Sunday, March 27, 2011

The "Nuclear Energy Experts" and the Canadian Media

Norm Rubin is an expert on nuclear energy. I know this because the Mainstream Canadian media has made this assertion several times, the latest by Antonia Zerbisias, in the Canadian National Newspaper, the Toronto Stat. Zerbisias reports that Norm Rubin is
Energy Probe’s director of nuclear research and senior policy analyst.
But what does that mean? First Energy Probe is just a web page is a Canadian anti-nuclear franchise. Secondly the Energy Probe Research Foundation states that,
Norm Rubin is a highly sought-after public speaker and has more than 500 public speaking engagements under his belt. He has been with EPRF for more than 20 years, working as a researcher in the nuclear field, and is now one of Canada's leading critics of the nuclear industry. He has appeared at many hearings and court proceedings as an expert witness and has written extensively on the nuclear industry. Mr. Rubin has also made a number of appearances on radio and television shows.
Rubin is quoted by the The Star as saying,
“Thorium doesn’t eliminate the problems,” . . . “If the nuclear industry’s problem was affording uranium, then switching to thorium might solve their problem. But that’s not their problem. The fuel cost in today’s reactors is a tiny fraction of the total cost. That’s not what is giving the Ontario government sticker shock about the next two reactors at Darlington. They’re solving a non-problem by substituting a cheaper fuel for uranium. Unless they solve the big problems, they’ve got a curiosity there instead of a practical solution to anybody’s problems.”
Note that Rubin does not say what "the problem" is, or what he means by "the big problems." Rubin talks about practicle solutions, but how do we know that he has the slightest idea what he is talking about?

When I tried Googling Norm Rubin I found that he is listed as a staffer by the Energy Prob, but has only two posts to the Energy Probe pages to his credit. Two posts is not very much for someone who has carried the fancy title of Research Director for many years. Neither of Rubin's posts relate to thorium. His staff duties for the Energy Probe are not specified. He has no papers or essays on thorium or the LFTR listed on Google. The Energy Probe has not published any essays or research papers on thorium or the LFTR. He is not listed among the 950+ participants on Thorium/LFTR related discussions on Energy From Thorium. So who is this guy? A Google search has uncovered the fact that he once testified before the Ontario Energy Board's about the Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP), and reportedly he is so afraid of radiation that he has never been inside a nuclear power plant. Where is the work product that would serve as evidence of his expertise? Yet Canadian Media accepts him as an expert on Nuclear power. So much the worse for the quality of the Canadian Media.

Ok so Rubin is a talker, not a researcher. He is an anti-nuclear brand spokesperson. His title makes what he has to say seem more credible, but does not establish that there is any research at all behind Rubin's public pronouncements. The Canadian media accords Rubin expert status, because they wish to accord some balance to their stories which suggest that there is a valid scientific controversy about the safety and usefulness of nuclear power. But are we talking here about good journalism, or are we talking about journalists collaboration in a hoax that is contrary to the public interest?

1 comment:

Rick Maltese said...

I agree. Watching him spin his analysis shows that he is clever but I also lose patience with his conclusions. Finding qualified people that get interviewed is rare. The Canadian media also gives Helen Caldicott too much attention. The best person I've seen speak from Canada is not actually Canadian he's the CEO of Bruce Power. With Scottish accent and all he is very articulate and concise.


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