But what is good will? How is it shown? The answer is in respect for one another. Respect means listening to the other’s point of view, and clearly saying your own point of view. It means discussion, argument – communication.
It can be difficult and time consuming. It often seems easier to just hit someone, show them who’s boss, as we have seen in countless Hollywood films – where might is right.
The world is pretty much at the crossroads now. Some Israeli and USA politicians threaten military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran threatens retaliation. North Korea continues to be a nuclear weapons worry and China, India, USA, Russia, UK ramp up their nuclear weapons. Threats, decisions for violent action – it all seems simpler quicker, easier – easier than communication, negotiation, diplomacy.
Australia can be proud of its history of anti nuclear activism – it has kept Australia nuclear weapons free, nuclear power free, and has limited and slowed the uranium industry. Now more than ever, Australia needs its anti nuclear movement, and the Greens party
In both Liberal and Labor parties, machinations go on, behind the scenes, to make Australia a nuclear industry hub, – from uranium quarry right through to nuclear waste dump for the world.
What nice Christmas presents these would make, for their corporate backers!
The Liberals have always been ready to sell out Australia’s clean energy future – and both parties make hypocritical statements about peace, while allowing BHP, ERA, to supplying uranium – fuel for nuclear weapons.
The Labor party already has reneged on its commitment to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, since Prime Minister Julia Gillard dramatically caved in to USA pressure and allowed uranium sales to India. The ALP is stacked with little go getters who know where their corporate backing comes from. Gary Gray, Paul Howes are the prominent pro nuclear Labor figures.
But Labor in general shuts up until they think the timing is right. Labor leader Bill Shorten proclaims Labor’s anti nuclear policy (for now) but in reality, Shorten sits on the fence, ready to go whichever way the wind is blowing – “in the case for nuclear power the jury is out” ”I do see the uranium mining debate as separate to the nuclear power debate”.
Aboriginal Senator Nova Peris stands out in her opposition to the Muckaty radioactive trash dump plan. And The Greens are still there – with Christine Milne, Scott Ludlam, Adam Bandt, Larissa Waters standing firm in their anti nuclear commitment.
Australia’s anti nuclear movement continues – and with it grows the movement, at home and abroad, towards clean, non nuclear, renewable energy.
The global nuclear lobby looks to China as its saviour. The World Nuclear Association(WNA) boasts that China has 17 working nuclear power reactors and 30 under construction, They are less enthusiastic about the safety concerns about China’s nuclear reactors, nuclear wastes, and growing nuclear arsenal – as well as about the increasing popular resistance to nuclear power. See the sidebar at right, for the negative side of China’s nuclear power – and reasons why China might not fulfil the nuclear lobby’s dream.
While the Chinese government is trying to crack down on corruption , in fact, corruption is entrenched in both public and private businesses - graft, bribery, embezzlement, backdoor deals, nepotism, patronage, and statistical falsification. No surprise that this goes on on the very secretive operations of nuclear power and nuclear waste management. And the world does not get to hear of any nuclear whistleblowers in the closed totalitarian State of China.
The danger and security issues of nuclear power make China deal more forcefully and secretly with nuclear power. For China, as with its neighbour, India, nuclear power leads to suppression of civil liberties.
As China has in fact slowed down its nuclear power programme, it has, like Japan, looked to export nuclear technology, as a way to make the industry financially viable.
The original and greatest nuclear power country – USA – now finds nuclear power costly and dangerous, The imperative is to somehow make money out of this mess. The answer? – just as with asbestos and cigarettes – sell it off to Asia and the Middle East. France and Russia join in the nuclear marketing frenzy – as does Japan, too (desperate to pretend that all is well at Fukushima.)
And why do Asian and Middle Eastern countries want this poisonous industry? I can only suppose that, along with fashion, consumerism, cars, etc – everything Western is perhaps seen as ‘progress’.
And there’s that other factor, too. It would perhaps be nice to have the option of nuclear weapons. If you want nuclear weapons, you must first have nuclear power.
And you might just think that nuclear weapons might be a good idea. (After all, would Iraq have been invaded if it had nuclear weapons?)
The future for Australia’s uranium industry is murky indeed. The Australian uranium lobby loves to tell us, ad nauseum, what a great future they have in uranium sales to China. What they don’t tell us is that China is determined to become self sufficient in nuclear fuels. Also China has become apprehensive about nuclear power, since the Fukushima disaster. There are serious safety concerns. China has a developing anti nuclear movement China’s renewable energy program is growing faster than its nuclear program . China has suspended inland nuclear projects and slowed its nuclear program. It is almost certainly abandoning its 3 largest nuclear projects.
And of course – with the current world glut of uranium, uranium prices are going to be low for a long time yet (perhaps forever)
The World Nuclear Association is busily touting the future of nuclear technology in Asia and Middle East – (more about that next week on this page) . This may not be all that relevant to Australia. The great leap forward in nuclear power in Asia and Middle East is not happening nearly as fast as the Australian Uranium Association would have us believe. Which means that the future of uranium sales is not looking good.
This is one big reason why the nuclear lobby is turning its attention to Australia becoming in fact like a Third World country – that is – being not so much an exporter of uranium fuel , but a customer for the nuclear materials that USA, France, Russia Japan, (and even China and South Korea) are desperate to sell off.
There’s another side to Australia’s nuclear relationship with Asia. This is the curious contradiction between Australia’s drive to develop trade with Asian countries, and especially with China – and the danger of Australia as a nuclear target. More about this on the sidebar at right.
Denial of the health effects of ionising radiation is the latest and the most sinister, of the lies against science.
Denial of science is not new – goes back to Flat Earth and beyond. It does have to do with complex psychological issues. These include resentment and jealousy of the respected position of scientists, fear of change, and a kind of helplessness in the face of challenging circumstances.
There are other motivations – such as the desire to be famous and important – as being someone “brave enough to oppose the mainstream”
Then there’s the “libertarian idea” – so strongly believed by Rupert Murdoch, that government must not interfere with personal freedom. This idea would include – the freedom to promote smoking to young people, to get a job as an asbestos miner, to refuse to vaccinate children against fatal diseases, to accept that low level irradiation of one’s children is OK.
But none of these motivations would get “air play”, would prevail, if it were not for the Money Motive – the good old “What’s In It For Whom?” That’s the impetus behind public relations people, “consultants” , journalists, commentators, TV producers, film-makers etc who are paid by think tanks that are fronts for polluting industries, and for corporate giants like the Koch brothers. And - don’t let’s forget, - the scientists and science media who are paid by governments that are trapped - financially beholden to polluting corporations, and to the military industrial complex
The nuclear denialism industry is next to take off in Australia: the propaganda film, Pandora’s Promise heralds its next media burst.
Climate change denialism rules here at present, only partly because the climate change story is complicated.
Australia has a relatively good history of resisting science denialism. We went along with scientifically accepted public health measures – of water fluoridation, and of vaccination. Australia eventually rejected and fought the asbestos and tobacco industry lobbies, with their denials of science’s message of harm from smoking and asbestos.
For a while there, Australia was at the forefront of climate change awareness. Even Prime Minister John Howard accepted this, and promoted carbon pricing. Kevin Rudd came to power initially on a wave of public enthusiasm for action on climate change.
Australia was a nation that was aware of, and accepting of broad scientific agreement on matters of health and the global environment.
Not any more. What changed?
For one thing – the science of global warming has become more complex, though no less authentic. Science’s asbestos and tobacco messages were simpler.
For another thing, the paid science denial industry has grown, to become a global force, now reaching well into Australia. And it has found fertile ground here, with Rupert Murdoch controlling 70% of the news media.
Nuclear denialism promises to be even more complicated than climate change denialism. After all, we can personally notice the extremes of temperature, the eroding coasts, as sea level rises, and we can see pictures of the disappearing Arctic ice, and dwindling glaciers. We can notice the graphs of rising C02 in the atmosphere parallel with rising global temperatures.
We cannot see the invisible “background” radiation, (largely caused by nuclear bomb testing). The insidious illnesses from ionising radiation take decades to appear, (like asbestos diseases, but much less simple to prove). As with climate change, there are lots of people in Australia, ready and willing to take money for denying science.
The “front end”, the “central” and the “back end” The nuclear lobby has successfully confined discussion of nuclear power costs to the “central” cost of building nuclear reactors. Even anti-nuclear activists concentrate on this.
But – what about the Hidden Costs? – at the “Front end” and the “Back end”
THE VERY SECRET COSTS OF NUCLEAR POWER
Well it is impossible for anyone to estimate the real costs of nuclear power, as only a narrow range of costs are discussed, even where the nuclear industry is supposedly privately owned.
We need to separate the (uneconomic) role of uranium in the (uneconomic) nuclear power industry, from the (thriving) role of uranium in the nuclear weapons industry.
Puzzled as to why Australia’s uranium lobby remains so optimistic, in the face of the crumbling nuclear “renaissance”? Well, there mightn’t be much money in nuclear energy any more, but there sure is money in nuclear fuels for weapons. As an important strategic military location for USA, and a blindly loyal ally of USA, South Australia is well positioned to be the supplier of uranium enriching for USA. Also handy as a dump for nuclear wastes.
So all that’s needed is the full nuclear fuel cycle in South Australia. That’ll make, well, a few selected individuals, very rich.
In Australia, discussion of the economics of nuclear power is strangely quarantined from the global discussion. Under the influence and ignorance of politicians, corporate bosses, and the Murdoch media, economic information about nuclear power is marvellously skewed away from the truth.
We just don’t get to hear about the collapsing nuclear industry in America, the agonies over nuclear costs in the UK, the movement away from nuclear in Europe, and doubts over nuclear economics, in Asia. The renewed emergency at Fukushima now adds to the dimming prospects for the nuclear industry
The “spot” price for uranium plunges ever downward. The “term” or contract price now tends downward, too. Australian uranium mining companies are hanging on like grim death, waiting for the fabled “nuclear renaissance” that never comes. They are bolstered by a subservient media, that seems to swallow the line that – uranium prices are so near the bottom – it is proof that that they must come up. Must they, really?
Nuclear power for Australia is a crackpot idea. You get people like Martin Nicholson advocating it as an economically viable industry. He spews out impressive figures. But he doesn’t mention what climate change is likely to do to nuclear reactors (they have to be near water). Doesn’t mention costs of waste disposal, costs of endless security. And of course – the big one – that renewable energy is fuelled for free, can co-exist with farming, can be erected quickly in small scale methods, and relatively quickly in large scale, – and does not degrade the soil underneath.
The Australian nuclear lobby might seem impressive. But – it is made up of separate wrangling interests, competing with each other.
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” - J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientist and “father of the bomb”
On the morning of 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later the United States dropped a plutonium bomb code-named “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. 140,000 people (almost all civilians) died in Hiroshima either immediately or within a few days. Deaths in Nagasaki were about 74,000. The survivors lived on, some with horrifying burns scars, some to die of radiation-induced illnesses
Following the war, many scientists involved in the atomic bomb project, turned to the “atoms for peace” program – nuclear power. They did this partly out of guilt, partly to continue to be employed. (Where would a nuclear physicist get a job, otherwise? Well, some were happy to continue with nuclear weapons development)
Nuclear weapons are an inevitable by-product of the nuclear power industry
Australia’s uranium feeds nuclear weapons
Australia has long been part of the USA’s nuclear war strategy. Pine Gap, USA’s secret facility in Central Australia, has since 1966 been a centre for espionage and for co-ordination of US air strikes. It has been part of America’s “Star Wars” plan to put missiles into space. American congressmen have made $millions from their investments in Defense Department contracts in Pine Gap, and can tour Pine Gap. But Australian Members of Parliament are denied entry.
In recent months, Australia’s role in the USA’s nuclear war strategy has been stepped up. A new base, at Exmouth. will be added to the Northwest Cape joint communications base, for increased tracking of missiles and satellites, and potentially for cyber warfare. U.S. Military equipment will be stationed in Darwin and Townsville. There will be increased visits from U.S. military ships, and more U.S. military exercises in Australia.
Being part of the American nuclear war machine makes a hypocrisy out of Australia’s supposed posture against nuclear weapons.
As an exporter of uranium, Australia plays a key part in nuclear weapons. There are no effective safeguards against uranium being used for weapons, - no real barrier between the “peaceful atom” and the “military atom”
As the Northern hemisphere faces up to yet more record hear from global warming, Big Power – especially Nuclear Power is looking more and more silly – it is vulnerable to heat, requires huge amounts of water, discharges hot water into rivers and sea. People across the planet are realising the practicality, speed, and cheapness of small scale solar energy. No wonder that the nuclear industry feels threatened!
Small really is beautiful – in so many ways. Australia has had small scale wind energy for many decades, especially in farming areas. Australia has been having something of a boom in small scale solar technology. Things have been a little quieter in the wind power area, but still, small scale wind power is happening in Australia.
Just like small scale solar power, wind power can be used in city or country, but is especially valuable in remote areas
And, like solar power, community ownership is a practical and popular way to develop wind power – as at Daylesford, Victoria