1999 March 15
To the Editor, The Ottawa Citizen:
The anti-nuclear community confuses me by crying foul over AECL's efforts
to communicate with young people ("Nuclear agency targets kids", 1999
March 14). I'm sure everyone agrees that increased communication is a
good thing, and that nuclear power is a vastly misunderstood subject
across all demographic groups. I'm equally sure that nobody thinks young
people should be sheltered from these increased communication efforts.
Who, then, does the anti-nuclear camp think will provide the positive
story on nuclear power, if not AECL, the major nuclear proponent in
Canada? Surely they don't delude themselves that their own websites and
publications offer balanced points of view (at least one high-profile
anti-nuclear spokesman, Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for
Nuclear Responsibility, is proud to claim otherwise in response to my
direct questioning on this subject). More to the point, if the weight of
scientific inquiry is on the side of nuclear power, as it undoubtedly is,
should not a scientific agency, like AECL, ensure that this information
enters the debate?
Clearly, today's youth represent a valid constituency for improved
communication from the nuclear industry. Inquisitive and open-minded,
they are tomorrow's decision-makers. Roughly two-thirds the questions I
receive to my own nuclear information website
(http://www.nuclearfaq.ca) are from students seeking help on
energy-related projects. Nuclear power is a clean and safe alternative to
fossil fuels, and they are not hearing this side of the story from either
the media or the self-declared environmentalist groups.
Moreover, many of the thousands of lung-related deaths avoided each year
by burning uranium instead of coal, would have been of young people. Our
youth likewise account for millions of lives saved each year through
nuclear medicine and radiation cancer therapy -- technologies directly
attributable to the existence of a nuclear industry.
So AECL chooses to show kids playing in a park before a CANDU containment
building on the cover of its annual report. The imagery is powerful --
almost as powerful as the skulls and mushroom clouds that anti-nuclear
groups choose to superimpose over CANDU containment buildings in their
publicity items. Everyone has a story to tell.