Monday, November 21, 2005

Why the enviromental movement is in trouble...

An op-ed piece in The Age today.
As David Young says:
The scale of the world's increasing demand for energy needs many solutions
Yet as far as i can tell, he doesn't mention any other than:

Cleaning up coal-fired power is the focus of billions of dollars of research funding around the world. Technology breakthroughs will enable Australia to use its 500 years' supply of coal guilt-free. Even renewable energy is likely to cost less than nuclear power in the long term.
Yes, coal research funding is in the billions, and rightly so because it is a dirty, disgusting way to generate electricity. Technology breakthrough? what technology breakthrough? after billions of dollars, there are NO clean coal technologies - there are cleaner coal technologies but electricity companies will follow the letter of the law (and where possible lobby for more lenient ones), they won't invest in clean air unless forced to.
As to the brilliant statement "Even renewable energy is likely to cost less than nuclear power in the long term" which is stated as some sort of hybrid wish-fact, i see no evidence that nuclear power is more or less expensive - the accounting standards that surround multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects is... obscure, with many costs previously kept off the balance sheet and tacitly transferred to the govt such as waste and site clean-up (& transmission, distribution, short term reserve generation if it has an outage...).
Strangely, i consider myself to be somewhat 'green' yet i refuse to be painted with the same brush as most loony-tunes hippies that think a cost-benefit analysis is a tool of oppression by 'the man'. I suspect that if nuclear energy is the answer you've asked the wrong question but if the best evidence we have points that way then that's where we should go and it's up to us to make it work.
I just hope the earth isn't soley represented by Mr Young and his ilk or else it's definitly doomed, or more specifically and let's be honest here, the poor countries are doomed.


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