Letter from Marianne Birkby of
South Lakeland Friends of the Earth
in the Cumbrian Business Gazette

March 2008

Alan Air is spot on! His column in the February edition of Business Gazette certainly does prove that the PR power of the pen is mightier than the sword.

In our democratic society public relations is the preferred weapon of persuasion. The article's reference to Orwell's dystopia is chilling in its accuracy. The nuclear industry has spent billions of taxpayers' money on the double whammy of 'persuasion' through PR and 'bribery' through the NDA. The PR machine is well aware that bribery on the unprecedented scale we are witnessing has the additional spike of crushing dissent. What Heritage Centre, School or library having received substantial monies from the NDA is going to allow for example an exhibition on the impacts of uranium mining? Or a drama about worldwide shipments of nuclear materials for reprocessing. Or literature describing the predicted impacts of sea level rise on proposed coastal nuclear new build?

Alan Air attributes a 'sea change' in public 'acceptance' of the nuclear industry to James Lovelock's announcement. This is an example of the persuasive power of PR in action. Lovelock has ALWAYS been pro-nuclear but PR has ensured the story placed in the media went along the lines of "Hero environmentalist says nuclear power is the answer". The book that propelled Lovelock to "hero" status was "Gaia" published in 1979 and written as a PR advert FOR technology. Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring" in 1962 -the first book to seriously question and have an impact on the wisdom of blind pursuance of nuclear and chemical technology. Carson 's book inspired the affluent West to look at the earth as having environmental limits and inspired many to try to protect those limits. In contrast Lovelock's book takes Mother Earth, which indigenous people have always known as a living entity and subverts her into 'Gaia' a shiny but ultimately false Greek goddess. In 'Gaia' Lovelock turns environmentalism on its head and asserts that the nuclear industry and chemical technology are as natural as cow dung. All in very clever language with some truths thrown in for greenwash. In the 1970's Lovelock berated ecologists for delaying the Alaskan oil pipeline.

Einstein said that "problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them". Rachel Carson died young but her genius was to step out of the 'business as usual' mindset and point the way for a fledgling environmental movement. James Lovelock's genius was to put the mindset and some of that green movement back into a dystopian groove.

Cumbrian voices of dissent opposing new nuclear build are ordinary people, unpaid volunteers like myself with full time jobs. Contrast this to the PR machine of the nuclear industry. The same PR machine that brought us Heathrow's Terminal 5. David and Goliath doesn't come into it. A petition for "No New Nuclear Build in the UK " can be signed online. http://www.petitiononline.com/NUCLEARX/

Yours sincerely, Marianne Birkby, South Lakeland Friends of the Earth


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