Friday, 15 August 2008

Was Monbiot right?

Monbiot set greens alight with his recent comment: "I have now reached the point at which I no longer care whether or not the answer is nuclear." He repeated this on Newsnight to a gloating Malcolm Wicks who accused Monbiot of being a slow learner. Monbiot qualified his statement on Newsnight with a series of ifs: not paid for by tax payers, safe storage and decomissioning sorted out etc. He states that he wants carbon replaced with anything and replaced quickly. Monbiot's blog goes on to mention recent reports that show that our current electricity supply can be fully replaced by a range of renewables.

So has George sold out? Has he backed nuclear?

Firstly, the qualifying statement that taxpayers should not pay: as no insurance companies will underwrite nuclear at present (and certainly not on a 250,000 year policy), the only logical assumption is that governments (taxpayers) will pay. If the company pays in the short term, these costs are pushed on to consumers (taxpayers) anyway. Head they win tails we lose. This all conspires to prevent nuclear being affordable...

Secondly, safe storage and decommissioning: having to store spent nuclear fuel for 250,000 until it is safe is a bit difficult. Humans have been around for maybe 100,000 years. A guarentee that storing anything like nuclear fuel for that time period is plainly nonsense. Guaranteeing it for 20 years is almost impossible.

These are just two of the arguments that the green movement has continually used against nuclear power. You could easily suggest that all greens would be happy with nuclear if all the problems were eliminated.

I don't think Monbiot was being that radical... and I don't think he was backing nuclear.

What is very sad was that Monbiot didn't rip Wicks to shreds with his slow learner quip.

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