While reading an amazing book, Radiation and Reason, I came across a passage that beautifully summed up the reality of the interface between the public and politics in trying to get a decent response to climate change using nuclear power.


I am in the middle of reading Radiation and Reason by Wade Allison.

I am getting what I expected, which is an improved understanding of the nature of radiation and how it may impact human health. What I was not expecting to find though was a very succinct description of the mission of DSA. But there it was, and here it is:

In some countries, politicians tentatively support a pro-nuclear power position. But in others, nuclear power is still excluded politically or even outlawed. Everywhere, leaders and investors need to know whether the public supports decisions in favour of nuclear power. They cannot instruct the court of public opinion- they need the backing of a significant number of people who have read the evidence, questioned it themselves and taken their own view.

Wow! Allison has captured so much truth in just one paragraph. It genuinely reflects the formal interactions I have had with the political class to date, namely that they simply will not jump first; they need to understand nuclear as an electoral positive. It also captures much of the raison d’etre of Decarbonise SA, namely to “build a significant number of people who have read the evidence, questioned it themselves and taken their own view”. We need to take that a little further though, through getting organised as a movement to accelerate this process.

You will be pleased to know that we are making real progress on that front; this issue is definitely there for the winning. I will be bringing you an update of The Action Plan and some good news quite soon, and in 2012 I’m looking forward to getting some of you busy. Keep reading!


    1. Thank you Wade. I will grab this paper and make good use of it.

      Radiation and Reason is helping me to address a number of knowledge gaps. I appreciate the tone of the book, which is a very clear laying down of evidence (with sources) and reasoning. While your position is clear, it does not feel like be preached to. It is also highly readable, with the obvious caveat that some basic maths and science must be covered. I’m about half way through, but I recommend it to all DSA readers who want a stronger foundation in understanding radiation and the evidence relating to health impacts.

  1. In less politically correct times sideshows used to have a Bearded Lady and now we have the Half Pregnant Man. I just re-read the views of SA mines minister Koutsantonis
    Recall at one time he advocated a uranium enrichment industry. However he still thinks Olympic Dam is SA’s best economic hope (despite that now-ghastly uranium) but thanks very much SA will use Australia’s abundant gas. However he has overlooked a couple of small details in that SA already has the word’s third highest electricity prices and Australia’s abundant gas does not mean SA has abundant gas.

    He says we will go nuke when there is a crisis. I guess blindingly obvious early warning signs don’t count. A lot of unlikely things have to happen in SA. They include fracking reviving the Cooper Basin gas field, geothermal finally connecting to the grid, car and defence manufacturing subsidies getting renewed and permanently wet years that avoid the need for serious desal. It would take some kind of major luck for all that to coincide. So perhaps one way of framing the mission is to point out that a lot of luck has to happen just to avoid an inevitable crisis. The only unknown is the timing.

    1. You make my point about the type of “leadership” we can expect from the political system. They don’t lead. We lead. If we do it well, the media show us leading and others beginning to follow. Then a couple of politicians will jog up to the front of the issue and take it from there. There are a couple of honourable exceptions to this rule in Australian politics, but only a couple. I see no reason to be anything except realistic about this and basically ignore politicians, bring people along, get the media attention and watch the magic happen. These are some of my goals this year.

  2. In Queensland there is bipartisan support for CSG and coal mining by both major parties. Well,I’ll qualify that by saying that one of the major parties has recently been reduced to 7 members in an 89 seat unicameral parliament.There are 2 KAP members and 2 independents. We now have,effectively,a one party government.

    There is widespread opposition to CSG in particular throughout rural communities.This hasn’t touched the complacent urban herd much,if at all.Needless to say there is no mention of nuclear as a rational solution to energy problems. If DSA can find a way of convincing the environmental movement of the benefits of nuclear while weaning the powers that be off the fossil fuel tit I would be interested to hear it.

    I suspect that there is going to have to be the political and economic equivalent of 500 km of badly corrugated road complete with assorted bogholes to shake the apathy out of the community in general and the movers and shakers in particular.The relevant question being,can the national vehicle survive this sort of treatment?

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