Pandora's Promise

The atomic bomb, the specter of a global nuclear holocaust, and disasters like Fukushima have made nuclear energy synonymous with the darkest nightmares of the modern world. But what if everyone has nuclear power wrong? What if people knew that there are reactors that are self-sustaining and fully controllable and ones that require no waste disposal? What if nuclear power is the only energy source that has the ability to stop climate change?


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  • ★★★½ review by Carlos Merigo on Letterboxd

    Eu nem espero que documentários sejam, necessariamente, imparciais, mas "Pandora's Promise" pede o tempo todo alguma opinião contrária bem fundamentada, além daqueles dadas por manifestantes sem base.

    Mesmo assim, o argumento continua válido e convincente, ainda mais trazendo ambientalistas que mudaram de lado, demonstrando aqui como décadas de ignorância, mal uso e propaganda transformaram a energia nuclear em nefasta.

    Seja essa ou não a solução, algo é certo, vivemos ainda na Idade Média da produção energética.

  • ★★★★ review by Petter Holgersen on Letterboxd

    A really great documentary about nuclear energy.

    Should we learn to stop worrying and love nuclear? This film makes the green case for the controversial energy source.

    I`m convinced, nuclear energy is the way to go.

  • ★★★½ review by Ryan Carroll on Letterboxd

    Pandora's Promise (a rather ominous title) is a revealing and data rich documentary on the state and potential of nuclear power as a viable energy source for the future. Since the discovery of the atom's structure and potential power, nuclear fears and anxieties have become a part of modern consciousness - partly due to confusion/misinformation and partly due to reasonable precaution. What this documentary does is clarify what the real dangers of nuclear power are, what benefit it has to offer, and how it compares to alternative power sources.

    A bulk of the film is a history lesson on nuclear power and how it has been perceived since its initial trials. The first commercial nuclear power plant in the US was built in Shippingport, PN, 1956 with the support of President Eisenhower and his “Atoms for Peace” agenda. Though it was welcomed locally as a reprieve from the continuous coal pollution that had been covering the state, active opposition to nuclear integration was already a seeded movement and was gaining momentum. Up until this point, all public concept of nuclear technology was shaped by its use for weaponry – the development of the nuclear bomb was, after all, the first artifact of nuclear progress and its devastating force had been made known with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. To be pro-nuclear was to be in favor of nuclear warfare and all of its consequences.

    Separating the vision of nuclear fallout and civilization apocalypse that could be caused by nuclear weaponry from the logistics of nuclear power wasn't a nuance that caught the public eye. Well into the 1980s, decades after nuclear power became a norm in the US, protestors were still picketing the use of nuclear power and calling for the dismantling of reactors. Environmentalists were the most vocal and active in the anti-nuclear movement and aimed to raise awareness over the dangers and risks associated with this form of energy. The problem is that they formed their opinions from the historical bias against nuclear weapons and from tabloid headlines and newspaper ads placed by oil companies, who of course did not want any sensible competition in the energy market. Any opposition to nuclear power was helping the status quo of the energy industry, and was milked by oil company marketing. Most of the documentary is narrated by environmentalists who have changed their mind over nuclear power after becoming more educated on the subject and understanding the cost-benefits of nuclear power versus the alternatives.

    Of course the actual history of nuclear power has not been all reassuring, and the film addresses the three major nuclear energy disasters of the past 50 years: Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima, to put them in perspective. Chernobyl is the iconic example of when everything goes wrong and meltdown occurs. 28 people died due to ARS (acute radiation syndrome) and 19 more died between 1987-2004 due to related causes; there were no discernible hereditary defects as a result of exposure to the meltdown. For such a maligned and marked event, the recorded effects are not nearly as bad as anyone who knows about it would expect. The Three Mile Island accident, which occurred around the same time, caused no direct deaths but has been linked to increased cancer rates among those exposed. Fukushima was another case of worst-case-scenarios coming to life, but the damage caused by the tsunami far eclipsed that of the damage caused by the power plant reactor meltdown, though no one would guess that by the news coverage of the event. (All three reactor incidents were caused and connected by inadequate cooling, and the director of Idaho's IFR (integral fast reactor) assures us that this is impossible with current designs.)

    Though the film focuses its attention on nuclear energy, it also compares some of the other “hot-topic” forms of energy that are available, such as solar and wind power. As appealing as the idea of “renewable” energy is, both solar and wind power have major shortcomings that would never allow them to become staple energy sources. The film glosses over a lot of these, but the fluctuations in energy input from both wind and solar would make them too erratic to supply energy to a grid. Almost all solar and wind powered grids are supplemented by natural gas lines to equilibrate the electricity on the grid, a glaring detail that takes a lot of the allure of these alternatives moot. They also point out that in a world that is consuming more and more energy every year, coal still remains by far the largest growing energy industry. It will take a certain amount of rhetoric and awareness to convince the public that CO2 emissions are as much a real and hazardous problem as radiation is.

    Well, this ended up being much longer than I meant it to be but the future of energy is a fascinating subject to me, and the amount of misinformation spread about nuclear power is absurd. If you're at all interested on the subject of alternative energy and want a little more information about it, I'd recommend watching this and reading Ozzie Zehner's “Green Illusions,” which looks into all of the viable, touted energy sources (Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Nuclear, Hydrogen, Clean Coal, and Hydropower/Hybrids) and uses hard data/history to weigh them against each other from a skeptic's perspective. Overall, Pandora's Promise was a good and informative watch.

  • ★★★★ review by elizabeth on Letterboxd

    If you're already pro-nuclear (like me), you probably won't get anything new out of this. However, it does a GREAT job addressing individual concerns about nuclear energy.

    In a world where the simple word "radiation" makes people freak out, this documentary calmly points out that radiation is surrounding us every single day...sometimes just from hanging out on a beach in South America. Conflating radiation with cancer and nuclear energy with nuclear bombs is one of the great logical errors of our time, but what else are people to think? The science is difficult to understand and the media is telling them to panic. This documentary won't shame you if you aren't aware of the facts; it will acknowledge that you've been misled and how crappy that is, and then give you more information so you can make an informed choice. It's not preachy or cynical, just educational.

    (Did you know many residents of Chernobyl moved back to the area after the accident and are totally fine in their advanced age?? I actually didn't know that. I think that's really interesting.)

  • ★★★★ review by Jerome Persaud on Letterboxd

    I was glad for this documentary. There was lots in there that backed up many things I already thought or learned. Nuclear isn't the boogie man that it's purported to be. It's far from perfect. But the fastest way off of coal & oil is through nuclear. Even with disaster, it still cause way less harm than fossil fuels. I'm going to have to watch this one again. I'm fascinated with the topic.

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