This morning, I received an email from The Guardian columnist and writer George Monbiot. Apparently, Monbiot objected to a sentence I wrote about him in my latest article “Ecological Nightmare in America?” Mr. Monbiot asked me to amend my article and admit I was making an untrue statement. However, after reading the transcripts of the debate Monbiot had with Dr. Helen Caldicott, and listening to the debate several times, I feel I have little to amend.
And so, here is a slightly edited (clean up minor grammatical errors) email version of my response to Mr. Monbiot: of The Guardian:
(I’m Ccing this message to Dr. Peter Phillips of Project Censored at Sonoma State University.)
Thank you for writing to me. I am an English major at Ellis University, with a concentration in professional writing, and an independent research assistant at Sonoma State for Project Censored.
I am very much interesting in telling the stories that affect our lives and getting the facts right. Below is a copy of the email you sent me, so that Dr. Phillips can read it.
“Monbiot went on to defend the nuclear industry and its track record.”
That is completely untrue, as I’m sure you are aware. I remain a fierce critic of the nuclear industry, and I made no attempt defend it or its record. Instead I questioned some of the unscientific claims that Helen was making. I would be grateful if you could amend your copy accordingly.
Okay, George, are you sure I’m aware this sentence is untrue? I am happy to read that you are a fierce critic of the nuclear industry. However, I don’t believe you came off like a fierce critic in your debate with Dr. Helen Caldicott on DemocracyNow!
In the debate you state, “I’m very worried that the global response to what’s happening in Fukushima will be to shut down nuclear power stations around the world and to cancel future nuclear power stations,…”
You also state, “that so far the death toll from Chernobyl amongst both workers and local people is 43. ”
Which Caldicott called a “lie.”
Caldicott also claimed, “. You’ve bought the propaganda from the nuclear industry.”
You claim in your email to me, “I questioned some of the unscientific claims that Helen was making.”
Yet, Dr. Helen Caldicott is a scientist and co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. It certainly wouldn’t be very responsibly of her to lie or make unscientific claims.
And so, if I amend my article, I might write something like, “While Monbiot claims to be a fierce critic of the nuclear industry, in his debate with Caldicott he appeared to defend the nuclear industry and its track record.”
I know this might not sound satisfactory to you, but these are opinion columns and this is my opinion, which seems to have been shared by Helen.
I think you should write an article addressing your assertion that Caldicott is making unscientific claims and why you believe you are not defending the nuclear industry and its track record. If you like, I will post it on my website.