12 Mar 2012

Nuclear Power Isn't A Green Bullet

By Jim Green
To argue that nuclear power is the only alternative to climate change, as climate scientist Barry Brook does, is to ignore the facts. Jim Green looks closely at Professor Brook's claims
One of the loudest nuclear advocates in the land is Professor Barry Brook, a climate change scientist at the University of Adelaide who runs the Brave New Climate (BNC) website.

Brook has hundreds of peer-reviewed publications to his name and has expertise across a (growing) range of scientific disciplines and sub-disciplines. His interest in energy debates stems from his interest in and concern about climate change. He isn't in any way connected to — or in the pay of — the nuclear industry.

When a scientist with the best of intentions and a prodigious intellect argues that the risks of nuclear power have been overstated and that nuclear power is an essential tool in the battle against climate change, his arguments need careful consideration.

The Brook/BNC mantra is this: "it's nuclear power or it's climate change".

However numerous studies exist that map out the options to sharply reduce emissions without recourse to nuclear power.

One of the most practical Australian studies was produced by a group of scientists for the Clean Energy Future Group (CEFG). It is practical in that it makes virtually no allowance for technical innovation, restricting itself to existing commercial technologies. The CEFG proposes an electricity supply plan that would reduce greenhouse emissions from the electricity sector by 78 per cent by 2040 compared to 2001 levels.

The CEFG study can be thought of as a baseline or a "worst case" study, because it makes no allowance for developments in important areas like solar-with-storage or geothermal power. University of NSW academic Mark Diesendorf, who contributed to the CEFG study, has proposed a more ambitious scenario that replaces all coal and gas with renewables.

Barry Brook has shown himself willing to trivialise the repeatedly demonstrated connection between nuclear power and weapons. He has slipped up on this, claiming for example that North Korea never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty although Pyongyang's accession to — then withdrawal from — the NPT is central to the unfolding story of North Korera's nuclear prorgram.

Brook claims to be concerned about nuclear weapons proliferation but the evidence suggests otherwise. Here is an example of his indifference: asked at a public forum what needs to be done to fix the safeguards system and what role he sees for scientists such as himself to help address the problems, Brook responded: "That's a political and legal question and I have no further comment."

To get a handle on the proliferation risks of the nuclear "renaissance", if it eventuates, here are some figures:

• Of the 65-odd countries with a nuclear program of any significance (involving power and/or research reactors), over one-third have used their 'peaceful' programs to advance weapons ambitions.
• Of the 10 countries to have built nuclear weapons, six did so with support and political cover from their "peaceful" programs (India, North Korea, South Africa, Pakistan, France and Israel).
• About 45 countries have the capacity to produce significant quantities of fissile material (more or less depending on where you draw the line with small-medium research reactors), and a vast majority of those countries acquired their fissile material production capacity through peaceful nuclear research or power programs.

As former US Vice President Al Gore has argued, a major horizontal expansion of nuclear power will "run the proliferation risk off the reasonability scale".

Brook claims that the integral fast reactors (IFRs) he champions "cannot be used to generate weapons-grade material." The claim isn't true. To quote George Stanford, who worked on an IFR research program in the US: "If not properly safeguarded, they could do [with IFRs] what they could do with any other reactor — operate it on a special cycle to produce good quality weapons material."

The misconceptions pile up. Brook states: "Prior to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, caused when a 14 metre tsunami crashed into a 40-year old power station in Japan, no member of the public had ever been killed by nuclear power in an OECD country."

However the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has estimated the collective effective dose to the world population over a 50-year period of operation of nuclear power reactors and associated nuclear facilities to be two million person-Sieverts (it does not provide OECD figures separately). Applying a standard risk estimate (0.05 fatal cancers per Sievert of exposure to low-dose radiation) gives an estimated 100,000 fatalities. Whatever the uncertainties with the dose and risk estimates, and whatever the OECD/non-OECD breakdown, Brook's statement clearly doesn't hold up.

Brook states that the linear no-threshold (LNT) theory of radiation exposure and cancer causation is "discredited" and has "no relevance to the real world". However, the 2005 report of the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation of the US National Academy of Sciences states that "the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and ... the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans." And one further example of many, a study published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2003 concluded that: "Given that it is supported by experimentally grounded, quantifiable, biophysical arguments, a linear extrapolation of cancer risks from intermediate to very low doses currently appears to be the most appropriate methodology."

The professor gets it wrong on Chernobyl, too. He states: "The credible literature (WHO, IAEA) puts the total Chernobyl death toll at less than 60." However the studies he is referring to do not estimate a death toll of less than 60. He is referring to reports by the UN Chernobyl Forum  and the World Health Organisation in 2005-06 which estimate up to 4000 eventual deaths among the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations and an additional 5000 deaths among populations exposed to lower doses in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. (The Chernobyl Forum includes UN agencies such as the IAEA, UNSCEAR, and WHO.)

Still Brook is adamant that "nuclear power is the safest energy option". Safer than wind and solar? He could only arrive at that conclusion by using the nuclear industry's methodology: only consider accidents at nuclear power plants rather than accidents across the energy chain; understate the death toll from accidents by several orders of magnitude; only consider accidents rather than routine emissions; and ignore the greatest hazard associated with nuclear power — its repeatedly demonstrated connection to WMD proliferation (most recently with North Korea's use of an "experimental power reactor" to produce plutonium for weapons).

As the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011, Brook maintained a running commentary in the media and on his website insisting that the situation was under control and that there was no reason for concern.

There was no correction until Brook had been publicly held to account for spreading misinformation. Andrew Bolt from the Herald Sun was urging people to read the "marvellously sane and cool explanation" from "our friend Professor Barry Brook".

Even so Brook wrote an ABC opinion piece in December 2011 which states that "no-one was killed by radioactivity from the event" and is silent on the problem of long-term cancer deaths from exposure to radioactive fallout (variously estimated to be "~100s cases" or "around 1000").

Many people concerned about climate and energy are wrestling with some enormous dilemmas about how to move to a less emissions intensive energy economy.

Some people live in a parallel universe where global warming is a myth, or clean coal technology is just around the corner.

Some people live in a parallel universe where the global transition to renewables is simple, cheap, and potentially quick.

Barry Brook lives in a parallel universe where nuclear power is benign, the WMD problem is trivial, nuclear waste is a multi-trillion-dollar asset, nuclear power is as safe and wind and solar power, ionising radiation is harmless, Chernobyl killed less than 60 people, and problems such as inadequate safeguards will magically fix themselves.

A longer version of this article can be read here

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Dr Dog
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 14:21

To be fair to Barry Brook he is a scientist and has to work in the realm of reality. The reality is that to transfer to entirely renewable energy in time to avoid serious climate change would require significant behavioural change on the part of the consumer.

I imagine Professor Brook's committment to nuclear energy is a result of this political and social problem, leaving him unable to comment as a scientist. No doubt he would point to the successful treatment of cancer as a mitigating factor in choosing to go nuclear.

He is of course wrong about all this, but it not energy scientists job to solve this issue. It's our job to change society so that nuclear energy is not required.

David Grayling
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 15:10

It is interesting that this article should appear just on the anniversary of Fukushima where nearly 20,000 people died as the result of a massive earthquake which generated a massive tidal wave around the height of a four-story building.

The horrific effect of the wave was made worse by the melt-down at the nuclear power plant. The deaths that will ensue from the radioactivity are unknown but time will tell all as it did with Chernobyl.

<b>Human love to play with things they don't really understand even if our world is filled with 'experts' who claim to have all the answers.</b>

They've even invented nuclear bombs but, so far, except for Hiroshima and Nagaski, they haven't been game to use them (although Iran is currently under nuclear threat from Israel).

Humans have also created many reactors despite not having a safe method of transporting and storing nuclear waste. Australia is being viewed as a dump.

Anyone who tries to tell us that nuclear reactors and plants are safe is gilding the lily mightily.

The facts suggest otherwise and, doubtless, other nuclear 'accidents' will occur to enlighten us further!

www.dangerouscreation.com

Nicoli
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 15:31

Interesting stuff, I shouldn't really have to point out that nuclear technology is perfectly safe to David Grayling above me - but I will.

Nuclear power plants have several fail overs, and redundant fail-overs for the fail-overs. They are, in essence, just a big water boiling machine. The real issue is burning uranium in them - which we only started doing because the waste can be used to build bombs with.

Nuclear technology is a great alternative to fossil fuels, I only hope people start to research the clear alternative to burning uranium in them: thorium.

http://youtu.be/qoyKe-HxmFk 'Into Eternity' trailer covering the issue of nuclear waste storage.

and

http://youtu.be/P9M__yYbsZ4 - watch the first 5mins for a complete overview of thorium reactors.

Why are people in the US, Canada and China developing this tech, and it's not even being spoken of here in Australia??? Not one mention in the above article - yet the stuff burns thousands of times better, no radioactive material produced and it's as common as copper!

psylords.info

David Grayling
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 17:12

Well, folks, Nicoli has told us that 'nuclear technology is perfectly safe' so sit down, grab a beer, all our worries are over!

In fact, now we have this assurance, a world-wide holiday should be announced so we can dance in the street and hug each other.

Forget about Fukushima and Chernobyl, they were just little anomalies, mere blips in the scheme of things. Forget those stories about aging nuclear reactors getting to the dangerous stage. They are just big water boiling machines, kind of like an urn!

Perhaps Nicoli should be made a Saint! Perhaps he or she should replace Julia!

What other pronouncements will you make, Nicoli?

We await your unfolding wisdom in awe!

Nicoli
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 20:20

Both of those accidents occurred from nuclear reactors that were burning uranium - which I stated was chosen because of it's ability to produce bombs. The atomic explosions that can be produced from uranium ceramics are quite low yielding in comparison to thorium, the only benefit it has over thorium is that during the cold war the byproducts of uranium could be used to build big bombs. If you want to bring up history, look at Hirushima and Nagasaki. Both results of radioactive byproducts of URANIUM.

Thorium reactors are a similar design to the current reactors we use, but the fuel that is burned is a metal that not only produces far more energy output (it boils water faster and hotter using less material) but all of the substance is used up. There is no byproduct, and no waste from burning thorium as everything is used up in the reactor. Best of all, you can quite easily hold a ball of thorium in your hand (it's about as radioactive as the chunk of coal Gena Rynehart held up so proudly - I'm sure she enjoys your blog as much as I do).

Not only does Australia have the largest reserves of thorium in the WORLD, it's a common metal ($75-85 p/kg). That is to say, Julia Gillards necklace probably has semiprecious stones on it worth more than the stuff.

Good on ya mate

David Grayling
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 21:11

Hands up all those who know the difference between uranium and thorium.

What, no hands? Well only Verum's. You can tell Verum's hands because the knuckles are worn from dragging on the ground.

I have never even heard of thorium despite my constant perusal of the world's media. Then there are many things I have never heard of. One cannot be knowledgeable about everything, not even Verum!

Nowhere in this article by Jim Green is 'thorium' mentioned either. It is all about <b> uranium and uranium reactors</b>. In my comments I responded to those facts.

Food for Thought: given that most countries want fissile material, why would they use thorium? And because it is cheap, no entrepreneur will want to touch it either.

edwardmiller
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 21:25

I first heard of the IFR in the context of depleted uranium - as far as I know it can be used to extract wasted energy that lingers in these munitions that would otherwise toxify the surrounding areas. If the use of nuclear power were statutorily limited to using this kind of fissile material for energy production, ostensibly reducing the risk from existing nuclear hazards, would the author consider it a worthy method of energy production?

Nicoli
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 21:41

Great article Verum. I don't trust Carr and Gillard (let alone the Libs) to change policy on nuclear reactors in Australia under the guise of 'investigating' thorium. It's time for a paradigm shift on the issue: Nuclear technology is not the issue, the fuel is. The car you drive to work every day is not the issue, the fuel it runs on is.

I will remain opposed to the utilization of uranium as a fuel on this continent at all costs - be it from the Earth or other countries depleted weapons. We cannot let the Government pull the wool over our eyes and write in legisilation for a uranium reactor powered grid - tell them THORIUM or NO THANKS.

Peter Lang
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012 - 21:56

There was an excellent documentary on SBS 2 tonight. It covered nuclear energy, radiation risk, and the Linear No Threshold radiation risk assumption. There was a lot of really good material. I’d recommend watching it for all who are interested in an objective documentary on this controversial subject.

I’d love to see how Jim Green, Mark Diesendorf and Matthew Wright respond to it. I congratulate SBS for showing it.

It does seem we are at a turning point. The media is starting to explain nuclear power and radiation risks objectively.

The documentary also showed studies of animals from the Chernobyl exclusion zone and showed that despite high levels of radiation their was no detectable damage.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. jimgreen
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 08:37

edwardmiller: "If the use of nuclear power were statutorily limited to using this kind of fissile material for energy production, ostensibly reducing the risk from existing nuclear hazards, would the author consider it a worthy method of energy production?"

In THEORY - IFRs could turn nuclear waste and depleted uranium and weapons-useable plutonium into low-carbon electricity and no-one could object to that! In practice the fuel requirements could justify ongoing operation of enrichment or reprocessing plants or even the construction of new ones, and everyone should object to that.

Peter Lang - the mainstream scientific view is expressed in the most recent (2010) UNSCEAR report: "Radiation can simultaneously damage both strands of the DNA double helix, often resulting in breakage of the DNA molecule with associated complex chemical changes. This type of complex DNA damage is difficult to repair correctly, and even at low doses of radiation it is likely that there is a very small but non-zero chance of the production of DNA mutations that increase the risk of cancer developing. Thus, the current balance of available evidence tends to favour a non-threshold response for the mutational component of radiation-associated cancer induction at low doses and low dose rates."

Peter Lang
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 09:56

Jim Green,

The fact is the LNT assumption is strongly disputed and the evidence is moving against it. The movement away from acceptance of it is rapid. However, whether you base your estimates on it or not, the fact remains that the fatalities caused by the only two major nuclear power accidents in 50 years are minimal. Fatalities from Chernobyl in 25 years are about the same as fatalities on UK roads per week. There have been no radiation related fatalities from Fukushima and no identified radiation related illnesses.

Your scaremongering about nuclear is wearing thin.

I wonder, if not from 5o years by scaremongers like yourself, drumming up nuclear phobia, hoe many people would ahve been displaced from around Chernobyl and Fukushima if the policy had been purely rational. (Oh I can hear the screams coming from the nuclear scare mongers already!).

And, if not for 50 years of anti nuclear scaremongering:

1. how much lower would the world's CO2 emissions be now
2. how much more edeveloped and safer would nuclear be now
3. how much faster would we be able to rollout nuclear in the decades ahead and, therefore, how much faster could the world cut its CO2 emissions in the years ahead.

Scaremongers are all the same breed.

Dr Dog
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:26

Peter Lang, isn't taking the short view what got us into the carbon mess we are in and what is stopping us from responding in a timely way?

Surely we know that illnesses arising from nuclear accidents may be years or decades away. Plus the material can be used to make bombs, only one of which would have to go off, anywhere, to make your easy stats around road deaths in Britain meaningless.

Olivier
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:27

The most viable way to minimize climate destabilization, and adapt to the peaking of petrol (supply against rising consumption) is not nuclear, but reducing our unsustainable energy demands, and transitioning to 100% renewable power:

AUSsies too often consume more power, resources, and entertainment than a vain, self-indulgent Roman Emperor, then wonder why they are obese and unable to meet their own needs. To know enough's enough, is enough to know.

Technology-Prepared. Commitment to Action-Not Prepared.
current Permaculture techniques and a bit of bloody self-disciplins will reduce power demand to the extent where a mix of current generation wind, PV, and concentrated solar thermal will supply all power in AUS. We neither want nor need nuclear power, we want and need our millions of unhappy consumer couch potatos to (d)evolve into functional people onced again capable of supplying some of their own fun, resources, and energy. And we want and need the billions of fossil fuel subsidies to be reclaimed and used more constructively as renewable power infrastructure. ASAP.

Meddling with incomplete knowing creates the next problem,
and people who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Don't fracking meddle with Mr Uranium!

Peter Lang
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:45

Oliver,

Renewable energy is very high cost and unreliable. It is not rational to be prmoting it, mandating it, subsidising it.

We do not mention the human costs of forcing societies to adopt high cost energy instead of low cost energy.

What would it cost to provide most of eastern Australia’s electricity with renewable energy generators?
http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-aust...
“the wholesale cost of electricity … would be seven times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. (This cost of electricity does not include costs for the existing electricity network).”

And the electricity supply would be unreliable.

Peter Lang
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:59

Dr Dog,

Firstly, fossil fuels have given people a much better life than if we hadn’t used them. So let’s get some balance rather than repeating the myth “the carbon mess we are in”.

We are worse off with CO2 emissions than we should be because of 50 years of really silly, emotional, nonsensical anti-nuclear scaremongering – by people like Jim Green.

“Surely we know that illnesses arising from nuclear accidents may be years or decades away.”
Put that in perspective. How do the projected fatalities from Chernobyl and Fukushima rate compared with other pollutants from other energy sources? Have you checked? Do you know? Two accidents in 50 years. How does that compare with the continual pollution emitted by alternatives? Do you know how nuclear compares with renewables? If you are interested in finding out answers to questions like these can I suggest you Google “ExternE” as a starting place. If you want a quick introduction look at “What is risk? A simple explanation” http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/ Look at figures 1 and 2 and the accompanying text.

Regarding your bomb scare, why aren't you concerned about how oil is used to make bombs and deliver them to their targets? Have you ever considered the fatalities caused by oil in war and compared that with those from nuclear weapons. Why aren't you arguing enen more strongly to ban oil. Why not go further and ban the use of energy altogether. There is nothing to be gained in discussing the fearmongering of the loony left extremists. It is irrational and as pointless as trying to discuss any ideological belief. It can go nowhere.

Dr Dog
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 12:42

Not so much a scare as a reality, Peter. Unless unlike the vast majority of organisations like, say the US Government or the United Nations, you aren't concerned about nuclear proliferation and the possibility of nuclear material or (much more worrying) a complete nuclear weapon being purchased by an organisation without our best interests at heart.

As to the fossil fuel benefits, surely there must be a point at which the liabilities outweigh the benefits. We seem to have reached that point now, or at least our understanding of the problem has become such that we ought to act.

Ay any rate the original thought is that we will be useing nuclear power, or fossil fuels for the forseeable future, but that the need for change is at least as much social as it is technological. I am concerned by the blithe hand off of these issues to the technological sphere.

For sure we will still bomb, using oil or something else, until we sort out the allocation of the world's resources. A calm assertion that nuclear energy will be OK does nothing to assure me that whatebver energy we generate will be used in a positive way.

I understand the impossibility of banning nuclear, or oil, but we have options to take our trajectory away from both. I simply think we should take those options.

Peter Lang
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 13:28

Dr Dog,

I'll leave aside your ideological beliefs. As I said there is no point discussing them.

"but we have options to take our trajectory away from both. I simply think we should take those options."

If you believe renewable energy is an option, you haven't researched the matter objectively and rationally. It is far too expensive, the energy is too diffuse, requires too much material to be mined, processed, transported, manufactured, fabricated, constructed, decomissioned and disposed of. It also causes more deaths per TWh of energy provided. Advocacy of renewables is another of the loony left's ideological beliefs. Read the links I provided in my comments to you and Oliver if you are interested.

WhyAreThereNeve...
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 14:10

"He isn’t in any way connected to — or in the pay of — the nuclear industry."

Yeah right! Why else does a scientist with "a prodigious intellect" act so illogically?

arf
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 14:11

In terms of bulk power generation, coal is where we are now. Where to go from there?

Let's be honest: for all its faults, nuclear is far more preferable to coal. It's just that renewables are, in turn, far more preferable to nuclear.

The real discussion comes down to relative practicality of nuclear and renewable. I wouldn't beat my breast over a mix of the two, My concern is that, in defining the case for nuclear and renewable energy sources as an 'either/or' option, Brook sets himself up as a stalking horse for the fossil fuel industry.

There's another issue to cover here: central vs distributed. Renewable sources, particularly solar, lend themselves to personal generation and trading. Centralised systems lend themselves to economies of scale. Lacking a storage mechanism, distributed systems are less reliable but are less prone to transport losses and outages. Politically, middle men don't like being cut out (as anyone who sees how utilities respond to their new PV system will realise)

gracog
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 14:49

Jim,

Barry Brook has recently written about what he calles the "Main Message" of BNC.

<blockquote>To advocate an evidence-based approach to eliminating global fossil fuel emissions, based on a pragmatic and rational mix of nuclear and other low-carbon energy sources</blockquote>

In view of this, I think your statement that
<blockquote>"The Brook/BNC mantra is this: "it’s nuclear power or it’s climate change".</blockquote>
is unfair and misleading.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. jimgreen
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 15:05

Peter Lang - you are implying that Friends of the Earth and like-minded groups influenced the decisions of the Soviet state regarding evacuation zone around Chernobyl. Really?!

Also Peter Lang, the 2010 UNSCEAR report states that: "Radiation can simultaneously damage both strands of the DNA double helix, often resulting in breakage of the DNA molecule with associated complex chemical changes. This type of complex DNA damage is difficult to repair correctly, and even at low doses of radiation it is likely that there is a very small but non-zero chance of the production of DNA mutations that increase the risk of cancer developing. Thus, the current balance of available evidence tends to favour a non-threshold response for the mutational component of radiation-associated cancer induction at low doses and low dose rates."

And the ICRP has recently doubled its risk-estimate for radon exposure.

And all your statements about the safety of different energy sources ignore the greatest hazard associated with nuclear power - the repeatedly-demonstrated weapons connection.
http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/nfc/power-weapons

Billk61
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 16:20

I don't know where the "less than 60" figure for Chernobyl casualties could come from. That would be a reasonable estimate of the deaths from acute radiation sickness - or possibly acture radiation sickness plus leakaemias among those immediately involved in fighting the fire.

Another figure that gets bandied about is an "estimated" 4000 deaths from cancers by WHO - but that figure is truncated to the year 2000 and to the most heavily irradiated areas of Ukraine and Bellarus. The same study estimated another 5000 cancer deaths if all of Europe was included.

A more recent study by Elizabeth Cardis and co-workers (which includes people close to the nuclear industry) estimated around 24,000 deaths from cancer from Chernobyl fallout. If one estimate should be treated as definitive, that's the one. (You can dismiss the estimates proffered by Helen Caldicott of around one million as being way too high - It would be very clear if that many cases had been caused.)

Of course, enthusiasts for nuclear power always stress the "speculative" nature or predicted deaths using radiobiological modelling. However, predictions using the best available science carry more weight than mere guessing and it is highly disingenuous to set the bar for evidence so high that nuclear power can never be linked to its longer-term adverse health imapcts.

grumpyoldman2
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 16:45

grumpyoldman2,

Gracog, you seem to be the only one in this debate who has seen the faulty logic being used. I think if the others take a step back and a deep breath they will see, if Prof Brooks has any mantra at all it is, " it’s nuclear power AND it’s climate change". All the bumf about nuclear by-products and their use in weapons is a box of red herring. Bullying by those countries with the large nuclear fission material resouces will not stop small countries making nuclear weapons if they bare so inclined.

Nuclear production of electricity is not a necessary step on the way to WMD. The technology for nuclear power production is improving and will continue to do so. Nuclear power is not sought to primarily avoid CO2 emissions either. The value in that logic is still a long way from proven.

All nuclear power offers is a cost effective substitute for coal/petroleum fired power and sooner or later we will have to turn to it. Our (and other) government's overpriced CTax will not stop us using coal or oil until they are exhausted, nor will it have any effect on Climate Change. Wind, Wave and Solar will never be a cost effective means to suppliment our power needs of the future even given the hope the technology for them will improve.

gracog
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 18:14

Exactly, grumpyoldman2,

We all get annoyed at climate-change deniers who continue to hold their outdated and unscientific opinions despite evidence to the contrary.

Yet much of the green movement that I've always considered myself part of continues with a similar attitude to nuclear power. If they trust the science on climate change, why do they refuse to trust it on nuclear energy?

bladeofgrass
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 21:53

"Wind, Wave and Solar will never be a cost effective means to suppliment our power needs of the future even given the hope the technology for them will improve."

Is there ANY documentation to back this assertion?? And why is the writer so convinced that the technology will not improve enough to make these the most attractive options?

mark71
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 09:02

The future is a decentralised diversified energy system utilsing all available renewable and low carbon pathways.
And as someone in the renewable energy business - renewables will inherently cost more then conventional current high carbon pathways - get used to it and get over it. The reason for the new carbon pricing is for the math of the economics to include the degradation of the environment to make a more level playing field.
The math of nuclear includes the plant engineeering, the mining, the processing, the plant decomissioning and the waste containment. It is big money that can be spent on alot of other sources of power with cleaner credentials and i hope those come first before we have to consider nuclear.

As for the one or the other hypothetical of coal or nuclear (a centralised paradime of the past)- in 2012 i would say nuclear - a complete about shift from my views of even 5 years ago. Im not driven by dogma.

Dr Dog
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 09:36

Typically Peter and others here take the usual pro fossil fuel, pro nuclear approach, which is to denigrate the ideology of pro-renewables while remaining welded to his stance in the pretence that he is 'objective and rational'.

Really Peter I consider you are too committed to centralised power generation, too concerned for the costs of renewables when we have by any account had a free ride on energy in this, our closed system of a planet.

Of course you dont want to talk about ideology, because yours would be revealed as a conservatism that will not allow for the social and political change necessary to be sustainable as a global population.

There is in fact no goal associated with your ideas except maintaining the status quo, allowing business to continue to dominate our efforts as a species and a relativistic approach to damaging ourselves and the planet.

Kwiklika
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 13:18

More people are exposed to low level radiation from the coal industry that from the nuclear industry. Each year there are approximately 9000 deaths (world wide) from accidents in the coal industry. The only hope to remedying climate change is Nuclear power. There is no other options. Nuclear power or climate change that is the only choice the planet has.

fightmumma
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 17:40

kwiklika - and then there's - consume within your limits and adopt sustainable lifestyles where you respect the limits given us by nature, rather than mindlessly, irresponsibly play slave to the greed given us by human species-centricity (I just made that word up though so maybe it doesn't count!!)...

gracog
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 21:50

fightmumma,

I wish you well in convincing the entire human population in time to avoid catastrophic climate change. Personally, I don't think it's possible, particularly in the case of developing nations where the people want what we have now.

Olivier
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 13:04

Coal-the worst option: in climate; health costs; etc (CCS won't work).
Nuclear-2nd worst: in security; bad health costs; water consumption.
Renewable mix- having none of these problems is the default victor, so make it cheaper asap, and it'll be the best in every way asap.
So you think it costs more than nuclear? The disposal costs and the costs to health and security aren't being compared. Also, renewables will get cheaper long before it runs out- unlike nuclear and coal.
I think the real problem is that we want future next generations to shoulder the slight (1% of GDP- big deal) burden of transitioning.
The sooner we reinvest our time and money and scientists working on coal and uranium today, the sooner we can improve the only option worthwhile- renewable power. Energy effinciency is also vital, but we can do this via permaculture (for small scale) and a pollution pricing mechanism (for large scale).

Christine Brook
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 - 16:27

<blockquote>WhyAreThereNeverAnyGoodUsernamesLeft
Posted Tuesday, 13 March 12 at 2:10PM
“He isn’t in any way connected to — or in the pay of — the nuclear industry.”

Yeah right! Why else does a scientist with “a prodigious intellect” act so illogically?</blockquote>

This is what Barry Brook has to say on the matter:

<blockquote>Barry Brook, on 15 March 2011 at 5:04 PM said:
I have never received a single cent (i.e. $0.00) — personally or to my university — from the nuclear power or uranium industries. Indeed, I pay to run this website out of my own pocketbook. I am doing this because I think it matters. I care deeply about environmental sustainability, mitigating climate change, and providing abundant low-carbon energy to current and future society, whilst minimising our global environmental footprint.
Please stop questioning my integrity, and calling me a shill. Not only is this false, it is also grossly unacceptable behaviour.</blockquote>
I suggest you apologise for your libel.Recently, others have had to issue a public apology or face legal action.

fugglet
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 - 00:38

The nuclear industry relies on the short memory of the populace and the assertion that time will tell whilst silencing dissent. It rides on denial of the fact that there are no real safeguards for such a concentrated form of power with eon lasting fallout.
If meltdown occurred last year, which it could have, our comment session would have taken on a very different tone today.

fugglet
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 - 00:43

Brook sees an industry in its infancy.
We are the infants here in the scheme of things. For the nuclear toddlers arguing a case-
Risk assessment reality check, please.

GRLCowan
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 09:21

"... human species-centricity ..."

Anthropocentricity, if you want an -icity. -ism works too.

"The nuclear industry relies on the short memory of the populace and the assertion that time will tell whilst silencing dissent ... If meltdown occurred last year, which it could have, our comment session would have taken on a very different tone today."

No, the tone would be the same, because meltdown did indeed occur last year, see diagram at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_New_analysis_of_Fukushima_status_30... . It don't get any meltdownier. Schematically, this is what a meltdown looks like. Photographically, one month on, it looks like this: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/images/110411_1f_system1_6.jpg

More photos at http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/indexold-e.html .

GRLCowan
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 09:23

Forgot to say, how could a power provider that is still so minor, and has to contend with the very powerful oil and gas industry, that is accustomed to selling fuels tens to 100 times more costly than uranium, plus contend with the governments that take some of those tenfold multiples as royalty or excise tax income -- how could it silence dissent?

Obviously it could not. It has to contend with the best gadflies and watchdogs fossil fuel money can buy.

WhyAreThereNeve...
Posted Friday, March 23, 2012 - 15:04

@Christine Brook
There is nothing libelous about saying I don't believe what someone says. You choose to comment on my remark but you haven't answered the question. If he has 'no connection to the nuclear industry' - [note that says nothing about money] then how does he ignore the ongoing mess in Chernobyl and Fukishima and the countless other disasters worldwide that are significantly under reported? And why does he bother making so much noise? I am not questioning his integrity, I just don't understand him at all!

Christine Brook
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 15:45

This very pertinent point on Jim Green's furphy "nuclear racism", from a contributor at BraveNewClimate:

Marion Brook, on 31 March 2012 at 10:10 AM said:

Green wishes to present himself as an advocate for the rights of all indigenous Australians. In fact, in the case of the Ngapa People, this is demonstrably not true.

While Green continues to spread a bizarre mixture of fear and envy among surrounding indigenous groups whose lands abut or overlap Ngapa land, he is simultaneously attempting to strip the indigenous people central to the Muckaty issue of their rights; including their right to their own land (recognised by the Northern Land Council), their right to earn money from their land and their right to be heard and seen as autonomous actors. I have yet to read a piece by Green where he even names the Ngapa people, let alone mentions what his self-serving campaign is doing to them.

Ngapa Elders have been involved in consultation with the government for some time. Their decision to make their land available for the waste repository was well informed and considered. They stand to benefit enormously from the deal. Through his patriarchal dismissal of their voice Green implies he knows better than they, what is good for them and that they should not be allowed to use their land as they wish. In so doing he is refusing to recognise the Ngapa people as able, autonomous human beings, who have a right to agency over their own lives and land. If Ngapa land use runs counter to Green’s political agenda then he would rather see them dispossessed of that land than accept their moral right to use it as they wish (within legal bounds).

The bottom line is, white or black, rich or poor, Green supports those who are anti-nuclear (or whips up anti-nuclear sentiment wherever he can see the potential) and will do any despicable thing to those he sees as being pro-nuclear. It appears he wishes to punish the Ngapa people for preferring to take their advice from science instead of getting sucked into Jim Green’s world of conspiracy theories and paranoid politics.

This is what Ngapa elder Amy Lauder actually says:

“We are united in our wishes and want to see an economic future for our families.”

“This will only happen if the science is right,”

http://www.nlc.org.au/html/files/Ngapa%20traditional%20owner%20Amy%20Lau...

Christine Brook
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 15:47

And a response from another contributor:

Ms.Perps, on 31 March 2012 at 2:51 PM said:

Congratulations Marion on a very perceptive and well enunciated point.
I would go as far as to characterise Jim Green’s, and therefore the FOE’s attitude, as paternalism – which is, in itself, a form of racism.

I believe it was this same paternalistic racism which caused the sorry saga of the "Stolen Generation". A very dangerous view of our indigenous fellow Australians.

Christine Brook
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 16:31

@WhyAreThereNeverAnyGoodUsernamesLeft
You say:
[note that says nothing about money]

What part of "not a single cent" in this quote from Barry do
you not understand:

"I have never received a single cent (i.e. $0.00) — personally or to my university — from the nuclear power or uranium industries."

Also you asked:

@Christine Brook
Are you related?

Yes - he is my son. I think I can claim to know his character better than most.
What is your implication?

Christine Brook
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 16:37

This also from Ms Perps (on the comment thread at BNC) regarding Jim Green's fatuous nuclear racism remarks:

Ms.Perps, on 28 March 2012 at 10:30 PM said:

@Jim Green
I would venture to suggest that it is, in fact , the outrageous misinformation and fear campaigns regarding, nuclear power, and radiation, promulgated by FOE, the Greens and other enviromental organizations that have promoted your so-called “nuclear racism”.
If these groups had not deliberately frightened the general public into believing that nuclear waste was a danger to themselves and their families, the material would have continued to be stored safely at Lucas Heights and in hospital repositories.
There would be no necessity for political parties to seek out storage sites in any remote locations, including aboriginal lands, purely to keep the electorate on side.

http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/03/28/jim-green-hatchet-man/