"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Nuclear Debate

as the Irish Times sees it:

Nuclear energy 'the safest of all'

Sellafield: the Cumbrian nuclear facility remains contentious
It is time for Ireland to get real about the looming global energy crisis - that means building not just one but a cluster of nuclear power plants, argues Dr Edward Walsh

"Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources.

"We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one-third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen...

"By all means, let us use the small input from renewables sensibly, but only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy."

These statements are made by James Lovelock, Britain's premier environmental scientist and a founder of Greenpeace. It is echoed by Sir David King, chief scientific adviser to the UK government and supported by a range of professional and scientific bodies of high standing that have studied the facts.

continued... The Irish Times

as far as I can tell James Lovelock was not a founding member, but still an extremely influencial environmentalist.

anyway, the other side of the debate offered:

Nuclear power not an option

It rained heavily that weekend, writes Fintan O'Toole. The first indication that the radioactive cloud had reached Ireland came from an air filter sample taken in Glasnevin, Dublin, on the Saturday.

There was something in the air: iodine-131, caesium-137, caesium-134, ruthenium-103, ruthenium-106, tellurium-132, barium-140: all radioactive isotopes. There was also a small amount of plutonium. The level of caesium-137 was about 40 times higher than it had been before the cloud arrived. The rain carried these radioactive particles down into the soil, increasing tenfold the amount of radioactive caesium that was already there from nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s.

Soon, testing of milk samples was showing that there was a significant level of radioactive contamination, especially from farms in the south midlands and in the northwest. The levels of iodine-131 in milk in Ireland dropped gradually throughout May, and had virtually disappeared by the end of the month.

But contamination with caesium was still detectable as late as October. It was especially noticeable in cheese and in milk powders of the kind that is used to make baby formula.

continued... The Irish Times

and the alternative:

Ireland ignores need for renewable energy at its peril

The Government needs to shake up its act and take a serious look at alternative energy, writes Enda Kenny

Most modern alarm clocks have a feature called the snooze button. It shuts off the alarm for a few minutes and lets the sleeper snooze a while longer.

If you keep pressing the snooze button, you can stay in bed all day. When it comes to Ireland's energy policy, and especially our over-reliance on oil, this Government still has its pyjamas on.

In 2003 the price of a barrel of oil stood at around $35. Last year, and again last week, it exceeded $70. Many economists warn that the days of $100 per barrel of oil may not be too far away.

continued... The Irish Times

recommended reading at RealClimate.org

And here's an interesting journal of journeys through Chernobyl: