In their regular "Freakanomics" column which will appear in this Sunday's edition of The New York Times Magazine, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, pose this question: "If you were asked to name the biggest global warming villains of the past 30 years, here's one name that probably wouldn't spring to mind: Jane Fonda. But should it?"
The authors observe that Fonda's antinuclear thriller "The China Syndrome," which opened just 12 days before the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, helped stoke "a widespread panic." Fonda became a high-profile anti-nuke activist. The nuclear industry halted plans for expansion. "And so," they continue," instead of becoming a nation clean and cheap nuclear energy, as once seemed inevitable, the United States kept building power plants that burned coal and other fossil fuels. Today such plants account for 40 percent of the country's energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions.