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Monday Message Board

June 8th, 2009

Its time once again for Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Given that it’s the Queen’s Birthday holiday (actually that of some previous monarch, I think), feel free to offer your thoughts on an Australian republic.

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  1. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 07:23 | #1

    I am a notional republican but I don’t feel it is something we should worry about with the GFC going on, maybe in 5 – 10 years as a significant proportion of people come of voting age who did not get a chance of voting at the last referendum. An elected head of state would be a lot of fun but probably not particularly useful compared to our current system.

    Also, your blog theme is confusing since there are other Australian political blogs with it and in fact have had it for a long time.

  2. PeakVT
    June 8th, 2009 at 09:22 | #2

    FYI, your RSS feed is bad and won’t load in my reader (NewsFox).

  3. smiths
    June 8th, 2009 at 10:15 | #3

    i am a firm non-believer in referendums,

    i seems to me its like throwing scraps to the public ho have no real input into important things,
    and the public simply cant be trusted, look at the recent WA daylight saving debacle, you should have heard the crap most people talk in justifying thier decisions,

    how about a referendum on things that are worth going into defecit for,
    how about a referendum on what are the limits to advertising in the public space,
    how about a referendum on whether the biggest polluters should get free passes in an environmental protection scheme,
    none of these referendums will happen because the commercial orobourus would never allow it, we just get the scraps … should we have another country’s flag on our flag?
    no brainer

  4. June 8th, 2009 at 11:27 | #4

    It looks like the European Union elections have seen a slight fall in voting numbers and a swing to conservative Governments in power (France, Germany, Poland), a collapse in the vote for the traditional left – the Socialists in France and the Labour Party in Britain – an increase in the vote for the Greens and a swing to the fascists.

    This latter is probably enough to give the Nazis across Europe party status or whatever it is called in the EU Parliament.

    At first blush (and I hope to get my head around this more and write on it) it is an expression of disillusionment with the EU project as presently conceived and a view among those who did vote that the conservatives are better placed to deal with the crisis with one current warming to the fatal song of fascism wrapped in extreme nationalism.

    The failure of social democracy in power in Europe or in opposition to address in any form (actions, suggestion etc) the economic crisis may explain the swing to Berlusconi and Sarkozy.

    How interesting that as the neoliberal experiment dies before our eyes one form of its political expression gains swings to it. Or maybe this is just a rejection of one version of neoliberal keynesianism and the adoption of another.

    Perhaps I am over-intellectualising this. Maybe the right – conservatives and fascists – could better mobilise their supporters to vote and the supporters of the traditional mainstream left have become so disillusioned with their parties they didn’t bother to turn out.

  5. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 11:31 | #5

    A referendum changes the constitution, legislation like the budget and the CPRS sit perfectly well within the constitutional framework and hence a referendum is not required. However, “referendums” on legislation are currently held every 3 years, they are called general elections.

  6. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 11:35 | #6

    @John Passant
    You probably are over intellectualising it. You will find that in many of these nations are simply abiding by local political cycles. The rise of green politics however has been a gradual structural change over the last 20-30 years although it has not had much overwhelming influence on the formation of governments.

  7. June 8th, 2009 at 11:53 | #7

    Most on the “Right” have very little in common with the “fascists”. The “fascists”, where they think about economic policy at all, tend to favour State directed spending, heavy industry and trade policy. Combined with the rascism that seems to be their reason for being and there is a mix that is a fair distance from the mainstream “Right”.
    You are right that the Greens have not had much of a say in the formation of governments – the FPTP voting style in some of Europe along with the high voting thresholds put in place to keep out the “fascists” and the communists have seen to that. Their influence, though, can be clearly seen in the changes in government policies over the last 20 years. Where the policies have made some sense they have eventually been incorporated into the mainstream parties’ policy platforms.

  8. Tony G
    June 8th, 2009 at 12:38 | #8

    Fielding on ETS;

    “”I think you need to argue a case on a scientific basis.

    “Because this is a huge issue, that if we get it wrong, it’s going to actually end up costing Australia very, very dearly, and I think we need to get to the bottom of it.”


    If Australia cuts carbon emissions by 100% it is going to do next to nothing to kerb increasing carbon in the atmosphere, yet it will wreck our economy.

  9. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 12:55 | #9

    Tony G

    I posted this link before. Perhaps you should read it (not that I expect you will change your mind).


    (Im still astonished it was actually printed by the Australian media ,not exactly known for their impartialityn on climate change!!)

    Senator Fielding has come back to Oz as what appears to be a newly convinced delusionist (“I had a sudden vision…”) because the conference he attended was run by Heartland Institute group. Known for opening its doors to those of dubious beliefs who are easily incentivised?

    Per wiki “Although Heartland calls itself “a genuinely independent source of research and commentary,” its has been a frequent ally of, and funded by, the tobacco industry.”

    Nuff said. Fielding doesnt exactly have a history of getting things right.

    Neither do the newspapers or the churches (or the tobacco industry for that matter).

    We will always have our skeptics and after all…it only took a few hundred years for the Pope to apologise to Galileo, but he got there eventually.

  10. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:00 | #10

    I do not agree with the views of the Heartland Institute but Fielding is right in that any cuts must be weighed up to economic impact.

  11. charles
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:06 | #11

    Do we have to pay for the “Queen of Australia” or do the poms do that and we get her for free.

  12. June 8th, 2009 at 13:06 | #12

    If the economy is wrecked we’ll be parked at the kerb.

  13. charles
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:07 | #13

    Oh dear rationalist, what we need is economic activity, and building stuff to green up our economy is building stuff. Sure beats a war.

  14. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:14 | #14

    Well, I don’t disagree to be honest.

    Expansion of electricity grids for possible electric car networks, more coal mines and more uranium mines as energy sources for domestic and international use, nuclear power and geothermal plants.

    Sounds like it would create a lot of jobs to me.

  15. Tony G
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:16 | #15


    Regardless of the AGW debate, if Australia cut carbon emissions by any amount, even 100%, it is going to have no measurable effect on reducing the ever increasing world emissions or the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, yet it will be severely detrimental to our economy.

    My question to you and all the proponents of the Australian ETS is why have an ETS considering its impact on emissions is next to useless?

    Making a few greenies feel good inside is hardly a reason to wreck our economy.

  16. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:19 | #16

    @Tony G
    This is very true. Australian emissions are around 1.5% of global emissions so even if we cut by 50% (is this what the Greens are asking for?) it is a drop in the ocean and no baby dugongs will be saved in the Caribbean!

  17. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:29 | #17

    Tony, because the cost will be greater if nothing is done like 9 trillion globally. Not doing anything makes the minority skeptics (lets get who has the minority ‘bar room’ views in perspective here), their posse of denialist obstructionist “think tanks”, funded by a few wealthy short term focused (often somewhat dirty producing) firms feel good. Id rather the greenies felt good.

  18. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 13:35 | #18

    Which is why the Liberal proposal makes sense since it waits to see what the rest of the world does (oh, and I do like Kevin Rudd).

  19. June 8th, 2009 at 13:59 | #19

    The argument for each and every individual is perfectly clear – nothing that any individual does will have anything like a measurable effect on the climate. Nothing. It is not a logical extension of the argument, though, to then argue that no-one should do anything about CO2 emissions – i.e. that nothing needs to change.
    If we accept that CO2 emissions are a problem then an argument that “We cannot affect it” is simply not logical – there are very few individuals, states or countries that can make a difference by themselves. That does not excuse any of them for not doing something.
    For example – the amount of CFCs that I, as an individual, caused to be released into the atmosphere would not have made anything like a measurable impact on the ozone layer. That does not mean that I believe that they should continue to be produced.

  20. Tony G
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:10 | #20


    I am not confirming or denying AGW theory, but I do agree there is strong evidence to suggest the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is growing by about 2% per year, why I don’t know.

    Lets assume it is anthropologicaly source (although this is not proven). As rationalist pointed out Australia only generates ’1.5% of global emissions’ .Even if the ETS is implemented and cuts Australia’s emissions by 100% it is not going to stop the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere from growing and we will be poorer for the exercise.

    You will still have your “9 trillion globally” problem regardless of what Australia does.

    Please explain to me how Australia’s ETS will solve your “9 trillion globally” problem?

  21. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:11 | #21

    @Andrew Reynolds
    CFCs were cheap to replace with similar performing refrigerants or propellants.

    The problem of GHG emissions is more expensive and harder to fix.

  22. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:14 | #22

    @Tony G
    Just checked the numbers, it is 1.2% which is close to what I said.

    We could probably cut our per capita emissions in half if we were to replace all coal fired power stations with nuclear power stations.

  23. Tony G
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:28 | #23

    True rationalist,

    Australia has many options to cut emissions, but there is little point doing it until we get a commitment from the major emitters to cut theirs.

    Why throw away our ‘only’ bargaining chip before we get to the table?

  24. June 8th, 2009 at 14:30 | #24

    I know. That does not change the basis of my argument.

  25. June 8th, 2009 at 14:36 | #25

    Back to the honours. Clive got a gong.

  26. Ginja
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:37 | #26

    There’s an interesting article in the NY Times about weatherization entitled “Stimulus Funds Spent to Keep Sun Belt Cool” (I’m no good at links). It might have some relevance to Queenslanders and it has an interesting link which explains just how old the US weatherization program is – it surprised me. It shows again that Americans aren’t always as backward on social policy as we think.

    Weatherization for winter is needed even in Queensland – I’m not a Queenslander but I know how cold it can get in SE Qld!

    Rudd’s weatherization is great and the kind of “low-hanging fruit” that should have been plucked years ago, but there are some interesting ideas to chew over in this article.

  27. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:39 | #27

    Right – so we do nothing and if every country had that attitude no one will do anything and it will cost us all more. It takes the industrial nations to lead the way out of the mess..it will take industrial nation governments to prod the lead with legislation. It comes down to a few people in each country to take the initiative but to sit on our hands and do nothing (screaming why should we?? Why dont we wait for Uganda to do something??”.. and at the same time pour bucket loads of coal into every developing nation – and listen to the petty concerns of coal industry skeptics is quite frankly, pretty off..!!
    No wonder Australia gets itself a bad name on the international stage over this…we fully deserve it. The targets are pathetic as is.

  28. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 14:53 | #28

    I have no issues with “taking action”. But if we are going to be taking pre-emptive action, ie. before most of the world does, it should only be constructive and productive action as opposed to unproductive action (ie. a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme).

    An example of productive action is building a nuclear or geothermal power station instead of a coal one. We can always use the energy from another power station even if world talks fall through.

  29. June 8th, 2009 at 14:54 | #29

    If you are going to castigate the coal industry at least also give some plaudits to the nuclear. If you consider the CO2 emissions foregone over the last 60 (or so) years of Australian uranium production it is roughly equivalent to the amount of CO2 that Australia (as a whole) has emitted.
    That gives some idea of the scale of the possibilities that nuclear gives us.Perhaps we should build some plants.

  30. Ginja
    June 8th, 2009 at 15:40 | #30

    Andrew Reynolds: we are not going to have nuclear reactors in this country any time soon, end of story. There was a while when Howard became so deluded he thought he could use nuclear power as a way to wedge Labor. The Coalition dropped the issue when Labor had some fun asking in what Coalition seat the reactors would be placed – haven’t heard “nuclear” out of a Coalition mouth since.

    Why waste time arguing about something that isn’t going to happen? Let’s have some political realism and debate things that might actually happen.

  31. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 15:56 | #31

    The realism is either coal or nuclear, pick one. Geothermal can be part of either solution but in all seriousness, we will either go down the coal or nuclear path.

  32. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 16:04 | #32


    As usual your rational response is also a nonsensical one in the long run.

    Ill give no such plaudits to the nuclear industry either.

    Why would I want to replace one filthy dirty industry with another…(nuclear). Clean my eye =-this stuff is as dangerous as it gets and man’s incompetence with it is even more dangerous. At least coal only gets burned and turns into emissionhs. Mispent mismanaged nuclear is horrendous. Its not the material, its idiot human beings in charge of it. Its not now…its not in ten years time…its when the damn buildings get old in fifty or eighty years as all buildings do (and with North Korea already shooting missiles what do you think the targets would be if war every broke out here? The dams might have been attractive to the dambusters but seriously can it get anymore insane?)

    Stick uranium and stick nuclear reactors where they belong…untouched in the ground….the foolishness of mere men never ceases to amaze me. Just because its there doesnt mean we have to dig the stuff up and flog it and some spiv gets to make a profit. Its caused nothing but trouble and its poisoning water supplies in the US (and it is nigh on impossible to clean up when it does fail).

    Its that the best you can do for sustainable energy…think harder!

  33. June 8th, 2009 at 16:33 | #33

    Perhaps we can drop the ad hominem – the “as usual” bit seems to be trying to play the man, not the ball. If I chose to do the same I could just argue that your position is merely reflexive – not informed. Let’s avoid that, shall we?
    The only real problem with the newer nuclear plants (such as a pebble bed) is how to dispose of the waste. Australia has the most geologically stable rocks on the planet and the Swedish method of burying it seems like a good one. Put the plants a fair way out of town and then connect them to a DC transmission line and most of the problems seem solved. It may not be the correct solution (the costs of a plant are very high) but I do not think that it should be discarded out of hand.
    If North Korea gets the missle technology to deliver warheads to Australia the a nuclear plant will not be the primary target. The accuracy of those things is such that he would not be able to target something that small.

  34. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 16:42 | #34

    @Andrew Reynolds
    I think you mean AC, unless it is HVDC.

  35. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 16:48 | #35

    Coal or nuclear? Piffle Andrew – we are not thinking right or we are not thinking laterally enough. It needs to be VERY clean and NOT dangerous – not “clean but incredibly dangerous” like nuclear (plus it opens the way for all those black market types to trade inputs and outputs…ewwww). I have hope in man’s ingenuity yet… not stop gaps.

  36. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 16:50 | #36

    Its not nuclear I dont trust Andrew – its man’s inability to manage it, not be bribed, not be stupid etc …thats why we need something better.

  37. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 16:52 | #37

    When it comes time for the next base load electrical generating station to be built, chances are it will be coal. There is a natural gas peaking plant being built right now also.

  38. June 8th, 2009 at 17:05 | #38

    Rationalist – I do mean HVDC. More efficient for transmission over 1000km.
    Have you looked up some of the newer reactor designs? The various Gen III, Gen III+ and Gen IV designs make a lot of use of passive safety and low enriched fuel – meaning the reactor design and fuel are comparatively safe.
    Again – I am not saying they are the solution, but to me rejecting them out of hand without even looking at them appears to be based more on prejudice than anything else. At the moment, they are the only proven base load power solution out there that does not have substantial AGW concerns.

  39. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:20 | #39

    Andrew – have we got incorruptible GEN IV humans to run it? I dont think so. And GEN IV today means nothing when the building indrastructure gets old and you have a bad government….or an anarchic society. Who would want to have these dangerous relics of man’s sophistication 50 years ago then – look what happened at Chernobyl – the height of Russian cold war sophistication? Give me a break. What a huge intergenrational catastrophe plus miles and square miles of useless land for how many years? How quickly people forget… No nuclear – not now, not ever….the aboriginies knew it was dangerous for goodness sake…are we more backward now?

    We can do much better than that….keep thinking! I reject nuclear as a solution out of hand but the world is ruled by people who just arent as smart as me…!!

  40. Martin
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:26 | #40

    Referendums require a public initiation mechanism. Then they can be on what the voters want enacted rather than what the politicians want approved.

    The problem in practice has been that propositions like the California tax cap are what gets supported. The far right in Australia supported public initiative referendums some years ago (1970s?), presumably to get immigration restrictions onto the ballot.

    In theory it might be possible to design the process so that the foreseeable consequences of the proposed law are put before the voters and a rational decision is made, but I am not sure how to achieve this.

  41. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:27 | #41

    Russia was never sophisticated, they were Communists.

  42. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:36 | #42

    And Andrew,

    Coal or nuclear – are we really looking outside the narrow duopoly here? We live in Australia – one of the sunniest (warmest now) planets on earth. If someone could convince me that we wouldnt generate enought power by having solar cells on EVERYONE’s roof I would be amazed but no…. we apparently need “industry investment?”. How about government investment – it would create jobs (needed), power (clean) and industry growth (servicing). But I guess thats too left wing eh? It means a bigger public sector doesnt it? Even if its only in the short term?
    Hey – there is also the ocean? How much power out there…untapped? If the Romans could build downhill aqueducts that ran milling factories that produced enough bread for an entire city…what are we thinking? If its dirty and dangerous and cheap (dig it out) and doesnt need much construction its somehow better (nuclear and coal).

    We need to get longer term vision again. We have lost it in the efficiencies gained in the short run and wanting Mr Big in some private industry to bail us all out of our problems (except they wont unless they can do it as cheaply as possible and you know the story….you get what you pay for and cheap is likely to be a cheap short term solution).

    We could also simply “turn off the power” so many hours a day. Build fridges with batteries….turn it on when you need to cook.

    There are so many solutions surely that dont involve dirty or dangerous solutions?

  43. Hermit
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:44 | #43

    I think the likely electrical generation path is that we will build lots of gas combined cycle plants like Tallawarra near Sydney. At first everybody will be pleased because CO2 will be halved per unit of electrical output. The ability of gas fired generation to throttle back quickly will enable more wind farms to be built. Again more green photo ops for politicians even if the average wind contribution stays fairly small.

    The problem will come when like the Brits and North Sea we realise we have squandered our natural gas resource. In Australia’s case we can add coal bed methane. Higher priority uses for gas are ammonia based fertilisers and CNG fuel substitute in buses, trucks and cars when the next oil shock hits. Gas fired electrical generation and LNG exports should be low priority despite the enthusiasm in some government circles. Instead of coal fired baseload we should generate up to 20 GW by nuclear, either current generation or next generation reactors. Wind and solar can chip in supplemented with a modest amount of gas fired generation. That way we can have cleaner electricity and keep cars on the road as oil declines. This line of thinking has been expressed by a number of people but it doesn’t seem to be on the official radar as yet.

  44. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:49 | #44


    Rationalist – the US obviously thought the communists at the height of cold war power sophisticated enough to fight across three continents…Russia was sophisticated enough to escalate the arms race..what more evidence do you need?

  45. Alice
    June 8th, 2009 at 18:35 | #45

    And as much as I prefer the Rudd Government to the Howard government …what on earth was happening with the pink bats?


    That was the most ludicrous decision I have ever heard of. Everyone knows bats degrade, get rat infested and end up as dust in your ceiling cavity in a relatively short space of time for a very limited effect…For goodness sake if they are willing to throw money at pink bats (obviously a short term solution to climate change and power use) why not invest in something real (solar cells)? Or would it upset the existing power suppliers too much?

    Pink bats???…absolutely ridiculous.

  46. smiths
    June 8th, 2009 at 19:13 | #46

    new generation blah blah blah

    The massive power plant under construction on muddy terrain on this Finnish island was supposed to be the showpiece of a nuclear renaissance. The most powerful reactor ever built, its modular design was supposed to make it faster and cheaper to build. And it was supposed to be safer, too.

    But things have not gone as planned.

    After four years of construction and thousands of defects and deficiencies, the reactor’s 3 billion euro price tag, about $4.2 billion, has climbed at least 50 percent. And while the reactor was originally meant to be completed this summer, Areva, the French company building it, and the utility that ordered it, are no longer willing to make certain predictions on when it will go online.


    hey ive got an idea …
    lets spend the next 30 years trying to create massive toxic centralised power sources, because clearly getting power from the free limitless environmentally friednliest power source is crazeeeeeeeee

  47. smiths
    June 8th, 2009 at 19:16 | #47

    decentralised, two-way networks, thats the future andrew

  48. Donald Oats
    June 8th, 2009 at 19:19 | #48

    Let’s complain about the cost of doing something about CO2 emissions, and then turn around and say let’s build some nuclear power stations. WTF? You could cut your finger on logic thatsharp!

    Meanwhile, wind is doing alright in SA, grid hasn’t destabilised yet.

  49. June 8th, 2009 at 19:36 | #49

    Alice, the Nuclear Green blog offers some persuasive arguments that suitable thorium breeder reactors wouldn’t produce harmful wastes, both because fewer get generated that way in the first place and because those that are can be handled and further consumed in the same plant.

  50. June 8th, 2009 at 21:11 | #50

    smiths / alice,
    And if the solar cells are made of the most efficient material (gallium arsenide) that unfortunately has worse side effects (heavy metal pollution) or we go for the much less efficient silicon that has the unfortunate side effects of high cost you would not be bothered, I take it?
    Alice / smiths – Please actually read this this time. I am not saying nuclear is the solution. Got that? I am not saying that. I am saying it should be considered. Understand it this time? It should be considered. If there is a design that works then, great we should use it. If not – great we will not. To reject it simply because you are not willing to consider it is (IMHO) just being blinkered, at best.

  51. Rationalist
    June 8th, 2009 at 21:43 | #51

    Anyone hear about Bob Brown being possibly bankrupted and hence kicked out of the Senate?

  52. Hermit
    June 8th, 2009 at 22:23 | #52

    The connection between Bob Brown and nukes is that many people support much of Greens policy except their opposition to nuclear power. That’s why I for one won’t chip in towards his legal bills even though I sympathise with what he was trying to do. That was to restrain Forestry Tasmania from logging an area with endangered fauna like the wedge tailed eagle. The Greens are alienating a huge potential support base by clinging to fanciful notions like renewable energy largely displacing coal. If they had the numbers they could get whatever forestry legislation they wanted and put the squeeze on coal.

  53. pablo
    June 8th, 2009 at 22:59 | #53

    Yes the Greens must adopt a more realistic policy toward advanced nuclear technology particularly 4th generation reactors which need not be hugely expensive.

  54. Bingo Bango Boingo
    June 8th, 2009 at 23:03 | #54

    “the aboriginies knew it was dangerous for goodness sake…are we more backward now?”

    Wow! Even ‘the aboriginies’ knew?! Jeez, when even backward ‘aboriginies’ know something then it really must be super-obvious.

    That is some serious racism there, Alice.

    “I reject nuclear as a solution out of hand but the world is ruled by people who just arent as smart as me…!!”

    Oops, it was all satire. I take back the racism charge. Apologies.


  55. philip travers
    June 8th, 2009 at 23:22 | #55

    Alaskan Glaciers are advancing in size,according to a website,at DavidIcke.com .I am disappointed by the attitude that seems common when it comes to Fielding,who I don’t know is a Republican or not.Some people are ready to snipe at him for his Christianity,whereas,a little bit of thinking would suggest ,that as he is a qualified electrical engineer,he may not be perverse at understanding more complex issues,with an attempt at being honest to the Party base.I dont think he wants even his underpants shared in childhood to end up baked on a power line because of Global Warming…whereas he may find the evidence Australian Scientists seem to marketing to a home audience,and from selling Cadbury Chocolates knows how that is done too.It may be better all round to understand there is Algae that can grow in CO2 and Americans have been working on that from emissions from Coal fired power stations,and there is some Australian influence and early innovative Science thought, long forgotten by many but was in an original Australian science magazine, that wasn’t supported very well.I get flustered by the coal ,wind,Nuke,gas,tidal fluorescent Light LED etc. boreonians, when simply playing around at home with ,say, steel wool and an incandescent,will certainly, maybe produce heat!? Safely ,that is!? So if you were thinking about cooling and had a fan and a light globe,and thought about the coolgardie safe principle…as I have… hanging a wet towel over the fan cage. I might simply get round to finding a use for the light globe,where the the heat increases the likelihood of cooling. Maybe Metho or something in the coolgardie water up take cycle,creating hot and cold blows.Difficult! Referenda!?

  56. June 8th, 2009 at 23:29 | #56


    If, as you suggest, Bob Brown was removed from the Senate, his replacement would be another Green. Mr Brown in Tasmania, unlike Mr Brown in Britain (who under pressure may be pursuing dangerous moves), would increase his political status and that of the Greens enormously.

  57. Rationalist
    June 9th, 2009 at 07:08 | #57

    I was simply quoting an article saying that if he were to be declared bankrupt he can no longer serve in the Senate according to Senate rules.

    I am not a Greens voter and a lot of their policies cannot be applied to the real world but I don’t mind Bob Brown, I hope he gets his finances sorted and stays in the Senate to serve his full term.

  58. Alice
    June 9th, 2009 at 07:20 | #58

    @Bingo Bango Boingo

    Racist comment?? – Nonsense Bingo – thats a blatant misinterpretation of what I said – worthy of a bar room comment – if you cant argue the point throw some dirt instead?. You have excelled yourself in that argumentative tactic but its naive and obvious – the aboriginies knew about the dangers of uranium hundreds of years ago – its white Australia that is backward coming up with nuclear power as a solution.

  59. smiths
    June 9th, 2009 at 09:54 | #59

    andrew, it has been considered, over and over again,
    so for the record i’ll state once again why it always, always comes up short,

    1 – its dangerous to use
    2 – its not renewable
    3 – its not cheap
    4 – its not environmentally friendly
    5 – its got no workable, costable long-term waste management system
    6 – it is a security risk wherever it is stored, processed or used
    7 – it is uninsurable because of the RISK
    8 – it requires long-term price agreements at the beginning making it inflexible

    it has also undoubtedly led to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and possibly even worse, its byproduct – depleted uranium – is now a feature of war zones across the world, slowly poisoning air, water and soil, with an associated rise in cancer and leukemia

    so i want to know, what possible reason could anyone have for supporting it?

    oh, thats right, the basest reason of all, money

  60. Alice
    June 9th, 2009 at 10:06 | #60

    Of course Smiths but the rationalists will always support and “cost effectiveness” and “efficiency” (read money) as a motive over other concerns..(the extreme danger, the misuse for the ugliest weapons of any generation, the environment, future generations, etc etc). Money trumps all in their view but it doesnt go near trumping the negatives that dont ever get quantified.

  61. smiths
    June 9th, 2009 at 11:02 | #61

    on a different tack

    the monbiot piece ”
    For 300 years Britain has outsourced mayhem. Finally it’s coming home” is well worth reading

    as is the piece he quotes at the end
    “It’s Finished”

  62. June 9th, 2009 at 11:40 | #62

    Thanks for actually engaging here. Alice seems content to try to throw what she thinks are hand grenades but are really misinformed stereotypes.
    1. To me this difficulty can be overcome with an improved design – both of the reactor and fuel. If not, then we would be right to not use the technology. Of course, the danger (if any) of other options also needs to be considered.
    2. Solar energy is not renewable in the sense that the sun will blow up in about 4 billion years. There is enough uranium on the planet to keep us going for quite some time – as there is enough coal to keep us going for centuries. If renewability were the only concern then I feel we can safely leave that concern to our great-great grandchildren who may well be much more technically able than we are.
    3. Agreed – it is not when compared to coal. Compared to wind or solar the economics stack up quite well.
    4. In comparison to what? Compared to coal (and ignoring your point 1 for the moment) it is positively wonderful. Compared to gallium arsenide solar it may well be better. Again, this is always a trade-off.
    5. This is largely because of the political issue. There are good, long term storage options available. The Swedish system of vitrification and burying it in solid rock a couple of kilometres down is both technically feasible and, in Australia at least, likely to keep the waste stable for a billion or so years. If you run pipes around it you can also have what amounts to geothermal power.
    6. True – the risks exist. I believe that they can be mitigated, but, if not, this would be a valid reason not to use it.
    7. See 6.
    8. This is due to the cost issue, so see point 3.
    Nuclear power did not lead to nuclear weapons. The record here is clear: the causation is the other way around. Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt pointed out the possibilities of a nuclear weapon and funding was given. Fermi’s initial nuclear plant (on a basketball court) was intended to provide the raw material for the bomb.
    As for DU – whatever we do it is going to be around for centuries now so we really should not (IMHO) base decisions on the power we use for the future on any mistakes we may have made in the past. That is not to say that this should not be part of the consideration – clearly as with other elements of security it should be – but it should not be a determinant.
    The “money” you so deride, smiths, is merely information and, like any other information, it has a part to play. I would never say that it should be the sole determinant, any more than any other information should be.

  63. Alice
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:20 | #63

    Andrew Says “Nuclear power did not lead to nuclear weapons…The record here is clear: the causation is the other way around”

    So why was is so much uranium smuggled out of Russia?


    To build energy or for more weapons in rogue nations Andrew? Chicken…egg? Doesnt matter which came first, its here and its ugly…and in the long term it will prove even more so. So much for nuclear non proliferation treaties when Russians are carrying enriched uranium in their pockets across borders.

    another example from China

    “The Australia-China safeguards agreements rely on monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But the agency has little chance of keeping track of a system that even the Chinese Government cannot fully control. Brief visits to two large decommissioned mine sites, codenamed 711 and 712, and villages like Xinwuli, reveal a nuclear production system run by unaccountable officials and operated by naive peasants who will trade their lives to escape poverty.”

    People who think this can be controlled (by eg as Andrew mentions above, storage solutions, vitrification, proper procedures and technology) are part of yet another form of delusionism. The delusion that short term solutions can be controlled in the long term. They cant. Its an acutely dangerous substance period. Why not look for genuinely sustainable energy solutions, not “cheap inputs, profits now solutions” because thats the real rationale – cheap, dig it up, sell it, use it and dont worry about the future.

  64. philip travers
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:23 | #64

    The Reynold’s number seems to show some ability at intelligent responses,and,some rare elements of systems analysis.I certainly have wondered out aloud why it is that Australia’s waste nuke ,cannot be used whilst breaking down in half lifes.There doesn’t seem to be a tubular bells fan of high technical skills and patient explaining that reduces the risk for decent lifes.And the endless war against carbon dioxide seems to come with pipe mentionings only amongst those who would have it buried at sea.And my thoughts about the usefulness of CO2, cannot be attained for personal reasons…I dont own the companies,or more politely they own me,if what is happening to Bob Brown is some indicator.And no-one offered Fielding a chance to see the No Global warming lot,other than the magic carpet ride by ciggy interests!? I mean I can claim influence on the C.S.I.R.O with a use of a particular gas in wheat silos,and, maybe, how I warned of a potential fire risk in same usage of gas before a event that showed a very small volume of gases in a particular environment seemed to have implosive mass….that would continue to burn for some time.Cootamundra may never be the same…back to having a Neem Tea..the replacement for the gas, as Neem tree product except the bludging State Government wants GMO wheat..F them.And the local Council ,trust in amalgamated town halls,doesn’t come with deference to state governments for nothing.After all if you cannot gain status,you might as well go the tooth fairy road,but couldn’t they try getting a DIY plane kit together and talk to Men’sShed Movement before the great tooth fairy visit…to see if various skills etc.across the State cannot lighten the load by looking deeper into technical and real work functionalities..and have a piece of road in every town a landing site,with some pipes and other stuff to definitely let the rain find its memory a s water going into a pipe again.And has anyone tried,on a private road the placement of pipes of various circumference and distribution alongside a vehicle called generally a car.See you in the Choir when we all sing “Australian Government’s are uncreative and Piss Weak…so even if we were the Meek…it would take longer than a wet week to do something other than being the Sneak”

  65. smiths
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:24 | #65

    well i dont agree with you about costing Andrew,

    when you commit to a 30 year deal with say for example, westinghouse to build and co-run reactors in a country like australia, you commit to a guaranteed price over that period,

    in the meantime, with big effort and support great advances could be made in solar over the next ten years, you run the risk that in twenty years time there is technology available to provide very very cheap power but the government and the taxpayer have an expensive nuclear power network, an expensive thousand year waste problem and a giant multinational corporation whose interest does not align with the peoples, straddling this wide land

    as far as the ingredients in photo-voltaics being dangerous and needing to be mined, thats true, but none of them are as dangerous as nukes

    the real changes have to come from the way we live and work and use energy,
    a new generation of nuclear plants will not help this at all

  66. June 9th, 2009 at 12:53 | #66

    Absolutely, smiths – I would oppose any guarantee on costs between government and anyone at all. If someone chooses to build a nuke plant to supply power to me, they should be allowed to, subject to normal planning procedures. They then take the commercial risk and pay any insurance needed.
    If you thin we need to change our use of energy, then you should have to make that case. Go ahead.
    That is, to me, the whole point. The government should not be mandating a solution. Set any required carbon pricing system (if you want to go that way) and then let the people decide by making their own decisions on where they buy any power. If solar is the one they want to buy, solar will win. If it is wind – great. If they are willing to pay for stable, long term power then they may choose nuclear – or CCS if it ever becomes viable.
    If Westinghouse want to take the risk of building one then it is their own risk.

  67. smiths
    June 9th, 2009 at 14:01 | #67

    Government measures to reflect external benefits of new nuclear generation might take one or more of several possible measures. These might be direct financial incentives, such as tax allowances, or direct grants, probably financed at least in part by electricity
    Such support might apply to construction, or to operation, or to the initial
    costs associated with the planning inquiry or, much more substantially, the licensing. Or they might include less direct financial support such as government guarantees of some bank or bond financing.
    The most important of possible government measures to adapt the regulatory regimes would be to reduce the market uncertainty, by, for example, underwriting or requiring some minimum level of procurement of electricity from the new station over a long period.

  68. June 9th, 2009 at 16:21 | #68

    Interesting, smiths. Your point? My position on this is clear, I thought – and I would, with respect of course, disagree with that report. There should be no government incentives – nor any undue disincentives.

  69. Salient Green
    June 9th, 2009 at 18:53 | #69

    AR said “The government should not be mandating a solution”
    That sounds wacky to me. Why not? If Govt sees a potential for a certain technology to fill a need why shouldn’t they mandate it? Any fool can see that solar power has huge potential for low fuss energy generation and major efficiency improvements and deserves to be mandated, along with wind and wave power.
    If the Govt decides our economy or security depend on having nuclear power they have every right to mandate that as well.
    You seem to think the ‘market’ should be governing us. That’s like having a computer running our lives. It’s dumb and so is the market. Some of our politicians aren’t too smart or ethical either but at least they have some commonsense.

  70. JimS
    June 9th, 2009 at 19:30 | #70

    According to Wikipedia, the Queen’s Birthday holiday in Australia celebrates the birthday of King George III (or at least, that’s how it seems—bad writing).

  71. June 9th, 2009 at 19:44 | #71

    The history of the “any fool” argument is not a good one. Your second paragraph shows that – if the government decided (like the French did) that “any fool” knew that power should come from nuclear then it has the right to over-ride people like Alice just because they used the “any fool” argument? That is what sounds wacky to me.

  72. smiths
    June 9th, 2009 at 19:55 | #72

    my point andrew, is that although your position is clear it is like a phantasmagorical vision of how you would like things done,
    i linked to the uk-sdc document because it is a real world analysis for possible use by Britain in enacting new nuclear power plants,
    the history as far as it is publicly available shows that financiers and utility companies dont just say “hey we’ll build it, take the risks, and hope we can compete on an open market”
    invvariably the state is involved or the private companies extract huge concessions from the state or simply wipe any semblence of a free market for energy away

    but hey, thats capitalism … or is is socialism? its hard to tell the difference these days

  73. Alice
    June 9th, 2009 at 20:12 | #73

    I also find your argument “AR said “The government should not be mandating a solution”
    That implies that we should use nuclear energy simply because its there and the market knows that someone can dig it up and profit from it and if there are no controls then they will certainly do so, and the market will only supply the yellowcake to those willing to offer the highest price ipso facto if there is a market we dont need the government to mandate it and that justifies all?


    That is indeed a silly argument. Of course we need a government to mandate a solution here…preferably to leave the damn stuff in the ground everywhere. Not to build reactors when the market cant cover the risks adequately. Risks cannot be covered with nuclear use. Imagine if nuclear reactors and weapons were invented and built madly across every country 150 years ago? Not only would they be dilapidated but war has criss-crossed many continents since then, as have despot leaders whilst the uranium would have barely aged at all. Chances are we wouldnt be here now having this conversation.

    Risks? No price can cover the risks of uranium and therefore no costing is efficient. Investigate the arlarmingly high child leakemia rates in Southern Iraq from depleted uranium. That alone should make you aware of the need for government mandates. Only a fool or an ideologue would suggest the market can handle this one.

  74. Alice
    June 9th, 2009 at 20:16 | #74

    OK – how do you lot get pictures in that square icon?

  75. Salient Green
    June 9th, 2009 at 20:23 | #75

    AR, you’re distorting my argument. Nothing new there.
    Any fool can see the potential of solar. The value of Nuclear power is not so clear for many reasons already discussed but if Government wants it for reasons of it’s own, tied up with it’s own political goals, then of course it has the right to over-ride people who would run things differently like Alice who I’m sure would do a better job then you or either of the major parties.
    Your ideology is telling you the govt shouldn’t do this or that but the reality is that it is the Government and it will govern according to it’s vision until it’s turfed out in an election. A government doesn’t need ‘any fool’ to ‘see’ before it has the right to do things. The French Govt wanted a nuclear weapon, no ‘any fool’ argument needed or wanted.

  76. June 9th, 2009 at 20:25 | #76

    Andrew Reynolds wrote “Fermi’s initial nuclear plant (on a basketball court) was intended to provide the raw material for the bomb”.

    No, it was intended for the early research for that.

  77. June 10th, 2009 at 00:37 | #77

    More bombast. Are you going to try to make an actual point or are you content to simply assert that you are right, anyone that says anything different is simply wrong. So there.
    Not a very convincing argument.
    To get the picture in you need to register a gravatar – http://en.gravatar.com/

    invvariably the state is involved or the private companies extract huge concessions from the state or simply wipe any semblence of a free market for energy away

    Why is this invariate at the moment? Simple – governments have been mandating solutions. Result – big coal plants burning cheap (high sulfur) coal. “Any fool” knows they are the best. Any fool knows that solar is expensive. any fool knows that wind is expensive and kills birds.
    Problem is, of course, any fool may well be wrong.
    Perhaps the vision should be to allow people to mandate their own solutions.

  78. Freelander
    June 10th, 2009 at 02:27 | #78

    The constitutional monarchy is something that should be retained. Changing to a republic is dangerous. With a constitutional monarchy and the monarch’s representative, the monarch and representative have questionable authority which is good. It means that the monarch or representative can throw a government out and call for an election when there is a legitimate case to do so, and in this case they will be followed. If they try to do something illegitimate like launch a coup, they are unlikely to be followed. Under the republican model, the president or whomever has too much legitimacy and this has lead to problems in many countries where this model has been followed. The Australian constitutional monarchy could be improved by a modification to the Australian constitution to make it a crime punishable by death for the Monarch, his or her heirs or successors to set foot in Australian territory. This would protect Australia from having to pay for these bludgers. If the British Monarchy ceases then we should still have Governor-Generals and just go on pretending that they are being appointed by the British Monarch. Why tinker with something that is working so well? The only thing we need to fix is the leakage of public revenue due to Royal visits.

  79. carbonsink
    June 10th, 2009 at 09:48 | #79

    A message for Ian Gould:
    - Yes GDP was positive in Q1, but largely due to a collapse in imports, export volumes holding up thanks to Chinese stockpiling of iron ore, a weak currency and pre-GFC contract prices. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Chinese New Year.
    - April trade data was ugly. May will be uglier. June uglier still, as the AUD appreciates and new contract (lower) prices kick in.
    - As for the Baltic Dry Index, well I think you should read this.

  80. smiths
    June 10th, 2009 at 10:13 | #80

    testing gravatar (please ignore)

  81. smiths
    June 10th, 2009 at 10:14 | #81

    hey i am sorry andrew but i dont really understand what you are saying in your last response to me

  82. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 11:00 | #82

    It might be a nice little trick to get me to hand over my email address for one of these cute gravatars but what then? Does the gravatar then track where I visit and deluge my nice clean email account with bucket loads of spam?
    Im not sure about this gravatar thingy but you do have a funny face Andrew.

  83. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 11:17 | #83

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Andrew – if you think I am being bombastic about the risks of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons…here is a listing of convincingly ugly accidents.

    Letting the market mandate its own solutions with uranium is a fools paradise.

    How ugly and big a disaster do you need to convince you that not mandating govt control over yellowcake extraction or use is preferable, after reading this lot?

  84. smiths
    June 10th, 2009 at 11:20 | #84

    alice, anyone that wants to look at where you visit on the web, the insides of your computer, and all interrelated information already can,
    not only does google track every search you make, but most sites tarck your presence and sell that back to google or someone like that,

    the concept of privacy is not compatible with any kind of web presence

    one more registration to have a cute pic will make zero difference

  85. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 11:30 | #85

    Smiths – ta for that. But Smiths….you need a better gravatar…LOL! That one is too grey, too ugly, and too hard to see!

  86. June 10th, 2009 at 13:23 | #86

    I have had agravatar on this account for some time and have received no more than the usual amount of spam – which has probably originated from other sources. I obviously cannot (and would not) guarantee that it is no problem, but it seems fine.
    If you are worried and want to have one, then you could open a hotmail (or gmail) account and use that for any potential spammy stuff.
    On the point with nukes – of course there is not zero risk. There is a risk involved in crossing the road or getting out of bed in the morning. The number of deaths through coal mining, for example, are huge compare the the number of deaths from the civilian use of nuclear power. The mining activities needed to produce the materials for solar panels are not risk free – nor is the process of putting up wind turbines, mining the iron or putting n wave generators.
    The risk in all cases needs to be evaluated and assessed. The fact that someone could drown should not lead us to discard wave generators out of hand. Why do you argue the opposite for nuclear power?

  87. Salient Green
    June 10th, 2009 at 14:36 | #87

    Smiths #31, I think AR was responding to me going by the rhetoric but I don’t understand him either.

    AR, here’s an example of a Govt mandating because it can and should.
    The headline is ‘City Of Austin Mandates Home Energy Ausdits To Avoid Building New Power Plant.’ By your ideology of let the market decide, most people would not want to pay for the audit and subsquent upgrades which means that the state would incur a cost of several billion dollars for a new power station so that the people could continue to waste power and money. I think you can see a major problem with that ideology.

  88. Socrates
    June 10th, 2009 at 14:40 | #88

    There is an article here that claims the real reason for teh GFC was teh oil price shock that was coincident with it:

    I doubt this is true, but does anyone else have a view?

  89. June 10th, 2009 at 14:44 | #89

    No – I just used your wording to show how rediculous the “any fool” line of argument is.
    On your precise point in the most recent comment – I would not agree that it should be mandated. That does not mean I do not think it should occur. On the personal level I think it is a good idea to have an energy audit. When we recently built a new home I had the design checked for energy efficiency and that worked nicely. Should the governmen force me to do it? No. Should I do it? I believe so.
    Can you see the difference?

  90. smiths
    June 10th, 2009 at 15:36 | #90

    i wouldnt touch gmail with a barge pole, google is the spider at the heart of the web, steer clear,
    for searching try scroogle, like google except scrubbed of records

  91. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 15:42 | #91

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Andrew – thanks for the ingo on aggravators – now I just have to find one that adequately reflects my inner (and outer naturally) beauty!

    Re your comment “The fact that someone could drown should not lead us to discard wave generators out of hand. Why do you argue the opposite for nuclear power?”

    Major reasons – mans incompetence (and man is fallible) can result in a) Chernobyl and b) three mile island and c)maralinga d) bikini atoll and then there are all those hideous spills into waterways including drinking water supplies and lost and dropped nuclear warheads and near meltdowns. Do we really know how many people are growing cancer right now as a result? No, we dont. How much productive land has been lost already? Thats reason enough for me. It cant be measured and it can take generations to get rid of the deformities and causes much suffering to people who had nothing to do with the production of nuclear. On the scale of things, one person drowning doesnt come anywhere near the horrors of nuclear, and thats just so far.

  92. Salient Green
    June 10th, 2009 at 15:47 | #92

    AR, any fool can see the difference but that’s not the issue. The issue is which works in the real world, mandating or letting the market decide. In the real world, mandating often works better. In Andrew Reynolds world, let the market decide always works because there is only Andrew and Andrew only does the right thing.
    If there is a mandate for something you believe you should do, what’s the problem? If you don’t agree with the mandate that’s fine too. If you think the govt should not mandate something because you or others may not agree with it, then you have a problem with authority.

  93. Rationalist
    June 10th, 2009 at 16:04 | #93

    a) Chernobyl – problem was Communistic incompetence and poor design.
    b) Three Mile – wasn’t particularly serious, non issue.
    c) Maralinga – what was the issue there? I don’t think there is an issue.
    d) Bikini Atoll – unfortunate product of nuclear weapons testing. Shrug.

  94. June 10th, 2009 at 16:48 | #94

    The problem is actually reversed. In the government’s world there is only the government and it always does the right thing. If they get it wrong then we, as taxpayers, pay for it – or we have to deal with the consequences. Good examples – Bikini, Maralinga, Chernobyl – all of which resulted in uncontrolled release of radioactive material. The best (worst) that Alice could come up with from private sources was Three Mile Island.
    Even that list Alice kindly linked to – almost all of the serious issues were in (surprise) government facilities.
    Given the record, who would you trust to run a nuclear plant? seriously – if we were to have a nuclear plant, and we had a choice on it being privately or government run, given the record, who would you trust? Surely, any fool would choose the government. A sensible person may look elsewhere.
    I appreciate that this is seperate from the issue of whether we should have them at all – one I am still uncertain about. You may well be right that going nuclear makes no sense – but I still think it should be considered and the risks analysed.

  95. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 17:18 | #95

    rationalist – even though Chernobyl couldnt excatly be described as tip of iceberg – see link at #33.
    Is that all you have to say..? No Chernobyl wasnt serious because it was due to communistic incompetence and poor design and you think the communists hada monopoly on incompetence or poor design or industrial accidents (it was a disaster on a monumental scale) and so was Three Mile Island and of course people got cancer from Maralinga. Try telling the servicemen posted there and the aboriginies they ignored that there was no problem with Maralinga.

    Thats my point – no-one has a monopoly on man’s stupidity – let man be stupid, make poor designs, have accidents or be incompetent with something less dangerous.

    Amazed at the shrug.

  96. Donald Oats
    June 10th, 2009 at 17:41 | #96

    The Chernobyl experience was triggered unintentionally – and I sincerely hope that could have gone without saying – during a safety procedure check of number four. My memory is hazy on it now, but I’ll hazard a guess that the reactor design was one known as a “positive coefficient” design. To put it simply, a failure of coolant in the right set of circumstances could lead to a run, and when the engineers performed their test they inadvertently, if rather spectacularly, verified precisely what the correct circumstances were :-(

    Those engineers without fatal radiation burns went on to learn about “negative coefficient” designs, highly motivated as they were.

    While the death toll and human illness resultant from Chernobyl is hard to quantify, it certainly wasn’t zero. The inconvenience of having to leave their homes in Pripyat for good, and the fallout over a such a large area, is a high price to pay for a bit of electricity. The Welsh farmers weren’t too happy at having to destroy animals and discard milk produce; but given the radioactive particulate matter had made it that far from the Ukraine on the prevailing winds, the local government gave them little option. Sweden, IIRC, detected Chernobyl by having local nuclear workers tripping off the radiation alarms at their site. Nuclear particulate matter from Chernobyl had blown over and dusted the Swedish workers.

    Nuclear reaction designs are much better now than 1986 in a communist state. However don’t be so complacent as to treat nuclear power as safe as houses. It isn’t.[The various accounts of the tragic lead-up to number four open-topping reveals just how complex the nuclear reactor power plant and distribution facilities are when considered as a system.]

    BTW, many nuclear contingent events go largely unreported. The news stories are there if you look for them though. Check out Japan’s record, or the UK for example. One small-scale but quite revealing event occurred along a UK motorway; a truck carrying nuclear fissile material had the vessel improperly sealed. The radiation beam was, according to the report at least, pointed directly down at the road, and not into traffic. Human error was trumped only by dumb luck in this case.

    In terms of realised risk though, for point of comparison I have been in five (nonfatal, so far) car accidents, only one as a driver. I haven’t knowingly been the victim of a nuclear power industry accident – yet. Then again there are cars everywhere I go…

  97. June 10th, 2009 at 17:45 | #97

    Any one that can claim the Three Mile Island was “a disaster on a monumental scale” clearly has not read anything other than – I don’t know what you could have read to get that impression. I take it that you are not claiming this, but I cannot read your comment any other way.
    As you keep on about Maralinga I will look at this more deeply. Maralinga was a series of nuclear tests undertaken before there was a good knowledge of the persistent effects of radiation on living tissue. Yes – they should have taken more precautions, even based on what they knew then, but to use that to try to argue against a modern nuclear plant is really just (IMHO) silly. You might as well argue that the fact that a building can burn down means we should not use coal.

  98. Donald Oats
    June 10th, 2009 at 19:22 | #98

    Good choice of gravatar, Andrew Reynolds. Must get an aggravatar…sorry, a gravatar.

    Three Mile Island was a Level 5 nuclear event. Chernobyl was the highest, level 7.

    Maralinga, 1953 or thereabouts, involved nuclear fission detonation, at ground, by the British. Australian – and presumably some British – soldiers were not only exposed, but were knowingly exposed. Radiation sickness from many cases had been documented before Maralinga tests. The DNA damage wasn’t known then (Crick, Watson and Rosalind Franklin had some work to do on X-Ray crystallography before figuring out DNA) as far as I am aware, although genetic damage definitely was. Some high profile examples are Madame Curie, Henry Dagnian, Louis Slotin (Robert Jungk, “Brighter than a thousand Suns”,Ch 12 (1987)), tens of thousands of Japanese, etc.
    The British knew, as did our government, the fact that watching a nuclear explosion up close and personal is a dangerous sport. Nobody cared much for the Aboriginal occupants of the hot zone, although there is a placque at ground zero, IIRC. When the inevitable chronic illnesses and cancers started occurring, the government played dumb. Unfortunately demonstrating a causal relation b/n witnessing a detonation close-up, and cancers some years down the track, is only possible in a statistical sense. Any one individual might have developed illness or cancer anyway, or so the denialist-101 argument goes. [Sound familiar?]

  99. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 19:37 | #99

    @Donald Oats
    Thankyou Donald.

  100. Alice
    June 10th, 2009 at 19:47 | #100

    And Andrew and Rationalist – Im fast getting the opinion that neither of you have done the important background material readings on any of these nuclear events. There is no other explanation for your lack of wariness.

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