EDITORIAL COMMENT: For the past few years, we’ve been proudly publishing the work of New Matilda columnist Geoff Russell.
Geoff, like many of our regular contributors, writes for nothing. He’s never been paid a cent for his substantial body of work.
Geoff has three main areas of interest – animal rights, climate change and… wait for it… nuclear power.
Every time we publish an article by Geoff, the letters start rolling in. They are almost never flattering.
In the past week, after publishing a piece by Geoff on the South Australian blackouts, quite a few readers were particularly annoyed.
I’ll return to that story shortly, but first, one of the consistently disappointing things for me, is that some on the left still occasionally behave like some on the right… namely, synapses begin misfiring when they read a view to which they’re diametrically opposed.
And then there’s the most striking things about the attacks on Geoff… namely that on no single occasion – literally, on no single occasion – has any reader ever taken Geoff (or New Matilda) to task over the actual ideas he’s putting forward. Those who write to me from a position of outrage never seek to punch holes in a single fact or claim. It’s always about the ideology… in this case, nuclear energy is bad and evil and will destroy the world.
That’s obviously a matter of opinion, as opposed to a matter of science.
So why does New Matilda ‘support nuclear energy’? Well, we don’t. For us, the jury is still out on the issue – the nuclear industry still has some serious work to do around issues like cost and safety, in order to deliver an effective, viable source of low carbon energy.
But we do strongly support a debate about nuclear energy, and what role – if any – it may play in tackling climate change.
The fact is, we publish far more stories on renewables than we do on nuclear. But for some readers, the mere mention of the word sends them into a tailspin. As an example, Geoff’s piece last week about the South Australian blackout (his view is that renewables played a role, and he outlines why here) was published against three other pieces – by Thom Mitchell, Ian McAuley, and Ben Eltham (a lengthy critique of the ABC’s coverage of the issue) – which advance the completely opposite view.
New Matilda is, at its core, a forum for debate, a place to host a contest of ideas. And yet, some remain outraged that Geoff Russell got a story up at all.
There’s a few reasons why this is a problem, but rather than New Matilda explain it, here’s a link to a video featuring Dr James Hansen explaining why he has such a strong interest in nuclear. For those unaware, Dr Hansen is one of the world’s foremost climate change experts. His moniker, literally, is ‘the Father of Climate Change Awareness’.
Here’s a link to an open letter to environmentalists from 65 respected scientists on the dangers of ignoring nuclear as part of the future energy mix.
And here’s a link to respected British journalist George Monbiot’s writing around nuclear – like Geoff Russell, we consider him to be an honest broker on the issue.
There’s a great deal more out there if you care to look (the documentary Pandora’s Promise is a good place to start), but speaking of Geoff Russell, in his latest story for NM, Geoff takes up the issue of a ‘citizen’s jury’ formed in South Australia, to consider the prospects of the state building a nuclear waste repository.
New Matilda has never been in the business of endorsing government policies. Indeed, I can’t recall this publication ever doing so.
However, on this occasion, the citizen’s jury is an initiative that New Matilda strongly supports. The importance of informing, properly, a large body of people about an important civil issue cannot be overstated.
We’ll await the outcome of the jury with great interest, and bring you details as they emerge.
In the meantime, to the small number of readers outraged at the analysis of Geoff Russell, New Matilda exists to promote responsible, sensible debate and an exchange of ideas. If the publication of those ideas – particularly ones that eminent scientists from around the world believe are worthy of debate – offends, then maybe New Matilda isn’t the news outlet for you.
Regards, Chris Graham