Pro-nuclear lobby misinformation is rampant. You can find it in the most trustworthy of news sources. For example, in today’s Los Angeles Times there is a blatantly false article that drove me to create this blog!
Here’s the article:
Just in case the article gets pulled down, here is how it appeared as I write.
It’s written by a seemingly innocent looking enough fellow who is a ‘special correspondent’ for the LAT named Aaron Wiener, apparently based in Germany. According to his twitter profile, he’s a genuine Fulbright Scholar! Must be very trustworthy!
Apparently, even Fulbright Scholars have trouble digging up real facts. Mr. Wiener’s are very incorrect – and appear to be manufactured to fit his world view.
For example, Mr. Wiener writes
Last year’s shuttering of eight of the country’s 17 reactors has led to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions of 25 million tons annually in Europe, said Laszlo Varro of the International Energy Agency, a European intergovernmental organization.
Actually, the opposite is true. In 2011, Germany and Europe’s green house gas emissions are actually significantly lower than 2010. In fact, all of Europe’s emissions were lower in 2011 than a year before as Prof. Lenz kindly points out in his superb post.
Further, I looked up some of the terms that Mr. Wiener wrote in his article. Not surprisingly, it appears he merely cut and pasted pieces of articles from a year ago!
One example from the article, the story of the mayor Stadland, Boris Schierhold, who is portrayed as so ‘frustrated’ with the ‘political decision-making.’ I found that Spiegel had an almost identical article in June, 2011 with the same types of comments. This was nearly a year ago, and hardly representative of today’s situation.
Another example, the massive ’25 million tons’ of additional CO2 which supposedly got spewed into the atmosphere are apparently lifted from a Wall Street Journal article from May 2011! The first few lines of the article state:
Germany’s moratorium on nuclear-power generation will add around 25 million metric tons a year to the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, which will have to be offset elsewhere by replacing coal-fired power with cleaner gas-burning plants, the International Energy Agency said…
Here is the WSJ article as it appears today as a PDF, just in case!
A year ago the IEA predicted this massive increase, as did many analysts. However, Germany has been able to lower its emissions by aggressively building renewable energy infrastructure and pushing for ever higher energy efficiency. The actual declines were between 2% and 6% for the German electricity generation market! And to top it off, Germany has remarkably accomplished these feats while phasing out nuclear power.
Certainly, it is one thing to get ones facts wrong and make corrections. However, in this case Mr. Wiener was obviously aware of what he was doing. A search on google for ‘Aaron Wiener’ and ‘nuclear’ finds numerous pro-nuclear slanted articles written by this supposedly bright and honest Fulbright Scholar. Apparently this Fulbright has an agenda to propagandize for the nuclear power industry!
Journalists and newspaper editors have a responsibility to bring us the truth as best they can. Challenges of the internet and the relative decline of print media and its revenue sources must make it difficult to properly staff modern news paper organizations. This however does not excuse a respectable news organization like the Los Angeles Times from doing a proper job in vetting its journalists and fact checking obviously incorrect articles on such important topics as energy.
I hope that the LAT will correct this article and make sure that Mr. Wiener is not allowed to mislead so many readers again. The ethical responsibility is large and I hope that LAT will live up to its responsibility.