No doubt you can read all about the fact that Richard Muller and the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Project, in attempting to debunk established temperature trends, has only reinforced them (despite sincere expectations of other results). But Greenman makes it so darn fun!
Yet another climate change luminary is speaking the plainly obvious truth on nuclear power. How much longer will it take Australian’s to push this on to our political agenda?
Occasionally, I take a short cut with my blog posts and just reproduce something verbatim. Today is one of those times after I found this article courtesy of a Tweat from BNC. John Beddington is the Chief Scientific Advisor in the United Kingdom. In this piece he makes his unimpeachably well-credentialed views clear on the essential role of nuclear power in an effective response to climate change.
Perhaps someone out there reading this is still inclined, as once I was, to talk-up or even concoct roadblocks to the deployment of nuclear power, instead of working earnestly, as I now am, towards full decarbonisation without an ideological technology prejudice . Please view this recent video in the excellent YouTube series by Greenman and ask yourself: What should I be more afraid of? Climate change or nuclear power? You may not yet have your answer, but God help us if this video does not prompt the question.
Regular readers of Decarbonise SA will be aware that last week I had the priviledge and pleasure of joining a panel of speakers for a function in Perth titled “The Cost of Carbon; Nuclear Energy: Australia’s Clear Energy Future?”.
It was my first visit to Perth. If I had to describe it in just one word, “shiny” would be the one. It looks rather like the CBD was erected ten minutes before I touched down. None of the locals actually denied this either, so I do wonder… I didn’t get much of a look around but I enjoyed the generous opening hours and fantastic selections at Elizabeth’s Second Hand Books. Aside from that it was mostly business, so hopefully I get the chance to go back for a proper look. I certainly do see the appeal of the place.
The event was well attended, with 70 guests enjoying five very different perspectives on the role of nuclear power in Australia. With no prior planning or collaboration, the speakers delivered a stunningly uniform message to the room: Australia simply must begin engaging in open debate and discussion of nuclear power if we are to make wise energy choices for our future national and global interests. CEDA have informed me that they received “an overwhelming amount of positive feedback” from this event.
As a speaker but also a guest, I enjoyed hearing from my fellow panellists, and I would like to report back to you some of the main messages I took away from the day.
Anthony (Tony) Owen, Academic Director and Santos Chair of Energy, UCL School of Energy and Resources, gave a very important discussion of how nuclear power might fit in the Australian energy landscape and the barriers to its uptake. I have shown below two slides in particular that tell an important story. The first tells us something most of us already know: the construction costs of nuclear, in comparison with fossil sources and on shore wind, is high.
The second tells us something fewer of us know/appreciate/understand, which is that the first chart is not the whole story at all. With nuclear, almost all the money is spent up front. Once constructed it is highly reliable and requires virtually no inputs of fuel. So it then generates electricity at very low cost. This is shown in the next table, which compares the actual cost of the electricity being produced at discount rates of 5% and 10%. The costs shown include a carbon price. Even at the steeper 10% discount rate, the price of nuclear electricity remains either superior of highly competitive across the board. Nuclear, of course, brings that little advantage of being zero carbon and producing no other filthy pollution.
Today’s nuclear power event in Perth hosted by CEDA was a great success. As someone who spends a fair bit of time with my head in the issue, it was just fantastic to have the opportunity to hear from four other excellent speakers in Tony Owen, Haydon Manning, Paul Hardisty and Andy Lloyd. This diverse group of speakers worked brilliantly together (quite by accident I should point out), with the issue being examined through five quite distinct lenses, each drawing the same fundamental conclusion: Australia absolutely must engage in a proper debate and consideration of nuclear power for our energy future. I learned something new from all my fellow panellists today. My presentation representing ThinkClimate and Decarbonise SA appeared to go over very well, and certainly added some original perspectives and arguments to the day’s events.
Over a quick coffee this morning I browsed The Advertiser, the one and only daily paper for South Australia . Two articles about climate change caught my eye.
The first, a half page illustrated spread on the upcoming climate conference. The focus of course was on the carbon cost of the flights to get there, the dollars to be spent on “bureaucrats” , and the fact that the accomodation will be luxurious.
A few pages later, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the postage-stamp sized article informing me that a new record minimum artic sea ice extent has just been recorded, 1/2 % lower than the previous 2007 record (Update 20th September 2011. I have since checked in with the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, and they are putting 2011 as a close second after 2007. There would appear to be some disparity between the findings of the different organisations who follow this. For useful context, the previous 5 years are the lowest on record).
How do I fight this? When it is so clear that those who control the monopoly newspaper in my city are doing everything they can to make news out of nothing, and obscure the real story, what the hell do I do?
I do this. It’s all I’ve got. Do me a favour and pass it on.
A few weeks ago, one of my favourite writers and thinkers, journalist George Monbiot, shaped up in the pro-nuclear corner in a debate with none other than Greenpeace, perhaps the world’s pre-eminent environmental organisation.
In this post I provide a review of the debate and the key points raised by the speakers. The post will run in two parts, in the order of the speakers. Part one will cover Monbiot and Roger Levitt, part two will cover Malcolm Grimston and Doug Parr.
True to my purpose of developing a successful regional model for achieving decarbonisation, I apply some of the key points of the discussions to the specific challenge faced in South Australia. I hope the approach is instructive, useful, and somewhat generalisable to other regions. You will enjoy this post most if you have watched the debate or watch along as you read
I’ll start with the opening speaker, George Monbiot himself.
If you are unfamiliar with Monbiot, I hope the video of this debate give you an idea of why I admire his work so much. What a blistering and uncompromising 7 minutes.
This week, I received a comment from a somewhat prominent climate denier (we’ll call him Larry…), which as per my unwritten policy I dealt with off-line. Here’s how it panned out…
Over time, I hope to build my ability to influence the world for the better. I hope the name Decarbonise SA grows in its credibility and weighting through the efforts of us all, and we will see results our children with thank us for.
But the fact is, I will never, ever count for as much as Dr James Hansen.
Every now and then, George Monbiot just says it the best… no point fighting it…
Corporate Power? No Thanks
July 4, 2011
The machinations of the industry shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the case for nuclear power.
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 5th July 2011
Power corrupts; nuclear power corrupts absolutely. The industry developed as a by-product of nuclear weapons research. Its deployment was used to shield the production of weapons from public view. Though the two industries have now been forced apart, in most parts of the world the nuclear operators remain secretive, unaccountable and far too close to government.
Last week the Guardian revealed that the British government connived with corporations to play down the impact of the disaster at Fukushima(1). Comments from the nuclear companies, a business department official suggested, should be incorporated into ministers’ briefings and government statements.
It is through such collusion that accidents happen. The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Tepco, the firm that ran the stricken plant at Fukushima, had under-estimated the danger of tsunamis, had not planned properly for multiple plant failures and had been allowed to get away with it by a regulator that failed to review its protective measures(2). Nuclear operators worldwide have been repeatedly exposed as a bunch of arm-twisting, corner-cutting scumbags.
In this respect they are, of course, distinguished from the rest of the energy industry, which is run by collectives of self-abnegating monks whose only purpose is to spread a little happiness. How they ended up sharing the names and addresses of some of the nuclear companies is a mystery that defies explanation.