Is George Monbiot nuts? Or could nuclear energy be safe? are in for a surprise—if haven’t heard of best-selling author and Guardian newspaper columnist George Monbiot until this column. This week, Monbiot is startling the worldwide environmental movement—a movement he once championed—by arguing that the Japanese nuclear disaster actually is proving that nuclear energy is safe!

How can that be? Well, here’s the story: The Fukushima nuclear disaster is like a plot out of a Hollywood disaster movie: Take a 40 year-old nuclear power plant, slam it with an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale, follow up with a tsunami, and see what happens. What actually happened at the Fukushima power plant—as bad as it is—isn’t as bad as anti-nukes predicted such a scenario would be.

That’s Monbiot’s conclusion, a realization that he admits is shocking. On Tuesday in the UK’s Guardian, he posted another column on his change-of-heart that said, in part: “Over the last fortnight I’ve made a deeply troubling disccovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.”

Are you shocked? Almost immediately after Monbiot posted that column on Tuesday, more than a thousand comments from all sides in the energy debate slammed into the Guardian website!

What started this change-of-heart moment in Monbiot’s life? He argues that the Japanese disaster, while horrific, is less of a threat than he and other environmentalists had imagined. Then, he argues, the total negative impact of fossil fuel—from dangerous working conditions for miners to destruction of the environment to the impact of coal on the atmosphere—is greater than what we’ve seen from nuclear power. Monbiot said this on National Public Radio about a week ago. Now, he’s feverishly doing fresh research and drawing even more provocative pro-nuke conclusions in the Guardian.

Have you heard of Monbiot’s argument before today?

What do you think? To put it simply: Is he nuts?

Or is there a serious argument to consider here?

Please, Comment below.

(Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)

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