How many times have you seen a film where the bad guy’s plan involves the detonation of some form of nuclear weapon? Hundreds of times, right? In fact, that is the motive of the bad guy in the latest Mission: Impossible film. So, why do you reckon that is? Well, for some of us the word “nuclear” symbolizes the potential armageddon that threatened the world during the Cold War, and for most of us, disasters like that of Chernoybl and Fukushima have revealed that there are very real dangers lurking behind this power source. While the threats may seem obvious, the president of the Royal Society of Chemistry believes otherwise. Rather, he feels that nuclear energy’s bad public image comes from one source – James Bond villains.

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That’s right. Ever since the first Bond film Dr. No came out in 1962, Professor David Phillips has contended that the film’s plot (that saw the villain with his own personal nuclear reactor ) has helped to create a “remorselessly grim” reputation for atomic energy.

Of course, Professor Phillips failed to mention any nuclear low points that occurred in the 1940s, 50s or even before Dr. No was released – such as the Soviet submarine K-19 accident in 1961; or the explosion at the SL-1National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho in the same year; or the Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion at Chelyabinsk in 1957; or the plutonium fire that occurred at the Rocky Flats Plant in the same month as Chelyabinsk!

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Phillips said that the popularity of Dr. No “created an enduring negative image of nuclear power – as something dangerous that could be wielded by megalomaniacs with aspirations to world domination.”

As any fan of the Bond films knows, Dr. No eventually meets his demise in the cooling pool of his nuclear reactor, having been beaten by 007, but the Royal Society of Chemistry believes that the film presented nuclear power as a “barely-controllable force for evil”.

As such, Professor Phillips says that when nuclear power is discussed “it is not at all surprising that the public at home and abroad are sceptical”. He added, “the RSC asserts that nuclear power has to be part of the future national energy mix, in which it plays a major role, complemented by renewable sources. Fossil fuels have to be eradicated for people to live in a healthy environment.”

“Let’s say yes to nuclear and no to Dr. No’s nonsense,” he says.

Oh, Dr. Phillips. Save your puns and realize that people’s fear of nuclear energy comes not from spy movies, but from real-life disasters that have had devastating consequences over the past four decades.

+ Royal Society of Chemistry

Via BBC News