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Review for Pandora's Promise NR Documentary 1:30
by  John Thielking

Pandora's Promise is a polyanna type of examination of nuclear power from the point of view of environmentalists who used to be anti-nuclear who are now pro-nuclear power.  The proponents of nuclear power in this film point out embarrassing "facts" such as a Geiger counter held by someone standing just outside of Chernobyl reads a lower reading of background radiation than a typical beach in Brazil. But the movie makers leave out embarrassing facts from the other side such as the fact that Nuclear power generates about 1/2 the CO2 emissions as a natural gas fired power plant when using fuel mined with today's quality of ore and will produce MORE CO2 than a natural gas fired plant within 50 years from now as lower grade ore will be the only ore available. Nuclear power is of course not an unlimited energy source (the ore will run out within 50 years even at current consumption rates, never mind what would happen if the whole world got 80% of its electricity from nuclear power as France is doing now.) The pro-nuclear people are also pissed that the widely discredited technology of breeder reactors is not currently being favored by politicians. As I recall breeder reactors have their own problems related to nuclear proliferation that are not addressed in this film. Helen Caldecott's statements about millions of people being killed by the fallout from Chernobyl are dismissed by showing the WHO and other NGO reports that claim only a handful of deaths have resulted from Chernobyl.  Even the Chernobyl liquidators who suffered massive nuclear radiation exposure are claimed to not be suffering many ill effects from their experiences.  Well what about all the Japanese children who are suffering thyroid problems from Fukishima? Other fallacies presented include the idea that antinuclear activists are in favor of fossil fuel burning for electricity and transportation, solar power and wind power will always be a tiny fraction of the total power generation, there hasn't been a single death from nuclear power in the US (what about Three Mile Island? What about Uranium mining on Indian reservations in the US?) and nuclear waste is not a big problem and Yucca Mountain is a viable waste storage site. What a puff piece for nuclear power. One star.

This movie is nonviolent because there are only 6 violent scenes in it. These scenes include: the aftermath of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some footage of atomic explosions, a scene of a minor riot, a story of Three Mile Island, a story of the China Syndrome and footage of some arrests. There is no smoking in this movie.

There were no previews when this movie was shown at the Camera 3 in downtown San Jose, CA, USA.

To discover additional reviews, fan ratings and trailers for Pandora's Promise, go to Fandango by clicking here, or enter the movie title in the Google search box below.

5-8-14 Update:
Pandora's Promise has generated considerable debate on both sides of the nuclear power issue. It is one thing for one side or the other to trot out scholarly references to back up their claims or to debunk the other side. However, there is one point in the Pandora's Promise film that is not addressed in any scholarly detail by either side that I have found so far, yet constitutes what I am dead set against: the use of "junk science". The "junk science" I am referring to is the part of the film that has a demonstration using a Geiger counter appearing to show that a beach in Brazil is more radioactive than an area near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Because a Geiger counter is only about 1% efficient in measuring gamma ray counts and because alpha particles only travel a few centimeters in air, it is quite likely that a beach in Brazil could have a lower overall radioactivity while still showing up in a Geiger counter measurement as being more radioactive if there were different percentages of alpha, gamma and beta rays coming from the ground and/or the atmosphere in the two locations. The readings could also be radically altered depending how far from the ground the person doing the measurements was holding the Geiger counter, if alpha particles were coming from the ground in significant amounts in either location.

For further reading on this controversy, I invite you to visit the following links:






The following 2 links have presentations about why Pandora's Promise is BS, authored by Union Of Concerned Scientists' Senior Scientist Edwyn Lyman. The comments sections of both of these have extensive rebuttals of Lyman and counter-rebuttals by Lyman. An interesting read. It would be nice if the Beyond Nuclear links above were for blogs or articles where people could leave comments, instead of being just a collection of pdf's, as they serve to further cement Lyman's position as they are.



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