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Ignore prejudice & consider the nuclear option

I have already put the case for Australia to re-consider its nuclear power options and criticized Labor Party policy. My fear was really that the opposition would use the nuclear debate to attempt to bury the coalition by engaging in a hysterical debate that would leave the benefits of nuclear power unexamined. The case for nuclear power is, indeed, not clear cut – there are enormous environmental benefits from switching to nuclear power by substituting a miniscule level of nuclear waste for the virtual elimination of greenhouse gas emissions – but, yes, nuclear is very capital cost expensive.

The predicted hysteria from the Australian Labor Party was initiated today with a scare campaign launched by Kim Beazley (an intelligent man who should know better) and the Queen of the Populist Left, my hopeless local member, Jenny Macklin. ‘Where are the facilities to be located?’ they scream in a pathetic duet, ‘come clean’ Mr. Howard.

People who behave in this dishonest, cynical way should not be considered as an alternative Australian Government. Moreover, it looks like Labor Party’s stupidity on this issue will determine a degree of self-destruction anyway. It is a pity that we lack a responsible and capable opposition in this country. There are issues to debate but populist hysteria won’t help.

John Howard has faced up to probable flack and put the interests of Australia first in instigating the needed inquiry.

4 comments to Ignore prejudice & consider the nuclear option

  • pedaller

    Is there really much difference ultimately between switching between one abundant, yet non-renewable, fuel source and another?
    With coal we have one set of pollution issues, with uranium we have a different set of pollution issues, but at the end of the day we will still have pollution issues to deal with.

  • Robert Merkel

    In the interests of balance I’d have to say that the Liberals have not exactly covered themselves in glory on energy related issues.

    Aside from Howard’s favourite approach to global warming (turning down his hearing aid and singing “la la la I can’t hear you” in an increasingly loud voice), their favourite pet technology (until two weeks ago) for “solving” the global warming problem was geosequestration. However, they never managed to explain how this technology was going to be adopted when the alternative – releasing into the atmosphere – was going to continue to cost nothing. I don’t how clever technology gets, it’s pretty tough to beat zero cost.

    Neither major party has covered themselves in glory on this issue.

    Pedaller, you’ve drawn a false equivalence. Nuclear waste, if we managed to *completely* screw up waste disposal (which we won’t, it’s not that hard and there’s not that much of it) could potentially render some local area uninhabitable by humans for a while (but great for wildlife – wildlife is absolutely thriving around Chernobyl).

    By contrast, global warming could screw up climate worldwide, resulting in much more frequent catastrophic weather events (which did more damage, Chernobyl or Hurricane Katrina?), and imperil agriculture and domestic water supplies. Which would you prefer?

  • patrick patently not the lefty

    I’d prefer some reality intruded into the debate and we abandoned the word ‘renewable’.

    It suggests that certain things are going to run out and not be replaced – which is theoretically true, but irrelevant in practice where nothing ever runs out because we get better and better at finding it and using it until we don’t need it.

    It also suggests that the fact that they won’t run out makes some energy sources ‘inherently superior’ and that all we need do is whack down a solar panel and we’re set for 100,000 years.

    Of course, maintenance costs of both generation and grid will remain, and they aren’t so insignificant. Although to be fair, surely our efficiency of usage will drastically improve as well.

    Environmental considerations are fine, but call them that. We really should stop hiding behind such an emotive and relevant-information-poor word as ‘renewable’.

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