Saturday, April 2, 2011

Monbiot goes nuclear

The environmental campaigner George Monbiot has made his strongest pitch yet for nuclear energy to be an ingredient in the struggle to forestall climate change.

And yes, this does actually follow the Fukushima debacle.

George Monbiot : "Irresponsible"
“Yes, I still loathe the liars who run the nuclear industry” he says. But in a Guardian article (21st March) “Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power” he argues that it’s hugely reassuring that, so far as we know, no-one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

This despite the fact that Fukushima is old, has inadequate safety features, was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami causing multiple malfunctions, a reactor explosion and the beginning of a meltdown.

Yes, yes, yes he says, the disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting ... Yet ... No-one died from it!!.

If the nuclear industry can survive this it can survive anything, he says. Whatever George Monbiot writes is worth reading even if like me you're not convinced by this one. His point against biofuels is especially strong.

Naturally enough, all this brought a heap of criticism on his head. Irresponsible is the politest word used.

His critics say as follows :

#  The nuclear fuel cycle generates around 7 times more carbon emissions than wind power

#  It's very hard to keep military and civil aspects separate

#  Its economics are at best dubious

#  We don't have any idea where the waste will go (except in so-called 'interim' stores alongside the new plants)

#  A focus on nuclear absorbs funding and resources that would be better allocated to the large range of less risky and more sustainable energy options.

#  Some scientists claim that given proper attention to energy efficiency, renewable can supply almost 100% of EU, and also global , electricity, and also possibly, energy, by 2050.

#  We don’t need to face the problems of nuclear energy, so why divert scarce resources to it?

I also recommend this article in the leading science journal Nature (30th March). Colin Macilwain says that reassurances from 'experts' on the safety of nuclear power don't wash.  Nuclear experts have popped up in the media to 'inform' the public about the crisis, and the collective impression has been unconvincing, defensive, selective, and condescending.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I talk to Dublin Libyans who praise bombing

In Dublin on the 26th and happened across a small demonstration by Libyans against Gaddafi.  No camera sadly. Although in truth I might have felt a bit uncomfortable taking a photo, they may have thought I was a spy!  It was an amateurish affair, homemade placards, no leaflets to hand out, and so far as I can tell they never thought to inform the press because surely there would have been a story and pictures in the Sunday papers had they done so. But they did have loudhailers and made a decent noise considering there were only about 40 of them. “1,2,3,4 this is not a civil war … 5,6,7,8 no more war no more hate”.  “One solution revolution” was another favourite.  Then there were down with Gaddafi slogans and all interspersed with a few speeches.  Most of the demonstrators aged between 20 and 45, some of the women in headaches, some not.  On the whole, they were vigorously in support of the UN bombing campaign.  One speaker said : Lets not enquire into their motives, they are saving lives and they are saving the revolution.

I spoke to two of the men at different times, one of whom was called Ali. I asked who had organised the demo, both gave the same answer, no-one.  I asked Ali who was in charge, he indicated another man who was called Saharwi, to whom I gave a €10 note.  Saharwi seemed bemused and asked what it was for, I said to help organise things and gave a vague expansive gesture.

A Socialist Worker activist was present. Inevitably. He was invited to the microphone and got a polite hearing for his reasons for not supporting the bombing.  These were itemised on a leaflet he gave me.  There were 12 of them, and I agreed with them all. There was only one reason to set against the 12, and that is that the Libyans really want that bombing. They believe it’s saving their compatriots’ lives.  Not unanimous however. One of the men I asked about the bombing jerked his thumb at two of his fellows who were conducting an animated discussion in Arabic, and he said you see those two, they are arguing about it.  I wish now I had asked them to outline their reasons in English but at the time I decided it was best to leave them at it.   

I asked what sort of revolution they were shouting for?  Was there a programme I wondered?  I realise now that was a silly question.  We want rid of Gaddafi, Ali said, we want democracy.  I asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, would they prosper if an election were held?  No Ali didn’t think so. It wasn’t easy talking as there was so much noise from the chanting. There surely can't be a huge number of Libyans in Dublin, and if I'm right on that, then the turnout must have been a very high proportion of the whole. I asked Ali if any of them had arrived recently from Libya, he said no they all live and work here and he gave me the name of a company in Dublin he worked for.

This was a Facebook demo, as I've found out, see this Indymedia page