Saturday, April 28, 2007

Playing politics with climate change and nuclear energy

So now the worst kept secret in Australian politics out - John Howard has just announced his decision for Australia to "go nuclear" for power generation.

After "calling for a debate" and commissioning some nuclear physicists to write a favourable report on nuclear, and completely ignoring viable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, Howard now leaps to the conclusion, and apparently "makes the decision" to go nuclear.

Were you consulted? Did you have any input to this "decision"? Does Howard have a mandate to do this? Is this the right thing to do? Is this good democratic process at work? Are the Australian publics views and wishes being represented by the elected government?

I think the answer to all these questions are emphatic "NOs".

Nuclear power stations are a bad idea because:
  • It is not a renewable energy source
  • There is no safe waste storage solution
  • Nuclear power stations will take over 10 to 15 years to build and commission, which is far too late to address the immediate emission reductions we need to make over the next 2-3 years
  • It isn't greenhouse neutral - huge amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted during construction of plants and the mining, processing and transport of uranium
  • Huge amounts of water (which we don't have) are required to cool them
  • The cost of decommissioning them are huge
  • A clear majority of Australians don't support nuclear power, or want to live near a power station
  • An accident could render a large area of Australia, possibly even one of our capital cities, uninhabitable.
  • Wind, solar and geothermal are viable alternatives that are being largely ignored
  • Reduction in consumption by improved efficiency measures mean that we don't need to build new power stations.

I think Mr Howard is on a real loser with this one. I wonder about his motives.

Is this really an attempt to wedge the ALP who have their own internal tensions on this issue? Is he really trying to shift the focus away from ramping up uranium exports of doing the enrichment processing in Australia? (neither of which have been supported by the Australian people either).

Or is Mr Howard just looking after his mates like Ron Walker, Ziggy Switzkowski and Hugh Morgan, who have all positioned themselves to get generous handouts of Australian taxpayer's (our) money? This would be very inappropriate, and may even be corrupt.

Is this just a giant red herring?

It is high time that Howard stopped playing politics and pushing his increasingly extremist neo-conservative agenda onto the Australian public. It is time he did what he was elected for - to represent us and do the sensible thing.

In the meanwhile, Australia is missing out on the booming world market for renewable energy, and all the vast local employment opportunities this could provide.

The Age: PM flicks switch to nuclear

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