What happened to ‘progressive’ Keith Bryer?

I remember Keith Bryer well when both of us were somewhat younger, serving on the Molteno Project Committee with the late Ken Hartshorne, Guy Butler and Len Lanham.

I also remember back then how Keith – even while he was an employee of BP – was an early advocate for solar power. It rather saddens me, therefore, to see how with the passage of time he has turned his powerful skills in rhetoric to the politically “conservative” (that is, right wing) causes advocating for fracking, in favour of nuclear power, opposing electrically powered vehicles, and so on.

His argument, highlighted by your sub-editor, seems to be as follows:

n “Non-technically minded” people are stupid.

n Stupid people are the only ones who call themselves “progressive”.

n If you are “progressive”, then you are automatically “for progress”.

n If you are opposed to nukes, then you have to be “against progress”, which really means you’re not “progressive” at all: you’re really, really stupid AND right wing!

What we are saying in the anti-nuclear movement, however, is that – like the open-minded Keith of long ago – we’re not opposed to progress, only in favour of a particular energy policy path to the future. We like what’s happening in the progressive solar industry; we like what’s happening in the wind industry, in offshore gas, at Inga Falls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the retrofitting industry for energy efficiency.

I seem to remember, once upon a time, that BP wanted to go “beyond petroleum”. I remember Keith showing an exciting DVD on solar energy in Sri Lanka at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002.

I trust that Keith remains “progressive”, technically minded and open to debate, not cast in an inflexible, retrospective and nostalgic mould that usefully belongs in the nuclear waste dumps of the 20th century.

Mike Kantey

Plettenberg Bay