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Pandora’s Promise


Rethinking Nuclear Energy

Genre: Documentary
MPAA Rating: unrated
Runtime: 87 minutes
Our Rating:
Directed by: Robert Stone
Cast: Stewart Brand, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas, Richard Rhodes, Michael Shellenberger, Charles Till
Review by Jean Lowerison

I have a negative visceral response to the very idea of nuclear anything, having lived in the time of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the A-bombs of the World War II era – not to mention a leaky nuclear power plant near San Diego, my hometown. 

But writer/director Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise asks this question: Which is worse: the unlikely possibility of a nuclear energy plant disaster or the certain carbon dioxide overload the world is in the process of emitting and the disastrous effects of the global warming that comes with it?
Electric wires in Brazil
Stone, with several respected documentaries to his credit (Radio Bikini, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, Oswald’s Ghost), offers no cheerleading but a reasoned examination of the question, and makes the case for nuclear energy with the help of scientists and several former nuclear energy foes who have changed their minds.
Robert Stone and Mark Lynas
Stone goes through the familiar litany of alternatives to the unsustainable use of fossil fuels like coal, the world’s most abundant power source, but also the dirtiest. Then solar and wind power, that are undependable and the technology neither financially feasible nor capable of delivering enough power for an increasingly electrified world – at least not in the foreseeable future. Also natural gas that has unfortunate environmental consequences.
He answers the Chernobyl/Fukushima objections with science, marshals scientists including those who worked on the bomb all those years ago, cites tests at a plant in Idaho which could not duplicate the problems that led to failure in Chernobyl or Fukushima.
Charles Till
That, and the lack of viable alternatives, leaves us with nuclear energy.
The idea still makes me a little nervous, but Pandora’s Promise makes a convincing argument and should be seen by every user of electric power everywhere.
 Photo Credits: Impact Partners and CNN Films, Robert Stone
Recommended Audience:
Recommended audience: Everyone who uses electricity