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Posted: Thu May 19, 2005 10:27 pm
Back in the 70s we had a Labour government thatstopped all new mines and so I think there are on ly a couple producing. There is a lot under aboriginal land and I think they are keen to develop them for the financial side. To my knowledge the aboriginals have not been used as miners.
Posted: Sat May 21, 2005 6:52 pm
First..I should say that I have no personal knowledge of power stations, nuclear or otherwise, neither do I have any actual knowledge of the efficiency of the various "renewable" energy resources or the real cost of their production.
But I'm not going to let a little lack of knowledge stop me from commenting!
I do know, however, that one of the basic laws of physics states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It merely changes its form. Using that as a basis, nuclear power is no different from coal or oil power. We dig something out of the ground, we extract a minute amount of its energy, we chuck away the energy we can't deal with. To say that nuclear power is 'clean' is merely to say that nuclear power stations don't produce smoke and an obviously 'dirty' output. They do, however, produce a not obviously 'dirty' output - nuclear waste. It might not pollute our skies and our lungs, but it sure as hell pollutes somewhere in the world with something much more insidious than soot! And as the website above painfully states, nuclear miners suffer as much, if not more, as mineral miners. And last but not least, it is still a finite resource.
Which leaves us with the 'renewable' energies. These are energies that are naturally produced (converted) by nature: wind, water, solar. Normally these energies just bounce around and are absorbed by the earth, the plants and the animals - sometimes unnoticed, sometimes, as with photosynthesis or our own vitamin D production, we notice it. Although not renewable in the strict Physics sense, they are considerably less finite than nuclear power or mineral power. (It's an interesting thought that if we were to use vast amounts of solar energy, would the earth cool down noticeably? Would we all get rickets? I digress...)
My personal utopia is one where these renewable energies are harvested locally - each household/business producing its own power. Some will produce more than they use, some will produce less. The concept of a National Conglomerate We Produce Power For You is a thing of the past; we all produce it, we all sell it, we all buy it from each other. Yes there would have to be some kind of overseeing body, but I envisage it rather like the internet: no-one owns it, but there are rules and there are enforcer of those rules.
I would like to see as much money being spent into researching the most efficient way of harvesting these renewable energies, as is spent trying to clean up oil/nuclear waste and selling the myth that everything is hunky dory to the general public. I'd like to see the money that is spent on keeping the car industry booming being spent on research that says "cars themselves are ok...it's just the fuel you use that's the problem, let's find a way to keep everybody as happy and healthy as possible."
Most of all I want to shout out loud in the middle of the Old Kent Road: "Do you people realise the petrol's going to run out in 50 years?!" "Hello!!!! Wake up and smell the empty petrol tank!".
Hmm...it's Saturday evening and I'm ranting on a bulletin board....sorry...
Posted: Sat May 21, 2005 8:30 pm
'Most of all I want to shout out loud in the middle of the Old Kent Road: "Do you people realise the petrol's going to run out in 50 years?!" "Hello!!!! Wake up and smell the empty petrol tank!".
Hmm...it's Saturday evening and I'm ranting on a bulletin board....sorry... '
Good, have a rant...
We are listening!
Posted: Mon May 23, 2005 7:30 am
alcina wrote:Most of all I want to shout out loud in the middle of the Old Kent Road: "Do you people realise the petrol's going to run out in 50 years?!" "Hello!!!! Wake up and smell the empty petrol tank!".
Look at it this way... if current attitudes prevail, it will probably be a lot safer to do that in 50 years, when people are no longer able to whizz up and down the Old Kent Road in their hydrocarbon fuelled death machines!
Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:37 pm
I'm new here and going through the darker corners of the forum came across this.....and just have to comment - sorry - I know its old.
We in the UK have a backward energy policy, oil is running out, gas is running out - such that we are looking to import the stuff via a long russian pipeline. Our nuclear power station capacity is declining as stations are decommissioned, in about 7 years there will be only 1 at Sizewell.
Renewables are great and should have their place, but currently can't support a baseload capacity (Hydroelectric schemes are generally fast on power but time limited, wind is <30% efficient - no wind no power.) I would like to think wave and tidal could provide some baseload in the future but the technology is not there yet. Soooo.....we are going to be dependent for our energy on russian gas, french imported electricity (which is 75% nuclear), or foreign oil/coal generating stations which are "dirty" in most senses of the word. Technology exists to clean up the discharges but is very expensive and effectively makes it uneconomic.
I have some very large wind turbines near me, and have watched the damn things spring up all around the north of Scotland. They have their place but are primarily constructed and economic to operate due to enormous subsidies, and even then their performance is pretty limited. I like the sound of windpower but on a small local scale rather than 300ft 25 turbine developments which in themselves spoil the environment......
I get really wound up by so called environmental groups spouting that renewables/wind are the answer to everything without tackling the issue of baseload - the policy is not realistic, I have said so to Greenpeace by email and discussion and asked about alternatives without any meaningful answer.
A nuclear power station generates a huge amount of energy for a very small area footprint. The discharges are very low, some of the wastes are undoubtedly very hazardous but are small in volume (accepting the UK needs a better way of dealing with this too long term) - and believe it or not the risks presented from operating a modern nuclear plant are miniscule.
It's not a vote winner to build nuclear, but I don't see any real alternative technology for the next 30-40 years (by which time fusion will hopefully be on the scene).
Saving energy and renewables are great aims but will only go some way to sorting our energy problems. I hope the government comes up with a viable energy policy and does something before the lights go out - because they will if nothing is done.
Such is my confidence in the government, I have a small generator (powered by biodiesel) and will be installing a small domestic wind turbine/battery/inverter system over the next couple of years. But then again I do live in the middle of nowhere and the lights go out sometimes anyway
localisation of renewables (small domestic scale solar/wind schemes) makes a lot of sense to me.
Peace and goodwill to all!
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 12:34 am
Hi Mick, and welcome to the forum.
I hate the sight of those whirling windmills that are ruining the beauty and amenity of the countryside. The city demands it and the countryside pays. And I worry about tidal energy - we are learning from tidal defences on certain parts of the coast that if you mess with tidal patterns it can have drastic effects a little further along. But it's early days yet, so maybe my worries are unfounded. I think small, domestic wind turbines could reslove a lot. An installation grant may persuade a lot of people to install one. It would save them some money on their bills, and I don't see why a bicycle wheel-sized turbine on every urban chimney stack would be any more offensive to the eye than a satalite TV dish. That level of production would make them efficient and cheap to produce. I haven't done the sums, but if half the available houses in the cities did this it may make significant inroads into our energy consumption.
But it would take control away from the energy companies - that could be big bucks to big investors, who carry a lot of weight (direct and indirect) with the decisions of The People In Power.
But I am 100% against nuclear power. Its intrinsic links to nuclear weaponry is undeniable. The high grade waste that doesn't make it into warheads is often shuttled around the world, countries happy to dispach it to somewhere else, but none too happy to recieve it, and in the end nobody knows what to do with it, and everybody is scared to death of it. It's interim storage is so long term that no one can possibly have a proper plan for it. And we seem to have lost track of how much of this hugely toxic stuff there is in circulation, but it seems certain that a good deal of it has gone missing.
According to a letter in The Idependent newspaper last week, the oft-repeated claim that nuclear energy is clean is to be found wanting. There is no truly safe way to extract the raw material from the ground, and the whole cycle of uranium mining, ore milling, conversion, enrichment, fabrication and then waste treatment, conditioning and transport, is highly energy intensive and produces a great deal of CO2. So it is not even true to say it is carbon free.
The selling point of nuclear energy is a neat little power station without a smoke stack. It's a con. The damage it does happens elsewhere, and to other people (for now). We shouldn't be prepared to settle for that.
The real problem is consumption. Electricity wasn't even available to most people in the developed world 80 years ago. Why have we allowed ourselves to become so dependent on it? It seems to me that it is all down to Consumerism. Somehow, it seems to have got mixed up with democracy and now we don'rt seem to ba able to tell them apart. So upon the alter of Freedom Of Choice we are sacrificing the world. How can we be so stupid?
Time and again we hear that it is the consumer who makes the choice about what we consume. Well I just don't buy that any more; the producers, the big chains and the supermarkets all control our buying habits more subtly and cleverly than we have realised. It is not fair to blame the consumer for it all - the investors, the producers and the sellers must face their share of the blame, too.
I firmly believe that the Argos catalogue is the handbook of Satan; Walmart is the cathedral. Why do we need all that STUFF? Why do we need so many tumble driers, bread makers, treadmills, electric coffee grinders, pressure washers, digital bathroom scales, paper shredders, mini coolers, popcorn makers, billion channel big screen TVs, electric lawn scarifiers, watches that go bleep... Because it's the consumer's right to choose; you buy 'em, we'll make 'em. The public wants what the public gets. There are huuuuge financial profits to be made, and there is an environmental and human debt at every stage of the manufacturing, distributing, selling, using and disposing of it all.
These things, we are told, mean we have a better standard of living. But not one scrap of it has added one iota to the quota of human happiness. Are there any less wars, have we got more time for each other, have suicide levels dropped, are levels of respect and happiness any higher yet, is poverty eliminated, have we done away with loneliness, do parents spend more time with their children..? In what way are we, as individuals, as a community, as a nation, as humanity, living better?
We have got ourselves firmly entrenched in a cycle of consumption, production, growth, consumption. The Economy depends upon it. And the life blood of it all is energy.
Personally, I think the best thing for us might be if the lights do go out. It would be tough for a while, maybe a generation or two. But we know we can live without energy production - we've done it for thousands of years; we're still not sure if we can survive with energy production.
Oh, look, my computer's been on all this while; I'd better turn it off and go and make a cup of tea and watch some TV while the bread maker does its stuff.
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:33 am
Brilliant! Excellent! This is just what I have been ranting about for years but all my family and and friends just call me a Luddite. I dont want STUFF or THINGS or GADGETS. The OM says it makes jobs but at what cost? The health of the planet, thats what. How long will it take for people to realise that owning things does not bring happiness, and 42 tv channels are nothing compared to family.
My mother admitted last week that they were happier during the war than people generally are now. I want to stand up and shout STOP - WE ARE LIKE LEMMINGS - rushing towards oblivion without thinking.
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:36 am
I absolutely agree with Muddypause and Lyds!
Being generally of an optimistic nature, although the scenario looks pretty grim from where we're standing (seems the majority of society hasn't cottoned on yet) - we should take heart.
There is a groundswell of people, like those on this forum, and many others, visible in places like the Downsizer forum and environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace etc., all of whom are working ceaselessly towards evolving into a more sustainable world.
I know it's frustrating not being able to convince people to consume less energy and material possessions - I think the only effective way is to lead by example. Even if you persuade just one person to live more sustainably it will be worth it - eventually we'll reach critical mass and it will become the norm...
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 12:11 pm
I prefer the term - Neoluddite for myself!
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:27 pm
Neoluddite, hmmm, I think I like it. In fact I'm going to adopt the termfor myself, thanks Wombat
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:42 pm
Thanks for the welcome muddypause. I agree with a lot of what you said but I still think nuclear power stations will be built - its a matter of when.
You might be 100% against (as I guess many people are) but I still don't see a real national alternative....I think the negatives you quote are exaggerated (but a common perception)...and I could rabbit on for pages about it but I guess we are all entitled to free speech and our opinions. I have worked in the industry, on safety, environmental assessment, waste management and decommissioning - I know the pro's and con's and am far from blind to the negatives.
As for neoluddism - well I'm happy to disown that
but there is a balance to be struck in the name of sustainability - and that isn't right at the moment. (Pointless consumerism is not part of the balance!)
Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 12:45 am
midgemagnet wrote:Thanks for the welcome muddypause. I agree with a lot of what you said but I still think nuclear power stations will be built - its a matter of when.
I'm not sure it's a certainty - as you say, it's probably a vote loser ATM, though it would enable us to continue consuming more and more without needing to reassess our lifestyles. But if it does happen, I don't think we'll be thanked by future generations.
As a bit of an aside (not really related to energy generation in this context) I was thinking how 'electric-motor-happy' we have become - a modern car probably has 30 or 40 electric motors in it, when you consider seat adjusters, windows, remote mirrors, fans, fuel pumps, central locking, headlight wipers, screen washers...