Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

This week’s nuclear news – Australia and more

Some bits of good news :  Good News On The 2022 Climate Action Front.  
Undersea Cable to Funnel 3 Gigawatts of Solar Energy From Egypt to Power Millions of European Households

AUSTRALIA.

Political Solution for Assange: Jennifer Robinson at the National Press Club

 Just like the Liberal Party, the Australian Labor Party appoints a pro-nuclear stooge (Madeleine King) as Resources Minister. 

 Concerns in outback SA grow as federal government plans to store defence waste at planned Kimba nuclear dump. The previous Liberal government lied about its Kimba nuclear waste dump plan, but be wary of the new Labor government, too. No Nuclear Waste Dump in SA” Motion passed South Australia Labor Conference Sat 22 Oct 2022.

Scandalous conflicts of interest in Australia’s advice from USA on nuclear submarines.

Victoria deserves praise for promising a rapid shift from coal to renewables. Now comes the hard part.

IINTERNATIONAL

CLIMATE. Nuclear is on the front-line of climate change – and not in a good way – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJh_QheDN3E. Nuclear is Not a Climate Solution – Dr. Arjun Makhijani. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM-jMvUuLE4      Noisy support for an obvious failure. 

 Doomsday Greenland glacier on the brink as scientist sounds alarm. Least Developed Countries want ‘concrete action’ from rich nations at COP27 Climate Summit . COP27 climate change summit: World leaders urged to act as report reveals 768 million are underfed.

Read more: This week’s nuclear news – Australia and more

CIVIL LIBERTIES. Group of 7 condemn Russian kidnapping of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant leadershipRussian language should become extinct in Ukraine – security chief.

ECONOMICS. The Economics Of European Nuclear Power Don’t Add Up. American companies might make highly enriched uranium fuel for small nuclear reactors, except that there seems to be no market for them

 ‘A nuclear waste dump and seaside resort don’t go well together’. What is Regulatory Asset Base and how will it affect future energy charges for Scots? Energy bills in Scotland set to rise to finance England’s nuclear power plants.

EMPLOYMENTStrikes at French nuclear plants – what’s at stake?

ENERGY. How European countries are cutting power consumptionRenewable energy brings record savings to Europe. America’s new nuclear power industry has a Russian problemFrance’s Nuclear Reactors Malfunction as Energy Crisis Bites.

ENVIRONMENT. An Elementary School Near a Nuclear Dump Site Is Teeming With Radioactivity. Marshall Islanders unwilling to sign economic agreement with USA – want redress first of their harmful nuclear legacy. The Nuclear Site That Can’t Be Cleaned Up.

ETHICS and RELIGION. Archbishop renews call for dialogue on ridding world of nuclear weapons.

HEALTH. Inhabitants of French Polynesian atolls call for support and compensation for the health and environmental harm from nuclear testing. NFLA urges UK government to distribute iodine tablets to help prepare for nuclear threat. How Iodine Tablets Block Some Nuclear Radiation. How Iodine Pills Can—and Can’t—Help Against Radiation.

HUMAN RIGHTS. UN Human Rights Council Presses US to Address Nuclear Legacy on the Marshall Islands.

LEGAL. Whistleblower’ says legal battle with nuclear site owners ‘almost broke me’.

MEDIA. The US Government Sees Silicon Valley As Part Of Its Propaganda Machine.

OPPOSITION TO NUCLEARNuclear Free Local Authorities urge the UK’s new Chancellor to scrap plan to invest in the Sizewell nuclear white elephant. Golden Rule sails for peace to Burlington.

POLITICS. Off the hook: UK government absolves nuclear operators from accident liability. Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency is one of the potential locations for a small nuclear reactor factory. Germany will still end nuclear power by April 2023. Kishida’s nuclear policy rekindles battle in small Japanese town.

POLITICS INTERNATIONAL and DIPLOMACY. The Ukraine war: the Europeans have been nicely played by the Americans. US billionaire proposes peace plan for Ukraine and Russia. Elon Musk supports Russia keeping Crimea—because he’s worried about nuclear escalation and World War III. The Profoundly Stupid Narrative That Nuclear Brinkmanship Is Safety And De-Escalation Is Danger.  How diplomacy averted nuclear war 60 years ago.

 Russia is funding its war on Ukraine by selling $billions of uranium to Europe’s nuclear industry– no sanctions on that! USA’s planned small nuclear reactors will need special uranium fuel – from Russia

Russia says U.S. blocked its participation in nuclear conference. The West Has Failed: North Korea Is a Nuclear StateBiden’s diplomatic nuclear faux pas regarding Pakistan.

PUBLIC OPINION. The Generational Divide Over Nuclear Power.

SAFETY. Moscow says it now runs Europe’s largest nuclear plant, causing chaos and confusionIAEA chief hopes to return to Ukraine ‘soon‘ over nuclear plant talks, 

 A European scramble for nuclear energy is hampered by risks of terrorist and cyber attacks, as well as the wastes problem. Damage to feedwater pumps delays the operation of Finland’s massive new Olkiluoto nuclear reactor. U.S. Nuclear Reactors Among The Oldest In The World . M5.0 quake shakes Japan’s Fukushima, no damage reported.

SECRETS and LIES. Elon Musk – arguably the world’s biggest conman and egoist. How the pro-Ukraine “North Atlantic Fellas Organization” (NAFO) troll operation crowd-funds war criminals.

SPACE: EXPLORATION, WEAPONS. New Zealand MP says Rocket Lab launches could betray country’s anti-nuclear stance.

WAR and CONFLICTNOWHERE TO HIDE -How a nuclear war would kill you — and almost everyone else. “Present Danger: Nuclear Power Plants in War Zelensky denies ordering attack on Crimean BridgeTerror on Crimea Bridge and Russia unleashing shock’n aweWhy the US must press for a ceasefire in Ukraine

SCOTT RITTER: Nuclear High Noon in EuropeRehearsal for ‘Armageddon’ Underway as NATO and Russia Hold Nuclear Exercises. US rehearses dropping nuclear bombs in Europe. NATO Chief  Raises Nuclear War Fever. Would the use of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine lead to all-out nuclear war? US could directly intervene in Ukraine – ex-CIA chief Petraeus.

WEAPONS and WEAPONS SALESInternational mayors’ group calls for nuclear abolition at Hiroshima conference

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

A Political Solution for Assange: Jennifer Robinson at the National Press Club

The teeth in Robinson’s address lay in the urgency of political action. Assange is suffering a form of legal and bureaucratic assassination, his life gradually quashed by briefs, reviews, bureaucrats and protocols. “This case needs an urgent political solution. Julian does not have another decade to wait for a legal fix.”

 https://theaimn.com/a-political-solution-for-assange-jennifer-robinson-at-the-national-press-club/ October 23, 2022, by: Dr Binoy Kampmark

It was telling. Of the mainstream Australian press gallery, only David Crowe of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age turned up to listen to Jennifer Robinson, lawyer extraordinaire who has spent years representing Julian Assange. Since 2019, that representation has taken an even more urgent note: to prevent the WikiLeaks founder from being extradited to the United States, where he faces 18 charges, 17 confected from the archaic Espionage Act of 1917.

In addressing the Australian National Press Club, Robinson’s address, titled “Julian Assange, Free Speech and Democracy,” was a grand recapitulation of the political case against the WikiLeaks founder. Followers of this ever darkening situation would not have found anything new. The shock, rather, was how ignorant many remain about the chapters in this scandalous episode of persecution.

Robinson’s address noted those blackening statements from media organisations and governments that Assange was paranoid and could leave the Ecuadorian embassy, his abode for seven years, at his own leisure. Many were subsequently “surprised when Julian was served with a US extradition request.” But this was exactly what WikiLeaks had been warning about for some ten years.

In the Belmarsh maximum security prison, where he has resided for 3.5 years, Assange’s health has declined further. “Then last year, during a stressful court appeal hearing, Julian had a mini stroke.” His ailing state did not convince a venal prosecution, tasked with “deriding the medical evidence of Julian’s severe depression and suicidal ideation.”

The matter of health plays into the issue of lengthy proceedings. Should the High Court not grant leave to hear an appeal against the June decision by Home Secretary Priti Patel to order his extradition, processes through the UK Supreme Court and possibly the European Court of Human Rights could be activated.

The latter appeal, should it be required, would depend on the government of the day keeping Britain within the court’s jurisdiction. “If our appeal fails, Julian will be extradited to the US – where his prison conditions will be at the whim of intelligence agencies which plotted to kill him.” An unfair trial would follow, and any legal process citing the First Amendment culminating in a hearing before the US Supreme Court would take years.

The teeth in Robinson’s address lay in the urgency of political action. Assange is suffering a form of legal and bureaucratic assassination, his life gradually quashed by briefs, reviews, bureaucrats and protocols. “This case needs an urgent political solution. Julian does not have another decade to wait for a legal fix.”

Acknowledging that her reference to the political avenue was unusual for a lawyer, Robinson noted how the language of due process and the rule of law had become ghoulish caricatures in what amounts to a form of punishment. The law has been fashioned in an abusive way that sees a person being prosecuted for journalism in a hideously pioneering way. Despite the UK-US Extradition Treaty’s prohibition of extradition for political offences, the US prosecution was making much of the Espionage Act. “Espionage,” stated Robinson, “is a political offence.”

The list of abuses in the prosecution is biblically lengthy. Robinson gave her audience a summary of them: the fabrication of evidence via the Icelandic informant and convicted embezzler and paedophile Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson; the deliberate distortion of facts; the unlawful surveillance of Assange and his legal team and matters of medical treatment; “and the seizure of legally privileged material.”

Much ignorance about Assange and the implications of his persecution is no doubt willed. Robinson’s reference to Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, was apt. Here was a man initially sceptical about the torture complaint made by Assange and his team. He had been convinced by the libel against the publisher’s reputation. “But in 2019, he agreed to read our complaint. And what he read shocked him and forced him to confront his own prejudice.”

Melzer would subsequently observe that, in the course of two decades working “with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

The concern these days among the press darlings is not press freedoms closer to home, whether they be in Australia itself, or among its allies. The egregious misconduct by Russian forces in the Ukraine War or China’s human rights record in Xinjiang are what counts. Villainy lies elsewhere.

The obscene conduct by US authorities, whose officials contemplated abducting and murdering a publisher, is an inconvenient smudge of history best ignored for consumers of news down under. The Albanese government, which has continued to extol the glory of the AUKUS security pact and swoon at prospects of a globalised NATO, has shelved any “political solution” regarding Assange, at least in any public context. The US-Australian alliance is a shrine to worship at with reverential delusion, rather than question with informed scepticism. The WikiLeaks founder did, after all, spoil the party.

On a cheerier note, those listening to Robinson’s address reflected a healthy political awareness about the tribulations facing a fellow Australian citizen. The federal member for the seat of Kooyong, Dr. Monique Ryan, was present, as were Senators Peter Whish Wilson and David Shoebridge. As Ryan subsequently tweeted, “An Australian punished by foreign states for acts of journalism? Time for our government to act.”

Others were those who have been or continue to be targets of the national security state. The long-suffering figure and target of the Australian security establishment, Bernard Collaery, put in an appearance, as did David McBride, who awaits trial for having exposed alleged atrocities of Australian special service personnel in Afghanistan.

Such individuals have made vital, oxygenating contributions to democratic accountability, of which WikiLeaks stands proud. But any journalism that, as Robinson puts it, subjects “power to scrutiny, and holding it accountable,” is bound to incite the fury of the national security state. Regarding Assange, will that fury win out?

October 24, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

No Nuclear Waste Dump in SA” Motion passed South Australia Labor Conference Sat 22 Oct 2022

Federal ALP should start to act in accordance with the SA Labor State Conference “No Nuclear Waste Dump in SA” Motion passed Sat 22 Oct 2022

Motion full text: 

TITLE: No Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia
In 2020 the former Liberal Federal Government announced that a Nuclear Waste Facility would be established in Napandee, outside the town of Kimba, South Australia. This decision was made without prior community consultation and was met with mixed reception. 

In response to criticisms of the consultation process the previous Liberal government gauged community support for the project with a survey. This survey was only available to ratepayers and all other community members were excluded. This meant that renters, transient people and most egregiously Native Title holders were excluded from even this meagre attempt at consultation. There is a strong concern that the facility would negatively impact the health of the surrounding environment, farming areas and the nearby human populations. The paltry consultative process has done little to assuage these concerns. 

The Barngarla People have openly expressed their concern towards the facility and are currently fighting a legal battle to have this project abandoned on the basis of the poor planning and consultative processes. Despite the ongoing legal case the earthworks for this project have been approved and are set to go ahead regardless of the outcome. SA Labor Caucus supports a veto right for the Barngarla community on this facility. 

This aligns with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stating that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous Peoples without their free, prior and informed consent. More recently Premier Peter Malinauskas reaffirmed that the South Australian Labor party strongly opposes this facility and still supports the right of the Barngarla people to have veto powers. This sentiment is consistent with the current Federal Labor government’s commitment to reconciliation. Continuing with this project, including anciliary earthworks outside of current legal injunctions, despite the opposition of the Barngarla people undermines efforts toward reconciliation. 

Motion: Therefore – SA Labor calls on the Federal Labor government to listen to the Barngarla people and ensure their voices are heard.

October 24, 2022 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

American companies might make fuel for small nuclear reactors, except that there seems to be no market for them.

Russia’s Uranium Dominance Threatens America’s Next-Gen Nuclear Plans, By Tsvetana Paraskova – Oct 23, 2022, 10:00 AM CDT

  • The United States has ambitious plans for its nuclear power industry.
  • Russia’s stranglehold on the uranium market threatens to delay progress in nextgen nuclear power projects. 
  • U.S. companies are scrambling to develop the domestic uranium supply chain needed to fuel nuclear power ambitions.

……………………..

there is one major hurdle to the construction of most advanced reactors under development in the United States—the uranium type of fuel on which those reactors are designed to run is currently sold commercially by only one company in the world. And that company is a subsidiary of Russia’s ROSATOM, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation.

The federal government and U.S. companies developing advanced nuclear reactors—including Bill Gates’ TerraPower—recognize the urgent need to eliminate reliance on a Russian state corporation for nuclear fuel for America’s next-generation nuclear reactors.  

The association Uranium Producers of America noted during a Senate committee hearing after the Russian invasion of Ukraine that “almost none of the fuel needed to power America’s nuclear fleet today comes from domestic producers, while U.S. nuclear utilities purchase nearly half of the of the uranium they consume from state-owned entities (SEO) in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.”

“We estimate that there is more than $1 billion in annual U.S. dollar purchases of nuclear fuel flowing to ROSATOM,” said Scott Melbye, president of the association and Executive Vice President at Uranium Energy Corp.

ROSATOM is not under Western sanctions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine because of the Russian state firm’s importance in the supply chain of the global nuclear power industry. But the U.S. firms developing the next generation of more efficient, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly nuclear reactors don’t want to do business with Russia anymore.

Hence, the need for a commercially viable and stable domestic supply chain of the fuel for those advanced reactors—HALEU, or high assay low enriched uranium. ……………………………………….

 the U.S. government faces the “chicken and egg” dilemma in HALEU supply, Matt Bowen, Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA, and Paul M. Dabbar, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the same center, wrote in a paper in May this year/ 

“Existing enrichment companies, such as Urenco, Orano, GLE, and Centrus, could make HALEU, but these companies would likely be hesitant to invest too much in building HALEU infrastructure and completing NRC licensing without being confident there will in fact be a profitable market for the product,” they say.   

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear is on the front-line of climate change – and not in a good way.

 Presentation at the SGR Responsible Science conference, 19.10.2022, by Dr.
Paul Dorfman (University of Sussex). Climate models have run hot. As
knowledge of enhanced climate sensitivity and polar ice melt-rate evolves,
it has become clear that sea-level rise is significantly faster than
previously thought, resulting in more frequent and destructive storms,
storm surge, severe precipitation, and flooding.

With rare extreme events
today becoming the norm in the future, existing risk mitigation measures
become increasingly obsolete. The corollary to this analysis is that
present and planned UK coastal nuclear installations will be at significant
risk. In other words, nuclear’s lower-carbon electricity USP sits in the
context of the much larger picture – that UK coastal nuclear will be one
of the first, and most significant, casualties to ramping climate impact.

Put simply, UK nuclear is quite literally on the front-line of climate
change – and not in a good way. UK civil nuclear infrastructure is
profoundly unprepared for climate impact and there is a very high
probability that reactors and their associated high-level spent fuel stores
will become unfit for purpose, and much sooner than expected.

 Scientists for Global Responsibility 20th Oct 2022

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Zelensky denies ordering attack on Crimean Bridge

 https://www.rt.com/russia/565053-zelensky-crimea-bridge-attack/-22 Oct 22

Officials in Kiev have taken credit for the blast, with the postal service even issuing a commemorative stamp

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has denied “ordering” the bombing of the Crimean Bridge, earlier this month. The president made the remarks during an interview with the Canadian broadcaster CTV, aired on Wednesday.

Asked to comment on the “spectacular attack” on the bridge, as the broadcaster put it, Zelensky said Kiev was not involved.

lensky said Kiev was not involved.

“We definitely did not order that, as far as I know,” he told the reporters.

The bridge was hit by a massive explosion on October 8, which severely damaged its road traffic section and killed three civilians, as well as setting a passing freight train on fire. Several top Ukrainian officials openly celebrated the attack, while the country’s postal service issued a stamp commemorating the blast, just hours after it happened.

Moscow has directly blamed Kiev for the incident, branding the explosion a “terrorist attack.” Russian law enforcement claims to have established how the bomb, which was disguised as construction materials, made it to the bridge from the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, via multiple transit countries.

Russian investigators believe the plot was hatched by Ukrainian military intelligence. Moscow has identified 12 individuals as suspected accomplices in the plot and has arrested eight of them, the FSB said.

The list of people in custody includes five Russians and three foreign nationals, who hold passports of Ukraine and Armenia. A spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence told the media that the FSB was a “fake structure,” and that the report was unworthy of comment.

Days after the attack, Moscow ramped up its aerial bombing campaign against Ukraine, targeting its critical infrastructure with cruise missiles and suicide drones. Kiev reported on Tuesday that 23 people were killed and over 100 injured in the barrage.

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Would the use of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine lead to all-out nuclear war?

The idea of using a single tactical nuclear weapon is starting to be dangerously downplayed as maybe not all that bad, thus normalizing something that should instead be outlawed. Just hide in your basement for a few days while the radiation dissipates and it’ll be OK.

tactical” is a term that covers a whole panoply of so-called “short range” weapons armed with a nuclear warhead. Such weapons can be launched from the ground, air, or sea, and even from a truck bed.  A single weapon has a typical explosive yield of between 10 and 100 kilotons. The Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons. So that’s not exactly small.

Our fears would vanish if nuclear weapons did too

Edging toward Armageddon? — Beyond Nuclear International By Linda Pentz Gunter, 23 Oct 22, https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2022/10/23/edging-toward-armageddon/
As we mark 60 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis, it’s truly horrifying to realize that our present times are considered to be the closest to nuclear war we have been since those 13 terrifying days in 1962.
What saved us then was cooler heads prevailing, as our stories last week described. But can we be assured that those with the power to press the proverbial button — whether at the pinnacle of leadership or lower down the chain of command — will act with similar sense and restraint?

With Kennedy and Khrushchev in command, there was a willingness on both sides to pull back from the brink, not only rhetorically, but through meaningful actions. Khrushchev removed his nuclear missiles from Cuba while the US publicly declared it would not invade the island. Privately, the US also agreed to dismantle its ballistic missiles stationed in Turkey.

And, as we have seen over the years — and in last week’s article by Angelo Baracca — sometimes it takes a person of more humble position to restore rationality and act with restraint. These near-misses ought to have put the halt on nuclear weapons development many decades ago

Instead, that most obvious of lessons was never learned: that nuclear weapons serve only one purpose; the mutual destruction of all of us. Instead, the nuclear arms race escalated to obscene heights and there are still at least 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world, leaving us perpetually on the edge of Armageddon.

And it was that word, “Armageddon,” that current US President Joe Biden used recently when he said at a Democratic gathering, “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” 

Kennedy had met Khrushchev prior to the 1962 standoff and Biden described Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as “a guy I know fairly well”. But so far, that familiarity hasn’t relieved the current atomic tensions around Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Instead, the news is full of alarm bells, warning that yes, Putin might just be mad enough to push the nuclear button and take us all down with him.

Pundits have cautioned that we are “not there yet,” which should not be taken as comfort. It should be taken as an opportunity to ensure that we never, ever get there. And it’s certainly not encouraging that Russia’s new top commander of the war in Ukraine. General Sergei Surovikin, is nicknamed “General Armageddon” for his command of Russia’s Syria bombardments. But, in the meantime, when we talk about Russia “using” nuclear weapons, what could happen?

Russia could use a single tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, although “tactical” is a term that covers a whole panoply of so-called “short range” weapons armed with a nuclear warhead. Such weapons can be launched from the ground, air, or sea, and even from a truck bed.  A single weapon has a typical explosive yield of between 10 and 100 kilotons. The Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons. So that’s not exactly small.

The idea of using a single tactical nuclear weapon is starting to be dangerously downplayed as maybe not all that bad, thus normalizing something that should instead be outlawed. Just hide in your basement for a few days while the radiation dissipates and it’ll be OK.

But it’s that kind of thinking that prompted Biden to use the word “Armageddon” in the first place. “I don’t think there is any such thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said.

Because of course it wouldn’t be OK at all. Even after the radiation levels drop, the soil and water, and therefore food sources, would be contaminated. Essential infrastructure would be destroyed. There would be countless fatalities and many sick and dying. To use any nuclear weapon would be an abomination.

The White House has also said it would deliver what it described as a “decisive response”, should Russia use nuclear weapons. Again, it’s unclear what this means. Would the US reply with a nuclear attack of its own?

But what all of this does prove is that the possession of nuclear weapons isn’t deterring anything. What we are most frightened of right now is the possibility that Russia will use nuclear weapons and the US and/or NATO might retaliate.

Those fears would vanish if nuclear weapons did too.

That is why continuing to push for signatures and ratifications of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is so important, because it’s the one treaty that spells out the immorality of nuclear weapons and the devastating humanitarian impacts that would result even from their so-called limited use.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Noisy support for an obvious failure

One impact of this continuing official nuclear support is that climate action is being diminished and slowed. As a paper in Nature Energy (which one of us co-authored) showed in 2020, in worldwide data over the past three decades, the scales of national nuclear programmes do not tend to correlate with generally lower carbon emissions. The building of renewables does.

worldwide substantive picture that shows nuclear power overwhelmingly to be slower, less effective and more expensive at tackling climate disruption than are renewable and storage alternatives.

As nuclear power sinks, its supporters crow louder. Why do media and governments insist on nuclear for climate?

Noisy support for an obvious failure — Beyond Nuclear International
By Andrew Stirling and Phil Johnstone, 23 Oct 22
At Edinburgh’s Haymarket station, on the route used by COP26 delegates hopping across to Glasgow last November, a large poster displayed a vista from the head of Loch Shiel. In the foreground, a monument to the Jacobite rebellion towers from the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard. From there, the water sweeps back to a rugged line of hills.
This is one of Scotland’s most iconic views, famous for both its history and its role in the Harry Potter films.
On the poster, written in the sky above the loch are the words: “Keep nature natural: more nuclear power means more wild spaces like these.” At the bottom is a hashtag – #NetZeroNeedsNuclear – with no further mention of who might be behind this advert.

But it’s not hard to find a website for this group, which claims to be run by “a team of young, international volunteers made up of engineers, scientists and communicators”, all with the engagingly smiley profile pictures to be expected from citizen activists.

Only when you scroll to the end do you see these activities are ‘sponsored’ by nuclear companies EDF and Urenco. At the bottom, it is explained that Nuclear Needs Net Zero is part of the Young Generation Network (YGN) – “young members of the Nuclear Institute (NI), which is the professional body and learned society for the UK nuclear sector”. The website asserts that the Nuclear4Climate campaign – described as “grassroots” both on the site and in a presentation to an International Atomic Agency conference in 2019 – is in fact “coordinated via regional and national nuclear associations and technical societies”……………………………………………

Of course, all this is par for the course in the creative world of PR. But there are more substantive grounds why nuclear advocates might wish to avoid too much public scrutiny at the moment. One reality, which can be agreed on from all sides, is that this is by far the worst period in the 70-year history of this ageing industry. So how come it is benefitting from growing and noisy support in mainstream and social media? Why are easily refuted arguments still being deployed to justify new nuclear power alongside renewables in the energy supply mix? And why has the media seized so enthusiastically on a few prominent converts to the nuclear cause?

Nuclear loses out to renewables

At current prices, atomic energy now costs around three times as much as wind or solar power. And that’s before you consider the full expense of waste management, elaborate security, anti-proliferation measures or periodic accidents. For more than a decade, nuclear has been plagued by escalating costsexpanding build times and crashing orders. Trends in recent years are all steeply in the wrong direction.

So the rising clamour of advocacy seems to be in inverse proportion to performance. Whatever view one takes, nuclear power is in a worse position than it’s ever been compared with low-carbon alternatives – and a position that is rapidly declining further.

In fact, despite misleading suggestions to the contrary by senior figures, background government data has for decades shown that the massive scale of viable UK renewable resources is clearly adequate for all foreseeable needs. Even with storage and flexibility costs included, renewables are available far more rapidly and cost-effectively than nuclear power.

So, for all the breakdancing, it really is a conundrum why persistently bullish government and industry claims on nuclear power remain so seriously under-challenged in the wider debate. It is becoming ever more clear that nuclear plans are diverting attention, money and resources that could be far more effective if used in other ways.

One impact of this continuing official nuclear support is that climate action is being diminished and slowed. As a paper in Nature Energy (which one of us co-authored) showed in 2020, in worldwide data over the past three decades, the scales of national nuclear programmes do not tend to correlate with generally lower carbon emissions. The building of renewables does.

In fact, this study found “a negative association between the scales of national nuclear and renewables attachments. This suggests nuclear and renewables… tend to crowd each other out.”

The issues are, of course, complex. But this finding supports what the dire performance picture also predicts: that nuclear power diverts resources and attention away from more effective strategies, increasing costs to consumers and taxpayers. So it is even odder that loud voices continue to make naïve calls to ‘do everything’ – that nuclear must on principle be considered ‘part of the mix’ – as if expense, development time, limited resources and diverse preferable alternatives are not all crucial issues.

Despite the urgency of the climate emergency, there is strangely little discussion about this evidence that nuclear power may be impeding progress with options that clearly work better.

The media loves nuclear power

In fact, the British media has developed a habit of doggedly repeating claims by the nuclear industry that are, at best, somewhat wishful thinking.

One would not guess from all the noise about ‘small modular reactors’ (SMR), for instance, that the record of new nuclear designs has consistently been one of delayed schedules and escalating prices. One might easily miss that efforts at nuclear cost reduction have always depended more on scaling up than scaling down. And new SMR programmes do not even claim to address pressing current carbon targets. With debate persistently dominated by naively optimistic projections, it is oddly neglected that these familiar claims and sources have all repeatedly been falsified in the past.

Likewise, UK media debate remains unquestioningly locked into sentimental attachments to old ideas of ‘base load’ nuclear power – a notion now recognised by the electricity industry to be outdated. Far from being an automatic advantage, the inflexibly steady ‘base load’ output of a typical nuclear power reactor can present growing difficulties in a modern dynamic electricity system. It often seems to be forgotten that frequent unplanned nuclear closures pose their own kinds of intermittency risks, made worse by the massive unit sizes of nuclear reactors……………………………………

It is against this substantive background that the persistent intensity of UK government support for nuclear power is so odd – and the rising clamour of UK pro-nuclear PR and media articles so striking. Nor is it just the media. Among campaigners, it is strange, given resolute government nuclear commitments, that even some of the previously most critical voices (like Friends of the Earth), seem to be growing strangely quieter…………………………………………………………………………………..

What remains more interesting is why parts of the press should so often and loudly repeat this ‘repentant critic’ trope in aid of such a struggling industry.

One more recent example is that of Zion Lights, whose billing in the Daily Mail as “the former XR [Extinction Rebellion] communications head” has been countered by that organisation. Lights’ shift of position – leaving the Extinction Rebellion to campaign in favour of nuclear power – was featured between June and September 2020 in City AM, the Daily Mail (twice) and the Daily Telegraph, as well as in an article on the BBC News website. Then, in a second round of attention in October, the story was again covered by the Mail, with Lights also featuring in The Sun, this time with a spin (since debunked) targeting wind power…………………..

What is even more notable about this specific instance of a general syndrome is that Lights – the individual at the heart of this story – has (to her credit) made no effort to conceal that she was employed for a period by a high-profile industry-supporting public relations outfit with a long track record of unashamed advocacy of nuclear power – the US Environmental Progress organisation……………

A lack of voices for renewables

The implications here go beyond any individual. What is strange is that media attention is so strong on these kinds of arguments, while counter-commentary is so relatively quiet. After all, whilst not infallible, environmental concerns about nuclear power have over the years generally been broadly vindicated……………………………….

Nor are these odd patterns restricted to traditional media. Social media also seems susceptible. At the same time as Lights’ oddly prominent personal journey was garnering so much unquestioning news attention, other striking developments were under way on Twitter. Here, the Friends of Nuclear Energy set up shop in December 2019, the UK Pro Nuclear Power group (UKPNPG) in April 2020, and Mums for Nuclear UK in July 2020.

In an especially intriguing example, Greens For Nuclear Energy has been active on Twitter since May 2019, spending considerable effort promoting nuclear power and attempting to change the position of the Green Party. Then Liberal Democrats for nuclear power (LDs4nuclear) set up on Twitter in October 2020. In taking up our invitation to respond to core questions raised in this article, GreensForNuclearEnergy pointed to its website, on which it emphatically urges “no compromise to combat climate change”.

This Green Party case is particularly noteworthy, since it is (strangely given underlying patterns of public concern on nuclear issues), the only organised political force in England collectively offering a consistently sceptical position about nuclear power in Parliament. With the longstanding Green grounding on this issue so strong over a half-century, it is especially strange that this development should come at a time when – at least for the Greens – the argument is more over than it has ever been.

What remains particularly striking about all the instances we cite is that none engage substantively with the real-world performance of nuclear power as it is. Despite vivid rhetorics around needs for ‘science-based’ policy – and occasionally colourful fear-mongering about intermittency ‘putting the lights out’ – none of these prolific voices address (let alone refute) the worldwide substantive picture that shows nuclear power overwhelmingly to be slower, less effective and more expensive at tackling climate disruption than are renewable and storage alternatives.

UK government policy

Despite the surface commitment, we see this trend in UK government energy policy too. Dig into more specialist civil service policy papers and you find spiralling prices and little in the way of an energy-related case for nuclear power. But – in a remarkable departure from the normally diligent attention to costs – the most recent energy white paper ignored all that boring economic detail. Official UK nuclear attachments are treated as an unquestionable given.

If a persuasive explanation is sought for this persistent intensity of UK government support for nuclear power, then the real picture seems clear behind the distractions. Official UK defence documentationmany unanswered national and international media reports, brief admissions to Parliament and explicit statements in other nuclear-armed countries all make it pretty clear that the reasons are actually more military than civilian.

So, it might be understood why deep-rooted nuclear interests are seeking to hide these inconvenient facts behind pretty pictures of the West Highlands. But why is the media so keen to help, squirrelling realities away from view behind tales of repentant environmentalists? Why is so much new noise building up behind nuclear power in formerly critical political parties, just when the case has grown weaker than ever?

Profound issues are raised here, not only concerning the cost and speed of climate action, but about the independence and professionalism of the UK media and the health of British democracy as a whole. Whichever opinion we each take on nuclear issues – and whatever the undoubted uncertainties and ambiguities – we should all care very deeply about this.

Andy Stirling is Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. Dr. Phil Johnstone is Senior Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex.

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Methane pledge is not about “cow burps:” It means no new coal and gas projects — RenewEconomy

Greens say Australia won’t meet its commitment to Global Methane Pledge by reducing “cow burps,” but by halting new coal and gas development. The post Methane pledge is not about “cow burps:” It means no new coal and gas projects appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Methane pledge is not about “cow burps:” It means no new coal and gas projects — RenewEconomy

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 23 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Europe Should Sanction Russia’s Nuclear Industry – Now” • The Russian nuclear industry has once again managed to avoid inclusion in the latest round of EU sanctions. It is the eighth in a row that it skirted this vital issue in an apparent acknowledgment that Europe’s dependence on Russian nuclear fuel cannot easily […]

October 23 Energy News — geoharvey

October 24, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment