This is an update on some recent media I’ve been doing — and will be presenting in the near future — on nuclear power and climate change. I’d also like to recommend some excellent pamphlets I’ve just read.
I’ve completed the first round of media promotion of my new co-authored book, Why vs Why: Nuclear Power. On Monday 10 May, Ian Lowe and I spoke at the ABC studios on three separate radio programmes. Two of those interviews are now available as a podcast. Click here to download an .MP3 of our interview with Phil Kafcaloudes on Radio Australia (17 min audio). Then, you can head over here to download a 23 minute podcast of our afternoon interview with James Valentine:
Nuclear power is one of those topics that is guaranteed to get people fired up (pardon the pun). So we assembled two of the finest experts, one of whom is for, and the other against, to battle it out for you on the radio. The man ‘for’ nuclear power is Barry Brook is a leading environmental scientist, and also the hold the position of Chair of Climate Change at The University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute. Ian Lowe AO, presented the other side of things; he’s the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation and a Professor in science, technology and society at Griffith University.
We were also interviewed for 30 min on afternoons Tasmania, but I can’t find a podcast for this one (which is a shame, as we covered quite different material to the other two).
In the evening, we launched the book at Readings in Hawthorn, with a semi-Socratic debate delivered to a small but keen live audience. However, the good news is that the moderator was Paul Comrie-Thompson, who is the host of the Counterpoint ABC Radio National programme. Paul let us know that within the next few weeks, nearly the full 1 hour discussion will be broadcast on the show, Australia-wide (and worldwide via the internet!) — I’ll post back here once it’s up. Overall, I enjoyed the little debate, and think it gave the opportunity to give the major issues a good airing.
The first (very short) review of the book is out, which you can read here. More will be appearing in the mainstream media over the next few weeks (I’m aware of at least three).
On 8 June, I’ll be presenting a short talk on on climate change and multi-species extinction modelling, as part of the ‘Four in 40‘ discussion series, hosted by the Royal Institution of Australia. Other talks (each 10 minutes long) will cover climate change and groundwater, land management, and minimising carbon footprints. You can register here.
I’ll also be delivering two major 30-minute keynote addresses on the topic of nuclear energy and climate change mitigation, at the AusIMM conference on 16 June and ARPS conference on 18 October (the latter is a tag-team keynote session with Ziggy Switkowski). Here are the two abstracts that are printed in their respective programmes:
The term ‘The Hydrogen Economy’ is often used to describe an energy future which uses hydrogen as the primary energy carrier, created by extensive deployment of renewable energy. Yet there are compelling reasons to deem that this is not a plausible or desirable goal, on technical, logistical and economic grounds. I will describe an alternative view – ‘The Nuclear Economy’ –which circumscribes a prosperous and environmentally responsible ‘all-electric’ society, based predominantly on nuclear fission power (with minor contributions from technosolar and a strong emphasis on recycling), producing a range of fit-to-purpose energy carriers. This would be an energy system that had eliminated the use of carbon-based fossil fuels and which was sustainable for thousands – perhaps billions – of years. With sufficient will and effort, modern society can realise this goal within the next 40 years.
ARPS: The long-term future of nuclear power
If nuclear power is to be the principal energy solution for tackling climate change – in Australia and worldwide – it must satisfy a number of fundamental criteria: low-carbon footprint, effective waste management, long-term sustainability, reliability, safety and economy. Although the current generation of nuclear power reactors already tick most of these boxes, the ultimate flourishing of nuclear power as a perpetual energy source for humanity will require a transition to a closed-fuel cycle, in which virtually all of the energy in uranium and thorium is used. Professor Barry Brook will discuss some of the key technologies that will likely underpin this next-generation revolution in atomic energy, and chart a possible course for their development and deployment over the next 40 years.
Next, I’m very pleased to report that my Twitter account, BraveNewClimate, has been selected by The Guardian newspaper’s Environmental Blog as one of the top 50 Twitter climate accounts to follow. Here’s what they had to say:
Discover the key people and organisations you should be following on Twitter if you’re interested in climate change and the environment… From ministers’ tweets inside climate talks and cameraphone photos of climate activism as it happens, to tips on how to live a greener life and 140-character global warming news updates: who are the key people and organisations you should be following on Twitter if you’re interested in climate change? With the help of Guardian readers on Facebook, we’ve pulled together the top 50 accounts worth following… 5. BraveNewClimate: Thoughts from a climate science professor on nuclear power, energy and climate politics in Australia.
My thanks to ConservBytes for the nomination!
Finally, I’d like to recommend a series of four pamphlets on nuclear energy, written a few years ago by Australian physicist Dr. Colin Keay. They’re all available now for free download, on the Scribd website, and range from 44 to 48 pages in length. The titles, in chronological order, are Nuclear Energy Gigawatts (2002; a compare-and-contrast of all major energy sources — nuclear, fossil and renewable), Nuclear Common Sense (2003; an clear and straightforward overview of nuclear energy and the nuclear fuel cycle), Nuclear Radiation Exposed (2004; a superb discussion of the fears and realities over radiation, with perhaps the best general discussion on hormesis I’ve yet seen), and Nuclear Energy Fallacies (2005). I’ll quote the blurb from that final one:
The author is a retired physicist and astronomer who, as an associate professor at the University of Newcastle for 24 years, taught nuclear and reactor physics to senior classes. These duties induced a deep suspicion of unsubstantiated claims on nuclear matters by persons and organisations promoting anti-nuclear agendas. In the interests of his students he began to identify and correct the disinformation, truth-twisting, false claims and plain lies that flood the media. As a scientist who has investigated phenomena governed by the inviolable laws of nature he finds it very difficult to understand why anti-nuclear activists refuse to believe the hard facts about energy, even when drawn to their attention on many occasions. In the interests of a better future for Australia it is imperative that disinformation and fallacies are dealt with accurately by presenting, as answers to them, the authentic verifiable facts surrounding nuclear electricity generation. He has no past or present connection with the nuclear industry.
Be sure to read these four pamphlets, and distribute the links to your friends and associates. This key information MUST be more widely appreciated by the public and policy makers, alike.