Too little, too late

The government appears to be finally approving a new generation of nuclear power generation, albeit only (at most) to update our existing power stations, within the existing sites. I’m sure that story isn’t over, but at least it seems to have moved on from Blair waffle-but-build-more-pollution hypocrisy. Taken together with plans for serious investment in wind power, it could be the beginnings of political will to start to fix our badly-broken energy policy.

This is beginning to look like a huge “told you so” moment, as topics that got you labelled a nutcase just a few years ago (and in my case for over twenty years) become popular:

  • The naive “green” view we need to focus on energy conservation, not [foo] power generation. Wrong: we need to focus on both energy conservation and better generation.
  • The naive “green” view we don’t need nuclear, we need renewables. Wrong, we need both nuclear and renewables, at least for the short to medium term.
  • The knee-jerk view, nuclear energy is armageddon. Yes, it presents problems, but the reason they seem so big (and even more so why the cost is relatively high) is because we (rightly) insist on solving those problems. Trouble is, burning fossil fuels is massively worse than anything nuclear energy presents, and its problems are quite simply unsolvable.
  • The “biofuels can save us” fallacy is finally being exposed as a fraud, as production and use of biofuels has become a reality.

It’s anti-nuclear idiocy that has prevented me joining any of the mainstream “green” organisations all my adult life. I’ll take up the anti-nuclear cause when and only when we’ve stopped all carbon-burning in both power generation and transport, and have viable alternatives. Unfortunately that won’t happen in my lifetime, as it implies a massive population decline, and I can’t expect to survive the kind of catastrophic circumstances that will lead – sometime – to that decline.

Even more unfortunately, we continue to subsidise energy in many ways, thus killing off economic incentives to be more efficient in the marketplace – both R&D in technology, and sustainable lifestyles. That, and overpopulation, are the hardest political nettles to grasp.

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Posted on January 9, 2008, in energy, environment, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Funny that I share the exact same feelings on all of your points… Saving energy, riding a bike, avoiding planes as much as possible won’t help the Human Kind to survive the massive energy crunch we will face in the next 2 decades… Unless we decide to use the sole viable alternative : nuclear plants…

    Coal and Oil each kills 5 times more people than the nuclear industry per GW produced per year (Nuclear Power and Health, World Health Organization, 1994)… Not to mention the wars ;)

    Yeah, I know, I’m an evil pro-nuclear… But as i’m french, this is plain normal, isn’t it ? :)

    Hope to see you again in Amsterdam, where we have had a great time in this tiny portugese restaurant !

  2. Once again Greenpeace has come up with the usual garbage about “we should focus on energy conservation”. Of course we should, but it won’t reduce demand sufficiently to eliminate the need for various polluting forms of power generation. Rather than pontificating from the sidelines, perhaps Greenpeace could start by requiring all of its members to dispense with the consumption of 95% of their electricity consumption (ie the approximate non-renewably generated portion of the UK’s national supply) and all fossil fuels to show the rest of us how it’s done.

    I’m all for renewables: After much research I decided to buy my electricity from renewable supplier Good Energy as a means of stimulating the market to invest in more renewable generation capacity. But Nick is right – we need renewables and nuclear if we are to have sufficient energy to meet our needs.

  3. Green Peace should encourage all of its members to kill their families then commit suicide. That would save tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Their goal is the extermination of the human race anyhow, I do not see why they should not start with themselves.

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