George Monbiot has just written what I consider the best piece on why the world doesn't need more new nuclear power plants that I have read to date. Mr. Monbiot's prose remains as eloquent as always, and as always it is an eloquency that smacks you upside the head with it's directness and well researched, highly cogent argument.
George, I hope you don't mind if you I quote you. I'm putting a pretty picture of trees next to your quotes here so that they look even better.
How on earth can we say what nuclear power stations will cost if we don't even know what their decommissioning entails? The government will assure us today that there will be no subsidies and no guaranteed prices for the nuclear industry. This should allow us to forget about the cost, and leave the market to determine whether nuclear power stations should be built. But in order to guarantee public safety, the government must be ready to rescue our power stations or their waste piles if the nuclear operators are in danger of going bankrupt. To ensure that the operators don’t fudge their figures, the government must make it clear that it is NOT prepared to rescue them. It is a paradox that cannot be resolved.
And how does any system - political or technological - cope with the timescales involved? If, as a result of slow leakage into the groundwater, radioactive materials from a burial site kill an average of only one person a year for one million years, those who made the decision to bury them will – through their infinitesimal and unrecorded impacts - be responsible for the deaths of a million people.
Well said, George.
Here's where you can read the rest: Monbiot.com
Personally, I've been doing a little soul searching lately, 'cause I'm spending far too much time wandering through the woods every morning. Here's what I've come up with... basically a lot of questions...
1. Sometimes I feel like I'm shouting into the wind, a billion voices drowning my own, my throat closes overwhelmed,the cacophony resounds from every direction.
2. How do you get disparate voices to follow your own? A wise man would say "Lead by Example. Set the tone. Define the argument. Challenge your opponents indefinitely." A wise man?
Unfortunately, these two thoughts seem to apply to every aspect of my life. I have this urge to be a leader, a decision maker, a consensus builder. And maybe, in some small fashion, I have a few of these skills. Most likely though, I dwell on this because I desire to have those skills in abundance. Am I a power hungry madman bent on imposing my will on the world? Hmmm... yes, these types of questions do pop up in my head when I've had too much coffee on a hot summer Saturday. And I would imagine that Homeland Security is evaluating me and at this very moment. You see, I'm also highly paranoid about my government.
Thomas Jefferson wrote - I'm paraphrasing: "When the people begin to fear their government, that is tyranny. When the government again fears its people, that is liberty."
Well, Tom, maybe I shouldn't work for the government then. Either way, I'm fucking screwed. Either I'm an asshole power hungry government employee gobbling at the public trough, or I'm an imcompetent power hungry government employee attempting to gobble at the public trough while being investigated by a grand jury.
Think to yourself current federal employee, please think this thought: "I'm way past-due for a little introspective self-assessment, and I welcome your participation and guidance. At what point am I now?" I'll be glad to help you answer that question.
"What does any of this have to do with nuclear power?" you ask. Well, I think there's more than a few people currently running the United States government that are trying to find their own answer to the above question. We've got a bunch of assholes and incompetents running this country... our country. The assholes are running our foreign policy, and the incompetents are running the Department of Energy.
And why do we have a Department of Energy anyway? If solar panels were required on all new home and retail construction in the United States, most of these buildings would power themselves. Screw nuclear power, let's make solar panel installation a zoning requirement nationwide. Konarka's new plastic roll solar panels will eventually change construction methods throughout the world. The technology is available to mass produce a lightweight easily installable solar energy system on every home in the US. It's here, now! And it's cheap.
Look, a 50 year or more investment in nuclear energy means hundreds of thousands if not millions of years of investment in clean-up of radioactive waste. That's just bullshit, my friends. We can't afford to give millions more cancer, millions that haven't even been born yet, millions that won't even be born in this century or the next. This stupidity will deeply affect hundreds of generations after us. It's is absolute folly in it's purest form.