Skip to main content


The “ecomodernists” who love nuclear power

Musicians at a German anti-nuclear protest in 1981. Sahm Doherty/Getty

Environmentalism has long been imagined as an “antagonism between humanity and nature”, says Axel Bojanowski in Die Welt. And nowhere did this idea take hold more than in Germany. The national mindset is rooted in a 19th-century “cult of nature”: organic farming “flourished under the Nazis”; it’s the “homeland of homeopathy”. From the 1970s onwards, German environmentalists campaigned against nuclear power – a campaign that’s now succeeded. All the country’s nuclear power plants have closed down, and because other green forms of power, like wind and solar, aren’t reliable enough to meet demand, the transition away from fossil fuels is being “significantly slowed down”.

But a new climate movement is “turning against Germany’s misguided policies”. RePlanet, which has chapters in various countries, is campaigning in favour of nuclear power, and against efforts by Germany and Greenpeace to “prevent the EU from classifying nuclear power as environmentally friendly”. The organisation’s members are “ecomodernists”: they believe industrialisation and scientific progress are not enemies of the environment but can help it. By intensifying agriculture, more food can be produced on less land. Increasing urbanisation reduces the demand on nature. Genetically modified crops can help food security and save children’s lives. As one 22-year-old RePlanet member says: Germany’s politicians “want to prevent my home country Poland from switching from coal to nuclear power – enough is enough”.