Friday, February 03, 2006
I believe that one should be willing to defend one's views robustly, indeed I have on occasion been accused of it myself, so I have some cheerful appreciation of David McEwan ('Nuclear power is the greatest idiocy" ever - letter Monday). On the other hand he does seem to have achieved a uniquely high ratio of things that just ain't so. Surprising in a letter so long.
He starts by conjuring up the vision of spaceships going to the Moon to find uranium ore. Attractive, & relatively feasible as a return to the Moon may be it is hardly the only, let alone best place to look for uranium.
He then correctly says that all a reactor does is to bile a lot of water, which I suppose is true in the same way that all George Bush does is to throw a lot of sticks at people.
However the main error, on which he dwells at considerable length is that we are going to run out of uranium real soon - he says 15 years. This is nonsense, rubbish & claptrap, not necessarily in that order. Uranium is not going to run out in 15 years or fifty, or five hundred, or 5,000 or even 5 million. Uranium is, even on the Earth's surface, relatively common. The point is that you don't need uranium in large quantities. There is enough uranium dust in a spadeful of coal to produce more power than would be produced by that spadeful of coal. It is much more common in rock, particularly granite, which is why you are exposed to considerably more radioactivity in Aberdeen Cathedral than in Hunterston. It is vastly more common in ore - that is why it is called "ore". As a purely theoretical exercise Professor Bernard Cohen of Pittsburgh has calculated that by extracting the radioactive impurities in ordinary seawater we could keep our current nuclear industry going for 4.5 billion years. This is not the upper limit since, being a relatively heavy material it tends to be more abundant in ore underground. It is what keeps the Earth's core molten. The Sun is expected to explode in a mere 5 billion years. This is a more urgent problem than running out of nuclear power.
Except that we are currently on track to run out of it if 2023 when our last reactor shuts down.
Boiling the seas is not the most practical way to go, unless, of course, the alternative is windfarms or other "alternatives". Alternatives are called "alternative" for good economic reasons. There is no difficulty in mining. We could even afford to mine more expensive ores since the actual cost of our fuel works out at about 2 hundredths of a penny per kilowatt hour. Currently uranium prices are at an all time low which does not imply shortage.
Just as his fears of our imminently running out of uranium, which is rather like running out of rock, are unfounded the idea that we will have "hundreds of thousands of tons of waste" lasting over "thousands" of years is inaccurate. Reactor waste, the only sort that didn't come out of the soil in the first place comes in very small quantities, about a cubic metre per reactor year, but precisely because it is highly radioactive it has a short half life & will be down to safe levels in about 50 years. Our descendants 4 billion years from now need not worry.
We, five years from now, should. He is wrong to say that this is a problem only for England about whose difficulties we Scots may happily chortle. The opposite is true. So long as France is willing to make nuclear electricity at 1.5p a unit & sell to the south of England for 4 they are comfortable, & I suspect the French will not become unwilling to do so. We on the other hand are to far away & with the closure of Hunterson & Torness & some coal stations, are shortly going to lose 2/3rds of our electricity. It is grossly irresponsible of politicians to ignore this, presumably in the expectation that their careers will already be over then. 2,500 pensioners a year currently die in Scotland annually from fuel poverty but that will be dwarfed by what is coming if we choose not to replace & expand our current reactors.
Amusing though Mr McEwan's letter is the way in which such scare stories are preventing us, by which I mean the human race as well as Scots, achieving our potential is the great tragedy of our civilisation. There is no reason why we should not all be much wealthier, more comfortable, healthier & less worried than we are now. Yes, & have the Moon & Mars & points beyond as well. We only have to stop nursing our problems to keep them warm. Look at them honestly, admit that most of them are smoke & mirrors & solve the others. We are descended from people who did more with less. We should live up to our potential.
[/quote] More on Professor Cohen's article & on nuclear generally is on http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html#cohen[/
To maintain the East West balance here is one not published by the Scotsman. They have since published replies from Councillor Niall Walker (Lib Dem) & Steuart Campbell (former Lib Dem who quit over the party's head in the sands attitude) who both said something similar to mine.
The good news is that the Gaia in question is not my ex-mother-in-law. The bad news is that she represents a chthonic deity even more capable of vengeance upon errant mankind. Gaia is the Earth herself; she is Mother Nature; she taps her foot in ever-growing impatience at the antics of our species; and, according to Professor Lovelock, she is about to exact the most terrifying punishment for our excesses. She is about to get carboniferous on our ass.
........We delude ourselves, says Lovelock, if we think that the global temperature is going to rise in small increments over the next century. We are like the blindfolded crew of a boat approaching Niagara Falls, and there will come a moment when the temperature will rise with all the equivalent vertical horror. Some time in the next hundred years, he says, it is suddenly going to get hotter and hotter and hotter.
"Billions will die," says Lovelock, who tells us that he is not normally a gloomy type. Human civilisation will be reduced to a "broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords", and the plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot, where a few breeding couples will survive.
It is going to be a "hell of a climate", he says, with Europe 8C warmer than it is today; and the real killer, says Lovelock, is that there is not a damn thing we can do about it. We are already pumping out so much carbon dioxide, with no prospect of abatement from the growing economies of China and India, that our fate is sealed.
We in Britain produce only two per cent of the world's carbon output and, even if we closed down British industry overnight; even if we abolished the winter fuel allowance and ordered the pensioners to wear more sweaters; even if we forested the entire country with windfarms, it would make not a bean of difference.
And when the Great Heat has destroyed our industry, and wrecked civilisation, it will get worse, says Lovelock. Because then we will lose the aerosol of dust and smog that has kept out some of the sun's rays; and it will get hotter still.
......Phew-ee. Is Lovelock right? I haven't the faintest; but as I listen to his Mad Max-style vision of the coming century, I find my mind bubbling with blasphemous thoughts.
Wasn't it pretty hot in the 10th century? Didn't the Romans have vineyards in Northumberland? And is it really so exceptionally hot in modern Europe? According to yesterday's paper, Lisbon has just had its first heavy snowfall for 52 years. What's that about?
..........the more one listens to sacerdotal figures such as Lovelock, and the more one studies public reactions to his prophecies, the clearer it is that we are not just dealing with science (though science is a large part of it); this is partly a religious phenomenon.
Humanity has largely lost its fear of hellfire, and yet we still hunger for a structure, a point, an eschatology, a moral counterbalance to our growing prosperity. All that is brilliantly supplied by climate change. Like all the best religions, fear of climate change satisfies our need for guilt, and self-disgust, and that eternal human sense that technological progress must be punished by the gods.
And the fear of climate change is like a religion in this vital sense, that it is veiled in mystery, and you can never tell whether your acts of propitiation or atonement have been in any way successful. One sect says we must build more windfarms, and these high priests will be displeased with what Lovelock has to say. Another priestly caste curses the Government's obsession with nuclear power - a programme Lovelock has had the courage to support.
Some scientific hierophants now tell us that trees - trees, the good guys - are the source of too much methane, and are contributing to global warming. Huh? We in the poor muddled laity scratch our heads and pray. Who is right? Who is wrong?
If Lovelock is only half-right, then we must have an immediate programme to pastoralise the global economy and reduce emissions. The paradox is that, if he is completely right, there is not a lot we can do, and we might as well enjoy our beautiful planet while we can.
Or is he completely wrong? To say that would be an offence not just against science, but against a growing world religion.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
I believe the jury in the BNP case have properly done their duty.
"We don't hate anyone from any ethnic minority in this country," Griffin told reporters. "We don't blame them for being here ... we blame our government for putting them above our people."This prosecution has been entirely political. The BBC never spent 10s of thousands of pound trying to infiltrate the Labour party to find someone willing to say that bombing Serbs is ok. Professor Torrance, was never prosecuted for fabricating a story about Serbs putting their enemies through a sawmill, as part of his role as Moderator of the Church of Scotland. Such a story is clearly likely to produce racial hatred but when challenged on it he not only refused give provenance but removed the sermon for the Church's website. I have previously accused Mr Blair of being a Nazi war criminal. Nick Griffin is clearly not a Nazi, he has not bombed hospitals, he is not guilty of genocide, he has not murdered one thousandth as many people as the Cabinet, he is not as racist, or dishonest, as the as the Church of Scotland.
He said the BNP's wrath was directed at politicians who had turned Britain into a "multi-cultural mess".
Thursday's acquittals brought groans from anti-racist activists waiting outside court.
"We think it is a tragic day for justice that Nazis can hide behind freedom of speech in order to attack democracy and to encourage racism," said Weyman Bennett from the Unite Against Fascism group.
The difference is that he has not earned membership of the "great & good" either by birth or by his willingness to talk newspeak & that is what is threatening.
By comparison Mr Bennet & "Unite Against Fascism" do not know the true meaning of the words "justice", "Nazi", "freedom of speech", "attack", "democracy" & "racism".
Monday, January 30, 2006
Another video has been introduced by Milosevic & I am guessing that Trevor McDonald isn't going to be devoting a full programme to it as he did with the doctored one. I'm betting he isn't going to do 1/10th. Of course it might turn out that that he isn't a racist Nazi bastard & does report it - anybody want to bet? Not a single enemy prisoner shot (no army can ever claim that they have not done something like that, even the "liberators" of Iraq) but the leaders of our Croatian allies deliberately planning genocide. It is impossible to conceive, now that Tudjman is dead, of any more convinciing proof of what our allies were. A written confession from Tudjman wouldn't do because it could be fake, a confession from all his henchcreatures wouldn't because that wouldn't prove he hadn't known about it but only "accidentally" been involved in genocide. A confession from Clinton or Kohl would only prove there guilt. This is as absolute a piece of proof as is even theoretically possible & you will see that the Nazis will just censor all reporting of it here - & will do so easily.
Milosevic played an explosive videotape that had been filmed by the 12th detachment of the Yugoslav Army’s counterintelligence service (KOS).
The video, filmed in 1990 and broadcast on Yugoslav TV in January 1991, showed a conversation between Tudjman’s defense Minister Martin Spegelj and his Interior Minister Josip Boljkovac.
The two men are seen discussing preparations for war with the JNA. They discuss the importation of weapons from Hungary and how they will murder JNA soldiers and their families. Spegelj says “We will kill them on their doorstep. No one will be allowed to reach the barracks alive.”
Spegelj and Boljkovac agreed that killing women and children was OK. They discuss how grenades should be thrown into the family homes of JNA servicemen and that “no concern should be given to killing women and children.”
Boljkovac discusses how JNA servicemen will be murdered in their barracks. He says, “shove a pistol in their stomach -- one shot and that will be the end of them.”
The two men also discuss their plans to deal with the Serbian population. They discuss how they will destroy Knin and Spegelj boasts, “Knin will never be Knin again. Serbs will never be in Croatia when we’ve finished.”
Mind you this was all filmed in 1990 – BEFORE the war broke out and BEFORE the establishment of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK).
As an American I found it particularly disturbing to see Spegelj and Boljkovac discussing the support they were receiving from the U.S. Government. They discussed how, the day after Milosevic was elected in Serbia, the U.S. Government contacted them to offer combat vehicles and assorted military equipment.
This video proves beyond any doubt that the Serbian war objective in Croatia was self-defense. In light of this sort of material, any theories offered by the prosecution about “greater Serbia,” or Serb "aggression" against Croatia are exposed as pure nonsense. The Krajina Serbs had to go to war – they had no choice – the video makes it clear that Croatia was planning to finish what it started during World War II.
Professor Kostic was visibly shaken by the videotape, he said that it brought back a lot of bad memories. He explained how Franjo Tudjman practiced holocaust denial during his election campaign. He said that Tudjman had denied the mass killings at the Jasenovac concentration camp during World War II.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Dear Editor,This does not appear to have been published by any newspaper - some people just don't take criticism.
Following the Telegraph's recent defeat in the appeal against their previous suit on their allegation that George Galloway had obtained oil money by fraud may I offer some support. I accept absolutely that the Telegraph's accusations represent the very highest standard of honesty of the newspaper & confirm that I will never seek to suggest otherwise.
Indeed, since the Press Complaints Council, who are funded by & represent the entire UK press, have never at any time suggested that the Telegraph have behaved with anything less than total journalistic integrity, we must accept that the allegations made against Mr Galloway represent the absolute pinnacle of integrity of the entire British press. This is not, of course, to suggest that they are in any way whatsoever truthful.
It is interesting to note the unanimity with which the press have attacked Galloway over his arguably populist move of appearing on Big Brother. This compares with the relative silence when the Prime Minister appeared on the Ant & Dec show to be interviewed, not by the title characters, but by "little Ant & Dec" (who are child impersonators of them). Clearly the press hold Galloway in sufficiently high regard to think he was slumming whereas Mr Blair was being interviewed by his equals.
George has been getting a lot of stick for letting himself be set up by the Big Brotherites. It was certainly naive to think that they were going to let him say stuff about housing conditions, but everybody is naive in front of a camera even experienced hands like him.
I will admit to being, apparently, one of the very few people on the planet who does not find Big Brother exciting & had barely watched it before - I have a low opinion of "media celebrities" & find them saying "yeah, uh" to each other barely ahead of watching drying paint but, purely because of Galloway I did watch bits of this. He was clearly the natural leader & most intelligent & centred of them all whatever journalists say. Granted the competition wasn't tough.
I disagree with his socialism & I think he is a considerable degree of chancer but it is also obvious that he genuinely has beliefs & is willing to robustly defend them against all comers. I thus admire him in a way I most definitely don't some other lefties like Derek Hatton & Ken Livingstone. He is also, following the death of Alan Clark, whom I also admired, one of the few blatantly heterosexual types in Parliament. Oh for the days of LLoyd george who was also a chancer.
He also shared with Clark, a principled opposition to the Yugoslav war. Indeed, & this is a connection to the previous post, during that war I wrote to many MPs in terms less well informed but in the same general direction I currently express. He was one of the very few who spoke at the time against the Krajina Holocaust & in favour of ethnic rather than imperial frontiers for Croatia. When I wrote to him he sent me back the 2 copies of Hansard covering the debates which I still have & to which I referred yesterday. May I say that despite, or perhaps because of, many of the speakers holding these debates up as the Commons at it's best, I hold the opinion that most of our elected leaders could be replaced by randomly selected taxi drivers without harm.
So here's to fearless George Galloway who lives life to the full & is a better man than the interviewee of little Ant & Dec or any of his cabinet or indeed most journalists or Congressmen.