to the potential costs and dangers from having to monitor and protect nuclear waste over centuries.
On the specific point of wether Nuclear is safe or useful to current consumers the answer is yes, clearly so.
Wether is a good choice the answer clearly no.



Nina. They do protests also against the baby seals killing, but that is not notice to the news. Also, it is not the greenpeace founder, it was one of the founders. Just to clarify.

"The ask for action, but they next to never present solutions"
Of course they give solutions, but the solution is hard to accept from the accommodated point of view of 1st world.

it is better to keep wasting a lot of resources instead of being more aware of the hungry and thirsty in other countries and try to use only the needed resources without throwing food, water and other things to the garbage.

You want the easy solution, not the one that would mean a sacrifice (even if it is small) for you and your way of life.