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!
Yes, the wonderful traditional owners at Muckaty did have a landmark win, after their 7 year battle to stop a radioactive waste dump on their land.
And yes – informed people world-wide ware applauding their courage and conviction. And yes, Australia’s mainstream media is pretty much ignoring it.
The next sally by the pro nuclear forces will be to portray thos courageous indigenous people as ‘victims’ – manipulated by ‘outside forces’ – by which they mean the environment movemnt.
We would be naive to think that the nuclear lobby and government will now give up on dumping nuclear waste on Aboriginal land. They could give up, and select a site at Lucas Heights for teh storage of the small amount of highly radioactive waste that Australia is bound to take back from overseas.
But that is not the real aim of Australia’s pro nuclear Liberal and Labor parties. The old greedy dream of John White and others is to make Australia the radioactive trash importing country for the world.
It will indeed be tragedy, if they are able to blackmail and or bribe Aboriginal communities to host this toxic dump. It is understandable that many indigenous people, living in conditions of poverty, could see such deals as beneficial to their families
The nuclear lobby is determined to keep both their thriving nuclear weapons industry and their failing commercial nuclear industry going.
A major impediment for them is the ever- growing piles of toxic radioactive trash, including the dead reactors themselves. So, amongst the many nuclear lies (about radiation being OK for health, about solving climate change, about cheap costs, about helping under-developed nations) – amongst these lies – the top ones today are the:
LIES ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTES
1. THE LIE about new nuclear reactors turning nuclear wastes now into valuable resources. “The new nuclear reactors will consume the former ‘wastes’,that we now call ‘valuable fuel resources’ ” .
This is supposed to happen through Mixed Oxide Fuel reactors (MOX) or through pyroprocessing as in Molten Salt fuelled Reactors(MSRs) such as Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) But all in fact greatly increase the volume of radioactive waste.
2. THE LIE that new gee-whiz Thorium Nuclear Reactors do not produce wastes. They do, some lasting the mere 3 centuries, some lasting for many thousands of years
The Thorium lie is often linked to promotion of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) . They sound sweet and harmless, but require plutonium and/or enriched uranium to function. That means that the conventional nuclear industry must keep going- to supply them – and hey presto! they will solve the waste problem!. Wrong! As they themselves produce and indeed become – radioactive trash.
Thorium reactors and SMRs are unlikely to ever happen, due to their exorbitant cost, technical problems, and public resistance.
BUT because communities are unwilling to host radioactive trash dumps, thorium promotes are touting their wares to governments – a cowardly escape from the hard decisions that are needed.
The hard decisions needed are:
1. Stop nuclear power in all its forms – stop making the stuff
2. Confront and deal with the necessary task of deep burial of the existing radioactive trash, with equitable and full community participation and understanding
Right now the Federal Court case is on with hearings in Melbourne, Tennant Creek and Darwin, examining the Federal Government’s plan for a radioactive waste dump on Aboriginal land at Muckaty near Tennant Creek. The Court’s focus will be on issues of consent and control, regarding the Traditional landowners.
Australia is obliged to take back high level radioactive wastes that were sent from Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, in Sydney, to UK and Europe. So this, not huge, volume of nuclear wastes has to go somewhere. There is also the continuing problem of more nuclear wastes being churned out by the. Lucas Heights reactor. Still, not now a huge volume. There is a sound case for it to be stored onsite
The underlying motive for the planned Muckaty waste dump could well be what Bob Hawke has been suggesting – the start of a lucrative (for some people) international nuclear waste import business.
No surprise that it is planned for Aboriginal land. This is the the time honoured traditional way – privileged societies make money out of industrial processes, and make sure that indigenous peoples cop the environmental degradation and the health costs. If absolutely necessary, bribery or blackmail are used to help this process along.
The nuclear nations are now, very late in the peace, beginning to face up to the foul thing that they have created – nuclear radioactive trash. USA, UK, Europe, Russia even China face the turmoil of where to put it.
It is simple insanity to keep on making the stuff.
Australia has already trashed the land of Aboriginal people, by allowing Britain to atomic bomb huge expanses of South Australia, where teh radioactive wastes linger. But we have the opportunity to remain one of the many nations that are now intrinsically nuclear free. We can shut down Lucas Heights, (get medical isotopes from non nuclear sources) and say NO to radioactive trash dumping on Aboriginal land