Click to get your own widget

Monday, March 30, 2009


From a letter in today's Herald by Prof Colin McInnes:

"On Saturday evening, the WWF Earth Hour campaign asked for lighting in homes, public buildings, monuments and structures to be switched off for 60 minutes, providing a temporary return to a world of pre-industrial darkness. We were told by WWF that "switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming"...

Perhaps instead of sitting in the dark, we should have been celebrating human inventiveness and the overwhelmingly civilising influence which large-scale energy production has brought to society...

Providing a copious and resilient supply of low-cost clean energy is entirely possible, dispensing with the need for socially regressive demand reduction measures. We only have to look to France, with cheap, near-zero-carbon electricity production to see the result of innovative, long-term and technically well-informed decision-making. In contrast, since deregulation, innovation in the UK energy sector has largely consisted of combining electricity and gas bills, a displacement activity of financial engineering rather than practical engineering and a symptom of the wider malaise in the UK economy...

Switching off lights ... represented a wave of darkness sweeping round the globe, dimming symbols of genuine human achievement at a time when we need to call on our technical ingenuity and inventiveness to meet the challenges of the future."

To be fair though government owned buildings may have switched off I don't know anybody else who did.

It's amazing how bright the low countries are, while France is so dark.

I would like to point out that France is the only member of the Western Alliance that chose to pursue nuclear power on a large scale. South Africa was the only White-run country to achieve liquid fuel independence. SA also developed the pebble bed reactor that was invented in Germany. Both were outcasts from the Western Alliance, France for withdrawing from NATO and SA because of Apartheid.

France even had the good sense to torpedo the Rainbow Warrior boat that Greenpeace was using to disrupt a nuclear test.

Clearly, membership in the West no means suicide, not progress.
I would assume that this is because France has a surprisingly low population for its land area, or a lot of land for its population. The low countries have a very dense population (& a significant amount of its land is man made being below sea level.

The thing that gets me is that Scotland, except for the Glasgow-Edinburgh belt is almost empty. Indeed our ,ajor sign of industry is the flares from oil rigs in the middle of the North Sea.

Your point about those countries whose ruling classes gave up sovereignty to NATO/EU having lost their ambition is an interesting one I had not thought of before. It also applies to Israel & Switzerland which are not members of either group & to Sweden & Finland which have joined the EU but were not members of NATO. Ireland was a member of NATO but a fairly nominal one & does have a history which makes them cautious about any organisation Britain is in.
It also applies to Israel & Switzerland which are not members of either group

Israel hasn't defeated the Arabs openly since it gave up its territory in the Camp David Accords. Switzerland has joined the UN. Neither has furthered the cause of nuclear power.

Have you heard of the pebble bed reactor?
I think you are setting pretty high standards being in the UN or not having grabbed some of your neighbour's territory in the last few years is a sign of decline. Particularly over the latter I do not think grabbing territory is, any longer, a route to success.

I have heard of the pebble bed reactor & as a safe system which doesn't require particularly high engineering to run it I think it is one good way to go.
Switzerland historically didn't belong to international political organizations like the UN, so for them it is a step down.

Britain could begin work on the PB reactor this month if it would offer asylum to the engineers in South Africa who worked on the Apartheid era project. In fact, instead of fueling the reactor with enriched uranium Britain's old plutonium making reactors could be kept online, with no need to build a new reactor.
The asylum option is an interesting one. A suggested alternative to the Iraq war was offering asylum to the relatively small number of qualified nuclear scientists in Iraq, together with their families. I think these would have been very useful immigrants.

I suspect new reactors would prove cheaper in the long run in the same way that a new car is ultimately cheaper than endlessly repairing an old one. However making the decision to build is more politically difficult than linping along - as our government's decision not to close Hunterston in 2011 but not to allow new build proves.
1.A new car is not always a good deal. I'm driving a 1980 Datsun that I bought for $400, so a used car can work very well.

2. I believe that Britain should build new reactors to generate power, but plutonium fuel can be made by one of Britain's existing weapons reactors. If an existing reactor is used to generate fuel, then there would be no four year wait for a facility to make fuel. At a later date the ageing breeder reactor can be replaced.
1 Accepted.
2 You are right that anything that can provide power on or before 2015 is well worth it.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

British Blogs.