Does the world need nuclear power to solve the climate crisis…?

This is certainly one of the most convincing anti-nuclear power arguments i’ve read. Oliver Tickell takes on the main issues with the energy industry as a whole and points out some highly significant issues with nuclear energy in particular.

San Onofre nuclear power station, California

San Onofre nuclear power station, California

Photo courtesy of http://endthelie.com/2012/03/18/nrc-dispatches-augmented-inspection-team-after-california-nuclear-facility-fails-test/#axzz2FRsW5G5h.

The first issue is the inability of nuclear as an energy source to meet existing and future demands from a growing population, with growing energy demands. This is where the theory of the massive efficiencies of nuclear comes hard up against the realities.

Secondly, the chances of serious accidents increases dramatically, in parallel with a dramatic increase of nuclear power stations – a total of 11,000 reactors would be needed. The article cites an historic incidence of serious accidents every 3,000 years of reactor operation, based on Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. The article suggests a rate of 4 serious events per year. Even taking into account a reduced factor of accidents due to far greater safety baselines for modern technology, even a figure 4 times less would still mean 1 serious nuclear accident every year – this level of impact is just not acceptable.

Oliver Tickell talks about the effect that George Monbiot had (and is having) on the debate surrounding nuclear power, but Monbiot’s arguments are based more on cold theory rather than hot realities. On the other hand, renewable energy is clean, with costs rapidly spiralling downwards. Each part of the planet can contribute their own type of energy to the whole which can ultimately divert us away from serious climate change.

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Oxfam’s latest climate change warning…

Another warning relating to climate change and the food production system, from Oxfam.

‘The average price of staple foods will more than double in the next 20 years, leading to an unprecedented reversal in human development, Oxfam has warned.’

‘A devastating combination of factors – climate change, depleting natural resources, a global scramble for land and water, the rush to turn food into biofuels, a growing global population, and changing diets – have created the conditions for an increase in deep poverty.’

This is what I mean when i’m talking about climate change and sustainability. The poorest people on Earth are on the brink. All of the factors above are able to be altered. It just requires a shift in thinking towards a sustainable way of life.

Two major, major problems at the moment: biofuels and meat production. Both these things need to change right now. We’re diverting valuable growing land into production of food products which power planes and cars instead of keeping people alive, and sustaining a wasteful and inefficient type of food (meat) which again takes resources (land, water and grains) away from hungry people. Meat production on the industrial scale needs to stop.

The thing which I find hard to deal with each day is the fact that we know what the problems are, what needs to change and we know how to do it, it just never happens. Biofuels sounded like a great idea 10 years ago but we now know what the massive negative impacts are. There’s just no reaction to the information and knowledge. We also know about industrial meat production but that’s not stopping either.

It’s almost like there has to be a very clear, very convincing climate event, or massive human impact event for things to change. I would personally hope we don’t get to far before we turn back but i’m not convinced that will happen.

So, de-carbon the energy sector and start producing massive amounts of clean energy. Initiate carbon-saving and efficiency measures across all sectors. Look at lifestyle changes which can be made. Find renewable alternatives to using finite natural resources. Stop producing biofuels and convert transportation power demand into electricity not petrol. Consider initiating population limits (a very thorny issue considering political, religious and social factors). Reduce or stop eating meat – there are positive implications for health, sustainability & climate change and costs.

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