Thursday, May 03, 2012

Has George Monbiot changed his tune on nuclear power?

George Monbiot "chatted" with a select band of fans on the Guardian website yesterday.

After a difficult start, for me what was interesting was what George said on nuclear power.

He has been much criticised for coming out in support of nuclear power, not least by me.

When asked about this by Nicholas Jackson, one of the people “hanging out", all he could manage to say was that he opposes the closing of existing nuclear power stations, and did not propose the building of new ones.

These are obviously too expensive, otherwise so many companies would not be pulling out.

This seems to represent a moderation or scale-back of his previous standpoint, which was basically supporting the Tories' position and calling for more nuclear power to tackle climate change, as evinced by his letter to David Cameron in March.

I hope he has been listening to those who, rightly, point out that by the time any new nuclear power station gets built, the window of opportunity to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to minimise the threat of catastrophic climate change would have passed.

It is far better to spend the equivalent amount of investment, political energy and technical skill on energy efficiency and other low carbon generation technology which can be implemented far more quickly.

This was confirmed by one commentator, who wrote "As a nuclear physicist, I can only say that his views on nuclear energy are appalling; at best, a false dichotomy - it is NOT just a choice between fossil fuels and nuclear.

"I can lay you out a simple scenario of renewables, achievable faster than nuclear newbuild + cheaper, safer, longer-lasting.

"And that's based on existing technology - if all the wasted nuclear subsidy/research money were to be allocated to renewables, much more is possible."

No comments: