For 40 Years, Hollywood Has Tried To Kill Nuclear Power. Will It Finally Try To Save It? via Forbes


“Madam Secretary” is fictional. It’s unlikely that Secretary Pompeo has ever said anything approaching, “climate change is the existential threat of our time.”

And yet, 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.

As such, the “Thin Ice” episode of “Madam Secretary” represents a popular culture breakthrough for the pro-nuclear movement — one we will need many more of if our most troubled, and important, technology is to survive.  

Anti-Nuclear Dogma on “Thin Ice”

“Thin Ice’s” pro-nuclear sub-plot revolves around an energy booth at an upcoming international conference exposition. (Warning: spoilers coming.)


“It’s not gone,” the Secretary replies glumly, “It’s just not part of [makes air quotes] ‘future energy.’”

The two staffers walk away, upset.

Staffer 1: You need, like 12 billion solar roofs just to match the projected growth in energy consumption by 2050 — which wind and solar won’t come close to filling unless something magical happens — which doesn’t seem like a very good plan to me.

Staffer 2: You are preaching to the choir, man.

Staffer 1: Do  you know how many Americans have died in commercial nuclear power accidents since World War II?

Staffer 2: Zero.

Staffer 1: Zero — and that includes Three Mile Island! People only died at Chernobyl because they didn’t have a containment dome. And when it comes to waste, the world’s entire supply of spent uranium from reactors could fit on a single football field.

It is a convincing set of facts — ones most viewers had likely never been heard before.


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.

From “China Syndrome” to “The Simpsons” to Netflix’s “Dark,” the entertainment industry has linked our safest source of energy to the various demons and dragons of our collective unconscious.

As such, while “Madam Secretary’s” “Thin Ice” episode is a breakthrough, Hollywood will need to produce vast reels of truthful material for decades to come if it is to make up for all of the howlingly one-sided (and plain bad) films and TV shows it has produced about nuclear energy.

And it will need to bring greater objectivity and accuracy to its film and TV dramas. HBO is currently producing a new Chernobyl mini-seriesstarring Emily Watson that promises to mislead and terrify a whole new generation about the accident.

The producers of “Chernobyl” should tell the truth: the accident demonstrates the relative safety, not danger, of nuclear power. 

Read more at For 40 Years, Hollywood Has Tried To Kill Nuclear Power. Will It Finally Try To Save It? 

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7 Responses to For 40 Years, Hollywood Has Tried To Kill Nuclear Power. Will It Finally Try To Save It? via Forbes

  1. yukimiyamotodepaul says:

    The article grossly ignores the danger of radiation exposure, involved in every process dealing with the radioactive material, from uranium mining to enriching plutonium, transporting it, and discarding it. Yet, it is still informative how pro/anti-nuclear message is/isn’t disseminated through the popular media.

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