Friday, September 30, 2005

Nuclear debate is a dead end, renewable energy is the way forward

The opening of the "nuclear debate" does not bode well for our future. Mining uranium, processing it, then using nuclear fission to generate power and produce toxic waste can hardly be regarded as sustainable.

The substitution of nuclear fuels for fossil fuels simply replaces one form of non-sustainable energy production with another, albeit much more dangerous and toxic.

Nuclear power and the transport and processing of radioactive waste are hugely expensive and highly risky.

It is far better for us to focus on developing technology for harnessing and using energy from truly sustainable sources such as the sun, the wind and waves. Australia is still at the forefront of research on solar energy - even though government funding for it has been greatly reduced. We can create both local employment and a thriving export industry for renewable energy technology and products. We need to encourage our political leaders to do this.

Let's aim to get solar panels onto the north-facing roof of our houses. We have twenty on the roof of our Melbourne house and produce two thirds of the power we need. This is far better than extending the life of coal-burning power stations.

We also need to reduce demand for power by encouraging the production and use of low energy appliances and lighting. This is a quick and easy win - but has been surprisingly neglected by our politicians.

It is time to get Australia on a genuinely sustainable footing and display some leadership for the future and the benefit of coming generations.

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