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French ecology party politician's geography gaffe

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Mar 18, 2011 in Environment
There's surely no doubt that French politician Cécile Duflot is an educated, articulate and ambitious woman.
Her political career has been what the national daily Le Monde has described as "meteoric".
She joined Les Verts (the Greens) in 2001 and became the party's national secretary in 2006.
When it merged with Europe Écologie last year, she took over where she had left off by becoming the first national secretary of Europe Écologie - Les Verts.
The 35-year-old has become a regular guest on current affairs programmes, and right now her ability to express her thinking and ideas in a well-informed yet intelligible manner are more than welcomed and appreciated by many journalists.
You might not agree with what she says, but there's no denying she has something to say, so much so that she figured at position 32 in the list of the American magazine Foreign Policy's global thinkers in 2010.
But even the best and brightest are prone to mistakes.
And such was the case when Duflot, who holds a Masters in geography (remember that) appeared as a guest on BFM TV's Wednesday edition of its early evening news and current affairs programme hosted by Ruth Elkrief.
Asked about the risks of radioactive materials from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan reaching French shores, Duflot said that nobody could say for certain at the moment.
"In theory the chances of it reaching mainland France are low," she said.
"The incident has happened in the southern hemisphere and in theory meteorological conditions should mean that the radioactivity will remain in the southern hemisphere. But we can never be certain."
Notice the slip-up?
Remember Duflot has a Masters in geography.
Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier, the spokesman for the French energy giant Areva, certainly did when he was asked a couple of minutes later whether it was true that France's nuclear power facilities were as safe as the country's politicians maintained.
"Before answering that, and without being a geographical expert, I would just like to invite Cécile Duflot to take a look at a globe of the world," he began.
"Because as far as I know Japan is actually in the northern hemisphere."

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