First, on 11 November, the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute will host the 2nd Dunstan Environment Dialogue, entitled “Power and the People“, featuring yours truly. Here’s the promo:
The Dialogues are a series of public meetings to stimulate debate on how to better manage our environmental resources, to encourage participants to cut through technological haze and the lobby-speak so they may form their own judgements about the directions Australia should be taking as it considers the Green New Deal the world must now develop.
In Australia and around the world, energy demands are on the rise. What must happen to energy generation in the face of issues such as climate change and limited fossil fuel reserves? Should power generation be localised or centralised? Researchers, governments and communities are struggling to agree upon the best method for future energy generation. It is an issue for everyone to consider.
The second Dialogue in the series, entitled Power and the People, will ask whether new nuclear or clean technologies should power our future.
Professor Mike Young, Director of The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, will moderate a discussion with two leading thinkers and the audience. You will hear from Fiona Wain, Chief Executive Director of Environment Business Australia and Professor Barry Brook, Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, University of Adelaide. Together with these speakers we will explore energy generation options and opportunities for Australia.
It will commence at 5:30pm on Wednesday 11 November 2009 at Union Hall (google maps), University of Adelaide. Join us in the debate, then make your own judgement on the direction policy should take. To secure your seat RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Second, I was invited to engage in a written debate on nuclear power with Dr Jim Green of Friends of the Earth in “Australia’s leading radical newspaper”, Green Left Weekly. Here is a quote from my piece (the full article is 1600 words, and uses some past material you’d have probably seen before if you’ve been following my writings):
The countries that now have commercial nuclear power already cover almost 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. When you add those nations that have commissioned plants, are planning deployment, or already have research reactors, this figure rises to more than 90%.I know it’s an over-used cliche, but the nuclear genie truly is out of the bottle, and it is pointless discussing how to try to jam the stopper back in.
In this context, the oft-repeated claim that new nuclear technologies “fail the crucial proliferation test” is asinine nonsense, and counterproductive if our aim is to increase global security.
We should instead seriously discuss how we will use this low-carbon energy source safely and cleanly, with minimal risk and maximal advantage to all nations.
Ironically, it’s in places like China and India that these Gen-IV designs are now being most actively implemented. China has just commissioned two commercial fast reactors. India has just announced plans to install almost 500 gigawatts of thorium-based nuclear power by 2050.
The die is cast. It’s time for all energy-intensive nations to fast track the deployment of sustainable nuclear.
Jim Green’s article can be read here (also 1600 words). We wrote these pieces independently, so neither is a direct response to the other. I understood this to be the totality of the coverage (for and against) and thought this was fair enough.
Unfortunately the GLF Editorial team then decided to weigh in with an extraordinarily one-sided and naive Op Ed which tried to pilliory nuclear power, and concluded “Solar, wind and other renewable power sources are the real solutions we need. The task of the climate action movement is to force governments to make the switch to renewables as fast as possible. Nuclear power remains no solution to climate change“. So I really have to wonder whether the GLF editors were actually looking for a serious discussion of a critical issue. By the poor quality of their editorial, I’m dismayed to conclude that they were not.
Third, you would have noticed that the BraveNewClimate blog has been undergoing some minor upgrades. I’ve changed the WordPress theme to one which delivers some really nice features (e.g., a custom header, prominent pages, better sidebar control and layout, and some other behind-the-scenes things). However, it also brings some disadvantages (fixed-width centre column, smaller comment box, and most annoyingly, removal of comment numbers [I only found out about this after the theme change]). So, like most things in life, it’s turned out to be a trade off. I hope, in the future, to be able to customise the blog a little better. But for now, I’m constrained by time, limited web design skills, and a general reticence to make the leap required to move from pre-made blog themes to a fully customised CSS scripting system with plugins that will allow really useful things like comment global comment searches. One day…
For the time being, if you want to refer to someone else’s comment, there is a trick to getting its unique #. Hover your mouse over the reference comment’s date/time (that’s the hyperlink next to the commenter’s name), and you’ll see a ghost link appear in grey in the bottom left of your web browser. The number at the end of the link is unique (across all posts, ever!) to that comment. The most recent comment on BNC was #32833, for instance. Why is the number so high? Well, there has been 9,303 legitimate comments on BNC to date. The rest? They were consigned to the spam bin!
Finally, BNC is starting to heave with material which is useful, but difficult to track down. The pages at the top of the header (IFR Nuclear, Renewable Limits, etc.) are one simple pathway to organising and indexing the post archives, but they miss out on a lot. I plan to do more, however. One idea I’m seriously considering is to have a static front page which acts as a portal to the blog (which would then be found at bravenewclimate.com/blog) and to the BNC archives. It would also provide a general description of the site, its motivations, and an easy-to-use index which leads to archived posts and more detailed tables of contents.
What do you think of these plans? I’d really like your feedback on how you’d like the blog to be restructured and formatted, to maximise ‘user friendliness’ — especially in the context of being attractive and accessible to first-time visitors, so as to encourage them to dig deeper and find out more.