When nuclear came to Sydney…and won

Here is the video of the IQ2 debate in Sydney, where the case for nuclear scored a resounding victory.  This is the YouTube link to my opening 9 minutes. For the rest of the speakers, audience questions and rebuttals, go to ABC Big Ideas. Enjoy, and share!

In perspective: Latest in the SACOME nuclear series

Here is the recently published article by Barry Brook and me that appeared in the SACOME journal. In this article, we consider the greenhouse implications of the proposed expansion of Olympic Dam alongside the impact of the mined uranium in global greenhouse mitigation. It directly references comments from Green’s MLC Mark Parnell about the mine being a “huge carbon black hole”. Oh really? Read on…

“It’s easy to tell horror stories about uranium if you rob it of the context of its role in global energy supply. We deserve much better than such rhetorical chicanery.”

“Why gas?” Good question…

I revisit an old Australian television commercial for gas, and muse on how it seems to have morphed into energy policy…

It was meant to be a jingle, not a prophecy…

In Australia back in 1990, we were subjected to a saccharine , family friendly bit of advertising extolling the virtues of “natural gas” for cooking. The tag line? “Why gas? Well just because!”.

Environmentalism at the crossroads

The schism that environmentalism is facing in relation to nuclear power is now out in the open, with the UK leading the way.

10 questions for Richard Broinowski

Tonight I attended a presentation by Richard Broinowski, who was promoting his book to be released this year on the Fukushima nuclear power incident and its implications for Japan. It is as yet untitled. He is looking for suggestions. I have one or two…

Come question time, I did not know where to begin. People like this know as well as climate deniers that when they have the floor, they will always be able to propagate more FUD than fact, and no Q and A effort will ever catch them up.

That’s probably where I went wrong.


“Just as Eithiopia has responsibility to its own people and the global community to take the pain of reforming its feudal and destructive land systems, we and other nations have an urgent responsibility to dismantle pointless and hypocritical impediments to nuclear power and get on with the job of deploying it to lower our emissions, fast.”

I am lucky enough to be writing this post from the position of having acquired a new home for myself and my family. After having mail delivered to 9 addresses in 11 years, it is a great feeling to finally be under a roof that will house us, for all intents and purposes, for as long as we need. So I have been thinking a lot about the concept of home; what it means and how it creates and shapes some of our most important decisions and indeed the varying natures of the societies and cultures in which we live. When we have placed our planet, the only one we have, on a trajectory of climate wipe out, it pays to reflect on the concept of home.

View from through the plum tree

Firstly, a question. What relationship does a total bastard called King John have with my simply stunning new back garden?  Let’s just take a quick tour of the garden first so you can appreciate why I have started the journey here. The back garden of my new home is an uncommon slice of paradise. It has a nice patch of good old fashioned aussie lawn, but it is characterised by a wealth of flowers, creeping roses, a vegetable patch, 6 thriving fruit trees and an impressive chicken run. The north facing orientation and slight elevation of the house provide us with the most stunning private sunlit vista. The garden has a rambling, cottage appearance to it, and looks like it has always been there. This belies the fact that it is the labour of love of the previous owner, Margie, developed over just 9 years (except the gnarled fruit trees and roses, which are probably 50 years old, as is the house).

The point of King John is that had he been somewhat less of a bastard, Margie might never have bothered to plant the garden.

The folly of making perfection the enemy of excellence: a visit to Beverley Uranium Mine

“This world of ours is full of complex decisions that need to balance competing needs to attain something called sustainability. The last thing we should be doing is making the easy ones harder than they should be.”

Today I visited the Beverley uranium mine in northern South Australia, operated by Heathgate Resources. Heathgate have been a client of mine through ThinkClimate Consulting for the last two years for the delivery of mandatory greenhouse gas reporting under NGER.

It was clear skies on the flight in, showing an amazing landscape at the foot of the Gammon Ranges on the border of the Arkaroola pastoral lease. From the air the low vegetation takes on a wonderful patterned effect. It is a stunning view, with visible water courses snaking across the land. It is easy from that height to envisage that it was once covered in ocean.  In both the landscape of eroded mountains and the creatures that inhabit it, tell-tale signs of truly ancient history abound.

View to the foot of the Gammon Ranges, on approach to Beverley

As you approach the site in from the air, the various locations that make up the Beverley operation begin to appear. Each is truly unremarkable in size, no bigger than a block you might find in an industrial suburb of Adelaide. Even taken together it is a small imprint on the land.

The role of The Mountain Goats in biodiversity conservation; first reflections on “The God Species”

“When did we last remind ourselves of the permanent, tragic concept of extinction?”

I am reading “The God Species” by Mark Lynas. It is proving to be a cracker.

In one of the early chapters, Lynas discusses the biodiversity planetary boundary. To illustrate how immune we may have become to the biodiversity crisis, he draws upon Stalin to note that “the death of an individual is a tradgedy. The death of a million people is a statistic”.

It’s a good point. We are in the midst of a full throe mass extinction; events that have left significant markers in the past history of the planet. How can we come to grips with this?

Going to Pell in a handbasket: Why it is time for those who care to leave the denialists to it

“The good news is, if you want to fix the climate, this has probably been the wrong fight all along, and there is somewhere far more profitable to put your energy.”

And that’s it. This post marks the end of any formal, structured engagement  of mine with the wacky world of climate change denialism. Not because I don’t care any more. I do. But rather because there is just no point, and there are more important ways for me and, I think, the rest of us, to spend our finite time and energy.

It all came to a head for me with this article, published in (yet again) The Australian by the Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, in which Pell regales us with his fascinating process of engagement with climate science. You can read the link, and I don’t want to waste time on the details of his articles, for that is not the point of this post. It is the latest puff piece from Australia’s conga line of denialists doing what they do best: repeating long-debunked bunkum about climate science with the clear aim of muddying a topic that is by its very nature a little complex. This is all done in the name reinforcing the status quo.  The only thing unique Pell brings to the piece is his own particular brand of pomposity, which I have to imagine is available on a range of topics.

George Pell- plagiarist of other climate deniers

Monbiot making the case with Philip Adams

Thanks to subscriber Andrew Starcevic for pointing me in the direction of this Philip Adams interview with George Monbiot, one of the people who gets it. Monbiot puts in a (typically) strong showing, and hits a lot of the key points of the impregnable case for the role of nuclear power in managing climate change, as well as doing some succinct debunking of the outlandish death toll from Chernobyl touted by Helen Caldicott (among others). It’s only 7 mins and very enjoyable.

If you like what you hear from Monbiot, don’t miss the debate he had with Greenpeace, and my review done in two parts. Here’s the link to part 1, which has a link to the videoed debate itself. Here’s a link to part 2


Here’s the radio interview.

Interview with George Monbiot




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