Following the impressive level of media coverage of the ATSE Nuclear Power for Australia? conference last week, the ABC Environment blog got in touch looking for a fresh perspective on this topic (I have never written for them).

Eight hundred words on nuclear always presents a challenge.

I wanted to engage the ABC audience, and also carry through some of the challenging aspects of the nuclear conference. I saw a lot of what I would term unhelpful discourse from some of those who would , on the whole, agree with me. So I sought to address this dangerously false choice we are being sold, from many directions, between renewables and nuclear power. I have also directed this article, in part, to sustainability professionals like myself. It’s a direct plea for leadership. We have a responsibility to lift the standard of the discussion, and not deploy broad sustainability principles as an easy escape from tough decisions and realities.

I hope you like it. There is plenty of nuance to my position as outlined in this article, so please leave a comment here or at the ABC post if you need clarification, and I will happily respond.

IF YOU SUPPORT NUCLEAR power generation for Australia you are not alone. Nearly two fifths of Australians agree with you, while one fifth is not sure and the last two fifths report being not in favour. But we seem to approach discussion of nuclear power as though walking on egg shells, fearful of spiteful responses from a majority our friends, neighbours, stakeholders and constituents. The fear is misplaced.

When I changed my mind on nuclear power, I did it in the most public possible way: presenting my case and my reasoning to a roomful of sixty strangers. Since then I have addressed at least a couple of thousand Australians in a remarkable variety of forums, debates and discussions, on the radio and the TV. Never once in these encounters have I encountered the supposedly broad, vehement unpopularity of nuclear power.

Talking nuclear power has never resulted in rotten fruit, or anything much close. Most people just really want to learn
Talking nuclear power has never resulted in rotten fruit being thrown, or anything much close. Most people just really want to learn

This is an assumption of almost religious sanctity and almost no reality. I’ve met and answered questions from the opposed and the undecided. They are, by and large, interested. They want satisfactory responses to concerns before they would consider ticking the box of ‘supporter’. Nothing in the world could be more reasonable.

Perhaps the most pernicious discourse, the one that is holding us back from a truly visionary response to climate change, is the one pitting renewables in opposition to nuclear power. This fake dichotomy sends some activists and energy hobbyists in pursuit of 100 per cent renewable solutions, while others make a mission of poking holes in the case for renewables. In that fight, the only winners are coal, oil and gas. Approaching the challenge of decarbonisation with a default exclusion of nuclear power, or a single minded obsession with either limitations or virtues of renewables, is a fool’s errand.

If we believe climate change is an urgent problem, rather than simply a useful vehicle for pet technologies, then it is high time we got serious and put all solutions on the table.

There is no doubt that there is work to do before electricity can be generated from nuclear in Australia. That is only an argument for starting. We can continue to implement mature, market-ready renewables. We can turn the screws on our sometimes profligate use of energy while accommodating population growth and the gradual electrification of our transport sector.

The long term climate battle will call for more electricity, not less, and it ALL has to be clean!
The long term climate battle will call for more electricity, not less, and it ALL has to be clean!

Right now though, wind and solar provide a mere three per cent (pdf) of Australian electricity generation. To achieve our best possible climate outcome, we must pursue energy efficiency, renewables and nuclear at the same time. We need to start the nuclear pathway immediately, instead of waiting for some future point of total desperation.

Nuclear reactors closely resemble that which we must replace. They provide medium to large generation capacity with very high reliability from an amazingly dense fuel source. Using nuclear means minimal bets on technological uncertainty and minimal changes to the system itself. That’s why a handsome contribution from renewables and energy efficiency, in partnership with nuclear power, will likely be the fastest, cheapest pathway to a clean future when all technological, financial and social considerations are taken into account.

Forty-five housecats weight as much as a lion. That does not make them a good substitute.
Forty-five house cats weigh as much as a lion. That does not make them a good substitute.

In contrast, to exclude nuclear will prove costly. It will bring high system costs to ensure reliability of supply from very high levels of intermittent generation. It places large bets on the success of technologies that are commercially nascent and very expensive (such as solar thermal with storage), encountering serious engineering challenges to bring to market at scale (such as hot dry rock geothermal or carbon-capture and storage) or simply a sustainability disaster when scaled up (like giant, brand new biomass industries). What we will probably be left with is a large coal and gas sector, and a large bill for carbon offsets if we want to do anything about it.

Those of us presuming to represent the sustainability voice must therefore ask ourselves: what is meritorious about excluding nuclear in favour of these high-stakes pathways? Why exclude a technology that is globally proven to provide reliable and competitively-priced electricity, with no emissions of greenhouse gas, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide or nitric oxides?

The commonly cited reason to keep saying no is the management of spent nuclear fuel for supposedly hundreds of thousands of years. This calls for a little bit of clear-thinking humility.

Before presuming to take responsibility for nuclear waste in such a far distant future, we must first remember this: we are en route to completely disrupt our climate system within this century. We are facing down a potential catastrophe that is relevant to us, our children and grandchildren. We are failing, badly, to head off this threat.

We also have technologically mature storage solutions for safely holding small quantities of spent nuclear fuel. We even have proven reactor designs that will consume 99 per cent of it as fuel. These reactors leave a tiny residue of waste that will decay to background levels in a little as 300 years.

From a sustainability perspective, inclusion of nuclear should be obvious. To cite intergenerational equity as grounds to reject nuclear power is to turn the very concept on its head. It is evidence of sustainability losing its way and lacking the sophistication to remain relevant in a complex world.

It’s time for Australia’s sustainability thinkers to come clean on this issue. We must lead our community in an open and honest national conversation about using all technologies to achieve both deep decarbonisation and a stable energy future.

Ben Heard is director of ThinkClimate Consulting and a PhD Candidate at the University of Adelaide. He tweets as@BenThinkClimate.

37 comments

  1. The ABC Environment site is a bit of a dud I’m afraid. Speaking as a ‘net habitué, I was hardly aware of it. Still, a solid article.

  2. I left a 2 line comment on ABC your piece a couple of hours ago Ben. Maybe the moderator is still at lunch 🙂 … I love your little cat diagram, its a shame they didn’t use it on the ABC site.

  3. It’s generally assumed that wind power and residential solar will keep growing but I’m not so sure. With PV the state feed-in tariffs are all set to drop to wholesale prices so despite the lower cost of installation we may never get 2 million solar roofs. However they still pay for themselves in a less than decade if you can use most of the power at home. Prime wind sites near transmission and away from NIMBYs must be getting harder to find. Both Origin Energy and Energy Australia will lobby the incoming government to water down the RET of 41,000 Gwh (about 147 PJ in BREE’s preferred units) taking with it the LGC subsidy of about 3c per kwh.

    Add to that a carbon price possibly under $10 or even $0. It’s a good time to buy shares in coal mines. The main thing that gives already built renewables and perhaps load following nuclear a look-in is the looming east Australian gas crisis.

  4. I read the title (on ABC website) and thought I might see an advocate of nuclear address the insidious and profoundly anti-nuclear outcomes of having climate science deniers and obstructors standing front and centre of mainstream Australian politics. I was disappointed to see that after initial lip service to the idea that proponents of renewables and nuclear have much in common Ben reverts to the familiar criticism of green politics and it’s favoring of renewables over nuclear. If nuclear is to get onto the table it will won’t be put there by The Greens it will only be put there by an LNP that has ditched denialism.

    It’s not because of green opposition to nuclear but because of climate denial and obstructionism that nuclear has no mainstream political backing. In every way climate denial within mainstream politics hurts every sincere effort to face the climate problem head on – it impedes renewables but it stops nuclear dead in it’s tracks. Because, whilst renewables can still get going without bipartisan commitment, without it nuclear goes nowhere.

    Denial within mainstream politics undermines community acceptance of the seriousness of the problem – and therefore acceptance of ‘serious’ responses like nuclear. It prevents any bipartisan commitment to solving the problem and that is an absolute prerequisite for nuclear. And the strongest and most influential voices that would call for nuclear –
    Australian Commerce and Industry – are diverted, muted and subsumed into the LNP’s broader obstructionist pro-fossil fuels agenda. (It’s very dismaying to know that in addressing the most crucial issue of our times, business interests can be bought off from the inevitability of doing what is necessary at some cost simply by political shucksters offering the option of doing nothing for cheaper. That says to me that business interests and markets, by themselves, are incapable of making sound choices about climate and emissions.)

    So, in the midst of a Federal Election with climate policy high on the agenda,pro- nukers appear to be lining up to campaign against the Greens and renewables whilst passing on any serious effort to confront the climate deniers who stand front and centre in Australian politics. Even BNC, that has confronting climate denial as a stated goal, isn’t mustering it’s resources to bring an end to the profoundly anti-nuclear climate obstructionism of the LNP. Brooks, Martin and the rest appear determined to leave the thorny problem of the LNP be and stick to sticking it to green politics and renewables.

    Break the grip of the deniers on conservative politics and nuclear gets on the table. Join in with their anti-Greens theme and you play the fossil fuelers hand for them.

    1. Sorry Ken, but denial isn’t restricted to the LNP, there’s more than a few deniers in the ALP and one wonders about the integrity of the Greens when they prefer to risk climate change with renewables than contemplate nuclear. While a bi-partisan ALP+LNP position on climate would be preferable, a solid ALP+Green partnership would be enough to deliver serious change but the Greens let ideology drive policy instead of science while for the ALP it’s all about obeying the polls rather than selling rational policy and building support.

      1. Geoff, you seem willing to criticise the ALP for being poll driven and the Greens for lack of integrity for not agreeing that nuclear is best, but I see no substantial criticism of the LNP as it goes into an election with climate denial and policy obstruction front and centre! Their lack of integrity should not be ignorable, especially given how damaging it is to the prospects of effective action on climate by any means. I pointed out how it is especially damaging to nuclear, by undermining community acceptance of the need, by preventing bipartisan commitment and – by offering them a cheap, do nothing option – subverting what pro-nuclear influence Commerce and Industry might have into it’s obstructionist agenda.

        Denial isn’t restricted to the LNP but with them it is front and centre and they are likely to hold Government in a few weeks time. A win for them will be the mandate to take climate off the agenda – which will hurt renewables directly and nuclear indirectly. I don’t like to think that people who seriously want to face the climate problem head on would choose to vote for them just to throw a spanner into the green/renewable works. Or fail to confront a position so lacking in integrity as the LNP’s in some vague hope that IF they one day decide climate is a real problem THEY would use nuclear.

        Isn’t the only reason our collective response to the climate problem appears to be up to Environmentalists because climate denial – the “not as serious or urgent as the scientists say; other things are more important so it can wait” even more than the “no problem” sort is so rife amongst our mainstream elected representatives that they are incapable of even treating the minimum necessary to address the problem as being within the realms of possibility?

        Seriously, if you want advocacy for saving commerce and industry, rather than saving natural ecosystems, you need look to beyond Environmentalism and hold our mainstream politicians to higher standards.

        1. You won’t change those LNP members who don’t fully believe or partially believe climate change. The LNP is based upon some libertarian and some liberal ideologies, and that the right to an opinion is one of them. Attack them to make them honest, but it won’t change their opinion.

          The better way is saying the same thing advocacy wise but in a different way. For example:

          – Nuclear Power is a zero carbon generating source, this will help combat climate change.
          OR
          – Nuclear Power emits no harmful pollutants (CO2 included).

          The same thing is effectively said but it includes climate change in a more subtle manner.

          1. Irregular, are you saying opposition to climate action is so entrenched in the LNP that they would actually like nuclear better if it DIDN’T help with the climate problem?

            As for some kind of rephrasing to make it more acceptable… maybe those on the LNP side that suffer from the cognitive dissonance of knowing climate is a serious problem whilst opposing policy to do anything might be marginally influenced that way, but, as an approach to the biggest problem humanity has ever faced it leaves much to be desired.

            But an issue I have – besides the appallingly depressing idea that our politicians’ comprehension of the nature of the problem is so poor and their anti-environmentalist biases so ingrained that greater support for nuclear from the Right could be bought by downplaying it’s climate benefits with a rewording – is that my intention is not to get Australia to accept nuclear, it’s to get a commitment from mainstream politics to adequately address the climate problem.

            Personally I hope renewables end up kicking nuclear’s butt – it’s just that I think actual support for nuclear, rather than lip service, will be one of the inevitable consequences of LNP ditching denial and climate policy obstruction, so my point is more in the nature of an observation, rather than an intention. It will give nuclear a big boost, but it will give a whole range of measures, including renewables with real commitment, a boost. My question is why, in light of how damaging denial in LNP politics has been to nuclear and what a boost to nuclear them dropping it would be, why nuke spruikers are so reluctant to confront LNP members about it?

            1. I’m not saying that at all. There are different levels of the acceptance of human action upon the level of GHG in the atmosphere and it’s effects on the climate, and different levels of acceptance of the eventual events it will cause. This is true in the LNP as much as it is in the ALP.

              Some will accept it, some may accept it but have reservations of the effects etc.

              From what I understand DSA and BNC advocate for the inclusion of Nuclear Power in the low carbon generating mix to mitigate the effects of climate change through a reduction in CO2 emissions. That’s fine, but this will only cover a certain percentage of those fully engaged and concerned with the effects of climate change. There are those in the community that do not have this same view and thus to advocate for the inclusion and possible construction of Nuclear the argument needs to be tailored to that audience for acceptance.

              For example:
              – Just arguing Nuclear should be considered due to climate change will engage those interested in climate change.
              – Just arguing Nuclear should be considered because it will reduce the volatility of wholesale electricity prices and thus stabilise rising electricity prices will engage those concerned with electricity prices.
              – Just arguing Nuclear should be considered because all harmful substances and pollutants are contained onsite in concrete and steel vaults will engage those concerned with pollution.
              etc. etc.

              However advocating for Nuclear using all the above arguments, and more, will engage a large majority of the public and not just those concerned with climate change.

              That’s my point.

              1. My sentiments entirely !! I am a climate change agnostic but have a slew of compelling reasons I believe a pro nuclear stance is correct. Primarily the desire for there to be lots of cheap energy available in a world where fossil fuels reserves are dwindling. The others are important too. I find myself defending nuclear power and when I am asked to justify this despite being fairly sanguine about Global warming, my response is “If you believe as strongly as you do in Global Warming you should be chaining yourself to the railings in front of parliament demanding “Nukes Now !!”

                Ben would you consider putting a straw poll in this site with a list of pros / cons for Nuclear Power and ask readers to vote on them in terms of priority ? Would that be interesting / worthwhile?

                  1. Sorry Ben, I was rude in that comment to you in my last comment to Markawbolton, when I’ve only been treated here with politeness and tolerance. I apologise. I suppose what I’m asking for is a revisit to the kind of conversation I’m imagining you might have had with Barry Brooks to reach the conclusions you did about your advocacy.

                  2. Apology gladly accepted, think no more of it. Thank you to all for making and keeping DSA a good place for discussion.

                    I’ll bear it in mind Ken. I am, intellectually and morally, 100% in your camp. I expect you would have enjoyed one of my answers to a question in Sydney recently…It’s what I do with my time that is in question. I’ll keep revisiting it regularly.

                1. Sorry, but in the current political climate I think opposition to renewables because the climate problem is so serious and renewables will be inadequate will continue to be subsumed into broader opposition to renewables because climate isn’t a problem and we have abundant fossil fuels – with renewables impeded, nuclear not advanced at all and fossil fuels the winners.

                  But, I think that failure of nuclear advocacy to distance itself from climate science deniers like yourself is deeply damaging – and it is denial I’m afraid; by failing to accept the legitimacy of what science is telling us, you deny the seriousness and urgency of the problem and contribute to the overall reluctance of Australians to change how we make and use energy.

                  You have to be aware that your climate denial undermines your overall credibility, including that of your perceived capacity to assess the relative, science based merits of climate policies and energy choices. When your express such views and they go unchecked by leading advocates of nuclear for climate, such as the operators of this website, it undermines their credibility too. Like with the LNP, climate denial within nuclear advocacy can only be, by it’s irrational+ill-informed nature, counter-productive.

                  Standing on the outside telling sincere and hardworking climate policy activists how to do it, or crucially, seek to stop them until they agree with you … when your solution is not even a choice that is on offer (not even by the allegedly pro-nuclear but actually pro-fossil fuels LNP) – will not win them over.

                  But it should be clear by now I don’t think nuclear can get up by any other means than an LNP that accepts the seriousness of the problem. Very different if we didn’t live atop an abundance of fossil fuels, but we do and in the absence of widely accepted, compelling reasons, they will choose fossil fuels.

        2. Hi Ken. Guilty as charged. I haven’t been critical of Abbott and LNP because I don’t believe they have any of the kind of belief in reason that makes it possible to influence them with a science based argument. That certainly isn’t true of all LNP members or politicians, so it’s probably lazy of me to dismiss them en-masse. What I should be doing is finding the individuals within LNP who look to have the rationality and compassion required to change the party’s direction. Do you have any suggestions?

          1. Geoff, it’s kind of flattering to Environmentalists that despite doubts about their integrity you think they are more open to reason than the LNP!

            I think believing Abbot’s team is incapable of reason on an issue of unparalleled importance is the best reason of all to be critical of them! Since it was one vote that got Abbott the LNP leadership it seems safe to assume the out and out deniers are not a firm majority.

            I would be surprised if that sort of climate denier even outnumbers those who believe the climate problem is real and serious and would commit to action but for party unity and anti-climate action populism. But unfortunately both of those subsets combined are outnumbered by the “real but not serious or urgent” sort of denier. And those aren’t confined to the LNP side of course. But we need to start somewhere.

            Suggestion one – don’t believe that a 180 on climate by the LNP is outside the realm of possibility, although it gets a lot harder if they win government, because that will be taken as vindication of their obstructionism. Easier if they lose but even a decisive Abbott victory doesn’t change the fact that climate denial is not universally supported within the LNP. After all it is irrational and dangerously irresponsible and far from impossible it’s collapse is actually inevitable. But we can’t afford to sit around and wait; that needs to be sped along.

            Suggestion two – be unrelenting about it.

            I came across a questionnaire about climate for people to send to their local MP’s and candidates which I think could be heading along the right track – ask where they stand and why (if it’s the case) are they dismissing and ignoring expert advice if they themselves have no relevant experience, training or expertise to make an informed judgement. I believe there is an obligation for MP’s to answer the queries of their constituents.

            Personally I would start and stick with their views on the problem and not confuse the issue with questions about renewables vs nuclear – it’s the wrong battle. That question will get addressed more rationally when the commitment to solve the problem is firmly in place.

            One thing to keep in mind is that the actual number of individual MP’s and candidates will be relatively small and surprising numbers of them actually have heartfelt belief in the democratic system – if you can penetrate past loyalties and obligations to party, ideology or big donors. Just getting the LNP – Labor too – to allow conscience votes on climate and energy would change the balance. More so than getting a shift to acceptance of nuclear from The Greens would. I don’t know but suspect the total numbers sitting in parliament who accept the seriousness and urgency of the climate problem – with party loyalties suspended and MP’s voting by conscience – could even be a majority.

            I see it as about MP’s living up to the trust and responsibility embodied in their positions; it ought to be unacceptable for an MP to fail to make sincere efforts to be well informed on an issue of this importance. For any of them to willfully dismiss or ignore the expert advice at their disposal without having relevant experience, training or expertise themselves should be unacceptable. To put the commercial interests of one sector of the economy ahead of their obligation to their entire electorates and their obligation to be well informed on their behalf is unacceptable. They may seem to be armor plated and impervious but having their shortcomings as people’s representatives under the spotlight can get them to look at their assumptions.

    2. Ken,

      Thanks for a detailed comments and opening a good discussion. POVs from the author.

      This was not a political piece in the direct sense of voting preferences. It was a call to common ground and technological neutrality. It may not have met your expectations, but based on Twitter outcomes it met my goals profoundly well.

      I rarely speak for others but I am comfortably to speak for both Barry Brook and I in this case as we have discussed the point at length. Both of us (Barry in particular) have made a big effort in the climate denial space. We have both reached the same conclusion that there is now little more to be achieved. This was reinforced for my by Prof Andy Pittman two weeks ago who said, verbatim to a room of people “If you do not believe this, there is nothing I can say to change your mind”.

      I have responded in three ways. Firstly by announcing my resignation, per se, from the issue https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/10/30/gong-to-pell-in-a-handbasket-why-it-is-time-for-those-who-care-to-leave-the-denialists-to-it/

      Secondly by up-stepping my efforts in bringing people to nuclear. Here, unlike climate denial, I see massive head room for growth and progress and I experience real success, regularly. Pieces like this one are part of that.
      http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/environmentalisms-merchants-of-doubt/

      Thirdly, by continue to teach basic climate change knowledge at university whenever I can.

      I respect your differing conclusion and fully endorse your passion on the topic. I also would prefer you avoid suggesting that Barry, myself or anyone are ignoring a thorny issue. It’s not the case. We have read the politics of climate progress differently. If you want to see the new frontier in denialist thinking, visit the comments for this piece at ABC.

      1. Thanks Ben for taking up so much space.

        I beg to disagree and think that on this, you, Barry Brooks and Pr Pittman too are wrong; there’s a road to bipartisan mainstream commitment to be achieved and I think nothing less is going to do the job. Climate science denial has to go.

        BTW I think that if what we tell the obstructors hasn’t changed their mind we should keep arguing until it does – or until they give way. This is a debate that can only be over when it’s won.

  5. It’s on the cards the two big winners from the election will be
    1) the Liberal National Party
    2) the coal industry
    The LNP have said they will retain the MRET of ~20% of energy (including thermal) sourced from renewables by 2020. However some heavy hitters will be lobbying to erase it. Conceivably we could have no RET, no carbon price, high priced gas, nuclear still prohibited. and the fuzzy ‘direct action’ policy lapsed into no action.

    If this pans out what form will new or replacement generating capacity take? Relatively expensive wind will be already overbuilt without the RET to guarantee market share. Coal’s share of generation could increase as well as a return to growing electricity demand nationally with cheaper power. However I’m not sure new coal will replace the old (a la Germany) since governments come and go every 3 years or less which is too short a planning horizon. Bipartisan support for nuclear is possible recalling the uranium sales to India. Like I said now J. Gillard is a SA resident get to her to work on it. Expect a muddle for at least another year.

  6. You’ve either melted down the moderation on the blog, or that person was sick yesterday and will get to it on monday…

    Very nice piece Ben. This is highly worthy of a policy launch speech to get people behind the plan. Clean Energy unity! There is no pandering to myths, no saturation of facts, just an optimistic clear message. A+

    Like Geoff I am also going to use that cat diagram.

  7. Another article there. The “Inter-generational Equity” point is particularly important and I am glad you make it clearly and often. I also left a message on so maybe it was a POETS day, Friday at the ABC.

    As to the point on bipartisanship I would encourage you all to write to pollies of every stripe. When I have a spare cuppla minutes I dash one off. Much effort goes into monitoring public opinion. The system is smart enough to differentiate between true grass roots and spam / astroturf.

  8. Today’s TiP article should pour more cold water on those musing about an all-renewables nirvana.
    http://www.coolibahconsulting.com.au/TiP/2013/08/11/renewables-rocky-road/
    Put simply coal isn’t going away anytime soon. In Australia we have the imminent prospect of no formal carbon price, a watered down RET and expensive gas. Those claiming to care about emissions and other coal negatives must think harder about what can realistically replace it..

  9. This discussion has lead me to reexamine my views on climate change. Twice now I have found myself in a discussion due to my self identifying as “agnostic.” Really I should have identified as “ignorant”. I realized I shouldn’t use labels like that lightly. I have been suckered into defining my own position by where I stand with respect to various cranks and straw-men on both sides of the propaganda fog. That is a lazy approach. I decided to man up and read the IPCC report. It isn’t easy to understand so I just stuck to the topics I know a little bit about – Geology Meteorology and Physics. There is no reason to doubt the conclusions drawn. There is sufficient allowance given for reasonable error.

    It makes the Pro Nuke argument more compelling is all.

      1. Hey Ben,
        zinger of a comeback @DINO with “….What’s difference between your position and mine? Fundamentally this: the fossil fuel plants are not crippled, they are in perfect working order!”

        The IPCC report has the “gut feel” of being correct. It’s kinda like a jig saw where you look in the box and say “Its’ probably the Eiffel Tower” but cant be arsed putting the bits together. Well it’s definitely “The Eiffel Tower as distinct from a Labrador puppy” at this stage of research. It’s cool when that happens – like Plate Tectonics or Quantum Theory. It will be interesting to see what the next one will have to say.

  10. I firmly believe ‘agnostic’ isn’t good enough after a couple of decades of persistent and consistent scientific advice – and ‘skeptic’, in the modern lexicon, is coming to mean willful refusal to accept facts or reason.

    In an ordinary citizens it’s certainly their right to take whatever view they like and have the freedom to express it. I believe an MP has no such right; when the expert advice is that failure to recognise and act on the link between emissions and climate will seriously impact our future prosperity and security in permanent and irreversible ways, to engage in willfully refuse to accept it, is a profound betrayal of trust and responsibility. And it should be unacceptable. An insidious consequence of people in positions of trust and responsibility – like the leadership of a mainstream political party – willfully rejecting climate science is that it gives those views an unacceptable degree of legitimacy and respectability that helps to embed them in the community at large.

    Accepting the seriousness of the problem leads to greater support for nuclear – that was always my point. It also leads to greater support for renewables.

    My worry has been that the most common face of nuclear advocacy people see is as unrelenting critics of renewables and Green politics that is hard to distinguish from the broader, conservative Right pro-fossil fuels opposition to renewables and Green politics. Without actually having nuclear as a policy the LNP somehow manages to keep up the public perception of being more nuclear friendly than anyone else. So, do climate motivated nuke supporters end up voting for climate denial and obstruction as a consequence? If they do, then nuclear advocacy needs a rethink. In an election, with so much at stake, it actually looks timely to ask.

  11. An energy advisor for BHP Billiton is another nuclear supporter
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/nuclear-enrichment-industry-could-lead-to-multibilliondollar-economic-bonanza-study-says/story-fni6uma6-1226699572009
    This echoes a call for an enrichment industry about three years ago by the SA Mines Minister, subsequently downplayed until big gas price rises loomed. Note that one of the ISL producers now makes uranium fluoride not yellowcake. Recall also the ABC 7.30 report that the Paducah USA enrichment plant will use 75% less energy when it adopts the SILEX process developed at ANSTO. Presumably an Australian operator could get a SILEX licence.

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