Sir David Attenborough states approval for use of nuclear energy


In response to a letter from Nuclear for Net Zero, Sir David Attenborough has stated his approval for nuclear energy, stating “I do not question the use of nuclear energy as a way of solving our energy problems in the short term”, until we can solve "the problems of storage and transmission of power that will allow us to collect all the energy we need directly from the sun".

David Attenborough's letter replying to Nuclear For Net Zero

The letter that was sent to Sir David reads:

“How is it possible to worry about global warming and not be pro-nuclear?” *

Dear Sir David Attenborough,

We sincerely appreciate your work bringing the wonders of the natural world to public attention, and more recently the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. We agree there will always be a huge demand for energy; we need to lift a billion people out of poverty, and to encourage education whilst lowering global carbon emissions.

The question at the heart of the matter as we see it, is how we might endure life on our planet within the physical constraints of a growing population and increasing energy demand, whilst protecting our planet. There is a global urgency to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, but to replace them with the fashionable 'renewable' technologies as suggested in 'A Life on Our Planet', whilst ignoring a more energy dense fuel such as uranium seems paradoxical, not least because the mathematical consensus is that renewable energy cannot meet demand. Sharing advice contrary to this truth seems dangerous.

Our feeling is that the public are wary of technological advances, and that includes nuclear energy, which many apparently see as archetypical of 'industrialisation'. There is a negative bias against nuclear energy which stems from multiple myths created in the collective psyche over the years by political and media propaganda borne of misunderstanding. Perhaps, what hasn't been appreciated is that nuclear must be a major part of the climate mitigation solution, as the IPCC themselves find in their meticulous scientific reports.

Nuclear energy has been found, when comparing kWh for kWh, to out-perform any other energy generating technology on safety, environmental and economic grounds. Our children deserve commitment, honesty and hope, and the nuclear community can offer that.

Most people do not appreciate the ecological negatives associated with biomass, wind turbines and solar panels, as such evaluations are made on (biased) emotional determinants instead of rigorous critical analysis. For example, to consider a solar panel deployed in the UK as a 'clean' energy tool, fundamentally ignores the devastation caused elsewhere in mining for materials; the impacts of nuclear are in the order of a million-fold less from fuel[1] and several hundred less with respect both to land-intensity and waste production[2].

We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the positive contribution that nuclear energy has made and continues to make to combating the climate crisis and saving lives.

We would welcome a dialogue on this to find some common ground on this issue.

Yours Sincerely,

Marie, Jon Cranfield, Zion Lights and Ben Reade, on behalf of Nuclear for Net Zero

[1] A submission "Why and how nuclear energy is central to reaching net zero", Project: Explaining Science and Energy to Society at Large; Wade Allison; Dec 2020

[2] The Complete Case For Nuclear; Environmental Progress

* Quote by physicist Sunniva Rose