Join the conversation today and especially during the premiere, on twitter at #pandoraspromise
Tonight (November 7) at 9pm EST/8pm CST, Pandora’s Promise will have its US broadcast premier on CNN, followed by a roundtable discussion including Director Robert Stone and famed climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, hosted by Anderson Cooper. Encores at 11pm and 2am EST.
The groundbreaking and extraordinary film Pandora’s Promise takes a fresh look at nuclear energy through the eyes of prominent environmentalists, formerly anti-nuclear, who reexamined their views and now advocate nuclear energy in the context of soaring world energy needs and the threat of global warming. The documentary is beautifully filmed and takes viewers into the exclusion zones at Fukushima and Chernobyl, into nuclear reactors and waste storage sites, and around the world, examining the facts and myths about nuclear power.
Meanwhile, earlier this week four of the world’s leading climate and energy scientists sent an unprecedented open letter to the leaders of the environmental movement, urging them to change course and support the development and deployment of advanced nuclear power.
However, whether one is a climate skeptic or activist – or a nuclear advocate or opponent, for that matter – the film is a must-see and tonight is the chance.
Years ago, filmmaker Robert Stone helped Michael Moore make his very first movie (Roger & Me). Here, Stone and Moore discuss the pro-nuclear energy documentary Pandora’s Promise, directed by Stone and featured this summer at Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival.
Being on the political left apparently no longer means being anti-nuclear (energy).
Pandora’s Promise makes its television debut on CNN Thursday, November 7, at 9PM Eastern Time.
James Hansen, former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, earlier this year co-authored a study that conservatively estimated that nuclear power has saved 1.8 million lives since 1971 that otherwise would have been lost due to fossil fuel pollution and associated causes. For more information, see this post at Scientific American blogs—and this previous ANS nuclear matinée.
Hansen’s specialty is climate change, and he is the leading climate change scientist in the United States. Filmmaker Robert Stone, director of the recent groundbreaking nuclear energy documentary Pandora’s Promise, conducted this fascinating interview with Hansen concerning his very strong views on the future of nuclear power in that context.
Thanks to Pandora’s Promise for sharing this interview
GoogleTalks recently conducted a highly informative and entertaining interview session featuring Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, director Robert Stone, and the cast of the film Pandora’s Promise: Stewart Brand, Gwyneth Cravens, Michael Schellenberger, and Mark Lynas.
How and why did these former anti-nuclear activists and scientists come to reevaluate their views and reach new conclusions about nuclear energy? You may well find their stories and explanations quite compelling.
To view the film and reach your own conclusions: See the Pandora’s Promise website for theaters and showtimes.
CNN Films has acquired cable television broadcast rights to the film and will air it this fall.
How often do you get the chance to go see an acclaimed nuclear energy documentary at your local theater? We’re talking real movie theater popcorn here, folks, not that microwave kind.
Pandora’s Promise premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and has been generating controversy and conversation across the mainstream media and internet ever since. Now, the film moves to the cineplex.
Pandora’s Promise makes the environmental case for nuclear energy, as told by stalwarts in the environmental movement who are now converts to nuclear. These former opponents now see nuclear energy as humanity’s best hope to ameliorate growing planetary ills of poverty and pollution. Why did these people change their mind?
Well, now is the chance to find out for yourself. The American Nuclear Society has no position on the film and played no part in its production. However, nuclear professionals and other interested parties will surely be interested in seeing this film and forming their own opinions.
If you are attending the ANS Annual Meeting in Atlanta, consider joining an informal get-together to see the film on Tuesday evening June 18 departing the conference hotel at 8pm. RSVP with Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
As a nuclear engineer by education and someone whose family has worked in the nuclear energy field, I’ve never doubted the safe and environmentally-friendly electricity that nuclear energy provides. For those of us who have been advocates our entire lives, it is often difficult, however, to see why some people are afraid of and opposed to nuclear energy.
A new documentary provides a unique view of nuclear energy advocacy. Pandora’s Promise illustrates the journey of several prominent environmentalists who have changed their views on nuclear energy. These environmentalists protested nuclear plants in the 1970s and ’80s, but now speak in favor of nuclear energy as a “green” source of electricity. Their amazing stories can help those us in the nuclear field to understand why some people are opposed to nuclear energy—and how to try to change their minds.
I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of Pandora’s Promise at the University of Chicago last month. While the event was open to the public, the audience consisted mainly of UChicago students and faculty, and scientists from Argonne National Laboratory (UChicago operates Argonne).
Academy Award-nominated director Robert Stone introduced the documentary and noted that it was “amazing to be here where nuclear power was born.” Stone has been a life-long environmentalist who was formerly anti-nuclear, like many of those appearing in the film. His hopes for the documentary are to change the way that people think about nuclear energy and even have them question why they were against it in the first place.
The documentary begins with vivid scenes from protests of nuclear plants. The environmentalist cast members then individually take us through their journeys of how and why they changed their minds on nuclear, along with refuting some all-too-common misconceptions. There is also a great emphasis on the potential of fast reactors and the recycling of used fuel. Dynamic visual representations help explain complex technologies.
In my opinion, the most compelling part of the documentary is illustrating how those who actually protested against nuclear power have come to now speak in favor of it. Admitting you were wrong takes some humility and can even cost you your professional career. Michael Shellenberger, co-founder of The Breakthrough Institute, had always associated nuclear power with disaster, as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl happened when he was young. Stewart Brand was influential in persuading him to reevaluate and reconsider, but it was a slow process. Shellenberger states:
“The need for nuclear energy didn’t land on me like a blinding insight, but rather kept gnawing at me from my peripheral vision. In the end the main reason I changed my mind was that I lost confidence that solar and wind could, on their own, power the world … the things I associated with nuclear during my childhood were not so much replaced as outnumbered by the positive associations.”
The documentary screening at UChicago was followed by a discussion featuring Hussein Khalil, director of the Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne; Robert Rosner, professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics at UChicago; and Robert Stone, director of Pandora’s Promise. The discussion involved questions from the moderator and audience. Most of the conversation was centered on the future of nuclear energy, including the potential of new reactor designs and grappling with the relatively high up-front cost of building new plants in the United States.
As a final and very important note, the speakers encouraged the audience to tell their friends about the movie, because public perception will ultimately drive the expansion or demise of nuclear energy in this country.
While Pandora’s Promise is geared for a public audience unfamiliar with nuclear technology, I encourage all American Nuclear Society members to see the documentary to gain an understanding of why some people are against nuclear and what perspectives and facts proved most influential in their arriving at a different view. See it at select theaters nationwide starting June 12 and on CNN later this year. Please visit www.pandoraspromise.com for locations and more information.
Gwyneth Cravens is a novelist, journalist, and magazine editor who protested the opening of the Shoreham nuclear plant in Long Island. A friend of hers from Sandia National Laboratories took her to nuclear facilities and their subsequent conversations made her change her views. Author of the landmark book The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, she is now a highly-regarded proponent of nuclear energy.
Stewart Brand founded the Whole Earth Catalog and is considered a giant in the American environmental movement. During a study on climate change he realized the potential of nuclear power as a greenhouse-gas-free source of electricity. In 2005, he became one of the first high-profile environmentalists to speak out in favor of nuclear energy as a means to combat climate change.
Richard Rhodes, whose bestselling book The Making of the Atomic Bomb won a Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction, is a journalist and author who changed his mind after getting to know the scientists and engineers who developed nuclear technology. Rhodes gained a clearer understanding of nuclear power’s potential with respect to other sources of electricity.
Michael Shellenberger is a leading environmental activist and co-founder of The Breakthrough Institute. Stewart Brand’s book, Whole Earth Discipline, and TED talk in 2010 shocked Shellenberger by presenting the facts of radiation and ultimately changed his mind on nuclear.
Mark Lynas is a British author, journalist, and environmental activist who changed his mind in 2005 when he learned at a conference that nuclear energy was providing a sixth of world’s electricity without emitting carbon, while wind and solar provided only a tiny fraction. Lynas has written influential books and served as an expert on climate change. He is currently writing a companion book to Pandora’s Promise to be published later this year.
Lenka Kollar is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory and an active member of ANS, serving on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Technical Group Executive Committee, Student Sections Committee, and Professional Women in ANS Committee. She is an active participant in nuclear science outreach in the Chicago area and co-founder of the I’m a Nuke campaign.
Visit Lenka at www.lenkakollar.com and follow her on Twitter @lenkakollar. Lenka Kollar does not officially represent Argonne and all opinions are her own.
Friday’s “Nuclear Matinée” feature here at ANS Nuclear Cafe is a four-film cavalcade of documentaries about nuclear energy. One of these films premiered on January 18, while another has just been released. The other two have been around a while but are well worth viewing and make a good supplement to the two new films. Here is a rundown on each of the four films:
PANDORA’S PROMISE, director Robert Stone’s documentary about the realities of nuclear energy and climate change, opened on Friday, January 18, for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival. Stone is well known in the field of documentaries concerning things nuclear; his award-winning “Radio Bikini,” a film that this writer saw when it was still fairly new, covered effects of nuclear weapons testing and was decidedly from Stone’s anti-nuclear period. As Stone continued to pursue his environmental interests he came to realize that the anti-nuclear movement was incalculably disavowing the single energy source that could provide power around the clock with no GHG emissions. From his own site, we find his revelatory moment to be that when he realized just how little waste is generated from nuclear energy—even high-level waste.
I will add that the timing of the first showing of this movie comes at what increasingly appears to be a significant moment both for the pro-nuclear advocacy world and the environmentalist world, as an article by Keith Kloor has taken the social media world by storm and continues to get coverage and has even been mirrored on Mother Jones. As to Robert Stone in an interesting parallel, his story seems in some ways to recall the journey of Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, who became pro-nuclear after being anti-nuclear.
ONCE UPON A NUCLEAR SHIP—The N.S. Savannah Documentary. Thomas Michael Conner/TCS Communications 2012. One hour 5 minutes.
Thomas Michael Conner’s new documentary, available for purchase as a DVD or as a web download, covers the history of the only nuclear-powered commercial ship ever built in the United States, from the laying of the keel of the ship through 2006 when the ship was moved out of the James River Reserve Fleet for preservation. The real value of this documentary lies in the fact that it is entirely first-hand; Conner, himself a health physicist on the Savannah for several years, has rounded up a number of veterans of the ship’s crew and allowed them lots of time to tell the ship’s history and a number of what sailors and we Navy veterans call “sea stories.” Unlike Pandora’s Promise, which has only been seen in a snippet or two in advance of its first play today, I’ve seen this movie in its entirety and enjoyed every minute of it. This is a good film for anyone interested in the N.S. Savannah—but more than that, for those who have studied the ship, its design and its history (and thus are those people who “have everything” on the ship) this film is significant. The film runs just over one hour—and that hour goes by pretty quickly. You can find the website for this film by clicking here—and there is a trailer for the movie that auto-plays.
I have recently watched two other presentations that aren’t exactly brand new, but that I highly recommend in this week of new documentaries as excellent additions if you haven’t already seen them.
POWERING AMERICA—A Film About Nuclear Energy. The Heritage Foundation/Coldwater Media 2012. 40 minutes. This film is a brief but information-packed presentation on nuclear energy and our energy needs. The producers of this film directly address pressing questions—and investigate nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl frankly and clearly. The film addresses competing forms of energy and shows that nuclear is the “round the clock” answer that renewables aren’t. The presentation is professional, well narrated, and well paced. After watching the film, I was left very impressed by its polish and was surprised to find it had only been about three quarters of an hour; the amount and quality of information presented was so rich that I thought surely more time had passed. We meet a number of nuclear professionals and plant operators as well as those who live and work near nuclear plants, enter nuclear power plant sites and control room simulators, and even a uranium mine in operation—right down to the deepest depths. This is a great background film to support the present wave of pro-nuclear environmentalism—and I give it five stars for its frankness. Click here to see the site for this film.
People, Passion & Purpose—A Laboratory Overview. Idaho National Laboratory. Nine minutes 10 seconds. This brief but excellent film covers some of the unseen operations of what formerly was thought of primarily as a research and testing facility for nuclear reactors—the Idaho National Laboratory. In light of the recent pro-nuclear environmentalist movement, and coupled with the film above from Heritage on nuclear energy, this overview gives the viewer a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at real, front line research at one of America’s most important installations. It’s said that the science fiction of yesterday becomes the science of today and the technology of tomorrow, and lots of that has actually happened at INL over the decades. The film is available for viewing free at the INL film site which is found here—although I received a mini disc copy (as well as Powering America on DVD) at the ANS Nuclear Technology Expo held concurrent with the 2012 ANS Annual Meeting in Chicago.
That’s it! Four films well worth watching, in my opinion—and only one of which we need wait to see.
(NS Savannah illustration from Will Davis collection.)
Will Davis is a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society. In addition to this, Davis is on the Board of Directors of PopAtomic Studios, is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and also writes his own blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy Reactor Operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.