Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Here we go again

So the government is going to shove nuclear power down our throats, and once again it talks about short-term gains like a few thousand jobs during the construction of these plants that - once complete - will leave a poisonous legacy for thousands of years (see here).

It's always about money with this Labour government. Why else save £250m by closing all those post offices while spending billions propping up a failed bank? And why invest £20bn in nuclear power when you could do the same with renewable energy? Christ, why not invest a fraction of that figure in renewable energy instead? Oh no, far better to mortgage the future of our descendants for short-term, "safe", business-friendly choices because we mistakenly think everything revolves around economics.

Christ I'm tired of talking about this government's environmental record. And to think they're able to make these decisions thanks to an unassailable majority delivered to them by a paltry 36 per cent of the popular vote. So much for "democracy"...


steve said...

But £20bn invested in nuclear will generate a lot more power (which is needed) than the same amount of investment put into renewables, as renewables simply don't generate power on the same scale.
As we shift into an ever more technological society, we will be needing more power, not less - so as much as the idea of a 'sustainable retreat' is a nice one, i don't think it can happen when it comes to electronics and computing (transport and food miles, perhaps, though).
As you can tell, I'm pro nuclear, and also believe that we are able to safely store or reprocess nuclear waste after use. There's something of a knee jerk reaction sometimes to nuclear, with the assumption that its waste will definitely be deadly when that isn't necessarily the case by any means.
But anyway, personally, I wish the boffins cranking away at making a fusion reactor get the funding and breakthroughs we all need...

Nick said...

Personally I think we should be learning to get by with less power. Technological shouldn't mean more power is required - look at how LCD TVs (up to a certain size) generate less power than TVs, or how energy efficient light bulbs do the same. And people can quite easily learn to get by with less power - it won't end their comfortable lives.

I can't possibly support nuclear power without them having come up with a watertight way of dealing with the waste safely and responsibly. Burying it in the ground is not a long-term solution, because eventually you'll start running out of space and we'll find ourselves dumping it elsewhere (and whatever you think, it's irresponsible to use a product that will be deadly for thousands of years after use, expecting the next generation to live with it - and assuming there's a civilisation left to know what to do with it). And I bet very little of that £20bn would be earmarked for finding new ways of disposing of the waste.

And then - of course - there's the terrorist threat...

Our current way of life is unsustainable. It requires a quantum shift in the way we think (because Mother Nature doesn't give a monkey's for economics, technology and the like), and I'm afraid nuclear power represents another attempt at a sticky plaster approach to the problem so we can put off an uncomfortable decision for a few more years. All in my opinion of course!

Steve said...

Heya - just want to get in quick and say 'hear hear' regarding 'tomorrow's post, which I've just read -- I'm all for greater efficiency in electronics and the like. It makes sense as an essential part of a larger picture.

However, I also wanted to say that I think the idea of a *voluntary* quantum shift in the way we use power is a slim thing to hope for, from either a government or 'its' citizens.
I think humans like having it easy, and humans are short sighted, and the only way we'll go without/cut back is when a massive external event *makes* us change our behaviour (eg, oil crisis, war/WWII).

Which is why, as much as a cut back is nice, we have to be ready to deliver the power people will be trying to use regardless. And nuclear (to me) seems the only sensible way to satisfy that. I'm all for renewables, and REALLY wish they could deliver what we need of them, but they won't. And I do think there's a slight one-eyedness going on when it comes to the potential of renewables still having side-effects -- say, tidal power messing with ocean currents and affecting ecosystems elsewhere.

Better the devil you know (and which can provide for those inevitable power needs and which often gets overly bad press for knee-jerk reasons*) rather than the devil you don't (and which won't be able to deliver what would be asked to and has undefined knock-on effects?)

Anyway, because this is the internet, i'll end with all IMHO, of course. And I'm happy to be put right on any of it. :o)


*(like people tying sensible anti-nuclear arms arguments to anti-nuclear power ones, as I recently saw some pop star on telly doing)

Nick said...

Agree re: the voluntary thing, which is why governments should have the balls to impose it on their citizens. Who needs a war for that? Look at how 9/11 has allowed our civil liberties to be slowly eroded by stealth! If the power isn't there, people will do without, and doing without means a drop in consumption and a drop in the wholesale rape of this planet's resources for gadgets that last a few years at best (and a few months at worst) before being discarded in favour of something shinier and brighter.

For me nuclear represents another short-term shot in the arm for a way of life that is unsustainable on so many levels.

But I will concede that nuclear power is here to stay. It's obvious this government supports it wholesale, and it's obvious it'll do anything to push it through. And that makes me sceptical on another level: if nuclear power is so good and great, why did this government not allow a proper and sober debate on it?

But I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this! BTW, I'm all for nuclear fusion, should it ever get off the ground...