It’s The Fault of Bond. James Bond

16 Jan

Oops! Bit of a gap between posts, going against my determination to put up something constructive each week. Excuse? Well, I was down at The National Archives doing research for my thesis. Some interesting stuff came out of that, but there is still a mountain of documentation to assess. Anyway, enough of that…

This story on the BBC (and elsewhere throughout the intersphere) gave me cause for a wry smile. The gist of it is that Professor David Philips (head of the Royal Society of Chemistry) asserts that a huge part of the problem with nuclear energy is the negative associations created by the villains from James Bond films, such as the eponymous Dr Julius No, who had his own personal reactor.

Now, I’m not privy to the entirety of the speech by Professor Philips, but I am fairly certain there is a certain amount of tongue-in-cheekery about the entire thing. Although, I suspect that’s not the whole story. There is a whiff of puffery for the nuclear industry here.

That being said, to single out the Bond films is a bit silly (it has to be said that he was speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of the film, though.) Negative associations between nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, and cinema have been aound since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. From endless black & white B-movies where nuclear tests unleash giant monsters, to the Japanese Gojira series, to warning movies such as The China Syndrome and Threads, nuclear power has been inseperable from its  bigger, more violent brother, nuclear weaponry.

And if the study of nuclear proliferation teaches us anything, it is that the linking space between power and weapons is much, much smaller than propagandists for nuclear energy would have us believe. That is not to say that a nation can not have nuclear power generation without wanting to have nuclear weapons. Such a statement would be arrant nonsense. However, the creation of civilian nuclear power is a step which on a very fundamental level, may allow that further step towards nuclear weaponry.

More than the negative associations created by James Bond, to my mind it is this fundamental and important link between the civilian and military uses of nuclear power that is a creator of negative feelings. Couple that with definite, real-world instances of (potentially, and sometimes actually) devastating civilian nuclear accidents such as the 1957 Windscale Fire (admittedly, the Windscale piles were civilian operated, but with a military purpose), Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima just last year and you have, I would argue, a more tenable thesis as to why nuclear energy has such a bad rep.

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One Response to “It’s The Fault of Bond. James Bond”

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  1. Why Should You Be Interested In Nuclear History? « theatomicage - January 23, 2012

    […] Although, the influence of Bond may have been somewhat overstated in recent weeks. See ‘It’s The Fault of Bond. James Bond‘ for more on this particular topic. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

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