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Greenpeace and Dr No

Dear Reader,

I would like to point out that a Justin McKeating at Greenpeace has spoken out against Prof David Phillips. Justin complained that David Phillips has commented that popular culture has altered the way that the public view the nuclear sector. Justin complained that David wrote about an early example which was the film Dr No.

For those of you who have not seen it Dr No is a James Bond film about an evil nuclear expert named Dr No, he has metal hands and meets his end in a reactor pond. I would like to point out that if you need to generate lots of electric power (as Dr No needed for his evil radio death ray) then a reactor at the bottom of a simple pond of water is a very bad choice. It will be very hard or impossible to get a decent steam temperature or pressure to run the turbine.

Justin pointed out that we should follow the example of a different bond villain, a man named Scaramanga from the film “The Man With the Golden Gun”. This man used solar power for his schemes.

I am one of the applicants on a patent for a process for making the production of solar cells greener and I have published plenty of papers from the work which I did while at Reading in Mike Hudson’s research group on the BTBPs and hemi-BTPs. So as a scientist who has done some work on both solar and nuclear energy I would like to comment on this matter.

I would like to point out that I am not trying to make excuses for Dr No or exonerate him, but I wish to point out that in terms of industrial safety that Scaramanga is not a good role model. His solar energy plant is clearly unsafe and it exploded after a worker fell into a poorly guarded pool of cold liquid. I would argue that an industrial accident which makes an entire island explode is an event with far greater off site consequences than either Three Mile Island or the Tokaimura nuclear accidents.

I would also like to comment that Scaramanga’s use of liquid helium for what I assume is a superconducting energy storage unit is rather ungreen in terms of resource consumption. Helium is a very rare element on earth, and a helium shortage is already starting to occur. Perhapes Greenpeace should select a villan who is better in terms of choosing a scheme which causes little or no pollution, does not threaten the safety of his neighbours or consume rare resources.

How about a new version of Scaramanga who uses solar power to make motor fuel out of the carbon dioxide in the air which he then threatens to sell at a low price to the general public to make money ? The only problem is that this new green villian does not sound very evil to me !

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2 Responses

  1. To be fair, recent depictions of Bond have also sourced their villains from the environmentalist lobby; Quantum of Solace is about somebody ostensibly supplying green energy but really trying to take control of South American water reserves (and running a hotel that is badly architected and contains huge amounts of unsafely stored hydrogen) and the most recent Bond novel decided the villain would be a bloke running a recycling plant in London. Not sure whether environmentalists should be portrayed as stalking horses for evil or not…

    • Good point, many of the bond villans are very keen on the environment.

      I think that blowing a whole island apart with an explosion is the sort of industrial accident which is at the top end of the horror scale.

      The nylon factory blast at Flixborough had the force of a small atom bomb (“David Crocket” is a dial a yield bomb which will give between 10 and 1000 tons of TNT worth). The nylon factory blast was worth about 15 tons of TNT. This blast wrecked buildings a mile away.

      In some ways Flixborough was far more serious than the three mile island accident.

      Flixborough vs TMI

      28 dead workers vs no deaths
      Damage to buildings / environment off site vs no clear off site damage

      The solar power plant in the “man with the golden gun” is a far bigger blast so I think it is more serious than the Flixborough blast. So if we count Flixborough as bigger than TMI then the hypothetical solar power plant which blows up a whole island is maybe getting somewhere between TMI and the Kyshtym disaster. Not a good event !

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