James Bond villains receive rap for giving nuclear a bad name

The notorious James Bond villain Dr No has been accused of helping to portray nuclear power in a negative light by a leading scientist from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

To mark the 50th anniversary since filming began on the infamous James Bond film ‘Dr No’ the RSC has voiced concerns over the lasting impact the film has had on the public image of nuclear power.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning (January 12), RSC president David Phillips argued that the Bond films, in particular Dr No which sees an evil mastermind and his nuclear reactor hidden on a Caribbean island, have contributed to the image of nuclear power as a force for evil.

He said: “The society is considering all the ways images of its kind have informed, or not informed, the contemporary debate over nuclear power.”

According to Mr Phillips, the 1962 film helped to cast a negative image of nuclear power as a “barely-controllable force for evil”, which he said the society is keen to dispel.

Meanwhile, later James Bond films also seemed to draw on the notion of nuclear as dark and dangerous by inflicting its villains with nuclear ambitions.

This, combined with the more recent nuclear disaster in Fukishima, Japan has helped to blacken the image of nuclear, said Mr Phillips, adding that there is “lots of misunderstanding about radiation”, adding that the recovery around the Fukshima plant will be “faster than people believe”.

Also speaking on the show, Imperial and University College London visiting professor Tom Burke, said that the focus on radiation “conceals that there are economic disasters much more than radiation disasters”.

However, Greenpeace campaigner Richard George disagreed with the RSC’s claims, saying “a handful of Bond films haven’t tarnished the nuclear industry’s reputation. They’ve managed to do that all by themselves”.

This view is echoed in a blog entry by Greenpeace campaigner Justin McKeating who argues that “blaming the fact that nuclear power is distrusted, feared and otherwise shunned by many people on a 50-year-old spy movie has to be one of the worst pieces of pro-nuclear propaganda we’ve ever seen”.

The BBC interview can be heard here.

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie