A recent BNC guest post, Public advocacy on nuclear power and climate change, stirred up some really useful ideas. In that post’s comments thread, it was discussed how we, as a concerned and engaged internet community (the BNC crowd, and similar groups like Energy from Thorium), could engage more effectively with the broader public domain on the issue of realistic and affordable solutions for solving climate change and providing long-term energy security. Right now, the public in most developed countries are either totally ‘switched off’ on energy issues (i.e., don’t care), or have idealistic and impractical visions of what is feasible (i.e., don’t understand). This needs to change, urgently… but how?
In response to this discussion, the following guest post has been compiled by my sister, Marion Brook, with help from another BNC commenter, ‘Ms Perps’. Marion, is — like many traditional ‘greens’ — an intelligent and well-educated person, and is completing a linguistics and archaeology degree at the University of New England (Armidale). However, she is not a scientist, and this really is the point of this proposed campaign. She is coming at this problem as an informed member of the public, and as a ‘rational green’ environmental advocate (Stewart Brand calls such people ‘ecopragmatists‘). She represents a key demographic that must be reached — and persuaded to ‘come on board’ — if the Western environmental movement is to develop a really serious and scientifically responsible position on carbon emissions reduction and sustainable development.
Part I of this post covers various underlying goals, and a range of possible advocacy positions. Your input and ideas here are really needed to improve (and possibly expand) upon this material — this is just a draft! In part II, which I will post up on BNC in a few days time, a first pass attempt at the FAQ sheet answers will be supplied. For now, however, we give only the questions. If you can think of other obvious ones at this stage, let us know. In the comments of Part II we hope to add to, and improve upon, the FAQ list.
The ultimate goal of Part I and II will be to create a static page on the top banner of BNC, as well as developing a resource that you can all use to get the message out there to the wider public.
Our Primary Goal
Avert catastrophic climate change.
Our Secondary Goal: in pursuit of our primary goal
Remove the ban on nuclear power in Australia and include it as an assessable option in our climate change mitigation strategy.
● Print out our posters (or make your own) and put it up in a high traffic area, i.e. not just on your fridge.
Poster #2: Nuclear Power or Climate Change — You Choose
Poster #3: Nuclear Waste — It’s Not the Problem, It’s the Solution (also this one [less graphical])
Poster #4: Wind and Solar — Not Replacing Coal
● Print out and sign our petition (see below).
● With a permanent marker write your favorite pro-nuclear power slogan across your T-shirt. Wear it everywhere.
● Get rebellious, attend a climate rally carrying a pro-nuclear power placard.
● Speak up. Discuss nuclear power as a response to climate change with your friends, family and the annoyingly chatty passenger who keeps sitting next to you the train.
● Write letters to the newspaper, to your local MP or to Martin Ferguson, Minister for resources and energy
Q1. How urgent is it to address climate change?
Q2.Why do we need nuclear power? Won’t renewables provide our needs?
Q3. We need to act fast, aren’t renewables the fastest response?
Q4. Aren’t renewables the most affordable option?
Q5. Isn’t it more important for us to scale down our energy requirements through energy efficiency and conservation?
Q6. Aren’t renewables our safest option?
Q7. Is nuclear energy fast enough?
Q8. Is nuclear energy safe?
Q9. What about radiation?
Q10. Is nuclear energy expensive?
Q11. What about the waste?
Q12. What about nuclear weapons proliferation?
Q13. Is there enough uranium?
Q14. Does nuclear emit more CO2 than renewables?
*For now, these are the questions we’ve tackled in Part II — details shortly. Can you add any obvious questions at this stage?
Did you know?
● Renewables are failing to replacing coal and gas. Despite valiant attempts in some countries, non-hydro renewables have failed to replace a single fossil fuel power station worldwide.
● Renewables are failing to prevent new FF plants being built. Without nuclear power to turn to, renewables are reinforcing the building of new fossil fuel plants, especially gas, to “back-up” their intermittency and variability. Unnatural Gas (by Tom Blees)
● Renewables are failing to reduce emissions. France’s emissions = 90 g CO2/kWh. Compare this to the three countries in the EU with the highest non-hydro renewable penetration: Denmark @ 650g, Spain @ 443 g and Germany @ 539 g.
● Renewables are failing to address climate change.
The 100 club
‘The 100 club‘ is a list we’ve compiled of all the countries in the world whose CO2 emissions from electricity generation fall below 100 g per kilowatt hour (kWh)
Iceland – 1 g
Democratic Republic of Congo – 4 g
Norway – 5 g
Zambia – 7 g
Ethiopia – 11 g
Nepal – 13 g
Costa Rica – 15 g
Cameroon – 16 g
Switzerland – 22 g
Tajikistan – 38 g
Sweden – 48 g
Albania – 51 g
Uruguay – 55 g
France – 90 g
Brazil – 93 g
There are only five developed countries in this list (in red). How did they manage to get there?
Iceland is largely hydro power and conventional geothermal (not hot dry rock).
Norway is nearly 100% hydro power.
Both Switzerland and Sweden are about half hydro and half nuclear power.
France is 77% nuclear power with some hydro, coal and gas.
So, if we want to get into ‘the 100 club’ it looks like we have four choices: conventional geothermal, hydro power, nuclear power or third world living conditions.
A changing tide in nuclear power support
Today, the world has two really pressing problems — overcoming poverty, which demands industrial development, and the challenges of climate change and ecological sustainability — which demand low carbon and low polluting solutions. Increasingly, those who favour both social justice and ecological sustainability are coming to recognise that nuclear power is indispensable if we wish to avoid trading one for the other.
By way of example, here is a list, including environmentalists, climate scientists, union leaders, and politicians, who have come to support nuclear power as our surest response to climate change.
Barry Brook – Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, University of Adelaide. AUS
Tim Flannery – zoologist, conservationist and author of “The Weather Makers”. AUS
Paul Howes – Australian Workers Union. AUS
Bob Carr – Former NSW Labor Premier. AUS
Stephen Tindale – Former Director of UK Greenpeace. UK
Chris Goodall – UK Green Party member. UK
Mark Lynas – Environment editor “New Statesman” (and former UK Green Party member). UK
George Monbiot – Journalist for “The Guardian”. UK (he supports nuclear as a potential part of the low-carbon energy mix)
Stewart Brand – Editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. USA
James Hansen – Head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (popularly known as the grandfather of climate science). USA
James Lovelock – Scientist, conservationist and originator of the Gaia hypothesis. UK
Warren Mundine – Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. AUS
Petition in support of:
Including zero emissions nuclear power as a clean energy option
The people of Australia demand adequate action on climate change. Renewable energy is too slow and too expensive. Worldwide renewables are proving to be ineffective tools in emissions reduction. Pursuing renewables alone will lead to dangerous climate change.
Your petitioners request that the Federal Parliament:
1. Remove the ban on nuclear power in Australia.
2. Include nuclear power as an assessable option in our climate change mitigation strategy.
3. Ensure Australia’s energy security without compromising our future.
Minister for Resources and Energy
Suite MF 23
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Petition in support of:
A zero emissions nuclear power replacement for Hazelwood
Continuing to operate Hazelwood, one of the most CO2 emissions intensive power stations in the world , ignores the climate concerns of both Victorians and the broader Australian community. We demand the Victorian government take climate change seriously and replace Hazelwood with clean energy. We acknowledge this cannot be achieved with our current renewable technologies. It can be achieved with zero emissions nuclear power.
Your petitioners request that the Victorian Parliament:
1. Lobby the federal and state governments to repeal legislated bans on zero emissions nuclear power.
2. Replace Hazlewood coal-fired power station with nuclear power.
3. Ensure Victorian’s energy security without compromising our future.
Minister for Energy and Resources and the Arts
Level 20, 1 Spring Street
Melbourne VIC 3003
Because nuclear power offers us abundant affordable energy it can:
● Help the developing world free itself from poverty, disease, and hardship without endangering the planet.
● Desalinate sea water to provide fresh drinking water for increasingly drought effected regions.
● Recycle our waste through plasma converters and reduce our materials consumption.
● Manufacture synfuels for heavy vehicles.
● Provide emission free electricity for electric cars, and eventually replace oil.
● Power our manufacturing industries, giving Australia the cleanest steel, aluminium and (electric) cars in the world.
● Power energy-intensive geoengineering projects which may become necessary to draw down CO2.
Nuclear Power – Yes Please
Nuclear Power = Climate action
Nuclear Power – The Power of Equality
Renewables + Fossil Fuels = Climate Change
Renewables + Nuclear Power = Climate Action
Put all energy cards on the table to fix climate change fully
Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy intensive society
(or, for dose of pragmatic realism…)
Nuclear Power or Climate Change
Take Your Pick