But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power” projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.
When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)
COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion. Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.
Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Of all countries, Australia stands out as being suitable for small scale solar technology. The reasons are simple. So much sunshine. Such great distances. It doesn’t make sense to build poles and wires for thousands of miles, when you can get your electricity directly, on the spot. Rural and remote Australia are taking advantage of these simple facts, with mining companies and faraway towns moving from diesel power to solar.
Australian politics seems curiously disconnected to this reality. You’d expect the National Party (traditionally based in country Australia) to wake up to the small scale renewable energy revolution, but they haven’t, so far.
Most Australians live in cities and towns, and here, solar panels are multiplying at a fast rate, particularly in politically and socially conservative Queensland.
‘800 MW (816.64 MW to be exact) of new small-scale capacity installed in 2014 was split amongst 185,950 different systems — with the average size of these systems being ~4.4 kW’ – December report of Green Energy markets
Commercial and Council buildings are getting solar power – again, most popular in rural areas, but also in cities. Both Sydney and Melbourne City Councils are actively using and promoted solar panels, as are many suburban councils, and rural councils.
Solar power on schools, nursing homes, commercial buildings is turning out to be a big financial advantage. There are innovative schemes, -too many to discuss here. But – my favourite – I can’t resist mentioning – is South Australia’s Sundrop Farms. The Sundrop Farms System allows land normally not deemed suitable for agriculture or horticulture to produce large quantities of food. The company claims its hydroponics based greenhouse growing methods yield 15-30 times more produce per hectare than conventional field production. Each hectare of Sundrop Farms greenhouses also directly employs between 5-7 people.
Australia has both an extraordinary opportunity to lead on climate change action, and an extraordinary role in promoting the polluting coal and nuclear industries. Australians can take their pick.
The choices before us:
To develop renewable energy, energy efficiency, and phase out coal and gas, and be a voice for action internationally. This can happen only with a change of government. We need a double dissolution. Australia has a uniquely strange Prime Minister, who doesn’t care if he is kicked out in the 2016 federal election, which he surely would be. Abbott is happy to carry out the corporate agenda of the Institute of Public Affairs, and then retire to comfortable well-funded complacency, knowing that he has served his IPA masters well.
To go along with the Abbott agenda – quite a complex business, involving ramping up the coal and gas industries, while now suggesting that well, perhaps there is a greenhouse gas problem – so therefore we need nuclear power.
Think about the illogicality of that. If nuclear power were, in fact, an answer to climate change (which it’s not – too slow, too polluting in itself) then there might be some argument for a little chilly country like Sweden to use nuclear power. For a big sunny, windy country like Australia – nuclear power makes no sense at all.
Look out for the Australian nuclear lobby, headed by the supposed
environmentalist Barry Brook, which is now enjoying global fame, a leadership position in the world’s pro nuclear campaign for 2015.
I hope that. in this busy week, readers will take time to read Jim Green’s letter to conservation scientists, refuting the extraordinary push for nuclear power that seems to have caught some of them up in Barry Brook’s zeal for the nuclear industry.
I also hope that by reading THE AUSTRALIAN’s account of Senator David Leyonhjelm’s quite eccentric ideas on nuclear power, readers will reflect on the plight of politics in Australia. Thanks to the smartaleck manipulations of Glenn Druery – we now have a situation where the Australian government can be strongly influenced by complete nutters and ignorami getting into the Senate on a miniscule sprinkling of votes.
One of these is Senator Leyonhjelm – whose response to the Sydney hostage drama was that Australian s should have MORE guns. I found myself applauding former prime minister John Howard for his outspoken stance, and his actions on gun control – and his response to the weapon-happy Leyonhjelm.
Like Senator Jacqui Lambie, darling of the fossil fuel industries, who is aiming to destroy the Renewable Energy Target, Senator Leyonhjelm is one of those undemocratically propelled into Parliament by the Druery-style manipulation of preference votes.
Well, I’m betting that Tony Abbott won’t be in government that long – and may Leyonhjelm and Lambie disappear from the scene at the same time.
It’s the anniversary year of the outbreak of World War 1. We will be hearing a lot about WW1 and ANZAC Day over the next 3 years. We salute the heroism of those soldiers, and mourn the deaths of so many, so young. At the same time, the forces of militarism will be glorifying war, even in these times of solemn remembrance.
Fortunately, Australia does have a number of organisations dedicated to peace. Their voices will be heard from now on. There is the Anzac Centenary 2015 A Coalition of Citizens and Organizations calling for a national conversation on Australia’s identity and the place of war in its past and future. The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign‘s programme will focus on the human costs of militarism and of myths about the ANZACs. Both bring together diverse groups, both religious and secular.
To the nuclear industry the concept of ENOUGH is anathema. If you saw their slick advertising film “Pandora’s Promise” you would note that their major theme is endless GROWTH that will perpetually require ENDLESS ENERGY.
The nuclear industry’s shills, and there are many of them, love to portray the anti-nuclear movement as wanting to send people back to living in a “dark ages” style. Nothing could be further from the truth. Genuine environmentalists (as against nuclear lobby shills like Patrick Moore) want all people to have a life of more light, of reasonable comfort and leisure time, of enough of the good things of this world, rather than of too much.
World leaders met in Brisbane, Australia for a fairly pointles summit, devoted to “economic growth”. While the host country ruled by a scientifically illiterate Prime Minister Tony Abbott, insisted “no talk of climate change”, those words were indeed heard, around the traps. While the formal agenda of the G20 was pretty meaningless, as will be its formulaic communique, – perhaps the personal talks in the sidelines might reflect the reality that the global economy just cannot sustain this mindless growth
It’s time that governments, bankers, industry leaders woke up to the reality that the world economy is threatened by growth, threatened by the accelerating destruction of this planet’s air, water, land, and biodiversity. The destroyer is the growing human population and its growing consumption of ever more unnecessary products and unnecessary energy use.
It’s time that people stepped away from endless individualistic consumption, and towards a reasonable life of more cooperation, of working less hours. It’s time to move from our suicidal consumer culture, to a conserver culture.
The G20 Summit has come and gone watched by up to 3,000 domestic and international media representatives. Amnog the 4,000 delegates were US President Barack Obama, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minster David Cameron
The purpose of this summit ? to foster economic growth. Yes – a bigger world population, greater production of ‘goods’, greater consumption of ‘goods’ and energy. Supposedly all this is good for business. Climate change wasn’t meant to be on the agenda – Tony Abbott saw to that.
And yet, and yet. TV viewers saw the rapturous reception given by university students to President Obama, as he urged them to promote action on climate change. Obama moved freely and relaxedly amongst the students.
Could Tony Abbott do that? I bet not. Largely because of Tony Abbott’s climate change denialism, he cannot go anywhere near young Australians, for fear of the risks of booing and of rotten eggs flying at him.
Australia was once a leader in environmental consciousness. We understood that at the basis of a healthy economy was a healthy environment – earth, water, air. It is ironic that Australia should be hosting this international growthfest, under the leadership of Prime Minster Tony Abbott who has absolutely no idea of environment, nor of sustainable economics.
The nuclear connection is an underlying one. The nuclear industry, as shown by its advertisement film “Pandora’s Promise” . depends on the world accepting the need for endless growth and consumption, with ever increasing energy use – supplied by nuclear power. And – make no mistake – the Abbot government, (and its wimpy weak Labor opposition) has bought this idea – or more correctly, have been bought by the polluting industries.
There is a new philosophy emerging – but not from these so-called leaders, – the philosophy of the Conserver Society, as against the Consumer Society . This is well expressed by Frank Rotering in his concept of “Contractionism”
That we cannot go on as a species plagueing the planet, trashing it, and thinking that somehow humans can start it all over again on another planet. There must be a radical change in economic thinking, and as Frank Rotering suggests, this could well be led by business – by real leaders, who see that it makes financial sense to be truly conservative -
I don’t pretend that Australians of good will are at present winning the battle. We are up against the worst government ever, informed by the worst press domination – the Murdochracy.
However, Australians have made many local achievements in saving environment, and some national achievements in stalling the growth of polluting industries.
Here’s one achievement: Indigenous Protected Areas
changes are already happening in many districts. More than 50 million hectares — an area more than twice the size of the state of Victoria — are now managed and protected in Indigenous Protected Areas.
These are parks on Aboriginal-owned lands managed by Aboriginal ranger groups using a combination of modern and traditional knowledge and techniques.
The growth of Indigenous Protected Areas during the past 10 years, and their management for the benefit of local communities and all Australians, has been one of the success stories in the environmental and economic development of remote Australia.
Here’s somewhat of a success story in the nuclear -free movement
What we have achieved together Australian Conservation Foundation
ACF’s work for a nuclear-free future has been an important part of decades of opposition to the nuclear industry in Australia that has seen:
- Plans for domestic nuclear power scrapped;
- National and state legislation introduced to prohibit international radioactive waste dumping;
- Development and maintenance of anti-uranium mining policies and laws along the eastern seaboard;
- Scrapping of plans for uranium enrichment;
- Halting plans for a new uranium mine at Jabiluka in Kakadu;
- Continuing contest to all existing and new uranium projects and proposals in Australia;
- Strong regional and international campaign cooperation and exchange, including around French nuclear testing in the Pacific;
- Extensive liaison and links with Indigenous communities and organisations;
- World Heritage protection for that area of Kakadu threatened by the proposed Koongarra uranium mine; and
- An end to the threat of uranium mining at Arkaroola in South Australia’s Gammon Ranges.
We have facilitated a continuing public debate about the risks and responsibilities of our involvement in the global nuclear trade and continue to do so. We want meaningful action to address our energy needs, based upon leaving uranium in the ground..
Well, Australia seems to be doing not too well in environmental matters, (nor in most others, at present). The sooner we get rid of the Abbott government, the better.
I’ve tried to be non political – because our land, our water, our air, our planet – these matters are beyond party politics. That is something that some Liberals are now realising.
The mass Climate Action Marches on September 21st showed that Australians care. On the local level, so many Australians, including Liberals, are working to conserve the wildlife, our water and land, and many are members of groups like Landcare, Australian Koala Foundation, and the most prominent activist groups – Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, and Beyond Nuclear.
Australia’s environmentalists do have quite a proud history of achievement in environmental goals, really, a remarkable record in awakening public opinion and in slowing down polluting industries. It is thanks to the work of Australians like Dr Helen Caldicott that the atmospheric nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific were stopped. It is thanks to the anti-nuclear movement that Australia does not have the nightmare of nuclear power.
Australians in general do have a strong appreciation of nature. They also seem to be showing a keen appreciation of the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy. The September Climate March, is, I believe, the start of a stronger movement for public awareness of our ecological peril, and for action for positive change.
Great changes in the Earth’s history are marked in geological Ages, with great changes caused by events such as volcanoes, meteorite impacts, climate change and the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, and occurring over millions of years. Now geologists are seeing changes in the Earth that are occurring over merely one hundred years.
These changes are caused by the activities of one species – human beings. They usher in a new Age – the Anthropocene (or human-caused ) Epoch.
The changes in the Anthropocene Age are already profound:
- Landscape – Deforestation, desertification, mountains carved by mining, rivers dammed and rerouted, islands sinking under sea level rise.
- Ecology – massive extinctions of species – loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity
- Climate change – rise in greenhouse gases in atmosphere, heating of air and oceans, acidification of oceans, glaciers melting, sea level rise
- Water - shortage of clean drinking water, pollution of groundwater and surface waters.
Those are just a few “headlines” for the changes that we have already wrought on the only liveable planet.
THE NUCLEAR CONTRIBUTION to the Anthropocene Epoch has already been great – with the landscape scarring effect of thousands of atmospheric and underground atomic bomb tests.
Radioactive pollution – from atomic bomb making, and testing, and from several parts of the nuclear power chain has affected soil, groundwater and air.
The nuclear lobby loves to talk about “background radiation” as if it’s all naturally caused and benign. However it includes radionuclides that never before existed on Earth – plutonium, strontium, cesium, carbon-14, and radioactive iodine from atomic bomb testing and other nuclear activities.
The nuclear industry is the epitome of the whole process of human society destroying its own essential environment. While so-called “primitive” societies function on a culture of spirituality, and respect for the land, unfortunately the “developed” society has the upper hand in this sad world, and seems bent on mindless destruction.
I do single out nuclear power and nuclear weaponry, because this toxic industry has special features that do not apply in anything like the same degree, to our other toxic industries. These features are: secrecy, deception, false propaganda, invisible cancer-causing radiation, dangerous wastes lasting for thousands of years, weaponry that could quickly annihilate millions, astronomic costs to be paid by present and future generations.
This nuclear nastiness is symptomatic of the malaise affecting the world. The dominant culture of endless growth and endless consumption has now brought about global warming, and frightening climate change with extreme weather, sea level rise, and acidification of the oceans. The focus is now on climate change – but it is not the only disaster befalling our planet.
And all these disasters are related to each other – and to the race for to grow, consume, and sell. Where to start? – over-population, chemical pollution, deforestation, over-fishing, scarcity of clean water , destruction of habitats – loss of biodiversity, loss of arable soil, – just a few aspects of our truly disastrous world culture.
An alien space traveller might be bemused – observing how the world’s technocrats come up with “solutions”. Things like geo-engineering – an example of yet again trying out grand chemical fixes, which would make an awful lot of money for a few, and an awful lot of misery for many.
The trashing of our world is the background to the distrust between ethnic and religious groups, and to violent and criminal clashes. That in turn, feeds the greedy weapons industry, which, while making a few people rich, sets the scene for military destruction of the world environment.
My favourite silly solution is the push to set up a colony on Mars. Never mind that Mars average temperature is 51F, but can reach – 184F on cold nights, that there’s not enough oxygen, that there’s no magnetic field to protect us from cosmic radiation, there’s intolerably low atmospheric pressure …..etc. Never mind that the astronauts would probably die on the way there anyway.
There IS NO PLANET B.
Australia is seen as the “lucky country” – wealthy, healthy, progressive – happily remote from the troubles, and the pollution of other countries. But, as Barry Jones once wrote – Sleepers Awake!
Australia is well and truly up there with the major world polluters. Indeed, we boast the greatest greenhouse emissions per person, of any country in the world. We’re letting the coal industry trash the Great Barrier Reef. We’re killing our one and only major river system – the Murray Darling. We’re champion deforesters. Australia’s thin arable topsoil is being blown and washed away. Radioactive pollution has been with us since the inception of the dirty uranium industry, and the colonialist scandal of Britain’s atomic bomb testing, – and fools are recommending that we get more of it!
This website has focused on the nuclear industry. But really, that should not be separated from all the other criminal offences against the planet – carried out because of an exploitative and crazy culture of endless growth and endless consumption.
We’d better hope that it is not too late to change. At a “local level” Australians can learn from traditional Aboriginal land management, as described by Bill Gammage in his book The Biggest Estate”
At a global level, we’d better take part in the world-wide movement towards clean energy, and towards a conserver, rather than a consumer, society.
We know what a suicide plane crash can do to buildings. We know what missiles can do to planes. But what about the radioactive devastation that terrorist missiles, bombs, computer hacking could do to nuclear facilities?
While the nuclear nations ramp up their nuclear weapons – supposedly for “security” “defense” – they are in fact increasing their vulnerability – setting up targets for terrorists.
Nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel pools, nuclear waste containers, nuclear transports – these are indeed the perfect targets for terrorist attack. Meanwhile the nuclear lobby spins out its guff about “energy security” blah blah. Governments worry about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis – and well they should.
The “twin towers” attack of September 2011, the missile attack on a civilian plane over Ukraine – surely these are indications of why it is time to get rid of those even more terrible targets – the world’s nuclear facilities.
In August, we remember Hiroshima, Nagasaki and World War 2. The fear of nuclear war still hangs over the world. However, terrorism is now a more likely threat. The nuclear industry in all its forms provides for terrorists the best possible targets.
AUSTRALIA RISKS AN EVEN WORSE NUCLEAR TARGET FUTURE
Greedy businessmen and unimaginative politicians are scheming to get the entire nuclear fuel chain into this country. This will inevitably be part of the USA militatarism in the region, and will provide not just one nuclear terrorism target, as we now have, but many. The big push is for the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor ( LFTR), Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Importation of Nuclear Wastes. A lot of money for a few? A lot of danger for all of us!