Movie Review: The China Syndrome (1979)

The China Syndrome ___ 10/10
Precautionary, thrilling Hollywood tale

[Originally reviewed on the Coffee Coaster: 5/11/2007]

Written by Mike Gray and T.S. Cook
Directed by James Bridges

Jane Fonda … Kimberly Wells
Jack Lemmon … Jack Godell
Michael Douglas … Richard Adams
Wilford Brimley … Ted Spindler

Trying to stay with sort of a weekly theme, I cast about for environmental movies outside of Al Gore’s documentary.  During my read of the book for this week, The Weather Makers, I discovered a few notable scientists—chiefly James Lovelock (author of the Gaia concept)—argue for nuclear energy as a the only realistic means for escaping the global warming conundrum.

Needless to say, Lovelock has many critics.  Certainly his nuke hypothesis is reasonable, especially with the advent of fail-safe pebble-bed reactors.  But I think most environmentalists see renewables (solar, wind) and other methods (biomass) as fully capable of replacing carbon-intensive sources.

At any rate, one movie that offers a warning, at least on the current “fail-deadly” technology of nuclear power, while at the same time providing top-notch entertainment value is The China Syndrome.  In a profound case of life imitating art, the Three Mile Island partial core meltdown occurred 12 days after the US release date (March 16, 1979).[1]

The plot centers around Kimberly Wells (a very young, and hot Jane Fonda) an LA TV news reporter, who feels stuck doing ridiculous human-interest fare.  In her features capacity, she gets a chance to travel to the (fictional) Ventana Nuclear Power Plant to perform what amounts to a puff piece on local atomic energy. Continue reading

Book Review: Unstoppable Global Warming (2007)

by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery
… or ‘how I learned to stop worrying and love smokestacks up the ol’ wazoo.’

WarmingThe orthodox global warming theory (GW) holds that humans, by burning fossil fuels mainly for vehicular transport and power generation, are warming Earth’s surface and atmospheric temperatures through emissions of carbon dioxide (which reflects radiation energy back to earth).

Many supporters of GW further hold the corollary view that carbon-based warming is enough to imminently (within the 21st century) threaten human well being and needs to be reined in.

Al Gore’s book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and my favorite book on the issue so far, Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers, are among many popular works representing the orthodox GW position.  Two graphics of particular importance to this theory are the Keeling Curve and the so-called Hockey Stick graph from the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Continue reading