‘’I am less hostile to nuclear power than I used to be. I no longer believe
that uranium is about to run out or that the safe disposal of nuclear waste
new left review 45, may june 2007
I was some what taken aback when I come across this statement by Monbiot.
He led into this statement by saying
‘’ .. Like other environmentalists, I would be happiest if all the electricity
on the grid were supplied by means of renewable energy. But the wind
does not blow, the waves do not rise and the sun does not shine on
demand. In the uk, for example, electricity demand peaks between 5pm
and 7pm on winter evenings. Those who advocate turning the uk into
a solar economy would do well to take note of this. If we switched our
entire electricity-generating network over to variable sources of renewable
power, there would be a power cut whenever the wind or waves
dropped. There are a few ‘non-variable’ renewable sources, such as
biomass and geothermal energy, but their supply is limited (except in
Iceland)....if electricity users are not to be subject to repeated blackouts and equipment failure
(which would make our proposals politically unfeasible), the question must be answered.
Unless we discover a magical new source of fuel, it comes down to an
unfortunate choice between nuclear power and burning fossil fuel with
capture and storage.’’
His argument against a limit of the potential of renewable sources supplying a full power grid seems unduly pessimistic. He might have a point about the sun in Britain, but when do the waves drop in the North and Irish Seas and the Atlantic Ocean? And there’s some pretty windy areas in Britain as there is here in Australia.
Maybe George should take a look at David Bradbury’s film Hard Rain which demolishes any argument about nuclear power and uranium mining. Monbiot has written some excellent material about climate change but in posing nuclear power as an answer for energy needs, means that he’s really asking the wrong questions. A flaw with Monbiot’s work is that he never puts forward any argument for nationalising the polluters and having a massive public works campaign to develop renewable energy sources.