Pandora’s Promise: A Must-See Movie, but Often Confusing

November 6, 2013

The highly provocative and talked-about documentary Pandora’s Promise, directed by Robert Stone, argues that nuclear power is the best candidate to replace fossil fuels in a world with continuously increasing electricity demands.

The film follows the journey of previously anti-nuclear environmentalists as they talk about aspects of nuclear power that have changed their perspectives. After viewing the film, I can definitely see why the film has provoked such debate, and why some critics view it as a one-sided advertisement for the nuclear industry.

Pandora’s Promise makes several powerful assertions, but the lack of context or a comparison for the information thrown at you can render you confused (especially if you are brand new to the industry, like me).

For example, a graph-like representation of deaths by particular energy source depicts nuclear power as the second-safest energy source after wind since apparently the creation of solar panels is highly toxic and pollution from coal kills countless numbers of people. Exactly how many deaths are caused by solar and coal? We never find out.

Moreover, the filmmakers took a dosimeter to locations around the world, including Chernobyl, and showed numbers on the meter. Here again, context is missing. What do the numbers mean? What is the acceptable range of numbers on the dosimeter? I don’t know about you, but vague graphs and dosimeter readings are not enough for me, and probably not for anti-nuclear activists.

Stone’s film subtly critiques the groupthink mentality that occurs within environmental groups. That’s good. I think it’s very important for environmentalists to question and truly understand what they oppose in order to generate solid persuasive arguments rather than simply believe what they want to hear.

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