Greenfocus.co.uk

Global Warming

Global warming is a hot topic  and generates a great deal of hot air It should be remembered that a significant minority of climate experts, meteorologists, and  glaciologists a are not convinced that the main cause of global warming is manmade greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the potential damage from global warming could be catastrophic and therefore for once the much abused precautionary principle makes sense.

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently called on Christians to be aware of  the consequences of global warming. There is no doubt that if serious global warming takes place it will be  felt  mainly  in poor countries such as Bangladesh, and some of the Pacific Islands. There are various schemes to reduce the gases produced by transport, aeroplanes, domestic heating and other  sources but  Given the option of  building nuclear power stations or wind farms, the British public overwhelmingly chose wind farms. The Royal Academy of Engineering has presented authoritative estimates of the cost of generating “base load” electricity using various fuels.  Expressed as pence per kilowatt hour, these are – combined-cycle gas turbine 2.2, new build nuclear (including decommissioning costs) 2.3, pulverised coal steam plant 2.5, onshore wind  5.4 , and offshore wind 7,4. The extra cost of wind power of  5p per kW hr will be paid by the consumer. David Bellamy the professor of botany turned environmental activist has pointed out  that less CO2 would be produced if instead of a subsidy for wind power the money were used to subsidise low energy light bulbs.

At present we get 25% of our electricity from nuclear power. Nuclear is reliable, cheap, by far the safest method of generating power and is not subject to terrorist interruption. To equal the output of one nuclear station requires 2,400 wind towers 300 feet high and a large fossil fuel station as for  2/3 of the time wind produces no electricity. In November 2005 at the Royal Society a report was presented from a meeting of 150 scientists, economists and sociologists on Britain’s energy gap. They pointed out that nuclear fission has well known construction and operating costs and a good safety record. They reported that unless an early decision to build nuclear power stations were taken there is a danger that the world wide demand for clean power might result in a shortage of engineers to construct nuclear stations. This would lead to blackouts in the U.K.

Why is  the general public  opposed to nuclear power? There are three factors at work here scaremongering, lazy journalism and fears over nuclear waste.
The success of Greenpeace scaremongering is shown by the widespread support for wind farms (in areas that are not to be blighted by them!) and the fact that this unaccountable organisation has an income of £100 million pounds per annum. The Labour peer Lord (Peter) Melchett when he was Director of British Greenpeace, never debated nuclear power in the House of Lords.  Instead he sent agitators to the Sizewell nuclear power station  with signs saying “Twinned with Chernobyl”. Melchett knew that the dangers of the Chernobyl design were pointed out before construction began by Western and indeed Russian scientists. Nuclear power caused casualties at Chernobyl, not because it is inherently unsafe, but because the Stalinist regime put building a cheaper reactor before the safety of Ukrainians.  (This is hardly surprising since Stalin killed more Ukrainians (7 million) than Hitler killed Jews.) 

Political  Greens  claim that nuclear power is unsafe.  The figures however, tell a different story.Numbers killed in generating electricity with different fuel sources 1970-92

Fuel

Number of Deaths

Deaths per terawatt year of electricity generated

Coal

6400

342

Natural Gas

1200

85

Hydro Electricity

4000

883

Nuclear

33

8

* The final column shows the number of deaths suffered for every million megawatts of electricity supplied in a year (one terawatt year). The amount of electricity generated by wind in this period was less than one terawatt year, so a death toll for wind power is not included. This is estimated to be relatively very high.

Lazy Journalists

All thermal power stations use super heated steam which, if it escapes, is lethal, and kills a few men  ever year.  Yet we never read  “Two men killed by steam in Chilean power station” Recently, however, three men were killed in a Japanese power station by super heated steam and this was widely reported in every newspaper: the BBC made it their main news item, simply because the station in question was nuclear powered.  We can always rely on the BBC to give prominence to any Greenpeace scare stories.  When the truth appears about a fortnight later, it gets very little publicity because, they would say, a report that is 14 days old is not of any interest. 

Nuclear Waste

There are no technical problems with nuclear waste.  Unfortunately the Political Greens persuaded John Gummer to reject a perfectly adequate disposal scheme devised by NIREX.  In France, where 85% of electricity is nuclear and in the USA, no one is concerned.  When George Bush announced that nuclear waste would be stored in the Nevada desert, Greenpeace protested but the wind was taken out of their sails by residents of Utah who said “We will take it”.They  realised that the dangers of nuclear waste are easily contained and that the nuclear storage site would bring in money and jobs. a

The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, has offered to take all Britain’s nuclear waste and store it safely in the Australian outback.,miles from human habitation  or  water   The total amount of high energy nuclear waste produced since 1954 could be  stored on one acre of land with, for extra protection, a six foot brick wall around it.  This of course would be radioactive for thousands of years but provided one does not go within 10 feet of it, no one will be damaged.  When one considers that there are thousands of tons of rock in Cornwall, Aberdeenshire and other places in the British Isles  that produce the radioactive gas Radon from the uranium that was deposited thousands of years ago, it is clear that any concerns about nuclear waste is the result of scaremongering. In fact, there is no sensible reason why nuclear waste should not be disposed of in the deep subducting regions of the oceans where tectonic forces draw all deposits down into the magma.
 
The possibility that we will have blackouts in the United Kingdom is a real one:To close the energy gap will require contributions from energy saving, marine technology, solar cells and even domestic wind turbines. Clearly our energy problems would be solved if work on carbon dioxide sequestration was successful as this would enable restrictions on coal fired power stations to be removed. Again the direct hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol would bring an energy utopia. At present however the only realistic alternative to the fossil fuel used in transport (apart from more electric trains) is a hydrogen fed fuel cell.  The only practical way of producing hydrogen is by electrolysis.  It is possible in the laboratory to produce hydrogen by the action of sunlight on water using a titania catalyst but large scale production is unlikely before 2030. The only realistic way to the hydrogen economy requires the immediate building of nuclear power stations. 

The opposition of certain Christians to the Uranium economy is puzzling when one considers that there could be no life at all on Planet Earth but for the fact that the top 3,000 feet of the earth’s crust contains 1012 tonnes of Uranium.  The heat from the radioactive decay of this Uranium makes Earth habitable. Even Tony Blair has come to realise that the only sensible course is to start building nuclear. Now that the election is over he needs to get off the hook on which he has impaled himself by his cynical disregard of the national interest in promoting wind farms.

Any Christian should realise that since we have the power to generate electricity from nuclear power we have a moral obligation to use it and thus reduce our demand on oil and gas that may be used by developing nations. It is the unanimous opinion of all energy experts, the heads of all engineering institutions in the country that the most sensible way forward is to start building nuclear stations immediately.




James Lovelock FRS who produced the Gaia theory,and was made a Companion of Honour for his environmental work wrote ( Daily Telegraph on 15th August 2001,) we need nuclear power if we are to avoid the loss of civilisation in a greenhouse catastrophe. Greens, he says, should regard nuclear power as a temporary bandage to be used until the harm of fossil fuel has been remedied. 

The most pressing danger at the present time is the stockpile of plutonium in Russia. In the economic chaos following the collapse of State Socialism this material is poorly protected. Bin Laden would have little difficulty in bribing the guards to obtain enough plutonium to blow up London. The sensible solution would be for the West to buy up this plutonium and use it, via the MOX plant, to produce green electricity..