Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trying to stay afloat - and taking on Monbiot

© 2011 Joshua Stark

Work and life can really take from one's blogging time...  I wish I could say that the World has had no environmental ethics dilemma as of late, and that's why I've been so sparse in blogging, but alas, that is not the case.

So, one fairly quick comment on some recent environmental conversation, hopefully to get my writing juices flowing.

George Monbiot, prominent environmentalist, has changed his mind about nuclear power, in light of what has happened at Fukushima.  His article, "Seven Double Standards", is a strong defense for nuclear, though he hasn't convinced me.  He is catching a lot of flak for his position - undeservedly so, as I truly believe he is looking out for the world's interests.

Still, he hasn't convinced me to support nuclear.  His major argument, that if we eliminate nuclear as an option, we will turn to the far dirtier, people-killing coal, is true, but not inevitable.  He conveniently leaves out both the option to turn to other renewables and more importantly, conservation.  His idea that if Fukushima is the worst that can happen then nuclear is sound makes a point - to which I counter, a massive failure of a nuclear plant in a sparsely populated corner of the world's most technologically advanced country is not the worst that can happen.  The worst that can happen is a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant near a massively populated region of one of the world's least technologically advanced countries.  Of course, that could only happen if that country has enemies crazy enough, and of course, India is loved by all, right?

Even the article I link above, though generally well-written, completely ignores conservation, and makes a stretch about some other ideas (his last double-standard makes a wonderful argument against nuclear that I hadn't even considered, for example).  But, he is right about coal:  It is far, far worse than today's best nuclear options.

The question is:  Where should we be spending our resources for our future production?  I say, we should be focusing on generation that doesn't include catastrophic failures either as a means of doing business (coal) or as a potential (nuclear, hydroelectric).  Thus, if it takes ten years to build either a good nuclear plant or a good solar plant, I choose the latter option.   

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