Pandora's Promise Movie Review
It's a shame so few people see documentaries, and that so few politicians pay them any attention, because this film has the power to change the way we think about nuclear energy. It's an issue most of us have made up our minds about, but by carefully presenting the facts and unpicking the knotty controversies, filmmaker Stone finds real hope for the future. Whether anyone wants to listen is another question.
The central irony is that nuclear power has long been rejected by liberals and supported by conservatives, even though it's exactly the opposite for the environmental issues. The scientific truth is that nuclear technology is probably the only chance humanity has to avoid the worst results of man-made climate change, because it's by far the cleanest and safest way to produce energy. The problem is that everything we have been told has been misleading. And as the world needs to dramatically expand energy production, the only viable alternative to nuclear energy is burning coal and oil, which kills millions each year while irreversibly destroying the planet.
Using archive footage, graphics and well-spoken experts, Stone carefully debunks the false information we've always believed, most of it propagated by oil companies. Essentially: nuclear reactors don't produce waste, they recycle it; new reactors are incapable of melting down; and the radioactivity around a nuclear plant is actually far safer than on a trans-Atlantic flight. Travelling to trouble spots such as Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, Stone demonstrates that these historical old-technology accidents haven't left as much lingering radiation as we thought.
Whether or not we believe every claim in this film, the point is obvious: if we need more energy, why are we so reluctant to consider the safest and only clean option we have? The film challenges our presumptions with nuclear scientists, politicians and especially activists who have switched sides. And it leaves us in no doubt about the way forward. But the most depressing fact is that these kinds of movies don't usually change anything. Just ask Al Gore, who managed to spark the Kyoto Protocol with his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth, only to see everyone refuse to follow through on their promises. Nuclear energy isn't the problem: politicians are.