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Green, not black and white

10 Jan

If the 1980s is remembered for greed is good, then this decade may come to be associated with ‘green is good’.

Who could argue with sustainability? The goal of long-term commercial success matched by reduced environmental impact and enhanced social good.

The problem is that the issues are rarely black and white. Take today’s announcement on nuclear power. Is nuclear energy green? Yes, if you limit your focus to carbon emissions. No, if you consider the long term problems of radioactive waste management. Is it economically viable and socially acceptable? The equation becomes harder still since you need to calculate for thousands of years of geological, political and social stability.

The anti-nuclear arguments are often misleading, though, since campaigners deliberately seek to confuse civil and military uses.

The CIPR has entered this challenging area with some draft Best Practice Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability Communications. This looks like a sensible introduction to the area, though Caroline Wilson (an academic expert in the field) thinks the advice is ‘a bit general’.