chapter  9
16 Pages


By 1980 the nuclear enterprise worldwide had fallen prey to severe and perhaps even fatal demoralization. It had gone ‘from certainty into doubt’,1 with ‘a paralysing crisis of confidence in the future of nuclear power when we can least afford it’.2 Nature complained that ‘there is a sense in which any resolution would be better than none’.3 Yet the sense of crisis only intensified the industry’s dogmatic assertion of eventual success, with accusations against external agents – global recession, ‘timid’ governments, anti-nuclear fanatics, biased media and an ignorant public. Repeated rationalizations explained why the huge expansion of pro-nuclear propaganda in the late 1970s appeared to be failing ‘to uncover’ the ‘true consensus’ in favour of nuclear power. (Opponents were even said to be more lucid writers!)4 Strident reminders that the government ‘insist[s] upon public debate about nuclear power’,5 were juxtaposed with assertions about the ‘vital role for nuclear power’,6 whose expansion was ‘inevitable’, with opposition ‘based upon prejudice, superstition, or an incomplete appreciation of the facts’.7 In an article which ‘gives the facts’, the EEC Energy Commissioner felt able to describe ‘these jackbooted nuclear objectors [who] carry on their trade in the guise of peaceful ecologists’.8