Just one week prior to ATSE’s ground-breaking conference, Nuclear Energy for Australia? the Federal Energy Minister Gary Gray has made his strongest calls yet for an open debate and discussion of nuclear power as an energy option for Australia. Speaking at the Australian Uranium and Rare Earths Conference in Perth, the Minister was clear that the discussion of nuclear power was a matter of both national opportunities and international responsibilities.

These statements reinforce the huge value of this two day conference featuring high calibre local and international speakers covering a full range of relevant discussions, with ample opportunities for discussion and questions, and a reception hosted by the NSW State Government. The very competitive pricing for such an outstanding event is a credit to ATSE. I urge leaders in business, government and academia, as well as interested members of the community, to take advantage of what may prove to be a watershed event in Australia’s energy pathway.

My own responsibility to the event is to address the question How can community support for the nuclear option be achieved? Here, I provide you with a teaser from the paper submitted to the conference, as well as a couple of slides from my presentation.

I look forward to reporting back after the conference!

How can community support for the nuclear option be achieved?

Ben Heard

Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

Introduction

The idea of achieving community support for nuclear power in Australia is often met with responses like “don’t bother trying, it can’t be done”. This is fatalistic, often self-serving and incorrect. We can achieve community support for the nuclear option. It may be challenging and some of the steps may seem counter-intuitive. It is a question of an informed, determined effort, at sufficient scale, designed to respond to community concern rather than satisfy expert opinion.

As a former opponent of nuclear power I have now spoken in favour of nuclear power in front of over two thousand Australians. In this process I have learned many lessons that may guide a process for achieving community support. Before embarking on such a process, it is useful to consider how Australians relate to nuclear power right now.

How do Australians relate to nuclear power?

  1. 1.       Australians are not anti-nuclear

Australians are not, on the whole, anti-nuclear. This is a major and common misconception. Polling from October 2012[1] suggest 39% of Australians support Australia developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity, with 41% opposing this proposition and 21% undecided. A 2012 debate in Sydney polled the 1,000 attendees before and after. A nearly even three way split For/Against/Undecided moved to 51% For, 31% Against and 16% Undecided. There is a solid base of support for nuclear power in Australia, and the opportunity to hear the case for nuclear only bolsters this support.

I have addressed a remarkable variety of forums. The anti-nuclear hardcore has reared its head on a few isolated occasions at best. To the extent that anti-nuclear activism is tied to the broader environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs)[2], it is arguably large, influential and well-funded. But ENGOs address a broad range of concerns, many of which I share. The specific anti-nuclear hardcore represents only a portion of this broad movement, which is itself only a portion of Australia. The unconditional opposition to nuclear energy by seemingly all ENGOs has been subject to open criticism from some ENGO supporters[3].

Pandering the idea that Australians are anti-nuclear will deliver the wrong approach. The very question this paper is seeking to answer may be slightly misplaced. Rather than asking how community nuclear support can be achieved, we also need to ask how community nuclear support can be activated. To a significant degree the support already exists.

ATSE slide 1

ATSE slide 2


[1] Essential Vision 2012

[2] Choose Nuclear Free 2010

[3] Gunther 2013

25 comments

  1. Well done Gary Grey. I didn’t realise that the public opinion on the issue was 50/50 with 20 percent undecided. Even in the climate of antinuke FUD. This means if more people actually thought about it the pronuke would have majority support. At this stage of the electoral cycle now would be a good time to write letters to the Libs to get them to get on the right side of the issue. Ian
    Macfarlane is the shadow minister.

    1. Don’t despair, Mark. This from Dr Dennis Jensen MP, Liberal Member for Tangney, Western Australia on 17.6.13 in the House of Reps. (Taken directly from Hansard.)

      “The reality of renewables at present is that they do not stack up, and the various renewable energy target, or RET, schemes should be dropped until such time as they become economically competitive. I fully appreciate the coalition will review the RET in 2014. We have seen the ludicrous proposition put forward by the wind industry that wind power reduces prices in the market. This is based on disingenuous use of data whereby a massive oversupply when wind is blowing, leading to the price going down, but relative undersupply when the wind is not blowing, significantly increases prices. The overall effect is that, for example, South Australian, the wind capital state in Australia, has the nation’s highest electricity costs.
      If the wind energy proponents were correct in their assertion that wind energy was economically competitive with fossil fuels then there would be no need for RET schemes or subsidies. The big problem for renewables is the requirement for backup when the renewable resource—wind here—is not available. At present storage is even more cost uncompetitive.
      This is bad enough in the case of new turbines being erected. Even forgetting the problems related to grid instability due to variability of wind speeds and the incongruity of there being no wind power from South Australia to provide required power to Queensland during Cyclone Yasi, the issue of degradation due to age becomes a factor. The wind generation capacity of a wind farm is also not what the proponents would like to put out. The reality is that the turbines do not generate any electricity with too high or too low a wind speed. The power ramps up and down with increasing or decreasing wind speeds and only has a certain sweet spot in wind speed distribution where it can generate maximum capacity.
      The average of all these issues leads to what is known as ‘load factor’ or the average power generated by wind turbines. A recent study conducted in the UK and Denmark provides a sobering picture. Data for the cost of wind power at present assumes an economic life of 25 to 30 years. Problematically, the data indicates that the load factor in the UK for new-build wind turbines is around 24 per cent, but after 15 years it is down to 11 per cent. The degradation is large but can also be catastrophic in terms of bearing or gearbox failures.
      The numbers required are huge as well. If Australia were to have all of its energy generated using wind and if the average new build could be smoothed for an average load factor of 20 per cent, then Australia would need over 50,000 five-megawatt wind turbines.
      What of the victims of wind farms—those who have dedicated their lives to living the Australian dream and who will see a substantial loss in property value due to planned wind farms on a neighbouring property. This is the case for Melanie and Craig, who have dedicated their lives to farming in Broomehill WA. They have an 18-month-old daughter, Grace, and hope to have more children in the near future. Farming is tough, but they accept the challenges and would love their life on the land if it were not for the proposed wind farm on the neighbouring property. Melanie and Craig’s future and their life as they had planned it is now uncertain. For the past three years they have been fighting to stop the placement of a wind turbine one kilometre from their family home.
      The subsidy for wind is more than 100 per cent. The CSIRO estimates that the levelled costs of power to be $168 per megawatt-hour compared with coal, which is $80. These figures are generous in terms of the load factor, but they do not expect wind to be any more competitive by 2030. According to the CSIRO, nuclear is the cheapest method of generating electricity now, and this will also be the case in 2030. Wind power is simply a feel-good option for electricity. It is inefficient and costly.
      Investment should be directed at the cheap end of the innovation pipeline: research and development of electricity-generating technology. We must not mandate the use of expensive methods of generating electricity. Given economics and the goals for CO2 reduction, nuclear has to be considered.

      1. Dennis Jensen is a noted climate science denialist and I wouldn’t trust any figures he quotes at all. Just a few examples from the above – new wind is about 30 – 35% capacity, and the claim that wind turbines wont be more efficient by 2030 is just absurd, since in the period 2000 to 2010 they demonstrably improved.

        1. That he is a denialist is debatable. He claims to be an agnostic. I do not seek to take this discussion off on a tangent, but Jensen has long proposed nuclear as a power generation solution. March 1, 2011, House of Reps: “McNair Ingenuity Research showed that between 1979 and 2009 those in favour of the construction of nuclear power stations increased from 34 per cent to 49 per cent, with around 10 per cent undecided. More people are in favour of nuclear power than are opposed. It is not the will of the people to take nuclear energy off the table. Australians are open to change, while the Greens and Labor are not. If the Greens and Labor do not embrace nuclear power as a possibility they are not serious about addressing climate change.”

          So he has a least stood up and promoted nuclear and acknowledged climate change more than once.

          As Churchill famously said in the Commons when challenged about Britain sending arms and other supplies to Stalin: “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

          1. He’s a denialist: http://www.dennisjensen.com.au/media/opinion-pieces/24/accept-it-the-science-on-climate-change-isn%E2%80%99t-in

            And therefore either a charlatan or a fool. I’ll take your Churchill and raise you a Ben Franklin “if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.”

            It’s nice that he’s advocating nuclear power. But if it wasn’t for climate change, I wouldn’t be advocating nuclear power, it’s upfront too costly unless you include the externalities.

            There are a lot of light greens (myself included) who remain very concerned that ideologues and climate denialists are happy to get on the nuclear power bandwagon just because it gives a kick against the Greens and the broader left. There’s a certain commentator who was tolerated on BNC for a long time whose main obsession was unions in Australia, and who was a denialist. In my mind and the minds of many others, this greatly reduces the credibility of the arguments made, and damages the broader cause.

            I tell you this for free, getting the AWU, the ETU and the CFMEU on board would be a major step forward (whatever you think of them more broadly).

            1. Hi Wilful,
              I dont understand your logic. Are you saying you suspect the motives of a climate skeptic supporting nuclear power? Are you saying that they might be playing a game of “bait and switch” in that they are disengenous in supporting nuclear power but are merely using it to pursue a broader conservative agenda? Even if they were, wouldn’t the ends justify the means provided real progress were made toward introducing nuclear power into the mix?

              You are saying that you wouldn’t support nuclear power if it weren’t for climate change. I am agnostic about climate change however I belive that there are plenty of other good reasons to adopt nuclear power into the mix. If it is more expensive then I would attribute that to the technology needing a make over, lack of trained workers and Green tape. Even if it were more expensive than competeing technologies I still dont think that should precude R&D and deployment to keep the card in the game.

              In my view climate change presents an ill defined risk amidst many very serious and much better defined risks. A super abundance of non polluting base load capacity would allow us to set aside resources to address this.
              Imagine nuclear powered cargo shipping plying the seas leaving no pollution rather than burning sulphurous bunker oil. There have been efforts to try to implement projects where floating factories harvest plastic fragment from the floating concenrtations in the ocean. Something like that would be possible if it were powered by a SMR.

              My contention would be the contrary, in that relying simply on Climate Change to justify nuclear power you run the risk that if the Climate Change movement loses crediblity then the whole agrument gets shut down. Were are condemed to burning fossil fuels till they are unwinnable. My belief is that will be a lot sooner than most people seem to think. Even the brown coal we have now I believe would be far better kept as a carbonacous feed stock for other processes than simply burning it.

              If I miss your point I apologise, but I cant see that climate skeptics are precluded from supporting nuclear power.

              1. A very, very interesting discussion for me.

                On the one hand, I am aware of the generally higher default level of acceptance among conservatives of nuclear, and consider this to be an advantage as a climate change solution. Get those more climate concerned on board, and we should pretty much have a healthy majority of support.

                On the other, I share a deep frustration with Wilful that among that crowd, solid arguments for nuclear are often blithely mixed in with thinly veiled or just outright contrarian/denialist dialogue on climate science, or easily refuted and sometimes just idiotic memes about renewables. This does, I have no doubt at all, damage the prospects of nuclear consensus a very great deal. I have found in my years of working on nuclear that the case for it is diminished not at all by a fully informed point of view on renewables. I thank Climate Spectator for doing a good job for separating the wheat from the chaff of these arguments (as well as publishing some crap sometimes, but nobody’s perfect).

                Back on the other hand, the advantages of nuclear an as energy source are indeed profound and, IMO, worthy of a price premium over fossil fuels, and I would seek to cultivate support in these avenues as well and seek to respect those using the other advantages as the primary driver.

                Then back on the other hand, absent climate change I feel there really would be little urgency behind nuclear, as sadly many other horrible impacts of our current system are simply accepted as normal, so knee-capping the climate change urgency is, to my mind, a major not minor error in the push for nuclear power.

                I tire of the propensity for opinions to be held out of a determination to be seen to disagree with certain others. That criticism runs in both directions on nuclear power and is something that will not go away tomorrow. But whenever I speak I feel I build a few bridges toward some more grown-up conversations about energy, so I will press on!

                Thanks again for the discussion, don’t let my 2c interrupt.

                1. “On the other, I share a deep frustration with Wilful that among that crowd………………”

                  Contrainism does motivate the debate in certain sections. I have met people who self identify as conservative but are in truth reactionaries. They feel oppressed by what they percieve as a dominant paradigm and so lazily “harumph” and reflexively disagree. That is just base knuckle dragging partisanship concieved and nurtured in ignorance. The same applies to the hard Anti industrialist Left. It is unproductive to involve such people in crafting an argument. They are zealots and are only good at flinging cats.

                  You are probably right in that a loss of concern about Climate Change would just send every one back to sleep. An ill considered diversion of resources toward unpromising new energy sources is the thing that motivates climate skeptics like me to caution against, or even perhaps, wish to “Knee cap climate change urgency” .

                  My take on it is this; as a civilisation we need to move away from fossil fuels because of the smog, the inherently damaging nature of winning, processing and storing fossil fuels . The fact that they are running out. Oh and yes the Carbon Dioxide will do something to the atmopheric physics of the weather. IMO the only thing we know for sure is that it wont have any effect at all.

                  Ben, I believe the way you are framing the argument at the moment is exactly right. Don’t oversell Climate Change alarmism as the bigger monster than nuclear power and get stuck on Mortons Fork.

                  There are a bunch of applications for all the well founded new technologies. I wont go on to enumerate them but each has it’s place. Nuclear also has it’s place amoung equals – it is scarcely a monster at all.

              2. Mark, afraid I’ll have to disagree with you about climate change. While retaining a proper Popperian scientific scepticism of any claim, the preponderance of evidence in favour of climate change being real and serious is overwhelming compared to most scientific endeavours. I would rate the likelihood of climate change science losing credibility as about as great as a category seven nuclear disaster. In the past thirty years it has only gone from strength to strength, with greatly increasing insight and predictive power.

                But on to the core issue: I am not saying that denialists are wrong about nuclear power, and in many public policy cases the ends do justify the means, but I think that the primary argument, the one that will sway the swayable, is that nuclear power is a climate change solution (check out the title of this blog).

                Frankly, most denialists are cranks and partisan ideologues, who are more effective at losing broad support and putting people off reasoned argument than they are at generating new support. The worst thing in the world would be for the nuclear power push to become a strongly partisan issue (as, unfortunately, climate change has become). You could not proceed on the basis of nuclear power getting only 50% support in Australia, we need to aim for 80%+.

                Cranky denialists will do nothing to increase support from across the political spectrum for nuclear power. I don’t particularly identify as left or right (actually I have a problem with these labels generally), but if pressed I would suggest I am a “radical centrist”. I don’t want the Greens, the ALP or the Liberals* to own this issue, I want Australians to. And cranky denialists are a hindrance, because for whatever reason, they allow the movement to be tarred with an unwelcome brush.

                That’s why Barry Brook is kind of talismanic – he’s a Professor of Climate Change with a biological sciences background. And why Ben introduces his personal story all the time – he’s not a disciple of the IPA or the CIS, and he (and I agree with him) thinks that this is an important part of the story that he is trying to tell.

                * the Nationals are irrelevant.

                1. Hi Wilful,

                  thank you for your well considered reply. I suspect I may have a problem. I call myself a Climate Skeptic and a Conservative but perhaps I need to re-calibrate how I label myself. I have carefully read through your response and agree with pretty much everything you have said.

                  I would be grateful if you could help me out on the Climate Skeptic label.
                  I believe putting Carbon Dioxide back into the atmosphere will cause the climate to change but I am not convinced that the likely change is known with any great certainty. I know some see it as potentially catastrophic and I believe they are very likely to be proven wrong. The only place for Popperian formal logic is to rebut the contention that AGW cannot /
                  isn’t happening to a measurable degree. I see squandering vast resources on renewables to replace Carbon in the energy mix absent base load ie Nuclear , is futile and damaging. Looking to the future the
                  earth’s population will need LOTS more energy so as they can enjoy the level of prosperity they should be entitled to, as the technology allows it. On the other side of the ledger, resources will be more energy intensive to exploit as they are progressively depleted. As a stop gap Coal and gas are environmentally destructive to extract. It doesn’t exist in sufficient quantity to answer the need very far into the future.

                  In my sad little world we were doomed anyhow and if AGW
                  turns to to be serious, sooner rather than later.

                  Now that I have started to find out that Nuclear Power
                  need not be feared anywhere near so much as I once
                  thought. I am much more optimistic about the future of
                  civilization.

                  My contention here is that the case for Nuclear Power is conclusive without AGW, however the more serious you believe the threat to be the more compelling it becomes.

                  Now onto the Left / Right spectrum. The Pro Nuclear argument exists at ninety degrees to one’s views on the two dimensional political spectrum. I don’t see the Nationals as irrelevant. Quite a few cockies are
                  passionate opponents of CSG. Barnaby Joyce is a good bloke. The “visi – vest” demographic of the mining industry defines my self identification as a Conservative. We have our share of cranks and ratbags but we are far from alone in that.

                  I congratulate Ben in that he has calibrated his presentation of our case to take in this broad church.

                  To keep it simple Ben should continue to sell Nukes as effective in combating Global Warming and for us skeptics that can be viewed as an insurance policy if we turn out to be wrong. AGW is but one plank in a very big raft.

                  1. P.S. I would like to put a rider on the foregoing discussion since IMO it is really so much sophistry.

                    “Meanwhile back at the ranch … ” we need to work on the assumption that AGW is as serious as Ben believes since, with out that extra heft the dirt burners will win the field. I never challenge a “warmie” but rather talk up nukes. I always challenge a “denier” both because they are wrong and because the logical culmination of that viewpoint is continued fossil fuel dependency. The false dichotomy is part of the reality of discourse. Absent Bens’ passion about Global Warming his presentation would be pretty piss weak and that isn’t helping anyone.

                  2. Mark, I don’t count myself as an expert on climate science, merely a well-informed amateur, my publishing record in this field is zero, so I’m not here to argue the science directly, all I can do is echo the findings of every single relevant and reputable scientific institution on earth (CSIRO, AAS, BOM, NAS, RS, etc etc to infinity) that, with varying degrees of caution, insist that we must decarbonise our economy or risk catastrophic climate change. More than a metre sea-level rise within a century, severe droughts and floods, massive reductions in productivity of arable areas. This is all within the bounds of science, it has no politics or economics attached to it at this point.

                    The fundamental scientific underpinnings, that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that the greenhouse effect occurs, that the earth is heating up, all of these are falsifiable statements, known since at least the 1950s (some back to the 1820s) and accepted as undisputable in physics. Arrhenius worked it all out within reasonable bounds of accuracy with a pencil in a hut in the Arctic in 1896.

                    The last gasp of respectable scepticism went out the window when the data problems with satellites were resolved in the 90s. Anyone who still professes scepticism of the science having looked into it in any depth is either contrarian bloody-minded, has deeper, non-objective reasons to reject the science, or is a scumbag corporate shill for the demonstrated astro-turfing operations that have occurred.

                    I’m happy to accept that you haven’t looked into the issue deeply enough yet, but if you merely look at the talent lined up on either side of the argument, the level of consensus on this most highly scrutinised theory, from across several disciplines, is actually quite remarkable. No qualified sceptic has caused more than a scratch to the entire edifice in many years. A few third and fourth order issues have had to be re-looked at, a few boosters (not primary researchers) have mis-spoken, that is the sum total of a massive campaign to discredit this field of knowledge. That’s why denialism is the only appropriate word now – it’s not wise scepticism any more, it’s an inability to face facts. The arrogance of these people – they’re not modern day Galileos, they’re more like Bishop Wilberforce, railing against the evidence.

                    Without climate change, in some perfect sim world where I got to design Australia’s energy systems in the 50s and 60s, yes I would have gone with nuclear power on its own merits. But now, in the 21st century, with Australia so divided on the issue and with so many barriers towards its adoption, the motivating reason that makes this much more than academic is climate change. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, and here commenting on Ben’s blog.

  2. I think the public has twigged to a couple of things such as the lack of radiation fatalities at Fukushima and the fact the big coal stations aren’t going anywhere under the carbon tax or ETS. Right now the eastern seabord is having an unusually (mostly) warm winter and that may play on people’s minds.

    I note the Whyalla connection between Gary Gray and rare earths. GG was apparently a former resident of the town but the rare earths plant is no longer going ahead. It was to have produced 20 kt a year of thorium oxide compared Olympic Dam’s 19 kt of yellowcake if the latter ever goes full tilt.

    Whether GG retains the gig in a month or two is unknown. Current Deputy PM Albanese is strongly anti-nuclear based on past statements. GG seems more approachable than MacFarlane who seems to reflect Abbott’s negative style and may also see little wrong with coal. GG would be less likely to alienate the public a nuclear debate.

  3. I wonder if Julia Gillard’s decision to live in Adelaide will move things along. After all she oversaw the approval of yellowcake sales to India, using the sound rationale that it was an essential energy source. As I’m from SA originally I think I can say this.. the place totally depends on the grace and favour of Canberra. That is to keep Holden afloat, to subsidise and mandate wind power and to make sure enough water comes down the River Murray. Next step become an exporter of low carbon baseload power. JG can help make it happen.

  4. Ah, Gary Gray. He, as I recall, is the gent who said about Rudd before the June 26 Caucus ballot: “He doesn’t have the courage and the strength that’s required to do this job. What he can do is spread confusion. What he can do is get himself into the media. What he can do is create a lot of torment. What he can’t do is govern and what he can’t do is lead the Labor party.”

    Well of course, once Rudd had won and with a dozen or so front benchers heading for the exit door, Gazza kept his job. So now, presumably, Rudd does have the courage and the strength that’s required to do this job. He can no longer spread confusion nor create a lot of torment. And, best of all, suddenly he can govern and he can lead the Labor party.”

    Beware chameleons and hypocrites.

  5. Whilst I am by inclination a conservative voter I believe the Nuclear issue trancends that. I voted for Julia Gillard because of the “No Carbon Tax” promise. I thought this would mean a proper analysis of the energy portfolio and would see us going down the correct path. I wonder how things are going in that parallel universe where the ALP won power and wasn’t beholden to the Green wreckers. Where Rudd got eased out by a robust and healthy caucus. I would dearly love to find out if she would have been visionary enough to put nukes where it belongs.
    In 30 years no one will remember the chameleons and hypocrits. I would prefer competant ministers batten down the hatches and wait Rudd out (and Albo hopefully) win or lose. If the conservative do win we need a strong oposition to prevent the climate skeptics nullifying clean energy completely. Sadly the debate on Climate Changes has degenerated into a contest between extremists on both sides.
    I am a climate agnostic myself in a family of deniers. Despite this I still believe Dirt Burning is a bad idea.
    Thanks to Ben ! You are doing a superb job there mate .. I hope these conferences you are going to will be podcast.

  6. This has to be encouraging. “The World Bank has announced a major repositioning of how it funds energy projects in developing nations, promising to massively scale back its support for coal-powered generation. In a paper out this week, the group confirms that it will provide financial support for greenfield coal power “only in rare circumstances.”

    Link – http://www.newstatesman.com/economics/2013/07/world-bank-moves-limit-funding-coal-generation

    Not a magic bullet, I’ll concede, but where product A becomes unavailable or unaffordable, markets tend to look more vigorously for alternatives B, C and D.

  7. Form observation, one of the worst bastions of keeping the Australian politic misinformed is the ABC. There appear to be a couple of producers and journalists in there that have absolutely made up their minds, and report bollocks about Fukushima etc. Even this morning they were at it again. I don’t think I’ve seen a positive nuclear power story appear on the ABC ever. Maybe on The Drum, by Barry Brook. I don’t know what could be done about fixing that.

    Ben, one new old media organisation that is doing really good in depth reporting is the Global Mail. I wonder if a story could be pitched to them about the issue. I’m sure it would cover both sides, Jim Green would get to have his say, but it could be interesting. Hey it could blow up in our faces, the angle taken may be negative, but I wouldn’t presume so.

    1. Be wary of the Global Mail. One of it’s main backers is the same gent who donated the biggest sum in political history and it was to the Greens, $1.6 million. Plus a few former journo’s have said it’s no better than The Australian only from the left.

      The way to get out there is to be persistent and keep contacting the agencies. “Editorialising” Media Releases and ensuring a few key people are persistent in contacting these media agencies will eventually get them as regulars. It’s how Helen, Jim and the rest got there, persistence and creative editorialising (it doesn’t mean outright lying, just on first impression it looks controversial/outrageous but on a second look it’s fairly benign).

  8. I suspect the ABC’s Mark Willacy is a closet nuclear fan. See him walking over the reactor vessel at Jinshan Taiwan 15m30s into this clip
    http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2013/s3733236.htm
    Another time he was untroubled to interview farmers in Japan with display meters reading 0.15 uSv/h. It’s all for that other form of metering, namely TV ratings.

    What gets me is that the ABC can both demonise and praise coal in the same newscast. Last night we had frowny face with the Latrobe Valley and the ‘tough’ new ETS. Ten minutes later it was happy face because Queensland was exporting more ‘resources’ evidently of the combustible kind. I suggest the ABC take a consistent line.

    1. Mark has a new book out on Fukushima by the way. I had a skim of it in the bookstore, it didn’t seem to biased either way.

  9. @Wilful.
    I am not sure where this comment will end up on the page but please take it as a continuation of our discussion . I think we are almost done in any case. Are you saying I shouldn’t be calling myself a Climate Skeptic ? If I follow you correctly a Climate Skeptic is one who doubts that putting more Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere will not have any effect on climate AT ALL? That proposition is not sustainable at any level.

    The “boosters that have misspoken” you speak of a self made straw-men who have provided ammunition for deniers by making predictions that turned out wrong. What disgusts me is people talking about “invisible gas” with a nod and a wink as if to say “We will endorse token efforts to limit Carbon Dioxide emission but really do nothing until the climate catastrophists are proven wrong and then continue with business as usual.” I am looking at you Tony Abbot.

    You speak of a “risk” of CATASTROPHIC climate change, not a certainty. I go along with you there too. That risk is an unknown remove from a certainty but it is a risk not worth taking if there is an alternative. There is no alternative without Nuclear.

    Now that I am thinking about it carefully I suppose I am arguing from the point of view if exclusions rather than inclusions. The way I frame the argument it doesn’t matter how the AGW story plays out. We still need Nuclear Power.

    It is primarily an exercise in risk management not prognostication.

    The fossil fuel industry has lots of momentum and as that fuel gets harder to find exploitation will become way more destructive. Tar sand mining makes my skin crawl even absent CO2 emission considerations.

    Conservative Pro Nukers promulgating ” thinly veiled or just outright contrarian/denialist dialogue on climate science, or easily refuted and sometimes just idiotic memes about renewables. ” as Ben describes,.are a menace as are AGW proponents that over play the case. Either way it damages credibility and counts as friendly fire.

    In any case, wilful you keep on getting out of bed in the morning and doing your best to further this objective. Cheers !

    1. Mark, what I’m saying re denialists/sceptics is that there’s not really any room for scepticism in climate science any more, not about the bigger picture of the theory. There’s reasonable doubt and then there’s sheer wilful bloodymindedness. It may yet come to pass that climate change was the greatest scientific mistake and hoax ever perpetrated, but as a matter of risk management, it’s really not a viable bet. So yeah, it’s pretty important. Even if we’re all wrong, what’s the worst thing that happens, we become more efficient and have clean safe nuclear power!

      cheers

      Wil

  10. ^5@wilful

    Ok I will stop calling myself a climate skeptic. As a result of this discussion I have done some reading and self proclaimed Climate Skeptics seem to hold a view i would call fully denialist, not skeptical , in the true sense, at all.

    I am in the “reasonable doubt” camp as to the severity of AGW but “proven beyond reasonable doubt” that AGW is real. If you really want to torture the metaphor I am hearing arguments in mitigation before passing sentence. I don’t think the catastrophrophists have proven their case either. The only way that will ever happen is if / when the catastrophe occurs. Russian Roulette. The case for a precautionary move away from dirt burning is therefore compelling.

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