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Federal

Jun 28, 2010

Gillard doesn't get climate change

Julia Gillard doesn't get climate change, and those hoping the Labor Government will make a marked policy shift will once more face disappointment.

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Julia Gillard doesn’t get climate change, and those hoping the Labor Government will make a marked policy shift will once more face disappointment.

Over the weekend, the new Prime Minister spoke of her commitment to “build a consensus” before acting. As there’s already strong support across the community for an emissions trading system, it’s not apparent whose consensus she will seek.

If she means climate deniers, their minds are closed. If it’s the fossil fuel corporations, we know they will do only what they are forced to do. It was the Rudd Government’s willingness to obtain their “consensus” with massive cash hand-outs that destroyed the integrity of the CPRS.

It is not consensus that Australia needs on climate policy, but leadership.

The new PM also went out of her way to state: “I believe climate change is real. I believe that it is caused by human activity.”

Why say that? It implies that not believing in human-induced climate change is a legitimate position. And since when did accepting a body of scientific fact become a matter of “belief”?

Gillard’s softness on climate policy can perhaps be understood from her political roots. Since the 60s and 70s, when activists from the new social movements flooded into the ALP aiming to promote change through mainstream politics, Labor has divided into two broad camps, those sympathetic to environmentalism and those indifferent or hostile to it.

Many in the party resented the influx of well-educated activists who, while committed to the party’s principles, did not share its working-class and trade union culture or the political outlook it gives rise to. The rights agenda of the social movements — anti-discrimination, equal pay and so on — was over time integrated into the party’s culture, but environmentalism has never been fully accepted.

There are still those who regard environmentalism as a middle-class indulgence of inner city professionals, and resent the way a trendy preoccupation has taken attention from the real issues of social justice, education and jobs.

Although environmentalism was more readily embraced by the left of the ALP, the divide crosses factional boundaries. There are plenty on the “workerist” left who still regard it as a soft issue that has to be accommodated for electoral reasons only. Some, like Martin Ferguson, are actively hostile, although antagonism more often manifests at a state level. Over the years, Labor Governments in NSW and Tasmania have reserved their most bitter attacks for the Greens rather than the Liberal Party.

Notwithstanding her affiliation with the left, Gillard’s family background and her political associations put her on the side of old Labor. No-one who has any sense of the seriousness of climate change could argue, as Gillard did, for the complete abandonment of the commitment to emissions trading.

And while we now know the NSW right will support someone from the left to take the reins of the country, someone from the left with a strong commitment to environmental protection would probably have been too hard to stomach for the faction that led the charge to kill off the CPRS.

Gillard won her spurs prosecuting the iconic issues of old Labor, industrial relations and education. While undimmed in importance, these concerns are backward-looking, while those who “get” the environment are forward looking.

For perhaps around half of the population, somewhere along the line they experience a little “click” of recognition on climate change, something that says “Hey, this is serious.” It doesn’t turn them into greenies, but it does explain why in surveys a majority always puts environmental protection before economic expansion.

Many in the senior ranks of the ALP have experienced this little click — Bob Hawke, Lindsay Tanner, Bob Carr, Carmen Lawrence, Sharon Burrow, to name only a handful — but many have not — Martin Ferguson, Gary Gray, Simon Crean, Wayne Swan, Julia Gillard and almost all of the NSW right including Mark Arbib and Paul Howes.

There could be no more disturbing portent of the Gillard government’s unwillingness to take global warming seriously than the decision last week to approve the export of brown coal from Victoria.

For pure environmental vandalism, exporting the dirtiest form of energy is matched only by extracting petroleum from oil sands. There could be no clearer sign that, whatever form of window-dressing the Gillard government engages in, it will be business as usual for the coal industry for a long time to come.

Over the last few months many voters alarmed about climate change deserted Labor for the Greens. Polls suggest that over the last few days most have returned to Labor in the hope that Gillard will be more resolute than Rudd. She will do her best to keep them hoping until the election.

In all likelihood the realisation that Labor under Gillard will be as reluctant to act as Labor under Rudd will not take hold before the federal election. But we can be sure they will feel bitterly disappointed in the months that follow the election — unless, with the balance of power in the Senate, the Greens can force the Gillard Government to go much further than it intends.

Clive Hamilton —

Clive Hamilton

Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University

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95 comments

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95 thoughts on “Gillard doesn’t get climate change

  1. Liz45

    @VENISE – “What I am saying is, without nuclear power we will not be able to provide the infrastructure to build up our existing hospitals, let alone build new ones.”

    You haven’t given one reason to prove this – not one! I’m amused that you think I’m bullying, when I’ve just used the same ‘tone’ as you, and indeed as FRAN!

    Neither of you have shown one good reason why nuclear power is/would be superior to renewable energy sources, not one that relates to;

    Efficent and cheaper costs per kwh of nuclear over solar or wind or geothermal or?

    Not one contribution re the future employment prospects and the continuation of same,

    Nothing to alleviate legitimate concerns re OH&S

    No facts re the dangers/risks to workers in all areas/stages of nuclear reactors – nothing!

    Not one explanation re the added costs of storage and security,

    Are the costs of building a reactor and decomissioning included in cost of kwh of energy?

    Proliferation of materials/weapons haven’t even be mentioned.

    The human component – incidents/accidents and/or theft of materials – not mentioned!

    I, on the other hand have pointed to all the relevant evidence re the dangers of governments involvement in any and all endeavours that mean wealth to a few – at the expense of many, and how, over many yrs they’ve only consolidated this view – by their behaviour, not mine! BP a good example of this!

    Venise, you’ve used this argument to try and prove why nuclear power would be better, why, because of corrupt govts only looking after their own interests and those of vested interests – bug multinational companies that have a history of giving people the middle finger.

    Then, when you don’t want to address these things, the tack is to make me out to be a bully, stupid, selfish or all of the above! Amazing!

  2. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: I have no intention of being bullied into your way of thinking.
    You see, I believe you use the word children as a shield, to barge your way through other peoples’ opinions, and arguments.

    You turn my first tentative steps into-and after a life time of believing that nuclear power was evil-into a farce. Because it is now my firm opinion that it is our existing powers, in the hands of politicians and mining interests have set Australia on to a logic- defying evil all its own.

    Because I have disagreed with you, you somehow have managed to get the impression across that I eat ten children for breakfast-every morning. Which, IMO is downright rude of you.

    You then assume you are the only person who has ever been aware of North America’s gratuitous interference in Latin America. This too is rude of you. I went to a Spanish university, where I met a lot of students from all over the world, whose views were markedly left wing.

    Subsequently I travelled widely in South America, and I endured a Bolivian revolution-I was on the side of the ‘underdogs’. Fortunately It was a remarkably short revolution.

    The torrent of words which you unleash on people who disagree with you has-possibly the desired effect, of drowning the opposition.

    Quite frankly, I resent your wham bang thank you ma’am attitude towards me.
    Ditto: I resent your view that you are the only person who has travelled.
    Ditto: the accusations of me eating children for breakfast.
    Ditto: the ease with which you introduce extraneous arguments. ie linking Dr Haneef with the discussion of nuclear power.
    Ditto: your colossal chutzpa in thinking you are the only person with an interest in education.
    I am presently reading about the Kimilsungism of North Korea and the ease with which people are rounded up to spend the rest of their lives living as semi-starved labourers in the darkness of the deadly nuclear mines of North Korea.

    All in all, I am fed up with your hectoring, and the superficiality of your arguments. Most of all I resent your attitude towards me.

    Perhaps if you could cease directing your comments towards me, it might help to alleviate what has become very tedious.

  3. Liz45

    @VENISE – Everything you’ve said only reinforces the points I’ve made. Prof/Dr David? (who was forced out of Australia due to Howard’s lack of interest in further research re solar power in order to provide base load power) went to California(which incidently, has a better attitude to climate change and the requirements of govts etc than ours?) and a company is spending lots of money to this end. They believe, that the capabilities is five years away – that was about October ’06 or ’07 – I’ll try and track down the transcripts on the 7.30 report – the video version will be gone by now!
    They believe, that this form of solar power (not just for houses or buildings) will be cheaper than nuclear and perhaps even cheaper than coal – without all the dangers, and also renewable, unlike the others. Once uranium is ‘used up’ unless you want to use the plutonium that’s created for another type of reactor, or bombs or ?? that’s it! With solar, it renews each day, that’s why it’s far more suitable for peoples in all circumstances – no huge storage facilities required, no obscene amounts of water etc.

    Haiti is another prime example of US interference, and their one track mind for these countries – their resources! Twice, the US have removed the democratically elected leader of the country. It’s due to this interference and subsequent enforced poverty, that the effects of the earthquake were so horrific. Just compare this country with Chile for example. After the US pissed off, and after some awful earthquakes, the subsequent govt brought in strict building codes, which have been enforced. The earthquake in Chile was slightly ‘higher’ than the preceeding one in Haiti, and yet, the death toll was only in the couple of hundreds (tragic though that is) while Haiti’s was in the tens or hundreds of thousands? Why is that? Because any wealth in the country has been taken out, used up, given to compliant and corrupt govt members, and the people are now destitute, in shock, traumatised, homeless and dying from their injuries or preventable diseases such as dysentry and worse – possibly cholera etc.

    What aid did the US provide? Military aid was almost instant – the US planes had precedence over any planes that were landing to provide food, doctors or temporary forms of shelter etc. Cuba & Venezuela, were, once again first on the scene to do the important stuff. I believe that Israel also provided humanitarian aid far superior than that of the US!

    The US even let down their own people when New Orleans suffered so terribly. A local woman wrote a damning article, exactly a year after, when Bush arrived for a photo shoot. She claimed, that there were still bodies that had not been retrieved from the rivers etc. The black) people are not being re-housed, in fact, there’s been several documentaries, articles etc that show, that the poor are being pushed out, and the wealthy are being given precedence over them – people turfed out on the street. How many who fled have been refused the right to come home – black people that is. The whole tragedy has been used as a ‘tool’ to do what suits wealth and power again, and to hellwith the others – they’re predominantly black anyway! They’re not ‘real people’ are they?

    If Katrina had happened to California or downtown Manhattan or Florida or ??? The rescue effort would’ve been almost instant, and dead people wouldn’t have been left to rot in the rivers etc!

    Alternate forms of energy only look like being a “‘nightmare” because of a lack of commitment and focusing on what’s best for people,not what’s best for power and wealth.
    Also, prior to the ’07 NT Intervention, there were approximately 180 applications for mining resources – this number has now grown quite quickly to well over 400! There’s hardly been any arrests let alone convictions for sexual abuse; the Racial Discrimination Act of 1976? has been repealed; quarantning of income has been introduced against peoples’ wishes, and is not helping the majority (only a few want it to continue) people are being forced off their land/homes etc for bribes of homes etc; aboriginal people are being paid a few dollars an hour only, while whites working beside them are being paid a decent/award wage.
    What’s the relevance of all this I hear you ask? The Federal govt is going ahead with the proposed nuclear waste dump, on aboriginal land and close to water and food supplies. The reason it’s in the NT and another reason the RD Act has been removed – so that aboriginal people won’t have the right to take legal action! They can also be removed from their land for up to 5yrs, thanks to the Amendments to the Native Title Act, introduced by the Howard govt.
    All this points to many abuses of human rights; the potential to have dangerous materials leeching into pristine water supplies/food sources etc, not to mention the myriad of negative health issues!

    But, who cares? Dig it up, get the best price, and worry about the ramifications later! Then, we’ll just lie as long as we can – or enact the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005, and lock up the protestors? Sound familiar! Aussie versions of Dr Haneef! Look how the bastards got together, lied and abused that man – he’s suing Andrews and the Fed govt – hope he gets heaps! Then the’s the two blokes fromASIO who kidnapped a bloke, took him to various places, intimidated/assaulted him and just missed out on being charged – as they should have been.
    Welcome to how this govt would also do business such as this “in the National interest”
    Of course!

    The Federal govt has the power to veto any law of the Territories, that’s how they came to repeal the Euthanasia Law in the NT, and same sex marriage in the ACT. There’s also more uranium and who knows what else in the NT, that the Feds will allow to be removed, and to hell with those who don’t like it! That’s evidence of wealth and power in this country too! The same ones who want to mine uranium are also the ones who arepushing nuclear power! Aboriginal people are fighting back though, and this month there’s a big 4 day seminar/conference/ information sharing etc at Alice Springs I believe. If I had the money and could suffer the bus trip I’d go – but my spine etc won’t allow it?

    Just found the transcript of the interview. It was on 1/10/07 and is titled – “Australian Technology to Revolutionise Clean Electricity”. The blokes name is Prof. David Mills! If you go http://www.abc.net.au/7.30 click onto Archives, go to 2007, click on October 1, and there you are!

    Then there’s another interesting article; ‘North Korean Plutonium not accounted for’? April 21, 2008. I have another one about the dangers of selling uranium to China – no guarantee re its use? We don’t care if they use other uranium for their reactor/s and ours for a nuclear program? Howard govt didn’t seem to care. They even mooted about selling our uranium to Indonesia, which could be disatrous for several reasons – their human rights record??? and their stated intention to build reactor along an earthquake fault line? Very sensible indeed???NOT! I have heaps more. Articles about govts being taken over, bullied etc and resources stolen – the people don’t see the benefits. The US doesn’t even have to worry about testy govts wanting better or in some cases, just some taxes to provide food and shelter for its citizens – they’re given ‘shut up’ money, and it’s a walk over! Control the media, murder any local journalits or workers(like in Iraq – well over 65 journalists have been killed?)

    On and on it goes. The reality of the resources boom around the world!

  4. Venise Alstergren

    PS: LIZ: There is no magic bullet which can ensure that the planet can provide for ten billion people- in fifteen years time it will be fourteen billion-because the Favela multitudes of really poverty- stricken nations don’t have access to birth control methods. Even if they did have this kind of access, the Catholic Church and the loony members of Oz Taliban would screw this up.

    Take a country like Haiti; where, and what is the future for these people? This good Catholic nation having almost used up their living space.

    Did you see the multitudes of people when they had that terrible earthquake? Have you seen the Favelas of Rio? Have you been to Mumbai, or Calcutta. Have you been to the Philippines? The slums of Iran? Syria? Jordan? Cambodia? Laos?
    The millions of people in Sao Paulo? Or the multitudes in inland Brasil?

    All over the world there are fewer arable pastures around than before. Melbourne’s best farmland close to the city has long been flattened in order to build MacMansions. When all the wild animals have been exterminated and their habitats cease to exist, the world will have become standing room only. People will, in their frantic need for protein, turn to eating farm-animals-those that are left in the stampede to build more and more MacMansions. After that they will begin to eat each other.

    The outcome of the future is inconceivable to most people. The most anyone can hope for is to alleviate the increasing poverty which exists today- and for another ten years at most- is to have a better source of power.

    Nuclear power is the source we have to turn to today, because at the tempo of Melbourne’s snail like (and most expensive) developments with desalination (colossally expensive) solar power, wind power, and every other form of existing power is proving to be a nightmare. And if things are that bad in Melbourne, Victoria, how bad is it for Haiti?

    And governments are so chicken-livered they are terrified they will lose the vote. They become inert. To hope that state politicians will vote for nuclear power is akin to asking them to pray for rabies and yellow-fever.

    Oh well, what the hell? Let everyone eat yellow-cake!

  5. Liz45

    @VENISE – My so-called “fixation” with children(as though it’s some sick kind of ‘illness’?) is because they don’t have any say? We bring them into the world, it’s OUR responsibility to care and protect them. I wouldn’t have thought that was a confounding concept? You and I and other adults can make decisions, kids can’t! They’re not just the future, they have the right to be protected and allowed to live as kids; with emphasis on food, shelter, education, health and the need for having fun. One of the things I find really distressing about Iraq & Afghanistan, or the kids in Gaza etc is the look in their eyes, or their unseeing eyes, or the shock and loss of hope and trust in their little faces. Of course, it also follows, that I abhor the suffering of the adults too, particularly the women who stand outside Abu Graib and other jails, hoping to find out if their husbands and sons are still alive – many of the ‘inmates’ are only boys, and I understand, girls are held and abused also – we are remaining silent while these crimes are being committed. Speaking out like I do is not seen to be ‘supporting our troops’ which I don’t!

    The growing of food requires energy, human energy. It’s the other forms of ‘energy’ that is using too much ‘unnecessary energy’, driven by electricity. Growing it too far away from where it’s eaten, and having to fly it in planes; store it in refrigerated storage rooms for months on end; transport via trucks that pollute, ruin roads and in recent times been more involved in more road accidents resulting in horrific deaths. In NSW for instance, during the past 8-12 months, more petrol is transported by road than previous, when more was transported by rail – I believe that it’s mainly Shell(but probably the others as well) just to save a few lousy dollars. These aspects have nothing to do with requiring nuclear power! They have resulted in more horrific accidents resulting in multiple deaths. We can expect more, particularly in summer months when there’s more cars on the road!

    One of the reasons why Cuba is self sustainable, is that they’ve avoided what we’re doing. There’s prime agricultural land being destroyed or it’s intended to destroy it, in order to mine coal and other resources – this is happening in NSW. This is just madness, and having nuclear power won’t change the mindset that is in sharp focus now – there needs to be a change in attitude! The big mines, big storage containers etc, big??? is driven by the desire to make big bucks – by a few? It has nothing to do with the sensible, renewable and humane (re employment needs etc) policies that are required. We seem to think, that all we have to do is substitute nuclear power for coal or even gas, and all will be well. A nuclear reactor, designed and with all the essential work done, is 10-15 yrs away any how. We can start on renewable resources now?

    I don’t make McDonalds screw potato farmers in order to get their spuds for criminally low prices from Tasmania for example, when the farmers an hours drive from me have been growing beautiful potatoes for years – I don’t know how many are still in business. Potatoes from Robertson can be transported by rail to the Sth coastern towns! When you add Coles, Woolies etc and their screwing of more food growers, they’re the ones stuffing up the provision of food, not yours truly!

    The dairy industry has gone the same way. As I’ve said before, I live in the Illawarra. For most of my life, there was a great dairy industry within a short distance from my home, coupled with others further down the coast. Many of those farmers were forced to close their operations and get rid of their cows. I understand, that Dairy Farmers is now owned by a Japanese company! I wish I had the power that you accuse me of having – life would be much different! Once there were a couple of types of milk to choose from; now you can buy a different one for each day of the week, and we import milk from New Zealand, while our dairy cows down the road were either sold or killed. I had no say in the so-called ‘deregulation’ of the milk industry in this area, or any other! Another example is the production of rice and cotton, both which require huge amounts of water, being grown here, instead of using areas with a higher rainfall etc. And yet, I don’t think we grow as much wool for garments in this country than we used to, and even what we do grow is sent to places like Turkey to be dyed etc for knitting yarn – go to Spotlight and take a look! I had nothing to do with that either!

    Prior to Hugo Chavez winning the overwhelming support of his people in 1999, the US ‘interests’ were of high priority to the so-called leader/s of Venezuela, who kept the people living in hovels, working for almost slave wages, and not being educated or able to access health care. The infant mortality was high, as was illiteracy. Within a short number of years, Chavez, with the help of Cuba( supplying medical doctors and training more) both of these stats were turned around, and recognised by the UN. The emphasis changed. Instead of the ‘whiter’ minority taking the cream after they allowed the US companies to avoid tax and take the profits out of the country, Chavez brought in policies that stopped this – he told any or all US companies, either pay your past taxes that are due, behave yourselves, or piss off! Some pissed off and in other cases, the workers took over, with positive results. The US has been doing this in Latin America for decades, and ‘trained’ the despots and the death squads also. This is what’s destroyed other countries ability to feed themselves, not people like me! Venezuela now, does not rely on having over 60% of its food via imports; good agricultural land, once the ‘right’ of the rich and greedy has been reclaimed for the growing of food for the people! There are plans to also improve housing, by once again, reclaiming land that the rich demanded and/or stole from others!

    Multiply this many times, and that’s the real truth behind why too many in the world are starving – the will is not there to correct it. It’s people like me who demand the change, while people who champion nuclear power, more big business, big profits for a greedy few, treat me like a great scourge, responsible for the starving billions! I repudiate this accusation and resent it! I’m not a murderer, either by words or actions; quite the contrary!

    I recall a priest in one of these countries in Latin America, who unlike his peers and those in Rome, was castigated for speaking out for and supporting the poor and oppressed in his country – he stood for election as president, and won. He said,(words to the effect)’when I give food to the poor I’m hailed as a saint, when I ask why are they poor, I’m called a communist’? Some people believe, that if we keep on doing the same things (greed, oppression, wars etc for profit and control) we’ll magically get different results. The only way things will turn around for the better, is if we change our mindset, and look for renewable and humane ways of producing food, education, employment and housing etc. Stop killing people for profit! That’s what’s been responsible for human tragedy and death, not the humane policies of people like me. How can I be responsible, when I have as much power as the most impoverished person in Africa – oh yes, I can vote – that changes a lot doesn’t it? We have to make enough people realise, that more of the same will only result in, more of the same! Sadly, too many people are either too greedy or too apathetic to give a damn, and while they’re occupied trying to be budding capitalists, policies are introduced that include their labours and sanction, enforcing poverty and hopelessness to others. Why do the wealthy mining companies have the right to stand over a ‘democratically elected government’? Because too many allow it! Apologists for these wealthy companies, that screw people, and not just those who work for them!

    “One of your most regrettable statements in your proceeding post was to the effect of ‘how can starving people produce energy?’ I can’t find the statement to which you refer?
    It’s because of the attitudes of wealthy countries that the impoverished peoples are starving – we’re causing that? Tell me how joining the greedy and wealthy countries is going to help these people, who live in remote areas grow food. What they need are small renewable energy sources for village type living, combined with access to education, health and housing, not bloody billion dollar nuclear reactors?

    Following your line of thought, and the idea that nuclear will feed the starving masses, why aren’t those countries who are obscenely wealthy; have nuclear power etc, why aren’t they assisting the starving poor NOW? Because the starving poor are not important to their main goal, which is world domination and corporate wealth. I’ve only seen a few realities re concern for the starving poor, via World Food Aid or some such, and what happened to that? The wealthy countries that meet at their G8 or G20 posh hotels/castles etc, eat the best and drink the best wines, spend their time with much talk, but the actions speak the opposite, and behind closed doors, THEY’RE the ones who make the policies to deny insignificant black(white pink or brown too for that matter) people any hope of change, and reinforce the policies of the IMF and the World Bank to introduce even harsher restrictions on the poor majority, while the rich minority flourish. They’re the ones responsible, not people like me! Argentina got rid of their stooges, as did India re Bechtel – it cost more for India to pay them off, than allow them to continue to kill people via their greedy policies.

    May I suggest you watch, ‘The Fourth World War’ which is an insight into what I’ve been asserting. The countries mentioned include, Argentina, South Korea and Latin American countries to name but a few. There’s also John Pilger’s ‘War on Democracy’ about the role of the US in Latin America! It’s greed and utilising ‘materials’ in order to produce more wealth and power that is destructive, not my opposition to nuclear power. If nuclear power was the answer, why aren’t there some in poor countries? Why aren’t rich countries even taking an interest in over-turning such misery? THEY DON’T GIVE A DAMN! Nor do people like Fran, who are PR spruikers for even more misery and imbalance/s?

    As for the oil disaster brought about by BP – that was preventable. The reason why it happened was the lust for even more wealth at the expense of the workers and a ‘couldn’t give a shit’ attitude to the environment. The last oil company that caused a smaller disaster got off almost without punishment. Those who lost their livelihoods and whose lives and health were affected didn’t count, and they won’t this time either. That was caused by the elite who run the show for their benefit, not ours, nor do they give a damn! Will we learn by our recent disaster and prohibit deep drilling? Probably not! Who’s fault is that? Mine? No, the mining companies are listened to because of their wealth and power!

    Has the Obama Administration knuckled down and got tough on this and other oil explorations and their bosses? No! Much ‘tough’ talk for the media, but he’s still allowing other oil companies to get ‘special dispensation’ and given the OK to go ahead without conducting essential environmental studies – this will happen again – it’s just a matter of time. Another example, of if you keep on performing the same way, don’t expect to get different results! Doesn’t happen! The US President is only a figure head – it’s been obvious to me for some years, that he only does what the really powerful people allow – wealth, power and the military industry! They even create wars in order to justify even more weapons, vehicles, ammunition etc. If there isn’t a ‘turnover’ there’s no profits! In order for a turnover, you need more wars – let’s create them, as they’re vital for our economy etc! Simple!

    Take a look at who’s really profiting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s not the citizens of those countries, and it’s not the duped members of the military, it’s big business, big profits, big oil companies and their associated companies, such as Halliburton, Bechtel, bhp billiton, the Bush family and how many others in the govt/privileged group are – why aren’t there even a few kids of those in the White House, the British parlt and Australia, or anywhere else for that matter in the military? Their kids are not perceived to be cannon fodder – only the kids of the ‘chattering masses’ are persued? The US even send military people to harass kids in high schools; they follow them around supermarkets (only in poor areas, of course).
    Well, they didn’t get their filthy hands on my kids!

    Nuclear power is not the answer to this country’s energy needs, or the rest of the world’s either – certainly not for the poor and malnourished/starving etc!

  6. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: I was trying-albeit with a total sense of futility, because your thinking has become completely ossified on ‘what happens to the children. You have used the same arguments over and over again-and at inordinate length, to butress your fixed beliefs.’

    My thinking, which in one way shows a certain elasticity-of mind, because I have always been anti- nuclear energy. It is only during the past year that I have changed my mind.

    @VENISE – “LIZ: Your concern for children who have been or might be affected by a nuclear mishap, should be balanced by the amount of good it could do to have fast and efficient hospitals to care for all people, at all times, not just the children.”

    “I don’t get your point? I don’t believe uranium mining companies or companies heavily involved in building and/or operating nuclear reactors build too many hospitals or show much care for kids? Sadly, if the nuclear “mishap” is serious enough, even a super duper cancer clinic won’t be much help – in the long run!

    You’re the last person I’d think of to stand up for govts. Aren’t you the one who’s rubbished Brumby? If he/they can’t build roads, public transport etc, why would you want them in charge of or involved handling nuclear materials?”

    LIZ, Don’t you ever look at problems in the abstract, rather than the particular?

    I am not suggesting that a specific nuclear energy, let’s say State Government Nuclear Plant number 456 will specifically build up to date hospitals, pata ti pata ta.

    What I am saying is, without nuclear power we will not be able to provide the infrastructure to build up our existing hospitals, let alone build new ones.

    Yes, I do abuse politicians who present themselves as being terminally stupid. (John Brumby is an arrogant little turd, and he is stubborn. He mistakenly believes his stubbornness is indicative of a superior intelligence.) However, I think I would be equally as stupid as John Brumby, to believe all states’ premiers are corrupt, into eternity.

    If they continue, in the future, to behave as they all do, then it will be time to remove states’ governments altogether.

    I do not understand your fixation with what will happen to children. When disasters happen they affect every one. NOT JUST CHILDREN.

    To me the latest BP oil disaster is having, and will have a far greater degree of catastrophe than any ‘nuclear accident’ (that I am aware of)within the past thirty years.

    Also, what do you think is happening right now? Millions of people are living in grotesque poverty. We are on heading to ten billion people on this planet, WITHIN THE NEXT TEN YEARS.

    How are all these people going to eat in the future, whilst we cannot feed them right now?

    I am a great admirer of John Pilger-as, indeed, you are. However, he can get a bit over the top occasionally-yes I know what happened to the indigenous community at Diego Garcia. It was revolting. But what particular relevance does it have to do with nuclear energy?

    One of your most regrettable statements in your proceeding post was to the effect of ‘how can starving people produce energy?’ This is the most quixotic comment I have ever read.

    “”””The point is to produce the energy to provide the food for future generations””””.

    It is people like you who will keep ensuring that ALL the world’s children, people, continue to starve.

    What will you say when farmers have to use people for food, because there will be no cattle to kill-they’ve got to eat too, you know?

  7. Liz45

    @FRAN – “You know it makes sense. ” You sound like the bloke who does the Lamb ads? Sam whatsisname!

    “Whom” If I want a lesson in grammar I’ll ask for it. You knew exactly what I meant, don’t be such a smart arse! Mosst of the world doesn’t even use ‘who’ these days, let alone ‘whom’? It’s ‘that’ and ‘what’ these days – which annoys me immensely!

    You still conveniently omit to even acknowledge many of the points I’ve raised, instead you put down or cast aside anything or anyone who doesn’t fit in with your dogma. You take ‘your’ nuclear path if you wish, I’d rather opt for more permanency without the risks. That’s it! Dr Caldicott is in her 60’s by now – I’d say she’s had to confront every opposing view, including the areas you insist she’s ignorant about – she’d have canvassed those areas, while they may not be her main focus? How you know that is interesting? Conversed with her have you? No? Just making arrogant assumptions? She’s not the only medical person against nuclear power. I take much notice of people like the head of the ACF – a learned and articulate man, who makes an intelligent argument against nuclear power.

    “I’d like the cities to be free or contaminants” You obviously mean, “of” contaminants? Not perfect either are you? Smart alec!

    “In fact, NSW is about to build a whole new bunch of coal plants because what we have is not enough.”
    No they’re not – they’re not making that decision until next week!

    As for companies and their diligence re OH&S – they’re less diligent now than over 20 yrs ago, in fact most state govts have lessened the responsibilites of employers, and also the rights and compensation payments to workers. I’m very familiar with this topic, as I’v been suffering from acute and chronic pain and disability from a preventable disease/injury for almost 27 yrs! I’ was closely involved with hundreds of other sufferers for almost 10 yrs, and still come in contact with sufferers these days. I’ve experienced the whole lousy workers comp system, and how ‘helpful’ employers/insurance companies are to injured people.

    I have no further points to raise – just go over past arguments. Waste of time and energy????

  8. Fran Barlow

    Liz45 said:

    if you don’t have any respect for Dr Caldicott’s expertise and input into this issue for about 40 years, you obviously don’t even give any thought to anyone who has the audacity to disagree with you.

    Specious argument. You have a sample of one, and the proposition is not falsifiable because by definition all you fit the description make the test. Use of the word “audacity” as an ironic is here simply a rhetorical device aimed at playing her as underdog. Ms Caldicott can speak for herself.

    Who do you work for

    The Department of Education & Traning, NSW. That should be “whom”.

    why don’t you declare your bias

    Bias is not a useful concept here. Like anyone who considers any policy issue, I have a position, which I’ve made explicit. So have you. I have never had a pecuniary interest in uranium, thorium or nuclear power, foresee no circumstance in which I would come to have such an interest and to the best of my knowledge, am not acquainted with anyone who has.

    It’s pretty arrogant to use such a put down to a woman who’s got medical qualifications that are superior to either yours or mine

    I’m not putting down the woman. It is not her medical qualifications that are cenrtrral here but her claims about LNT analysis, hormesis and epidemiology which others who are qualified in these matters have rejected as frutiful. Plainly she has no particular expertise in matters of engineering, comparative energy systems analysis or in geopolitics. She certainly has no especial standing in human ethics.

    if most of the world got really involved in nuclear power, obviously those reserves wouldn’t last as long

    As I said Liz45, Australia is not the only place that has uranium — for every ton here there are at least 4 tons elsewhere — there is thorium which is even more abundant, uranium is found in seawater, there are MOX fuels to use from decomissioned weapons etc … Yes ceteris paribus it will run out more quickly, but of course that is not the same as saying it will run out quickly. We actually have enough now to last the world another 700 years without digging up or finding any more. Of course, long before we ran out, we would find more. And can you say that sometime in the next 700 years we won’t find a way of doing nuclear fusion?

    Would you advocate that we import enriched uranium or even the rods for nuclear reactors in this country?

    Yes I would, if we weren’t enriching here. Of course, we should enrich here, because thazt would be one safe place to do the work. Indeed, if you are worried about waste storage and really concerned about it becoming a threat, importing waste here would also be a good thing, as Australia has stable governance and massive expanses of stable geology. we could use this waste until it was totally depleted of useable Pu239 and then store it for the 300 years or so until it got down to background levels, thus sequestering it from people who were not competent to handle it. You should support this.

    I do not see, that substituting one dangerous unhealthy and dirty industry for another that could have even worse repercussions is intelligent

    It’s actually comparatively clean — cleaner even than renewables since it uses less land, less water, less concrete and steel and glass and can be placed close to demand centres.

    The cost of being able to use this public space would be worth the $100 odd dollars per year you’d have to spend – or ‘they’ would.

    Do you really think anyone would push a case for $100 per year? You must be joking.

    companies may not carry out regular screening of their workers’ health; and even if they did, there’s no guarantee that they’d show them the results of such exams anyway!

    These are standard requirements in OH&S these days. Studies show that the epidemiology of nuclear power workers is actually better than that of other power workers and similar to that of the population at large. Since uranium is open cut, the morbidity associated with that is a tiny fraction of that in coal mining. And as we have seen, resort to non-polluting nuclear power improves the health of people in districts surrounding the plants relative to coal plants.

    Nuclear reactors require lots of water,

    Far less water than solar thermal plants. And of course, nuclear power plants can

    a) use seawater (and do desalination as well)
    b) not use water at all — there are for example molten salt reactors.

    For anyone interested in the water usage issues associated with thermal plant operation this is a good resource

    Yes, but the new reactors are different, I hear you say! The ‘old’ ones are still operating in both the US and UK! They’re at least 10 yrs over their used by date, but they’re still going!

    Which just goes to show how good they are. Companies don’t keep running unprofitable plants. They shut them down and build more profitable ones.

    If govts had started 30-40 yrs ago, even if they’d just started with solar panels for hot water, we’d be further down the road than now.

    Not really. We’d be using very slightly less grid energy per household than now, but about the same quantity of thermal plants would have been required as now. In fact, NSW is about to build a whole new bunch of coal plants because what we have is not enough. The schedule would perhaps be a year or two different, but it would not have been a game changer.

    Do you have kids? What sort of a future do you want for them and their grand kids – clean renewable and safe energy sources, or a nuclear power with too many variables, hidden risks, and lack of security, both on a local or international level.

    I do have children — two of them. I hope the world they inherit is better than what we are are justuified in predicting right now. I’d like the cities to be free or contaminants, the oceans not contaminated with CO2, the atmosphere heading back to CO2 in the 280-300 ppmv range and the temperature at least stabilised.

    I’d like most urban transport to be public transport and most long haul on rail. I’d like to see nuclear powered bulk carriers — did you know that the 9 largest container ships output as much pollutuion as all of the worlds cars? I’d like quality public housing to be the norm and for the developing world to stop harvesting forests to keep warm and to have clean water on tap and local everywhere.

    You know it makes sense.

  9. Liz45

    @VENISE – “LIZ: Your concern for children who have been or might be affected by a nuclear mishap, should be balanced by the amount of good it could do to have fast and efficient hospitals to care for all people, at all times, not just the children.”

    I don’t get your point? I don’t believe uranium mining companies or companies heavily involved in building and/or operating nuclear reactors build too many hospitals or show much care for kids? Sadly, if the nuclear “mishap” is serious enough, even a super duper cancer clinic won’t be much help – in the long run!

    You’re the last person I’d think of to stand up for govts. Aren’t you the one who’s rubbished Brumby? If he/they can’t build roads, public transport etc, why would you want them in charge of or involved handling nuclear materials?

    I love kids, particularly my own and theirs. I hope to be around to see the next generation too. I was born a few months before Hisoshima, why would I want a world where there’s even a hint of danger of that happening again? There are many books and articles that point to the fact, that it wasn’tnecessary – Japan had already agreed to surrender, but the US wanted to ‘test’ its new toys? The country in the world that rants and raves about democracy blah blah, and yet is absolutely ruthless re the lives of others – take Iraq and Afghanistan for the use of ‘modern day’ nuclear weapons – depleted uranium bombs? Why would I want this country to have depleted uranium rods cooling down and then say, ‘let’s make weapons out of this stuff – it’ll be cheaper than sending it to the Top End for permanent storage’? That’s years or so after it’s cooled down enough to use?

    When I found out about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was really angry with my parents’ gemeration for not stopping it, or at least trying to. Of course, I soon realised, that they were ‘innocents’ too. I vowed, that I would take an active role in ensuring, that this wouldn’t happen again. Sadly, I too failed; I didn’t/couldn’t stop these DU bombs used in Bosnia or Iraq or Afghanistan, but I can speak out against going down the path of other countries – the nuclear INDUSTRY path. Yes, it did start re the military quest, but other countries saw how ‘easy’ it was, and so they walked down the same path. Now we’re finding out how difficult it is to ‘unscramble the eggs’? How close we’ve come to total destruction? How greed and evil can dominate the whole process. EVEN if there was a guarantee, that all people involved would be just and fair, and have the same attitude to kids as I do, there’s always human error – we make mistakes all the same. There were mistakes made with the construction of the almost new reactor at Lucas Heights – it was closed down for months. We’re just lucky that the fault was discovered!

    The world’s children need food before energy. Every 30 seconds, while I type this, a child dies of hunger. We can prevent this, but it’s not in the (best) interests of govts or corporations to spend money saving the lives of kids. The US contributed about 7 TRILLION to save corporate America from the GFC, (other countries invested heaps also – and now they’re also demanding, that those who’ll pay for it will be the poorest, who had nothing to do with the cause) but they can’t put a miniscule of that amount to save babies from dying. The infant mortality of Cuba is superior to that of babies who are born a few blocks from the White House. How much would it cost to improve that statistic? Too much, obviously! The US is the only country in the West without some form of national health to protect its citizens, but there’s no will or guts to introduce it!

    But, into this reality, you judge me more harshly than they, because I don’t want to exploit the health and safety, not to mention the valuable dollars of people in this country for an industry that is not people focused – the people, particularly the poor, weak, vulnerable and sick are the ones who’ll pay, including me. No thank you! Cuba is perhaps the only country that’s been recognised by the UN as self sufficient – they do not have nuclear power! In fact,it was Fidel
    Castro and Hugo Chavez who implored western countries not to use valuable land used to grow corn for food, over the ruthless quest to grow corn for alternate fuel for cars etc, at the expense of the poor of Latin America who use this as an essential component of their diet!
    The infant mortality rate of Venezuela has improved out of sight since Chavez was elected; so is their food source, and he insists via nationalisation, that the vast oil reserves are to benefit his people not western oil companies!

    The dire need for the future, is apparently going to be the provision of food. Climate change and over population are going to impose harsh ‘deals’ on many people. We’ve already had some insight into what drought and other drastic weather patterns can impose re our food supply, and we waste hundreds if not more, tonnes of it each year? Countries that are soon going to feel the effects of climate change are our neighbours – the world can’t even plan for what’s going to happen to them? Perhaps they’ll/we’ll let them drown! Perhaps we’ll ‘need’ nuclear weapons to protect our interests? Ward off the boat people? Charming thought isn’t it?
    Growing food is labour intensive – a good investment, and we can share our knowledge etc with those countries that are starving to death? But we don’t!

    Even if Australia decided to build its first nuclear reactor, it could take 5, 10 -15 years for it to be ready for production. However, there’s a combined number of renewable energy sources that could be utilised in a shorter time than that – the political will together with money has to be invested. The Nuclear industry are selfishly pushing their own ‘barrow’ and they don’t give a stuff about the people. Dollars, millions of them are their motivation. Look at the behaviour of the wealthy companies over the last 6 weeks or so! Very telling I believe!

    You said, “This sort of failure of logic, buttressed by reams of concern for children, could suggest a failure to perceive the particular in the abstraction of “Wicked Government”
    In fact it’s exactly the same as “Dogs bark; my neighbour has a dog. Therefore it is his dog which is barking.”

    It is not, and that is a ludicrous thing to say. But, to use your analogy, there is a closer reality to the truth. Governments that have nuclear weapons or protect and defend other govts that have them, do have a similar attitude to the dignity of human beings, and their right to life. The US is a prime example of this – it’s created horrific weapons; it’s used horrific weapons; it uses its wealth to protect and defend its ‘weapons’, spends 40c of every taxpayers dollar on the military industry, exports weapons to other countries who also abuse its citizens(Israel etc) and the UK and Australia support the US in everything, including helping them out with their killing!

    This behaviour has no resemblance to my concerns for children, nor do I either support or condone their actions. On the contrary, people like me are the ones who question their assertions of ‘preventing terrorism’ while they themselves kill, maim, steal and torture more people than any other country on the planet has; in fact, the US has a “presence” in about 75 countries around the world – using oppression and violence in wars or stealing their resources. I resent any insinuation that puts me in this league at all.

    If this government supports an “evil” government, then they are just as evil in my view. At best we’re bloody hypocrites if we decry what the US does, but accept the bullshit of the warmongers, that we must support ‘our troops’ who are also engaged in the same evil. There are many instances where toxins have killed kids. Just recently, visitors to a small country wondered why there were hardly any children – 150 had died from lead poisoning, and up to 50 adults as well. People in Vietnam are still suffering from the affects of Agent Orange? The US still refuses to acknowledge it’s guilt, either verbally or financially?, and what have the other countries done who were also complicit? Like us? Buggar all!

    People in the Phillipines and other countries lost kids from cancer due to mining etc. Depleted Uranium is causing birth defects and cancers in Iraq, AFghanistan, Bosnia etc. Is the US still using and manufacturing these weapons? yes they are! I recall boys in Brazil growing breasts, as the chicken farmers were putting hormones via injections and food. A woman I know who worked as a chicken ‘sexer’ in the 1980’s (got RSI from giving ‘injections’ to one day old chicks – hormones, vitamins etc). Yesterday on The World Today, the topic was about antibiotics being used in agriculture, and the ramifications for humans – very severe infections in hospitals and communities, much worse than Golden Staph!

    There’s heaps more. These examples are off the top of my head! There’s the takeover of Diego Garcia – given to the US by the British, and the inhabitants who’d resided there for generations, rounded up like cattle with very few possessions and taken to live in abject poverty on some other island. Before they were rounded up, their pets were rounded up and gassed and/or shot, and the people were told the same thing would happen to them if they resisted. They’re still fighting in the UK courts. Even though the equivalent of the High Court ruled in their favour, Blair had the Queeen declare by Royal decree an over-rule of the court’s ruling! How’s that for justice? How many other examples would you like? Yes, that’s evil, and anyone and everyone who remain silent are also evil!

    As for ‘Governments only being as evil as the people allow’ – that’s my whole bloody point. I’m taking steps to disallow their ability to take action/s that at best are risky, and at worse could unleash all sorts of dangers and disasters. Then, there’s the path of renewable energy sources, which probably wouldn’t take any longer than a nuclear reactor to be ‘up and running’. Why would a country like Australia with a ‘natural nuclear reactor’ that emits enough energy daily to provide the world’s energy needs for a year go down the other path? Doesn’t make any ‘human/e sense, only a lust for obscene wealth, at our expense. Only a foolish gambler would even entertain such ‘odds’?

  10. Liz45

    @FRAN – Well, if you don’t have any respect for Dr Caldicott’s expertise and imput into this issue for about 40 years, you obviously don’t even give any thought to anyone who has the audacity to disagree with you. Who do you work for, and why don’t you declare your bias? When did you acquire your medical qualifications? It’s pretty arrogant to use such a put down to a woman who’s got medical qualifications that are superior to either yours or mine. Not relevant? Not important? Or you’d just like to go ahead, and to hell with what the future brings!

    As for supporting or subsidising people re solar panels – that’s the whole point about renewables, and govt subsidies are the epitome of the argument – that is, govts putting our money back into renewable energy sources, that negate the need for coal, oil and indeed a brand new industry in this country, nuclear power. If Australia didn’t have huge reserves(for now, but if most of the world got really involved in nuclear power, obviously those reserves wouldn’t last as long – I’ve heard from many quarters say the same thing?) would you be pushing nuclear power? Would you advocate that we import enriched uranium or even the rods for nuclear reactors in this country?

    There are 2 major examples happening right now that argue my case against the big corporations and their attitude/s to others – the most obvious is the horrific oil spill of BP. It would appear, that they took short cuts re safety; that even they were told/advised to do some important ‘checks’ but they didn’t – they’d use money that BP wanted to provide even more money. In fact, they demanded from their workers a speed up in production. Now 11 workers are dead; there’s a horrific amount of death, destruction, unemployment, and more oil is being added daily. Combine this this seasonal wild weather, and the ocean and the horrific pollution is just getting worse. Also, the body that the corporations have to apply to in order to bypass certain tests, (that cost money and hold up production) are still being given dispensation – regardless of the reality that confronts them. One person was forced to resign, but as yet no charges have been laid against those responsible in BP. The boss would like his “life back”? No doubt the 11 people who died would like theirs back also – as would their loved ones. I’ll wait with bated breath, but I bet there’s no criminal charges bought to bear against the bloody greedy and destructive bosses of BP. They should be shut down, and all their assets used to clean up the mess and compensate the people, indeed countries, who, at best have a very depressing future!

    In the Illawarra, bhp billiton was being challenged by the community near an existing coal mine, that this company wants to enlarge. The fear is, that there’s already been ‘leakage’ into an acquifyer, but company people at the meeting refused to answer any questions, and claimed ‘commercial in confidence’ or words to that effect? In short, what they said to the people was ‘screw you, get stuffed, we’ll do as we damned well please’? And, who cares if the water or ground etc is disturbed? Who cares indeed! The NSW state govt hasn’t forced them to tell the people the truth, on the contrary, and they’re no better or worse than any other state govt. I have no confidence that this company’s attitude would be any different if it was a nuclear reactor they were protecting – none at all! They’re already a major player in uranium mining, nuclear power would probably be a logical progression of this interest.

    I do not see, that substituting one dangerous unhealthy and dirty industry for another that could have even worse repercussions is intelligent – it’s pushed by greedy people who employ(use, promote etc) like minded people like you, to use your time(probably being paid for it – unlike me) to push the ‘message’ at every opportunity. The cost of being able to use this public space would be worth the $100 odd dollars per year you’d have to spend – or ‘they’ would.

    Every part of the uranium industry is dirty and injurious to health – may not be able to see it; companies may not carry out regular screening of their workers’ health; and even if they did, there’s no guarantee that they’d show them the results of such exams anyway! Do they now? What OH&S regulations are in play at this time? Do they force workers to wear protective clothing in stifling hot conditions? Probably not – in fact, not long ago, workers were going ‘public’ over being pushed to drive huge vehicles at night with poor light – speed up production is the most important thing – people are replaceable! Every stage uses lots of water – in a country that is as dry as this one – we have a desalination plant in NSW, and I understand one is being built at Wonthaggi, Victoria( an old coal mining town – where my father and 6 siblings were born.) The people fought hard against it, but I believe they lost! Surprise, surprise!

    . In SA at Olympic Dam, BHP was getting its water for nothing courtesy of the SA govt – even while the people of Adelaide were running out of water to drink. Now BHP intends building a desalination plant in order to increase their capacity to mine even more uranium – where is that water going to come from – how far away, what are the safeguards etc. Nuclear reactors require lots of water, and the pumps etc require energy? What energy sources do they use? Coal fired power stations or the reactor itself? I’ve also read, that in water cooled reactors, about a third of the energy is wasted via steam? That doesn’t sound very efficient – the reason given, is that the operators don’t want them to get as hot as they could – too risky? I’ve already commented re the damage that the used water can cause when it’s put back – at higher temperature – kills off fish etc? Lake Illawarra prawns – a thing of the past? No doubt, you think this is a small price to pay? I don’t! I live only a few klms from this lake! We’ve fought very hard over the years to improve its quality, at great cost to taxpayers,e either via the NSW govt or vial Council rates or both!

    I’ve been to the old Hifar reactor at Lucas Heights years ago- just drove around. We were followed by security people etc. Very intimidating!
    Just because you haven’t read or heard about incidents and accidents, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. You’d hardly be likely to go doing research would you? Might find out info that you’d rather remain blissfully ignorant of! The relevant reality of human error is also ignored by you – how convenient? There’s been books written about them. Yes, but the new reactors are different, I hear you say! The ‘old’ ones are still operating in both the US and UK! They’re at least 10 yrs over their used by date, but they’re still going! How irresponsible is that? Do you think we’d know if there were ‘incidents’ and ‘accidents’?There were serious leaks into the UK reactor at Windscale years ago. Goodness knows how it operates these days. Perhaps it’s been de-commissioned, but I doubt it!

    There’s been articles and investigations about leakages at a nuclear reactor in either Scotland or Ireland. I downloaded the article(I’ve only had a computer since 2003, so it wasn’t in the ‘dark ages’). I have several books about different aspects of nuclear power, leakages, weapons testing etc. AND, when people DO get injured, govts just ignore them, or lie and lie for decades. The people who went to Hiroshima after the bomb are a case in point; the workers whose job was to clean out the fuel tanks on aircraft and got cancer; and Donald Rokke of the US military, whose job it was to clean up the vehicles etc after the first Gulf War. First he was lauded a hero, and then after he started to speak out about the dangers of DU, he was treated as public enemy No. 1 – including death threats etc. He’s been treated for several cancers – could even be dead by now. We can expect military people from Australia to start suffering the effects from being in both Iraq and Afghanistan! Have you watched ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ yet?

    Of course, any alternatives to coal fired power stations are going to cost money – no doubt. To deny that would be stupid, but I’d prefer my money to go towards renewable and safe methods of generating electricity, than a very expensive, dirty, dangerous and potentially lethal and destructive method of a provider of electricity. If govts had started 30-40 yrs ago, even if they’d just started with solar panels for hot water, we’d be further down the road than now. The demand would be less, and most importantly, the people’s mindset would be ‘slotted’ into conservation, renewable energy sources and even with the increase in population and technology, it would be a matter of just ‘catching up’ as we go along. People like me, who were ridiculed and insulted would be the norm -not an opposition to be fought at all costs. But, instead of the Federal govt handing over $9-10 Billion per year in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, why not channel some or most into renewable energy. You haven’t mentioned govt subsidies to the wealthy companies that pollute so heavily, but decry subsidies for clean and renewable energy sources – colours a pretty graphic picture re your priorities?

    The situation re the govt person in Pakistan only happened while George W Bush was president – not in another lifetime. He wasn’t just a ‘pen pusher’ he was the head of the nuclear industry in the country. In the Bush Administration, at least 30 members of his ‘inner and outer’ govt had past histories in the oil industry. The major ones being, the Bush family including George Snr who was a member of the Carlyle Group who did business with Saudi Arabia, including the bin Laden family. Cheney and Rice, Gates and many others, which also include Karzai, the ‘US plant’ in Afghanistan as its president. If you were to look up the percuniary interests of the people in that administration, you’d plainly see what their motivation was re Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There’s been plenty of people in too many countries, who’ve ended up dead in the quest of corporations greedy lust for their oil and other resources. These corporations and their govt have no qualms of what to do with workers or just residents who get in their way. There’s been workers who’ve been executued in many countries including Sierre Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan to name just a few, because they just asked too many questions, or had the cheek to want a decent income; were convicted on trumped up charges and executed, or in the case of journalists, because they also wrote the truth. In fact, the family of one such young man were recently awarded damages against Shell! Won’t bring him back though will it?

    In Australia, we’ve seen how aboriginal people have been ‘done over’ re resources on their land. Take a look at the recent 4 Corners program re the Kimberly proposed gas initiative, worth billions. Do you think they’ll let people get in the road of that? They’re still suffering illnesses and death from the military tests for goodness sake. There’s Nabalco in Gove – the lies they told about aboriginals having a new life blah blah, and the reality was, that they had a definite policy that DID NOT employ aboriginal people. (REad the inquiry of the 1970’s, Justice Blackburn I believe?)There’s been billions of dollars of resources taken out of this country in Qld, WA and the Top End, and yet those (indigenous)people are impoverished? Tells me a lot about the attitudes to human beings by corporations and their lust for even more money -regardless of what happens to ‘ordinary’ people!

    Why did Howard fight so hard against Native Title? IF it’s all above board, why use lies and scare tactics in the media, like the big corporations have been doing for the last 6-8 weeks over the tax on SUPER profits! Pure greed that’s what!

    Nuclear power has not and does not operate in any country without a huge subsidy for it to eventuate. That is the reality. Another reality is what happens to the sites after old reactors are removed? Turned into child care centres, public spaces, football fields?
    Look at the sites near Botany Bay etc in recent years?(a 4 Corners investigation) Toxic substances; people dying of diseases, and the people treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed bullshit!
    You obviously don’t mind govt subsidies or even owning and running nuclear power plants, so your derogatory remarkds re subsidised solar panel really portrays what you’re really concerned with, and it’s not a concern for sick kids via oil and gas; it’s supporting and arguing the case for wealthy corporations to lead us down a path that is not necessary – not for this country anyway! I don’t want to go there – I want my kids and grand kids future to be more securre than that.

    You also haven’t addressed why home owners can’t insure against a nuclear incident or accident. If it’s so damned safe, and overseas reactors confirm this, then it should only be a matter of time before the insurance industry provides such a policy. They argue enough over damage done by flood v/s storm etc. The only reason some of them changed their tune in NSW was because govts threatened them, and that only happened AFTER people were ready to storm their offices? That’s the reality that you choose to ignore!

    Do you have kids? What sort of a future do you want for them and their grand kids – clean renewable and safe energy sources, or a nuclear power with too many variables, hidden risks, and lack of security, both on a local or international level.

  11. Fran Barlow

    Liz45 said:

    It matters not what came first, bombs or nuclear power generated electricity,

    On the contrary, this is key, because ity turns your causal chain — from which you derive the threat from nuclear power — on its head. If nuclear power is not a gateway to nuclear weapons, then this objection must be withdrawn. Are you willing to do this?

    the fact is, that the world already has enough bombs to destroy the whole world, thousands of times over now – probably more!

    Again, if this is so then on your evaluation, neither adding more nuclear power stations nore retiring them can alter the risk. But since as we saw above, it is zero, this doesn’t mean much.

    If countries showed some inclination to seriously reduce the threats, I might have another look at it. I don’t and I don’t trust them.

    Again, this position isn’t available to you. If you don’t trust them then “some inclination to reduce the threats” would scarcely suffice. In fact, the world is already showing some inclination and you don’t trust them, so this is mere handwaving. You are grasping at any argument, no matter how spurious it is, that might persuade someone to share your predispostion against nuclear power.

    The fact is, that the less of the stuff there is floating around, the less chance of it falling into the wrong hands.

    The stuff is not there “just floating around”. The stuff is very difficult to handle and states are very keen to keep it out of the hands of those that might turn it against them, or blackmail them. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc notwithstanding, there is no evidence at all that a single non-state actor has access to such materiel. Of course, if the nuclear hazmat were used in fast spectrum reactors it would be under direct supervision by the IAEA and be slowly transformed into utterly unweaponizable materiel. You should support that.

    Your protestations may be OK on paper, but they don’t reassure me at all. While ever there’s lots of profits, huge profits to be made from coal and uranium, the motivation isn’t there to spend money on renewables.

    If renewables were competitive with coal and uranium the profit potential would be similar, especially considering they are being subsidised by states. The fact that they must be subsidised is a reflection of the fact that they aren’t even close. In the end, the fact that there are profits to be had means that the resulting service can be delivered at a price that is acceptable. Look at oil, for example. There are huge profits to be made there, but when the world economy took a setback in late 2008 the price dived from $150 bbl (mid 2008) to $72 today. The demand fell. Profits fell too. But even at $150 there was little movement on resort to renewables, which should tell you something. Coal is currently at a high price but again, renewables are not replacing coal. That should also tell you something.

    I don’t trust capitalism, in fact I don’t trust dictatorships either!

    Nor should you either. The question though is not whether one can trust them to avoid doing the wrong thing with nuclear power. The question is whether they are more likely to do the wrong thing with nuclear power than any other concveivable suite of power options they might choose. At the moment, neither capitalists nor dictatorships are likely to spend much on renewables. Most of what the dictatorships do spend on renewables will be in hydro — as in the Three Gorges Dam project, which is, on all accounts, an environmental disaster in the making. The Chinese dictatorship is currently poisoning its population with coal combustion aerosols and brown haze. They couldn’t manage that with nuclear power and are gearing that up too. If they keep doing so they will crowd out coal — and that will be a good thing, not only for Chinese people but for everyone in their footprint. The same applies to India.

    I’d agree with much of what you say about corporate power, but this doesn’t really get us any closer to an answer as to what to do now. Will we continue to take options that subvert vital ecosystem services or not? Do we have the will to do what is necessary to stop contaminating the environment with fossil thermal combustion waste, even if that means conceding the usefulness of nuclear power to that project? If we aren’t willing to do that, are we willing to accept that it will, at best, be several decades, if not longer before we can stop fouling our own nests? This is no time for getting puritanical. The crisis is now. We must act now or accept the serious probability of a human catastrophe based on ecological collapse. Compared with that, the risks associated with nuclear power are utterly trivial. If it makes you feel any better, properly configured, nuclear power will seriously erode the profitability of big coal, big oil and big gas without making those extracting uranium or thorium especially rich. The plants don’t use enough feedstock to achieve that. The bulk of the early benefits will show up in better health in the footprint of the retired coal mines, transport links, coal plants and urban centres where once petrol-based cars dominated the roads and we will see a decline to near zero in energy-related CO2 emissions.

    If the ‘sunshine’ could be bottled, then maybe their attitude would be different – they could sell it at an outrageous price.

    No, they could sell it at the price that the market would bear. Outrageous profits attract competitors. The problem is that sunshine can’t be “bottled”. It’s more like trapping water with a sieve. Pretty much useless.

    I don’t agree with your figures re individual houses with solar panels – if your figures were correct, nobody would have them installed.

    Only the generous subsidies make this possible. Without feed in tariffs and capital subsidies, hardly anyone would have them. In Spain, the feed in tariff resulted in some people deciding to buy tiny subsidised solar panels and then using petrol-generators to supply the grid. People were claiming benefit for solar power produced in the middle of the night. This is the result of such absurd policies.

    I put more credence in Dr Helen Caldicott’s years of selfless investigation and commitment to the world’s kids, and their parents

    I don’t doubt Helen Caldicott means well but she is simply not a serious commentator on energy issues and certainly not on the question of nuclear power. Foer those of us who want to deal in the here and now with the disastrous and potentially catastrophic volumes of toxic effluent casued by fossil fuel combustion, nuclear power is the key tool. Rejecting nuclear power in a made and puritanical chase after alternative “clean” renewable technologies that might work one day is simply reckless, however well-motivated those who do so are.

  12. Fran Barlow

    Er said:

    The problem with nuclear reactors is that it only takes one little problem. One little mistake. One oversight, one design flaw, or one malicious individual.

    Nope. These days there are multiple passive safety systems that operate independently of human agency, and of course, the core is enclosed to prevent escape of toxics.

    Because if there is one constant in this world – its that humans will always stuff up, have accidents and be occasionally reminded of the limits of our understanding and powers in this imperfect world.

    That’s true, so what we do is we try to minimise risk and provide for remediation in the event of system failure where benefits are significant in acting. We examine both the risks and costs of action and the risks and costs of inaction or alternative action. Do the risks and costs of a fossil fuel-based energy system or a renewable based energy system exceed those of a nuclear-based system? We have found that they do.

    You speak of OTEN-style systems, but again, water just below boiling point is very low value in producing industrial energy. This is really just process heat. Useful if you are running a thermal plant, but stand-alone? Not really.

    unfortunately the decision makers in our society are non-technical and locked into conforming with the status quo and what the powerful vested interests want – not what is best for our planet and society.

    On the contrary, they are highly technically minded. The “vested interests” would be every bit as thrilled at selling access to sunlight, wind, wave, tides and ocean cline heat differentials as coal and gas and oil. They don’t care how they make their money. They have the engineering capacity and access to the funds to do it. Yet they don’t, because they know it doesn’t and can’t work. AGL is rolling out wind, mainly because they know that more wind means more gas, and the wind is subsidised.

    If renewables ever do become competitive, governments will not be able to obstruct them. At the moment though they are simple window dressing for business as usual.

  13. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: Your concern for children who have been or might be affected by a nuclear mishap, should be balanced by the amount of good it could do to have fast and efficient hospitals to care for all people, at all times, not just the children.

    Your whole argument could be reduced to saying “The sun is bad for you children. It can cause melanomas, and heat strokes. Therefore your government forbids you to ever go outside again.”

    This sort of failure of logic, buttressed by reams of concern for children, could suggest a failure to perceive the particular in the abstraction of “Wicked Government”

    In fact it’s exactly the same as “Dogs bark; my neighbour has a dog. Therefore it is his dog which is barking.”

    This is denial in its most egregious form. ‘Governments are evil; our cause is just. Therefore our government is just evil.’ Would make as much sense.

    The world cannot go on hold to appease the Luddites in the community. Man has over-populated the planet and the world need energy. Nuclear power works.

    None of us should be in thrall to the past, and to equate it with children of the past who got cancer from past mistakes is heretical. How is it possible to present a few hundred children, against the needs of seven BILLION people?

    I can think of a substance, commonly used throughout the world, which wiped out a city, and destroyed the lives of hundreds of people. People denounced by their neighbours as outcasts. The people of Minimata, Japan, were stigmatised and degraded, treated as lepers, in the late 1960s.

    It turned out that these people had been eating contaminated fish. Poisoned by a a deadly mixture of Mercury effluent from a near-by factory.

    Did the world stop using mercury because of this tragedy? No, instead the world learned to handle this deadly substance.

    So shall the world learn to cope with nuclear power.

    Also,re: your familiar rant about the evil of governments? Governments are only as bad as the people allow them to be, Liz.

  14. Liz45

    @FRAN – Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree. It matters not what came first, bombs or nuclear power generated electricity, the fact is, that the world already has enough bombs to destroy the whole world, thousands of times over now – probably more! If countries showed some inclination to seriously reduce the threats, I might have another look at it. I don’t and I don’t trust them. India, Pakistan, Israel for example aren’t even members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It’s just more by accident than design that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons now. The US offered them to the Shah during his ruthless and bloody reign! The fact is, that the less of the stuff there is floating around, the less chance of it falling into the wrong hands. Your protestations may be OK on paper, but they don’t reassure me at all. While ever there’s lots of profits, huge profits to be made from coal and uranium, the motivation isn’t there to spend money on renewables. If you’re naive enough to believe otherwise, then I just must disagree! I don’t trust capitalism, in fact I don’t trust dictatorships either! There is not sufficient good will or care for the planet to over-ride greed!

    Who and why is pushing the climate sceptics? With every activity, including criminal acts, the first question to ask is, who is going to benefit from this or that action. While ever the answer is corporate wealth, I don’t trust them to make the humane and responsible decisions. If they do, they wouldn’t last long, such is the power of corporate wealth in the US for a start! Why were the Kennedy brothers assassinated? Martin Luther King Jnr? Why was Gough Whitlam sacked?

    I recall, that after the Whitlam Labor govt was sacked, it was revealed, that Westinghouse (provider of uranium for reactors at the time – along with GEC). They were taken to Court in the US for not abiding by their contract – that is, hadn’t supplied the uranium. In Court, the legal person said, to the effect, ‘if we can get rid of the Labor govt in Australia in 6 WEEKS time, we’ll get all the uranium we need’? Gough Whitlam was going to say ‘no’ to uranium mining, Malcolm Fraser did not! That brought home to me the lengths corporate wealth will go to in order to get their way. What’s changed? Not a thing! I’ve heard people in the US Oil industry state, that the US foreign policy and their energy policy will be closely intertwined for many yrs to come. Documentaries, with interviews with senior people in the oil industry, not the underlings. The behaviour of Shell in Sierre Leone, the prevailing attitude to the damage the US did to Vietnam, and how they still refuse to even acknowledge it shows me very clearly how ruthless they are. The US is not going to decrease their greed for oil, for huge profits and empire building! The US has either interfered with or invaded over 45 countries since the end of WW2 – some of them like Iraq and Haiti, twice. Why is the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Somalia, or demonising Hugo Chavez, or perhaps on the verge of invading Iran? If they were rich in coca beans or sweet corn, would they be there? Of course not! Iran does not have nuclear weapons or weapons grade material – why? Because the US would be able to tell, with their superior satellite technology, they can almost see when the leader cleans his teeth! It’s domination and the closeness to Iraq and Afghanistan, and their desire to cease their dependance on Saudi Arabia – among other reasons. Afghanistan has lots of copper, and the initial US goal of a pipeline via Afghanistan to the Caspian Sea which has at least $16TRILLION of oil and gas reserves. The US does not want to go anywhere near Russia either. The US also wants to control who’s sold oil and gas, and the PRICE! Most important to having control and power!

    Then there’s the ruthless and criminal manner the Howard govt via Downer short changed East Timor out of billions of dollars owing to them, as they’re closer to the gas than Australia is, and should get the major number of dollars? Downer bullied them, and this to a country where 75% of children suffer from malnutrition, and the country is impoverished. Ruthless and dominating on a huge scale. If you have faith in the ‘goodness’ of those who make the rules, good for you! I don’t!
    If you trust your future with people who couldn’t run a chook raffle for a decent cause, good for you, I don’t. I’m not criticisng the ALP over the Coalition either – they’re the same in my view, that’s why the ALP hasn’t deserved my primary vote since 1984, when Hawke gave ALP members the middle finger over uranium mining, and allowed the third mine! Why are the big companies spending millions on ads telling lies about their finances and the proposed tax increase on OUR resources? Why does msm support them? Power and wealth! And domination!

    If the ‘sunshine’ could be bottled, then maybe their attitude would be different – they could sell it at an outrageous price. The very fact that it’s renewable is why they don’t want it, and why they’ll tell lies, use anyone who puts forward their point of view in order to stay in their privileged position. I don’t agree with your figures re individual houses with solar panels – if your figures were correct, nobody would have them installed. Tim Flannery has them, and I’ve heard people interviewed who also have them, plus those who run the govt subsidy deal as well. Also, with improvements in technology(if we spent some money on research and development, instead of like Howard, who set it up to fail??) the costs will come down I believe! Instead, we send people off shore as they get neither help or encouragement here. We could be manufacturing you beaut solar panels here instead of China! The head of that company received his education at a NSW University – now he’s a billionaire or close to it – in China!

    People who are in the agricultural business won’t tell us the truth about what antibiotics and other products they use in growing food; or sheep and cattle, or chickens? There was an item on the World Today about this very subject. The whole system that runs these important issues is stuffed – at best, run by people who are mainly interested in their own greed and lust for power and profits – they only change if they’re caught out and forced to! We are incidentals – of little significance, and if they can get people like you on their side, whacko they think – if you think the nuclear industry cares about you, think again!
    I’m not that gullible! Put it down to my senior years! I put more credence in Dr Helen Caldicott’s years of selfless investigation and commitment to the world’s kids, and their parents – that includes mine too! I don’t like nuclear power; I don’t trust it, and I like and trust those in control of it even less!

  15. EngineeringReality

    @Fran

    Been impressed by your posts and your knowledge and scientific arguments.

    However there is one flaw that you appear to be glossing over. That is human nature. Humans make mistakes – and thats when they are trying to do things responsibly and carefully. Add to that the fact that we don’t always agree with each other – and have, for our entire history, devoted ourselves to finding easier and more effective ways of killing each other.

    The problem with nuclear reactors is that it only takes one little problem. One little mistake. One oversight, one design flaw, or one malicious individual.

    One mistake with a nuclear process and you’ve opened pandora’s box. We don’t have the technology to isolate and clean away every single radioactive atom from any mishap. We just have to abandon the contaminated area and hope the heavy metals and other radioactive materials don’t migrate too far away from the accident site and enter the food-chain. All we can do is hope that no lasting genetic damage is passed down in the people, plants and animals effected.

    You say that accidents can “never” happen. That nuclear is safe.

    Well you would have to be naive and insincere to have a position like that. Because if there is one constant in this world – its that humans will always stuff up, have accidents and be occasionally reminded of the limits of our understanding and powers in this imperfect world.

    Its also actually not correct to represent renewable energy as such a random and intermittent source of energy that you do. Our scientific and engineering abilities are quite advanced – and for you to claim that we are unable to capture and store energy from the sun and not be able to use it on demand is wrong.

    This is possible in a very simple way using what is called a solar pool. Its embarrassingly low tech – but it illustrates my point sufficiently. You did a shallow pool somewhere. You line the bottom with something dark. Black plastic or black concrete. You fill the pool with salt and water. The salt forms layers of different density water.

    Solar energy enters the pool and collects at the bottom of the pool. The density of the heavy, hot and salty layer at the bottom prevents the loss of this energy through normal convection – and so you can extract the usable heat from the bottom of this solar pool. In outback NSW and in the middle east the temperature at the bottom of such pools is a constant 80 – 90 degrees C. Day or night, cloud or sun the temperature remains elevated because of the sheer amount of solar energy collected during the sunny days. On average there are more sunny days than cloudy and so on average the bottom of the solar pond remains just below boiling.

    This energy capture and storage is of course achieved without any special application of technology. We can do so much more with sophisticated solar concentrators and better ways of storing and using the solar heat when we want to.

    Erroneously comparing solar thermal energy to a mobile phone that switches off in the shade or cars that only operate when the wind blows is very disingenuous.

    We have the technology to do many things – yes even crack the nucleus of atoms – but there is no need to resort to such dangerous methods when we can use the simpler method of concentrating, storing and using the heat from our sun.

    Its well within our capabilities – its embarrassingly simple – but unfortunately the decision makers in our society are non-technical and locked into conforming with the status quo and what the powerful vested interests want – not what is best for our planet and society.

  16. Fran Barlow

    Also you say Liz45:

    People are getting solar panels on their roofs for under $10,000 to provide enough energy for a home with all the gadgets and necessities – they can sell the excess back to the grid; it pays for itself in several years and doesn’t endanger lives like coal or uranium does?

    Let’s say we take your figure for solar panels of $10000. Let us assume that it is at full rated capacity able to produce 4KW i.e in ideal conditions. On average, capacity is abour 10-14% over an entire year, which means that on average, the price per KW is somewhere between $17,500 and $25,000 for a system that cannot guranteee on any given day even o.1 kWh. That is not sensible.

    Would you take the trains if there was a reasonable chance that there would be no trains at all? Would you go shopping if randomly, the shops simply shut down and opened when the employees felt like turning up? How about a car that operated only when the wind was blowing in the right direction? Suppose your mobile phone was solar powered and would stop working randomly when it was out of direct sunlight?

    Would you pay as much for such services as those that were reliable? What if it cost a lot more because the “fuel” (sunlight or wind) was free?

    I hear your concern over waste and bombs, but frankly Liz, it is greatly exaggerated. The hard reality is that no state is going to try to run an induistrial economy on solar panels or concentrating solar thermal because, in the end, this would mean the imposition of massive costs on either the entire taxpaying community or on the energy user community, not to get a clean power system but to get an unreliable one. Nowhere near enough people are going to vote for that to make it viable for anyone to carry through. Do you really think if renewables were close to being as useful as coal and gas and oil, that, in the 37 years or so after the 1973 oil shock and with all the concern about pollution and resource depletion and now anthropogenic climate change we wouldn’t see them dominating the market, or at least challenging coal and gas and oil somewhere?

    They haven’t challenged because they can’t, and continuing to pretend they can merely so you can assuage your overblown anxieties about nuclear power assists the dominant players — in this case fossil fuels. So whether you know it or not, you are lobbying for business as usual. You want a cleaner environment but your lobbying ensures that you will hand over a sicker biosphere to ensuing generations.

  17. Fran Barlow

    Liz45 said:

    You can’t make bombs out of coal.

    You’re not an industrial chemist are you? Of course you can. Not only that, you can extract the uranium or thorium from coal and make a nuclear weapon from it. Of course that would be doing it the hard way. But this entirely misses the point.

    Firstly, far more people have been killed or injured or intimidated with conventional weapons than nuclear weapons. Since 1945 100% of people killed in conflicts have died at the hands of utterly non-nuclear devices. You might as well oppose steel because without steel people could not deliver ballistic weapons or build the planes to drop them, or oppose copper because without the circuitry they could not be controlled.

    The reality is that there are no cases of states starting with nuclear power and progressing to nuclear weapons. In every case the sequence has gone the other way. Highly specialised equipment that is cheaper and different from nuclear power plants is needed fabricate such weapons. Moreover, refraining from building nuclear power plants cannot possibly reduce the determination of states to build nuclear weapons because these decisions are entirely separate. There’s no shortage of feedstock. What is needed is the willingness to do it.

    Agreements between states are the way to restrain nuclear exchanges. That would be true even if every nuclear power plant were decommissioned tomorrow. The hazmat would be of little use to anyone wanting to build nuclear weapons, because the technologies involved would still have to be built, and if they were, using uranium238 would be every bit as easy.

  18. Liz45

    @FRAN – You can’t make bombs out of coal.
    Plutonium is the most dangerous as it has a half life of 250,000 years at least. Years ago I read a book by Walter Patterson called simply, Nuclear Power, which pointed to the incidents and accidents in the US, Britain & the US alone. Not long ago there was nuclear material ‘missing’ at Lucas Heights. Years ago, there were at first rumours and then it was proven, that contanimated water had seeped into the George’s River. As for the miners, only last week the CFMEU expressed concern re their members who mine, mill and do other work with the stuff. All stages of the uranium fuel cycle requires water – we’re the driest continent on earth, how dumb? There’s evidence in the US for example, that rivers used for the purpose of the reactors lose many fish species – who knows what people are eating?

    I live in the Illawarra, one of the areas mentioned as an ideal place for a reactor. There’s the Pacific Ocean and Lake Illawarra. There’s been an ongoing discussion re the quality of the Lake for years – there’s been dredging to get a better ‘flow’ etc that cost thousands of dollars. There’s an oil refinery and Blue Scope Steel near a possible site at Port Kembla? Imagine an accident/incident there? I recall the terror a few years ago when my youngest son, an engineer, was working there – there was a fire, and the workers were ‘out on the grass’. I didn’t know for several hours if he was OK – I can only imagine if there really was a terrible accident involving nuclear material/s.

    Lake Illawarra is known for its beautiful prawns and relies heavily on tourism – there are several caravan parks along the coast, and fishing is highly promoted. Just look it up on the net and you’ll see what a beautiful area it is, from Scarborough down to the far south coast, Narooma and further? Imagine spoiling this beautiful area? We’re between the mountains and the sea- there’s nowhere to go? Some in my area have just won a long battle to ensure that Killalea State Park remains a public and beautiful area for all people to visit, rather than have ‘holiday units’ (ugly things that resembled school demountables?) sewerage and electricity needs etc, and blocking out the most beautiful views for families picnicking etc. When I know of such debacles, the absolute disregard for the rights of ordinary people, no I don’t trust any govt with nuclear reactors!

    The reactor at Lucas Heights has not long ago re-started due to some building flaw. They never really tell us the truth – to protect us and prevent hysteria??What bullshit! We’ve had people writing the most amazing things about politicians in the past weeks- can’t be trusted (with pink bats etc) tell lies, budget blow outs, secrecy etc etc, and people want to trust them with this? I don’t think so! All the facets of the nuclear industry is not costed in the final figure, eg, security, including police presence during transport;storage of waste; construction and the de-commission of reactors; medical supervision of all workers, and their right to view their pathology results etc.

    When I referred to the energy from the sun in this country providing sufficient energy for the worlds’ needs, I meant that we should have solar and other renewables in AUSTRALIA? There was a bloke called David ?(interviewed on 7.30 report, twice) who was forced overseas in late ’06 or ’07 as Howard govt drastically cut back on money for research. He was welcomed by a multi-billion dollar company in California – they said that solar power to meet base load needs was about 5 yrs away – we’re more than half way to that time?

    People are getting solar panels on their roofs for under $10,000 to provide enough energy for a home with all the gadgets and necessities – they can sell the excess back to the grid; it pays for itself in several years and doesn’t endanger lives like coal or uranium does? There’s one a couple of klms from my home.

    @VENISE – It’s not a matter of thinking that people are stupid, it’s knowing that too many of them are only motivated by wealth and greed, and they’ll do anything to acquire both – look at wars for goodness sake. Doesn’t that tell you how ruthless govts/read people are? Killing for oil and other resources, thousands, no millions of people. Why would they stop at telling lies? Remember WMD’s? Illegally invading countries; no adherence to the Geneva Conventions re the rules and obligations while occupying a country – must protect electricity, water, sewerage, schools, hospitals, universities, culture and of course the people? Show me in Iraq & Afghanistan where that’s happened. Ask the parents who’ve lost kids from cholera or cancers caused by Depleted Uranium; genetic birth defects – take a look. Don’t know about that? Put Donald Rokke into Google, or the documentary ‘Blowin in the wind’ or ‘The Doctor, Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children of Iraq’?

    Why has there been such a huge increase in the incidence of cancers? One out of 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer(Cancer Council stats Daffodil Day, last year). Why is that? What is going into the food, the soil, the atmosphere, water catchment areas etc? Why are there so many health problems in the Hunter Area with the 14 or so coal mining sites? Why is the NSW fighting against conducting their own research on why so many kids have awful allergies, , asthma etc? Why are there so many people suffering from cancer? If this State Govt is doing their damnest to protect the huge monies being made via coal, what would their behaviour be if millions/billions was spent on nuclear reactors? If you’re confident that these people or their opposition would be up front with you, OK, but I look at their track record and their current behaviour and I don’t trust them with nuclear reactors or indeed anything to do with this industry.

    You speak in a scathing manner about the Brumby govt, with good reason. Do you trust them with nuclear reactors? Look at the debacle that led to the deaths of 173 people via bushfires? They can’t even use technology to warn people in time? Where will the money come from? There’s no reactor anywhere in the world that can start up, operate, let alone decommission without govt funds – and lots of it. We’re a small population, spread out over a huge country – nuclear power is dumb, while solar and other renewables are sensible and cost effective in the long term. I’ve seen documentaries where towns, large buildings etc can have their own solar power units, and they function well; farmers have solar panels on their farms in Germany? that will eventually provide back up income during down times in farming, which will increase due to climate change?
    Solar panels along major highways for example. Empy spaces – along the side of railway lines? That land is just sitting there – doing nothing!

    There could be a case made why countries without our ideal weather most of the year(except in snow areas for a short time only, and they still have sunshine frequently)that nuclear is an option, but the big sell in this country is driven by money, not what is best for the people. Solar and other renewable energy sources are more labour intensive, which is going to be vital if climate change has an adverse effect on other employment possibilities. We need to do more about the design and structure of buildings; energy conservation(even an automatic device that turns off most of the lights etc when the last person leaves the building – turn off automatic water running in men’s toilets for example?). We’re not even half way serious yet – lack of will, due to too much money being made via mining coal and uranium for instance.

    I’ve been following this issue for over 30 yrs, and many people were talking about some of these conservation and renewable energy sources since the early 1970’s? We were branded as ‘green loonies’ ‘commos’ etc. Who’s smart now? I have magazines from Friends of the Earth dating back to that time. I find it so frustrating that people are pushing nuclear power when it’s just not worth the money, the danger and the risk? If it’s so safe, why can’t we insure against an incident/accident? If that changes, I’ll take another look!

    Dr Helen Caldicott is an Australian Pediatrician, who’s been trying to inform people why cancers ‘love’ kids especially? She’s written several books. I’ve been to at least one of her workshops! She makes a lot of sense.
    Does anyone recall the political hoo ha when the 2nd in charge in Pakistan gave/sold material and information to other countries? At the time, Pakistan was a ‘friend’ of the US, and so he just got a ‘slap’ and was demoted. Imagine if he’d given some to some of the rogue states, or some well known terrorists in that country or Indonesia? What do we say after there’s a catastrophe? OOoopppsss! Sorry! We should’ve known better? No, there’d be lies, cover ups etc just like we’ve seen the Indonesian Military do to their own citizens, East Timor etc?

    At my age, I’ve not got a ‘library’ full of govts that DON’Tt behave admirably, or who DON’T put the health and safety of their citizens at the forfront of decisions. Then there’s the criminal/terrorist element; then there’s accidents and incidents, usually accompanied by denials, then they admit but put a ‘cheery’ aspect to it(read lies and half truths) and all the while people are being made sick, but as many illnesses and diseases don’t carry a ’caused by and when tag’ they get away with it! Look at the companies that will make the most money out of a nuclear industry in this country. Look at the CEO’s are behaving over the proposed tax on super mining profits. Look at the lies they’re telling – these people would be heavily involved in a nuclear industry – no thanks!

    The US still does not have a permanent storage place for high level waste. Every time some state govt etc raises the issue, they get threatened with legal action, and so they shut up for another couple of yrs or more. It’s been acknowledged for some time now, that this subject is just not viable in the US – won’t happen! Perhaps that’s why our national govt is willing to pollute aboriginal areas of food gathering etc, so the worlds’ waste can come here. Bob Hawke was/is in favour of it??Of course, he’s over 80 so he can be generous with my grand kids futures! He won’t be here! I want to leave a better world when I leave, not one that’s full of disease and risk of more! I was born 4 months and 2 days before Hiroshima; I’ve read about the deaths and illnesses(ongoing) of aboriginal people in this country due to bomb testing etc. No thanks!

  19. Fran Barlow

    Liz45 said:

    There’s enough energy from the sun in one day in Australia to provide the world’s energy needs for one year!

    Even if this is true, it’s simply not relevant. All over the world, people are short of water, yet the world’s surface is mostly covered in water. Where the stuff is, when it is and in what form is most salient because it affects the rate at which you can collect it and the cost.

    if more countries take the nuclear path, the uranium in this country will not last – then what?

    Nonsense. Australia has about 20% of world RARs of uranium. In addition, extraction of uranium from seawater is also open to us. We don’t do that because the demand for uranium just isn’t there and the cost would exceed current market prices. We also don’t extract uranium (or thorium) from the fly ash waste emitted fropm coal combustion again, because it would not be worth it in cost terms — but if we ever ran short, we could. And of course there’s about three times as much throium in the world as uranium.

    Do you want them responsible for handling the most dangerous substance/s known to human kind?

    Except it isn’t. There are far more dangerous substance. Google Bhopal, for example. Even plain old coal is far more dangerous — judged by the number of lives truncated or harmed by its use.

    If it’s so damned safe, how come people can’t get insurance against an incident/accident?

    They can. What is not insured is the worst case scenario risk. Price-Anderson limits in the US have never been approached. Three Mile Island never went close. They never will be. There’s actually a far better prospect that a gas or chemical plant will explode killing people. A catastropic air accident is also much more likely. Imagine a jumbo crashing and burning at the MCG in the middle of the AFL grand final. Improbable but not impossible — yet few oppose grand finals or aircraft. I doubt any airline is insured for that, and if they were, air travel would be a lot more expensive. BP was not insured for the Gulf of Mexico spill, but they went ahead and drilled anyway. One can debate what risk trades are worthwhile and which are not, but one can’t insist on all activity being risk free. If we did, then we would trade the risk of premature death for the certainty of premature death because almost all human activity would be excluded. We could not build or operate fertiliser plants or irrigation systems or dams or power plants.

    The hard reality is that we humans have always been traders in risk. We try things that will advanatge us and accept risks and costs doing so. These days, we are much better at trading because we better understand our world.

  20. Liz45

    @NICHOLAS FOLKES – And when did you stop beating your wife? What a patronising, paternalistic arrogant piece of work! Do you speak to everyone like this, or just women? You may be interested to know, that it’s climate change – which also explains the coldest days we’re experiencing at the monent in 61 years?

    I’m also against nuclear power – pasionately so. It’s neither safe nor pollution free. Every phase of that industry is dangerous, dirty and pollutes – except for the reactor itself, and there’s too many incidents to be able to state, that it’s safe???

    As a person who lives on the NSW east coast, and a ‘candidate’ for a nuclear reactor, I reject this form of energy in a country that is ideal for solar power. There’s enough energy from the sun in one day in Australia to provide the world’s energy needs for one year! Why would we even entertain the idea of nuclear power? Dumb and plain stupid! And, if more countries take the nuclear path, the uranium in this country will not last – then what? We’ll have to take up a renewable option! Why not utilise renewable energy sources now? That makes intelligent sense to me.

    We’ve just had almost a week of people pointing out politician’s behaviour. You are a prime example of rubbishing politicians etc. Why would we put them in charge of such a dangerous utility like nuclear power? With the way the billionaires in the mining industry have been behaving in past weeks, I wouldn’t trust them with a chicken farm!When Howard was in govt, Julie Bishop took days to answer questions about Lucas Heights shut down. Instead of providing sensible and honest replies, she castigated the Labor Party for asking the questions? Do you want them responsible for handling the most dangerous substance/s known to human kind? I’m damned sure I don’t? The company/s that build the reactors? State govts? Don’t think so! They all have a vested interest in lying to us! THEIR self preservation!

    If it’s so damned safe, how come people can’t get insurance against an incident/accident? Try it! Ring around – I have! Even Lloyds of London won’t cover it! Says it all to me! If you haven’t investigated this aspect, then you’re a gullible ignorant fool! My kids and grand kids are too important to fool around with their future? If you have kids, maybe you got yours a damned sight easier than I did mine, but I’m damned if I’m going to let corporate wealth, lying politicians and greedy reactor owners take unnecessary risks with their lives.

    Next you’ll be on another post ranting against ‘terrorists’. Let’s make it easier for those who don’t value human life, and have more lethal stuff ‘lying around’ and the waste being transported through towns and cities! A real intelligent move! And you attempt to sound superior and logical???

  21. Nicholas Folkes

    To Frazzled Fran,

    It is emotional unstable left wing welfare recipients like you who make me realise the world is in deep trouble due to lies being accepted as truth. You jump all over the place with your emotinal rants and flowery language that means nothing.

    Did you have a say in composing the NAPLAN tests to indoctrinate young children’s minds?

    The ALP isn’t on the nose due to the one issue of climate change but due to constant lies, mismanagement, failures and waste. This Govt. couldn’t organise a chook raffle down at the local Pub. They have written over $170 billion of Federal Debt for a trolley of cheap Chinese made plasmas.

    Then you ramble on about coal miners dying, what about third world nations without affordable electricity? These nations that use the least amount of carbon have the shortest life expectancies and lowest standard of living.

    Stop exhaling, you are destroying the planet – you are an airhead. Methane is not a problem and nor is burning high carbon Australian coal with a low ash content. Should we use cheap Chinese or Indian brown oal instead?

    Nuclear power will be a great industry in Australia one day and Scientists support the nuclear industry being established. Left wing climate bed-wetters are jealous of wealth creation. When ever I meet a climate bed-wetter they are either unemployed, emotional or speactacularly illiterate on topics such as this.

    You didn’t answer my question, should each tax payer pay an extra $4,500 a year for a non-existent problem?

    You are telling me that the 3% of anthropogenic carbon emissions are the problem? Get off the pipes.

  22. Fran Barlow

    And one might add, Venise, that if one is talking about the militarisation of the state, oil is a far better candidate than uranium or thorium. Someone (I forget who it was) pointed out that if one considered the output of fossil fuels to the environment, it would be like 5000 Gulf of Mexico spills every day.

    Yes Chernobyl happened. A moribund, unaccountable Cold War state built a military reactor following a design that would not have been apprioved in the west, ran it outside of its design parameters and this resulted in the deaths of 53 people (most of them under-equipped and inadequately trained heroic first responders) and the contamination of large parts of Byelorussia and the Ukraine. It can never recur, and not building better reactors won’t rescind that tragedy

    Of course, in any given year in China alone something like 2500-3000 coalminers will die in one kind of coal mining accident. Within the last 2 weeks 76 coalminers died in a mine explosion in Colombia and 56 in one in China. And let us reflect upon all those across the world who die prematurely from one kind of respiratory disease or another associated with the harvest, transport and combustion of coal. Let us consider too that the single biggest source of toxic pollution (the neurotoxin mercury in particular) and radioactive emissions in Australia is in coal combustion. Even putting aside AGW, every day these plants operate costs us the health and life chances of everyone in the footprint.

    Accordingly, it doesn’t really matter if one day, we work out how to use solar or wind or wave in ways that make them adequate. Today, as we speak, lives are being shortened, and childrens’ capacity to be their best stifled. That is certain.

    How long should we tolerate this AND the harm associated with AGW?

    Not one more minute than absolutely necessary, IMO.

  23. Venise Alstergren

    SYD WALKER: The words you use to invoke terror at the mention of nuclear power are positively dangerous. Words such as ‘moral challenges’, ‘security expenses’, ‘militarisation of the state’ are egregious to a fault.

    We are a huge land mass, an exploding population, and a greedy population. Wind power hasn’t lived up to its expectations. Governments have done little to expand our use of solar power, and we have run out of time.

    How have the countries who do use nuclear power, survived the experience? Have France and Germany gone to war with each other? Have the morals of these countries collapsed? Do they have huge standing armies?

    You do realise the first man to pick up a piece of rock, or charcoal, to write with it, and the first man to think that the papyrus plant would make a good surface to write on, were condemned, by the Luddites as aspiring to be treacherous in their desire to disseminate news and information. The first person to improve the eating power of open hearth fire-places, also was condemned.

    It is not the source of power which should be of concern, it is the ignorance of the man in the street, or the engineer who seeks to cut costs and thereby allows tragedy to occur.

    Yes, accidents have happened with nuclear power. But we have the knowledge to make sure they don’t happen again.

    The hideous mess which is the BP well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has killed eleven men. Wiped out marine and animal life-for ever? In the Southern states of the USA. Fisheries have been devastated, the tourist industries have been slaughtered. All of these things make Chernoble (sic) look like a kindergarten prank.

    We are a planet of seven billion people, multiplying rapidly. We have run out of time.

    Yes, we do need solar power PLUS nuclear power. Your energies would be better spent in inciting governments to take their collective fingers out.

  24. Fran Barlow

    Syd … it is kind of spooky that you are traversing ground that I knew like the back of my hand when I left it. I began, rather like you, from what seemed utterly intuitive — if the fuel is free, abundant and natural, it must be better than everything else one might use. Yet it is one of those things that is obvious, simple and wrong.

    It’s not enough that sunlight, wind and waves are ubiquitous and apparently inexhaustible. before these can be rendered useful to us as energy sources they must be transformed from the condition we know them at first appearance into something we can deploy in the required quantities and on demand schedules that comport with our lifestyles. Once you grasp that, you begin to understand why the cost of the fuel is largely about the cost of harvesting and reworking it into what we want.

    There’s a reason why, despite the work and expense done to convert carboniferous-era coal, gas and oil into electrical current and the heat needed to cause controlled mechanical motion in internal combustion engines, these have a massive advantage over renewables — and it isn’t merely the fact that the waste products are dumped at the expense of the commons, as important as that is. It’s the fact that the output is predictable and controllable. So important is this feature that massive armies have been set into motion to protect this attribute. Industrial societies need certainty. Intermittency is simply intolerable. Those massive carboniferous-era stores — sunlight built up and stored over 80-million years — are an enromous advantage, and its no surpise that by comparison with that work of nature, our attempts to harvest sunlight and its consequents in real-time are utterly puny by comparison. I think it was Flannery who pointed out that every year, the world burns through about 400 years worth of these stores. Self-evidently, if you want wind and wave and tidal and whatwever else renewable is available to do the work being done now by fossil fuels, you are going to have to find a way of harvesting, storing and deploying the equivalent of 400 years worth of sunlight in the right quantities every year. How many solar panels running at 14% efficiency for an average of 8 hours per day, or CST units running at perhaps 20% efficiency, or wind turbines at 30% or wave generators or tidal barrages are you going to need to do that?

    The answer is — a hell of a lot — plus a hell of a lot of transmission lines and inverters. And of course, we haven’t yet included the energy demand of the developing world to raise themselves to standard of life most of us would accept as compatible with human dignity. No amount of hectoring by us is going to convince them to accept misery because we first worlder have stuffed the biosphere. They will choose the cheapest means to survive, even if this means doing what we first worlders now regard as entirely undesirable. They are not going to (and cannot) agree to pay 20 or 50 or perhaps 100 times as much to tool up just because we think it would be a very fine thing and make us feel better.

    We must ourselves adopt and present them with options that will not add to the fossil fuel loading we have already committed to at acceptable cost. It really is that simple.

    The reality is that the fully levelised cost of nuclear power is cheaper by far than renewables and if externalities are included, cheaper than gas or coal as well. Indeed, if one could mass produce nuclear plants, they might be cheaper even if externalities were allowed to fossil fuels. That is because there is potentially something like 1-3 million times as much energy per tonne of uranium or thorium than there is in a tonne of coal or crude oil and it can be had on demand schedules that are useful.

    This also means that the amount of genuine waste generated per unit of electrical output is a minuscule fraction of that in coal and oil and gas. If we were to use fast spectrum reactors, and run the entire planet on their output, the nuclear feedstock we already have would see us through the next 700 years. That is a period of time easily long enough to work out what to do with the modest amounts of waste generated.

    You mention Denmark and wind, but the reality is that Denmark’s wind would not be saleable if it were not part of a grid containing Norwegian Hydro, German coal and Swedish nuclear. Wind cannot stand alone. It requires large scale enabling technologies. That is true everywhere, including Australia, no matter how abundant our resources appear to be.

    The real conflict is not really between advocates of renewables and advocates of nuclear. Renewables can’t do the work of fossil fuels at anything like acceptable cost. One would need redundancy factors of at least 11-20 times in most places — and even then there would be no absolute guarantees against system failure. The real conflict is between those who think industrial society should be supported by fossil fuels — the business as usual crowd — and those who think nuclear power is a more useful technology to deploy in a GHG-constrained world.

    I spent most of my political life regarding nuclear power as, at best, a little scary. Now I know that it is actually orders of magnitude less scary than the viable alternatives.

  25. Syd Walker

    Jumping from fossil fuels to nuclear fission is frying pan to fire stuff.

    It’s claimed wind, solar, wave and other renewable energy sources aren’t competitive. But it has been a self-serving claim.

    When you cost the nuclear option, be sure to count the costs in full.

    Cost in the time, energy and social focus lost over unecessary conflict.

    Cost in the permanent, massive security expenses and militarisation of the state.

    Cost in uncertainties associated with things going wrong at any stage in the process including the last stage of waste disposal (why is it insurance companies are so reluctant to insure against nuclear accidents?)

    Surely we need to design an economy that invests in the profusion of new, appropriate technologies we already know exist that can help us live sustainably?

    Doubtless new technological options will emerge as we go. But we know enough now to know that solar, wind and other genuinely renewable sources are not beyond human ingenuity to tap. Needless to say, we also need to get a lot smarter and more serious about efficient energy use, insulation etc.

    Instead of coming up with more reasons for having another divisive and unproductive argument for another decade, this time over nuclear power, how about getting on making serious use of Australia’s abundant renewable energy resources? We could have a wind power industry that shames the Danes and a solar program better than Germany. What’s stopping us?

    As conservationists have been saying for decades, this is the great moral challenge of our times. Fossil fuels always were a transitional energy source. As it turns out, we need to wind up usage before they’re all gone. Fine. Let’s do it.

    No reason to turn the planet into a nest of nuclear installations and toxic dumps, all requiring more and more policing, security, surveillance etc etc.

  26. Fran Barlow

    Thanks for your response Douglas. I likewise admire your contributions on AGW above.

    Re your points:

    1.) In fact, France at its peak was constructing 3.6GW each year in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo. We could do likewise. The obstacles are mainly political and not engineering or environmental. In fact, if we settled on a design and manufactured them offsite, both the cost and the speed of construction would move in our favour.

    2) They are actually quite a bit less expensive to construct thatn any near-zero source of power generation. Wheras the latest contract (UAE) runs out at about $3760 per kW, figures for geothermal are generally quoted at about $5-7000 per kW installed. Obviously figures for geothermal are very site specific — and I rely here on Rift Valley assessments. The figures (at equal capacity credit) for wind and solar are even higher. Currently, South Australia allows a capacity credit (the amount that it assumes will be deliverable at minimum, rather than the longterm mean) of 8% on its 972MW of wind. Since the capacity credit on nuclear is 92%,the cost for each unit of notional wind (about $2500 per kW) ought to be multiplied by about 11.5. That doesn’t count the cost of the long connections needed to attach widely dispersedf resources to a grid and the transmission losses either. The figures for large scale solar thermal are not at all appealing (based on Andasol , in Spain, for example). I would encourage those interested to visit Professor Mackay’s site for a detailed discussion of these issues

    If one asks — how much does each ton of abatement cost? and given that this cost must be borne by someone and is finite,how much abatement can in practice be effected using renewables and finally, given the scale and complexity of using renewable and the likely scope of redundancy and storage needed to manage slews without load shedding, how long would it take us to build the structures required? one can see easily that the call for renewables is really a call in practice for a radically slower abatement timeline.

    It is germane to ask — is generalised anxiety about nuclear power a sufficient reason to defer action on CO2 abatement? I’d say no.

    Ruight now the options are gas + wind/solar; gas only, or nuclear. Gas + Wind/Solar will push the cost up but improve abatement hardly at all. For reference, between 17-21 May this year, the total capacity of SA wind was about 2% of name plate and for five hourse on one of the two day period, it was so close to szero that it was drawing on the system. Gas was being used to cover the credit for all of that time.

    3.) Again this is wrong. A number of South Korean plants have just been renewed to 60 years. 40 years has been a working figure. By comparison wind plants last about 20-25 years. Nobody knows yet how long solar thermal will last because the technology is not as yet settled down.

    4.) Fissionable waste is tiny in magnitude and so is not a huge problem. Right now, much of it will in fact become a new source of fuel as fast spectrum reactors are rolled out. The Russians are building one right now. Not only does this foreclose the need for new mining of uranium, but it degrades the waste to a point where it need only be secured for several hundred years to fall to background levels. Not only that,but these reactors can degrade weaponised Pu239.

    Given the tiny masses involved there are many places on the planet where one can isolate such hazmat from water tables. The risk to humans is therefore as close to zero as one can imagine a non-zero risk being — and certainly trivial compared with the palpable threat from ongoing Co2 and other airborne aerosols from the combustion of fossil fuels.

    Simple utility forces the conclusion that we should rapidly replace fossil thermal combustion for energy with nuclear power.

  27. Douglas Mackenzie

    Fran Barlow – You are, unfortunately, one of few in the broader debate (i.e., including and beyond Crikey) who writes sense and has a good grasp of the science. A breath of fresh air, if you like. You have a good point about nuclear power. Yes, it could enable a dramatic reduction in CO2 emissions (from electrical energy generation – there are still all those cars, trucks, planes, ships, . . . ), but there are problems:
    (1) It usually takes several decades to move from the approval and drawing-board stage to the commissioning of a nuclear power plant.
    (2) They are extremely expensive to construct – at least US$1 billion, and up to US$7 billion, depending on output.
    (3) They have a safe “working life” of only about 40 years, after which decommissioning costs about US$300 million (today’s dollars).
    (4) Fission waste disposal is still problematic. I don’t think it is still being dumped at sea in 200-litre barrels, but it is being fused into borosilicate glass. This material is inherently unstable, and is quite soluble in the geological environment (e.g., deep underground, where it will almost inevitably come into contact with highly corrosive deep groundwater).

    True, not all parts of the world are as blessed as is Australia with abundant resources of totally non-polluting solar and geothermal energy. Ways to tackle the problems of nuclear energy – for use in some other areas of the world (for example, parts of North America, Scandinavia and Russia) should be sought. In Australia, however, nuclear power MAY be useful as a stop-gap measure (in conjunction with the conversion of coal-fired power stations to natural/petroleum gas), but in the longer term, solar and geothermal energy sources are clearly the way of the future.

  28. Douglas Mackenzie

    Although I am not a ‘climate scientist’, I am a geologist and I am very familiar with the evidence that relates anthropogenic (and other) greenhouse gases to global warming and climate change. The close correlation between the sharp upturn in average global temperatures and a rapid rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations since about the turn of the 20th century is convincing. There are, certainly, many ‘ups and downs’ in the graph, but these are, in effect, “statistical “noise” (short-term fluctuations driven by natural forcing mechanisms): the overall trend is inexorably – and disturbingly – upward.
    What is even more disturbing is:
    (1) That the global atmospheric (and ocean) temperatures had been trending downward (with the normal fluctuations caused by forcing factors such as the Earth’s solar orbit and precession, and solar activity) from about 120,000 years ago.
    (2) That this trend began to turn upward during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century (coal consumption began to increase rapidly from about 1850), and steepened markedly from about 1910 (when petroleum consumption also began to increase rapidly with the mass production of the motor vehicle).
    (3) That to the best of our knowledge, rates of increase in atmospheric CO2 and global average temperatures have, especially since 1910, been more rapid than at any time in at least 400,000 years of recent geological history – and probably much longer than that.
    (4) That there are no signs of lessening in the rates of increase in the consumption of fossil fuels or in the overall trend in increasing global temperatures.
    (5) That the polar ice caps (and many glaciers) are melting, both seasonally and over the longer term, at rates that are unprecedented in recorded human history.
    (6) That the Arctic tundra has begun to thaw: This has the potential to release up to 400 million tonnes of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, into the atmosphere over a very short time frame.
    The (double-barreled) question then becomes: Whether or not the scientists and their interpretations and predictions are absolutely right, can we really afford to take the chance? And would it not be prudent to take out an insurance policy and take serious measures to improve energy efficiency, reduce our reliance on the consumption of fossil fuels, and move towards renewable sources of energy? Australia is blessed with almost limitless resources of the latter – notably solar and geothermal energy.

  29. Liz45

    @SYD WALKER – I heard Murdoch say he believed that humans had/were causing climate change too, but of course, as with wars, it’s in his financial interests to not support changeing our behaviours, and as he’s heavily involved with all that supports war – oil, weapons and corporate wealth in general, I’m not surprised at the role he plays, or the fact that his employees tow the line also? It’s called self preservation. I just get angry when they try to pass themselves off as journalists? Because they’re not a journalist’s bootlace! They all worship corporate wealth and power, even the ABC people don’t operate as investigative journalists! Most frustrating and disappointing! Oh for John Pilger and others who aren’t beholden to corporate wealth and don’t suck up to anyone!

    I heard someone say that something is only a conspiracy theory if it’s not true. Re 9/11 there’s so many unanswered questions, that with all that I’ve read, I’m not convinced that at least, the White House knew about it and did nothing to prevent it. When people are shocked at the idea that they could allow their own citizens to die, I just remind them of Pearl Harbour, Vietnam and the thousands killed in Iraq & Afghanistan – it’s not as though they’re ‘real people’ is it? They’re only the military people – they can get more where they come from? Gullible fools! If the US govt really cared about them, they wouldn’t send them to slaughter and be killed, and they’d look after them better when they return – damaged, and pay them what they pay their mercenaries with Blackwater or Halliburton etc instead of forcing their families to have to rely on charity to survive – Bush reduced their pay packet and conditions?

    I think that the pollies should have to lead the troops into battle, or send their own kids – then we’d see how hypocritical they really are, and how much they value their troops?????Very few wars I suggest! They didn’t get my kids!

  30. Syd Walker

    I think the sociology of ‘climate change scpeticism’ is an interesting and complex topic. I agree there are a range of groups and tendencies that have come together in a curious coalition.

    I’ve been keeping an eye on sites that cover ‘conspiracy-related’ topics for a decade or so. That is, aggregator websites covering topics such as 9-11 scepticism. An example is whatreallyhappened.com

    That website has also, in recent years, jumped onto the ‘climate change scepticism’ bandwagon, to the disappointment of visitors such as myself.

    To be charitable, I’d say that climate change scepticism resonates with much of the American right-wing libertarian tradition of property rights, freedom from government ‘interference’ and distrust of international treaties.

    There are less charitable explanations.

    One thing that merits comment, in my opinion, is the curious role of the Murdoch media. In the USA, Murdoch’s Fox News is in the forefront of ‘climate change scepticism’. In Australia, his payroll supports the likes of Andrew Bolt. Yet Murdoch also allows coverage of other, mainstream views on climate change. One might say he facilitates a semblance of free debate on the climate change issue (but not on Fox!!!).

    Murdoch made headlines when, several years ago, he publicly acknowledged that he believes anthropogenic climate change is a genuine concern. One might imagine he’d give the mainstream consensus a push along since then. Instead, it’s as though News Corp rather enjoys the squabble.

    What a contrast with News Corps’ performance in the lead up to recent wars such as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, when every single Murdoch editor around the world, as far as I could tell, supported the boss’s pro-war line.

  31. Fran Barlow

    Personally, I have no problem with the term anthropogenic climate change denier, but it is such a mouthful that I generally don’t use it.

    Other terms like fossil fuel apologist or filth merchant advocate, used with caution, can be equally good. Scientific/intellectual nihilist also works because, bearing in mind that there can never be absolute certainty in science, their position, taken consistently would deny all scientific knowledge. Equally, in so far as one expects public policy to be evidence-based and use rigorous models, refusal to countenance such a basis for policy casts them as advocates of policy based on administrative fiat.

    If there is something to object to in the advocacy of those who support atmospheric GHG emissions stabilisation and reduction, it is our tendency to lump together the disparate and heterogenous elements composing the oppositional community. As I see it there are several interacting components:

    1. High level public policy advocates, who are simply doing the bidding of those stakeholders who see their interests as tied up with what tort law would call conversion of the commons by wrongful user. For the most part these are those whose asset derive value from fossil fuel usage
    2. Culture warriors who see the struggle to reclaim the commons as some sort of socialist power grab. This would include ostensible “libertarians” of the Randian-right and those who simply want a stick to beat US-liberals over the head with so that the Republicans can recapture office
    3. Paleo-conservatives who fear that a decline in the value of oil would weaken the US as a global power
    4. Those simply duped into existential fear by 1-3 above; christian creationists; those (typically only semi-literate and numerate people) who attach authenticity to social and geographic locality and fear or distrust “furriners”, scientists, government bureaucrats, people who aren’t local or just look funny.

    Groups 1 – 3 are very well connected, but they could not do their work without the footsoldiers in group 4, and it is worth bearing this in mind when this last group swears blind that they aren’t being paid by Big Oil. They aren’t. They are simply unfortunate and culturally marginalised. Trying to reason with people in group 4 almost never works because their position goes to who they are and what they fear. Their (unrealistic) desire is to have things stay as they are, and since that can’t happen, determined cognitive dissonance (denial) and solipsistic and self-referential socio-spatial animus is what they reach for. “Where’s all the global warming the Goracle talks so much about?” they wail. “I’m freezing my butt off here in Arkansas”.

    The others aren’t persuadable either, but one can refute them and embarrass them before the uncommitted, and offer arguments that honest people can use elsewhere.

  32. Liz45

    @ALEXANDER – Hi again Alex! Glad you’re having a good?exhausting at times? time with your baby girl. Enjoy this time – it goes so fast – take lots of photos and have millions of cuddles – all lovely stuff! I can understand why people buy their first video camera when they have a new baby- it helps capture the lovely memories! A pity digital cameras weren’t around 40+ years ago, and so cheap too! 10+ megapixels under $100 – amazing.

    I agree with all you’ve said. I feel pretty depressed about the pursuit of money at the expense of human beings and the planet. I just hope that there’s more young people with your outlook, than there are those greedy bastards who don’t even care about the future of their own children. You have a great motive for protecting the planet and all the lovely things you want your little one to experience, including fresh air, plants and animals?

    The govt of NSW is so hypocritical(like the other states, no doubt?). It refers to climate change etc but does very little in order to save energy and water, and just keeps on saying ‘yes’ to more coal mines. There’s so many in the Hunter region(Newcastle area) that they’re causing serious medical problems including an increase in cancers! The ocean is ‘full’ of ships waiting to take their turn to fill up with coal for overseas. We’re exporting climate change while being derelict here. I just hope it’s not too late!

    Just wait until that litte one finds her legs! Then you’ll know what busy is!

  33. Fran Barlow

    Nicholas claimed:

    Everyone knows the climate always changes but whether that is a bad thing or a good thing has really not been explored by scientists, economists or all you posters — certainly not by Clive Hamilton who is not a scientist .

    One might stop right there, secure in the knowledge that the person who posts this is either utterly and recklessly ignorant or deceitful. It really has been explored by scientists. Some of these climate changes (e.g. the End Permian event) have acquired the descriptor extinction events. There are five such events recognised, and this doesn’t include the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) which radically reconfigured life on the planet 55.8 million years ago. Basically, everything with a mass above 35kg departed forever. Right now, temperatures are rising faster, and off a higher base than the PETM.

    What Nicholas also avoids is why they are rising. Plainly, human agency was not a factor in the PETM. It is a factor now, and that is salient, unless we plan to survive something likely, at best, to prejudice human life chances on the planet on time scales relevant to us. The “it’s changed in the past” meme assumes we don’t care about being wiped out or suffering a serious setback as a species. I wish the advocates of reckless indifference to human survival — an existential question if ever there was one — would have the honesty to say this explicitly.

    How amusing it is that for sections of the right, a carbon price counts as existential but human life chances do not.

  34. Alexander Berkman

    @ Nicholas nutjob…..please, back in the kennel with thee…. as for the ALP and environment policy. Is it not bleeding obvious that both parties represent the ‘big’ end of town whether it’s those crying poor billionaire miners, old growth forest rip and burners, road building emperors or develop develop develop developers, the LIB & ALP are their to represent their wishes.? How many former ‘big wig’ pollies are struggling on their pensions, super and appointments to all sorts of corporate boards, particularly the ones they helped out with policies while in govt? Neither party is truly interested in the inevitable , undeniable fact that we live on a planet with FINITE resources and that no matter what the loony ‘we humans don’t cause any climate problems wingnuts say’, you cannot continue to pollute, destroy, burn, mine, consume and pillage the earth the way we glorified monkeys are doing at our current rates. Sustainability is a catch phrase thrown around to impress yet when coming from the mouth of either party or a corporation it has as much meaning as a meal labeled fresh frozen… lies lies and more damn lies. Until such time we stop believing the absolute shite peddled by the business as usual corporate press we are on a road to nowhere fast (apologies to david byrne) . Inevitably we must put a price on carbon, we must put a price on methane (animal industries account for 18% of the world’s ‘greenhose’ gases and is equal to all the world’s transport combined) and we must look to changing our economy to a truly sustainable one. One that doesn’t measure the health / wealth of our country by growth but by conservation of resources and renewable energy. Edward Abbey said ‘growth for growth ‘s sake is the same principle of a cancer cell’ and Australia it seems , whether ruled by the ALP or the Libs will need a heavy dose to cure our addiction….

  35. Syd Walker

    Having now watching Gillard’s Laurie Oakes interview, in which she discussed climate change policy, I think the approach she is taking has promise. Time will tell if the ALP, under her leadership, once again comes up with a crock of shit supportable only by ‘moderates’ in the Coalition – or whether she will use this opportunity to re-think the policy and attempt to design and implement a serious (as opposed to cosmetic) strategy for reducing Australia’s emissions rapidly.

    The time is ripe for her to take the latter course – probably more so than it was in 2007.

    The coal and mining industry – working with their mates in the ALP – were always going to try at least once to rort the ALP’s greenhouse emission policy, once Labor got back into Government. Rudd could have prevented that – but didn’t. Perhaps he lost track of the detail and listened only to a cocoon of self-serving advisers, who sold him the Ferguson-Wong ETS? It’s odd he didn’t give Bob Brown and Christine Milne the opportunity to explain the substantive problems to him face to face.

    In any event, by the time Rudd and Gillard ditched the ETS policy, it was not worth saving and was liable to piss everyone off, especially conservationists!

    I’d like to see a rising carbon tax, redistributive measures to ensure the poorest don’t bear the principle burden of change and massive investment in long-term infrastructure building so our economy and way of life is redesigned for sustainability over the course of a couple of decades. I’d view ETS schemes as potentially useful for specific sectors, such as within the power industry – but not as the over-aching policy mechanism, as previously proposed.

    As a footnote, Roger Clifton is wrong about the Taliban IMHO.

    The Taliban, when in power, was actually quite willing to make dramatic reductions in the opium harvest, and achieved that result with US State Dept and UN support…. until the invasion of 2001 completely reversed their success in reducing harvests. If, after that, they have played a role in opium export, it has been (a) the type of thing resistance movements do when other options are closed off, and (b) a quite minor involvement compared with American-backed warlords.

    If we want peace, we need to guard against recycling disinformation about the Taliban, the Government of Iran and others targeted by war propagandists.

    See http://sydwalker.info/blog/2009/04/29/laughing-off-the-oblivion-express/

  36. kuke

    Clive’s spot-on: “business as usual for the coal industry for a long time to come.”

    India has a good idea – a $1.2/tonne tax on coal . I’d sooner see a carbon tax before a RSPT, after-all, the former’s far more essential and the latter only makes it harder.

  37. Fran Barlow

    I believe the best proposal we could put know on a price on co2 emissions would have the following elements:

    1. Define dirty energy by reference to the average CO2 intensity of anthracite coal (stationary) and CO2/BTU of petrodiesel (transport)
    2. Allow tax deductibility for the proportion of cost saving in relation to dirty energy. Thus,if the energy mix one paid for was 75% of the intensity of “dirty energy”, one would get 25% of it tax deductible
    3. Withdraw subsidies for all dirty energy usage
    4. Hypothecate funds clawed back under 2 and 3 to pay means tested assistance in tax-free and welfare exempt cash or service (eg public housing, food bank) to those in the bottom 60% of income earners — so it is revenue neutral.

    The advantage of this is that it would effectively make dirt energy an after tax expense,whereas clean energy would be before tax. It would make energy saving and efficiency cost-rational. It would stimulate demand for energy saving and clean energy development

    It would also be administratively simpler, since you would not have to do much more than audit claimed clean energy usage, thus simplifying compliance. Payments to low income earners go through an existing system. All businesses would pay and there would be little scope to game the system. Different arms of the bureaucracy would not be pulling in opposite directions — (subsidising and then taxing/limiting)

    Politically, it can’t be called a “Great Big New Tax” and the presenting feature would be low income and low middle income earners being paid or getting services. The Liberals, who on paper oppose subsidies would be hard pressed to oppose it. A regulatory regime limiting emissions could still be progressively imposed.

    Being a regulatory measure, it also wouldn’t require senate approval, since it could be implemented at the minister’s discretion, though it would be worth putting to the senate. The government could implement it early — perhaps as early as January 1 — as an amendment to the budget.

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