andora’s Promise is set to premier in New York on June 12, in Seattle on June 14th and in Portland on June 21st, but the movie was already a hit at the Sundance Film Festival. Robert Stone kept this film fairly pure, producing it independently from anyone in the nuclear or related industries, even providing a complete list of funding for it.
The movie features appearances from Stewart Brand (founder of The Whole Earth Catalog), Richard Rhodes (one of the original environmental writers and author of the seminal work, The Making of the Atomic Bomb), environmental activist Mark Lynas (author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet), and Gwyneth Cravens (author of Power to Save the World). The movie asks whether the one technology we fear the most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world up out of unimaginable poverty. Aside from the ethical issues that should spur us to eradicate global poverty, it turns out that poverty itself is tremedously damaging to the environment.
So are these icons of past and present environmentalism suddenly insane? Of course not. They’ve simply taken the time and effort to understand a complex subject like nuclear in relation to an even more complex subject like climate change.
Is considering nuclear energy politically dangerous for environmentalists? Does it prevent normally-smart public servants from considering the best path forward on climate change?
Indeed it is, and explains the swift and nasty response to Pandora’s Promise from anti-nuclear groups and the expected rants from professional fear-mongerers. They make some interesting fictional points, but provide no real information, using the word science like a mythological sword whose power they recognize but don’t understand.
We were brainwashed with a fear of nuclear during the Cold War. One can argue whether that served the larger purpose of helping to prevent nuclear war. But Pandora’s Promise let’s environmental scholars show us how to evolve our thinking so that we might achieve a sustainable future for all species and all environments on our beautiful planet.
I was very intrigued at True/False earlier this month by filmmaker Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise — a film highlighting the conversion of several prominent environmentalists to the pro nuclear-power side of the energy debate, a conversion that Stone himself had undergone. But he gave very short shrift to the anti-nuke side, to the point that his movie, whatever its merits, felt too much like propaganda for comfort.
When questioned about this omission after the screening, Stone said that the anti-nuke side was well known and he didn’t want to turn “Pandora’s Promise” into something resembling a cable-TV news channel debate.