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Christine Milne: the economy must serve people and nature, not vice-versa

Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania and leader of the Australian Greens, was a crucial part of the Multiparty Climate Change Committee that designed Australia’s Clean Energy Future package. Since taking…

Greens MPs/Flickr

Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania and leader of the Australian Greens, was a crucial part of the Multiparty Climate Change Committee that designed Australia’s Clean Energy Future package. Since taking over from long-time leader Bob Brown earlier this year, Senator Milne has focused on business and on rural and regional communities - not the Greens' traditional strong points.

David Bowman, Professor of Environmental Change Biology at the University of Tasmania, spoke with Senator Milne about climate change, the triple bottom line, a new economy and whether there is really any point to the Greens.


David Bowman In two years time, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be about 400 ppm. According to the Greens' policy documents, the world should have an atmosphere with 350ppm. Many scientists think that we now probably have crossed very major thresholds which will have all sorts of unforseen and possibly unforseeable consequences. So really the question for a politician is, how do you prosecute your case if your opponents don’t believe in that?

Christine Milne Well, we continue to do so, but it is extremely frustrating to know what you do know and to take the science seriously and to have people say to you that it’s wildly exaggerated, it’s not true, and so on, when they haven’t even tried to read the science. They’ve made a decision to reject or ignore the science because it suits their world view.

Denialism has much more to do about values and world view than it has to do with actually understanding the science. So we should have been using the social sciences a lot sooner than we have been to work out ways of talking to people’s value systems rather than to their intellectual capacity.

I went through a period where I became deeply despondent about the consequences of what’s going on with global warming, and my rational mind said to me, it’s too late, that we’re on a trajectory for four to six degrees of warming. But 350ppm is much better than 450; we argued the point through the Multiparty Climate Committee, because the $23 price is based on a 550ppm trajectory. If we’d gone with 450, the price would have been over $50, and they wouldn’t even countenance the idea of doing any Treasury modelling around what a price would need to be to deliver 350.

So I went through a very bleak phase of thinking we’re just not going to make it as a planet - well, the planet will make it, but how humans survive and how ecosystems survive is another thing. And I’ve gotten through that by just simply taking the view that one has to keep arguing for it and doing everything we can, because it will be better than it otherwise would have been. Your optimism has to be there. Maybe we will gain momentum if enough people get to that point.

David Bowman How do you articulate a vision when, as far as I can tell, everything at the moment is about the fear of debt, the fear of costs, and - because it’s rained - it seems in Australia that climate change has just disappeared? You’re trying to take on two almost impossibly difficult arguments at once. One is to convince people of the seriousness of the global change problem. [The other is] an alternative economic model which just doesn’t seem to have any political support from anybody out there.

Christine Milne In terms of the new economy, the problem in Australia is that it’s almost impossible to bring about a change in the order of things when the vested interests fight like partisans to keep their vested interests in place. Those who believe in the new order are only lukewarm in their support of the new order. [As Machiavelli says], humankind doesn’t believe in new things until they’re actually delivered.

When I took over the leadership, one thing I wanted to do was to build a constituency in progressive business. For the first time in Australia we now have a critical mass of businesses - most of them small and medium-scale businesses but nevertheless a critical mass - which depend collectively on embracing a low-to-zero carbon economy: everything from architects designing green buildings, new building product, town planners, energy efficiency, the renewables space to environmental health.

But they are terrified to speak out. They’re all terrified that if they speak out, and there is a change of government, that they will be punished accordingly, and that they will fail to gain access. That the government programs which benefit them - for example, the renewable energy target or the like - will be significantly changed to their detriment.

David Bowman A lot of people talk about - disparagingly - green tape, as being a barrier to investment and possibly a barrier to innovation. How can the Greens deal with those tensions of a mixed economy, of the state knowing best, versus the fact that the market is able to find novel solutions?

Christine Milne It’s going to be a mixture always. Where we’ve gone wrong - the global financial crisis - it occurred not because of over-regulation but because of deregulation. There is a place for regulation and there is a place for the market, and the Greens have argued that strongly. That’s why I support emissions trading and don’t support Tony Abbott’s direct action plan - it just won’t deliver.

I am totally opposed to this nonsense of green tape. That is just a clever use of words to imply that environmental regulation is somehow hindering the ability to do business. Environmental regulation is actually protecting what is a public asset in the interests of the community. And what you’ve got business now doing, where they’re trying to get rid of environmental regulation, it’s because they want to do things which clearly are unsustainable.

We will be campaigning strongly coming into the Federal election to maintain levels of environmental protection that are consistent with the challenge of the century: sustainability. It is about slowing down the extraction of non-renewable resources and making the use of those non-renewable resources more efficient by pricing them more effectively.

David Bowman: Are Green parties logical? Wouldn’t it be ultimately better not to have a Greens party but just to have very strong environmental principles in all political parties? Do you see the Greens as just a transitional stage, rather than really a significant new development politically?

Christine Milne We have said for years that if the others became serious environmentalists then there would be less appeal as far as a Greens party is concerned.

But actually I think it’s become a fundamental difference. The Liberal and Labor parties in the Australian context - but it’s pretty much similar globally - emerged at a period when the Earth was free. There was a view in both sides of politics that the planet had an infinite capacity to give up resources, and an infinite capacity to absorb waste.

The politics emerged out of who should maximise the benefit from the transition of those free resources and dumping into atmosphere and ocean. Conservative parties took the view that those who owned the capital - the capacity to transform - had more of a right to the profits. And the workers became organised on the basis that they had a reasonable right to a share in the profits. But they are both taking the view that the Earth is free and infinite.

The Greens emerged in the 1970s, when there was beginning to be strong recognition that the Earth was not infinite in its capacity to give up resources or absorb waste. Out of that came the Brundtland Report. They came out of [the Brundtland process] basically saying there are only two real things - people and nature - and it is the interaction of those two that have to be sustainable. Economic tools have to better guarantee a sustainable relationship between the two.

How did we end up with economics suddenly having equivalence with people and nature? Brundtland went to the World Bank, and when it came out of the World Bank it came out as a triangle. Then you always had society and economy trading off against environment. And that has been the politics out of the whole sustainability debate for the last 20 years of the last century and the first decade of this one.

For the Greens, the sustainability of the planet as a home for us is central. You protect your environment as the basis for a sustainable society, one that is just and peaceful and so on. For both the Republicans and the Democrats in the US, for the Coalition and Labor in Australia and the same in the UK, the environment is just an add-on, they don’t get it as a central, absolutely underpinning feature.

The other parties do not have the same philosophical view or even a philosophical view about the environment underpinning everything else. They’re never going to be able to approach these issues with the integrity the Greens do and that’s why the Greens are growing this century.

David Bowman What is the balance between aspiration and ideology versus the pragmatics of politics? Do you think the Greens really want to be in these balance of power situations? Isn’t it a much more ideologically pure state to just be outside and having visions of how the world could be, rather than the grubby mechanics of how the world is?

Christine Milne Getting balance of power is much more important because you can actually deliver outcomes. The only reason we’ve got a clean energy package implemented in Australia is because the Greens got balance of power in both houses in the Federal Parliament last election. Both major parties went into that election saying they were not going to price carbon in this period of government, and it was only because of the agreement with the Greens that the Multiparty Climate Committee was set up and that we got the outcome that we did.

This is the first time in Australian politics where we’ve actually implemented what I would call an ecological financial arrangement. We are pricing pollution at $23 a tonne. People who had a $6000 tax-free-threshold, now it’s $18,200. Now there’ll be an awful lot of students around Australia and a lot of people working part time who probably didn’t earn more than 30-odd thousand or maybe 35 working part time, they will now get $18,000 of that tax free. So what a good outcome for the planet! We start getting pollution down and we start getting the pressure taken off people who are trying to make a different contribution.

The periods outside balance of power are when you do the work on the policy detail so that the minute you are in a position to implement it you actually know what to do.

David Bowman Tony Abbott seems to be staking his political credibility on the fact that he wants to abolish the carbon tax. So isn’t that a high-risk - because what would be the global significance of that, if these achievements are actually ultimately turn out to be reversed?

Christine Milne Well, it would be a terrible setback for a transition to a low-carbon, zero-carbon economy if the whole clean energy package was reversed, not only in Australia but yes I think there would be a significant flow-on effect - people around the world would throw up their hands. But you see I don’t think it’s going to happen.

The trouble for the Coalition is, where are they going to get the money? They say they are committed to a 5% reduction in emissions and they say they’re going to do it with their direct action plan. Now they’ve already said they’re not going to pursue the mining tax, so that’s going, and they’re not going to charge polluters for the pollution. So where is Tony Abbott getting the money from to pay the polluters?

The latest poll is saying people are going, “what was all that [the carbon tax uproar] about then? It hasn’t affected me at all, much”. Abbott has changed his position in the last couple of weeks and the focus is now not so much on carbon pricing, it’s gone back to “can you trust the government?”. So it’s gone back to integrity issues rather than carbon pricing because he’s not making way on carbon pricing. So I don’t think you’re going to see the Coalition going into next year without having significantly changed its position.

I think that many of the reforms we’ve achieved in this period of government - things like the Parliamentary Budget Office - those kinds of reforms will stay, and they’re there because of the Greens.

David Bowman So almost in conclusion, you’re arguing that the Greens are a reformist party rather than a revolutionary party?

Christine Milne Absolutely, we’re a reformist party. We’re going back to basics in terms of what is real on the planet. People and nature are real, the rest are constructs. Those constructs can be changed, and economic tools have to be changed in order for people and ecosystems to survive.

The full transcript of David and Christine’s interview is available here. In addition to what you’ve read, they discuss: genetically modified crops; land grabs in the developing world; how locally based agriculture can provide food security; uranium mining and nuclear waste disposal; how Tasmania could have (and maybe still can) provided a model for a post-resource Australia based on brains and high-quality products; how the tax arrangements from the clean energy bills are funding green buildings; the Coalition’s quiet backdown on the NBN; and how convening a panel of experts can help a government change its mind while saving face.

Join the conversation

403 Comments sorted by

  1. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Christine says..."we’re on a trajectory for four to six degrees of warming".

    Science says maybe 2! Therein lies the problem for the Greens and other alarmists. And what's with their continued denial of the benefits of nuclear power and GMO? Based on the interview above The Greens are a Flaky fringe group and with Milne at the helm they appear determined to they stay that way.

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    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Matthew Albrecht

      well Matt you are misinformed, seems that number is quite elastic and there are quite a few to choose from. For example:

      "Median 2.3 K and reduced uncertainty 1.7 to 2.6 K as the 66% probability range"
      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6061/1385

      Of interest is that those numbers are declining as more research is done and our understanding improves. One wonders just how low it can go.

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    2. William Pinskey

      Accountant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      correct. I assume you are referring to the "tipping point" whereby the earth warms up enough to melt the polar ice-caps, thereby releasing tons of methane into the atmosphere. It's called a "positive feedback loop". Look it up.

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    3. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to William Pinskey

      When I was still teaching as a geology professor I often taught an introductory class that included a fair amount of weather and climate. When the whole AGW nonsense came on the scene I caught holy hell from my greenie students for telling the class that I didn’t believe a word of the narrative. Day after day they beat up on me for not jumping on the AGW bandwagon and not wanting to save the planet. At the close of class one day I told them that long before the class started I’d adjusted the thermostate…

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Just when I think I've seen it all in relation to the idiocy spouted by AGW denialists, along comes a "retired geology professor" to prove that stupidity has no limits.

      Fortunately your humour provided a perfect response Peter :)

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    5. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Matthew Albrecht

      Exactly. If there are no error bars, standard deviations or other measures of statistical confidence included with the numbers given, you know it's not a real portrayal of real science.

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  2. John Coochey

    Mr

    We are told to believe the science or should that be the scientists? Tim Flannery the Chief Science Change Commissioner is on record as saying if all human activity ceased it could take a thousand years for any cooling to occur. Andy Pitman of the ANU was asked the same question on ABC 666 radio. He said twenty to thirty. When Ian Chubb, formerly ANU Vice Chancellor and now Chief Scientist went on air to "defend the science" he was asked the same question and who of the two was right? His answer was quote, "I would not have a clure, not a clue!" So if the Chief Scientist does not have a clue who does and whom should we believe?

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    1. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to John Coochey

      No he didn't. What he said was it would take a thousand years for the CO2 levels to come down to pre industrial levels, which is an entirely different thing....

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  3. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    I'm not sure about interviews with politicians, especially where the interviewer agrees with the interviewee, and feeds dorothy dixers.

    Is this 'independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers'?

    Would the Conversation carry a similar interview with a Labor, Liberal or National politician - along with the nice pic?

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    1. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Only ;last night did I hear Leigh Sale interviewing Abbott who was telling atrocious lies about the carbon price - which he kept calling a tax - and not once did she pull him up. The same with Waleed Ali, and others - and that's the ABC - no idea what the others are like because I can't be bothered watching or listening

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    2. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Agree James. These puff pieces offer little more than party propaganda. But then this is The Con after all. Perhaps in future pieces the voting history of the interviewer can form part of the disclosure statement. Somehow I can't see David Bowmen voting for a mainstream party. Perhaps he can prove me wrong.

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    3. Eric Glare

      HIV public speaker and volunteer

      In reply to John Newton

      John Newton, your account of Sale's interview with Abbott is the opposite of my recollection and the transcript online. She pulled him up all the way through about lying and misrepresentation and brought them together as a challenge to the point where some people might say she was disrespectful - take another look.
      "LEIGH SALES: But on questions of being loose with the truth, I've run you through three examples there on BHP, on the carbon tax and on asylum seeker boats where people would say you've been a bit loose with the truth."

      Yes, we need more challenge of such distortions but people need to remove their predjudice to hear what is being said. If everyone did that they would realise Abbott is unfit for office.

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    4. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Eric Glare

      Sales was tough but not tough enough. Example. Abbott went through the rising scale of price on carbon all the way up to $350 a tonne. He's right - but what he didn't say and never does and Sales didn't call him on is that is the point of the price: if the emitters don't stop emitting, then that's what they'll pay.

      I've heard it time and time again. He's a master of the truth that is a lie

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    5. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Jane Rawson

      Hi Jane, I agree Bernadi is a full-on conservative. The only one on the page.

      Look at the list otherwise - anyone else with a political position is progressive. Fraser, Hewson and Turnbull (all lovable and progressive libs), Bob Brown, Will Steffen, Ian Chubb ...

      I'm not a conservative. I'm not advocating some party-political balance. I just think it'd be interesting to read some different world views.

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    6. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Newton

      John Newton: "Sales was tough but not tough enough." There are limits. If Sales had called Abbott on all his lies and misrepresentations, the interview would have gone on for hours.
      That's probably Abbott's intent; tell so many lies that some of them get through unchallenged. Let's face it; it works.
      The interview is online at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3573785.htm

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  4. Linus Bowden

    management consultant

    Milne says:

    "How did we end up with economics suddenly having equivalence with people and nature?"

    What a completely vapid question.

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    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      True Linus. Economics is about people and society and its environment. We can measure GDP in terms of bananas if you wish, but no self-serving catastrophist can make economics less important. Milne is the ultimate denialist.

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    2. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      How precious Dhugal. Keep raising that red flag.

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    3. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to Mister Anderson

      MA, the question dimply does not make any sense.

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    4. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Economics: A social science that studies how individuals, governments, firms and nations make choices on allocating scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants.

      Nothing about banks and ponzi schemes.

      Of course, Dhugal you ascribe to Malthusian economics that states that resources are finite and so must lead to a point of unsustainability that inevitably leads to a decline in population. That is, the only solution to the problems that you state are population controls. This roughly outlines the excessive pessimism of the Greens and other hyper-interventionists. It fails to take into account the economic growth that we have experienced since Malthus time that has been generated by the resource that we know is definitely not finite, the resource of human ingenuity and innovation.

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    5. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, I was responding to a statement that is complete nonsense and written by someone that probably takes their definition of economics and views of the world from the green left Weekly. It is a bit like responding to a despondent child that will not accept that there are no lollies left. Crops failing, cities lashed by storms, countries underwater! How ridiculous! Its like a green hyper-evangelism.

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    6. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      "the only solution to the problems that you state are population controls"

      Nope. There's people actually thinking of new approaches - using that innovation thing you speak of to better effect than quoting old textbooks.

      Again, if you actually did some research instead of relying on what you reckon, you might learn something. Dangerous idea hey?

      Here's a couple to give you a primer, then let's talk about a sustainable economy and how to set a pathway to achieve it.

      http://www.sustainable.org/economy

      http://www.forumforthefuture.org/project/framework-sustainable-economy/overview

      The information is out there if you care to look.

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    7. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Yes, I have done research. Crops fail often and not due to any shift in the climate. Countries are not disappearing under the water. Cities are no more subject to storms than they have ever been. Its all green evangelism.

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    8. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      You know very little about Economics Dhugal.

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    9. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      If Mr Vlachos has "done reasearch" then he must have done it with blinkers on

      http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_17/shifting.gif

      No Spiro - there's nothing going on at all - at least nothing that someone who perceives reality through an economic text book model could understand

      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/30/1205276109.abstract

      "The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area."

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    10. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Perhaps Mr Vlachos acquires red flags because his posts alternate between unsubstantiated assertions in the face of the evidence and the science and personal abuse?

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    11. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal Fletcher: "Economics today isn't a science. It's a belief system ...". Brilliant!
      That might explain why its adherents are happy to risk us all going to Hell in a hand basket.

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    12. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Spiro Vlachos: "You know very little about Economics ...". Oh wise one, enlighten me. How would economics fare under these conditions?
      Stephen Hawking: "We don’t know where global warming will stop but the worst case scenario is that the earth will become like its sister planet Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees C ..."

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    13. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      The Conversation charter:

      "Provide a fact-based and editorially-independent forum, free of commercial or political bias."

      Rather, political bias dressed up as fact.

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    14. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Spiro,

      All you have done here is throw about assertions, opinions and label anyone you disagree with as a green or a red.

      If you have some fact based arguments to present - either on climate change or economic theory - do so - if not - could I suggest a nice cup of tea and a lie down.

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    15. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I don't like tea and economics is a social science. I do not need to have a lie down and yours and Milne's assertions about economics are a great nonsense. This is the idea put out by the fringe elements in society that believe economics corresponds with banking. If climate change were real we would be now seeing the realisations of the many predictions given in the past and few of these have come about. This is a fact. It is not worth my time keeping up with such nonsense. I would rather involve myself in real world problems such as unemployment and inflation.

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    16. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      So how come these things are already happening? Why is your breakfast cereal dearer today than last week...?

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    17. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, if you are interested in why GDP growth does not exactly correspond with societal wellbeing, than you should read Herman Daly. If you think that climate change is a bigger problem than inflation or unemployment then you should look up the word dogma because inflation and unemployment has and does affect society, whereas climate change does not.

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    18. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Evidence Spiro data.... ?

      Or just a dogmatic refusal to believe the experts? Experts schmexperts - what would they know? You just know - as an economist - that we are making all this weather business up?

      Is this why the macro course you run has only one textbook?

      Read more Spiro. There's much much more in Daly than a critique of GDP and social well-being. It's about whether economics actually "creates" anything or just transforms and consumes what's there. Whether we can continue to operate as if everything is inexhaustible, infinite and has a price tag on it ...measuring the price of "progress".... much more important than just managing capitalism a bit better.

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    19. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Oh, so you understand inflation and unemployment, so that's the only thing that matters and everything else is dogma?

      This is the attitude that got the world in this mess. Narrow view economics needs to die a quick death.

      So let's cover off the two streams of reality you are denying:

      1. Climate Change doesn't affect society. Let's look to history for some ideas on this.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/maya-collapse-drought-climate-change_n_1821526.html

      So when Europeans…

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    20. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Well said, Dhugal Fletcher. A good point in time in which to follow Einstein's advice on the repetition of actions expecting a different result.

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    21. Bob Phelps

      Director at Gene Ethics

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      For instance, climate refugees:

      http://www.docstoc.com/docs/80125525/Mapping-coastal-zone-inundation-vulnerability-at--Lakes-Entrance - Mapping coastal zone inundation vulnerability at Lakes Entrance Victoria:

      First climate refugees start move to new island home: July 29, 2009 by Adam Morton: http://www.theage.com.au/national/first-climate-refugees-start-move-to-new-island-home-20090728-e06x.html Six months ago, the 2700 islanders began what will eventually become a big evacuation to Bougainville…

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  5. Linus Bowden

    management consultant

    "So we should have been using the social sciences a lot sooner than we have been to work out ways of talking to people’s value systems rather than to their intellectual capacity."

    But Christine, Economics IS social science.

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    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      A very narrow interpretation of economics peddled to the ignorant lay. For example, why is it that everytime economics is mentioned, someone talks about banks. Should not you be ranting against banks rather than economics? Banks play a small role in economics. Economics is not a zero sum game and I greatly doubt that you know the meaning behind the term.

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    2. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      I'd love a world where banks and financial institutions play a small role in economics. In a well managed economy, they would. It just isn't like that today.

      Please go and research 'Debt economy', 'Regulatory Capture' and 'Crony Capitalism' to see how 'the economy' has been used as an angry god that needs sacrifices for it's well being. Many politicians globally have followed blindly (or with outright complicity) what the big finance institutes say - on the grounds that it is expert advice…

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    3. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Pity Steve Keen's not here to debunk your poor understanding of reality...

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    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      I agree. When I read your point regarding WFC:

      " Debt slaves for our masters. Paying off a debt we did not create for ourselves. And that's already happening. "

      The 'austerity measures' (who thinks up this type of doublethink such as 'Pacific Solution, 'Work choices'?) in place through parts of Europe and Ireland, has me considering that Australia may expect an influx of "economic refugees", I have no problem with this any more than I have a problem with economic refugees from Africa or Asia or Oceania. Although I know many Australians who do - have problems with refugees they claim to be "economic" from war zones such as in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

      Apologies for digression.

      However, as I have mentioned war zones, I wonder what research has been done into effects on climate/ environment of prolonged war. I have heard claims (I am not an economist) that war is good for the economy which would explain a lot.

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  6. Wade Macdonald

    Technician

    I agree that we need to balance the economy and environment and ultimately demand plays the biggest role here.

    However, sound managment should always take precedence over unobstanciated exclusion of stakeholders in any situation.

    Recreational fishing and marine park sanctuary zones a prime example of lazy social policy promoted by the Greens.

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    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade, it looks like the Greens adherents are dominant in this forum. So much for its credibility.

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    2. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      I am just waiting for one of these nutcase green evangelists to tell me that today's warm weather is due to global warming.

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    3. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Yes, how true Spiro.

      Yet how many of them do you see living like pre industrial revolution folk?

      Anyone would think they stiched up every orifice and consumed or excreted nothing for years?

      Most I know think they are dangerously simplistic examples of institutionalised navel gazers.

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    4. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade Macdonald: "... we need to balance the economy and environment ...". OK, let's consider the worst-case scenarios.
      For the environment, the worst case is the lifeless world of Sagan and Hawking. What would be the impacts of that on the economy?
      For the economy, the worst case is ... uh, I think we've already covered that.

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    5. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      There's absolutely NO NEED to "live like pre industrial revolution folk".

      We're much smarter than they ever were..... we know about bacteria, solar energy, what makes Nature REALLY tick...

      Altering your living arrangements to become sustainable doesn't mean reducing living standards at all. In fact since we've done it, our well being has increased dramatically.... no more driving in peak hour traffic for instance! Fresh air, better food, time to do what we want when we want how we want.

      And writing "Anyone would think they stiched up every orifice and consumed or excreted nothing for years?" is less than helpful..... you just don't want to consider any change. Too hard is it? Don't you know that consuming and excreting can be done sustainably too?

      I have news for you..... EVERYTHING's about to change. The party's over. A really good book by Richard Heinberg you ought to read.

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    6. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Street corner speaker/panic merchant are we?

      I know we don't need to go back to the pre industrial revolution era but I don't preach on here I live a life that does....unlike too many on this forum.

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  7. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    Nature has a balance sheet.

    We live off it.

    Alas currrent economics takes no account of it

    Used sensibly those assets of nature can enable us to live rich and fulfilling lives. It has enabled the rise of civilisation as we know it today with all the material and cultural wealth we enjoy and celebrate. Although that wealth is far from universally, equally or justly shared it exists because of nature's bounty and our abilities as humans to utilise it.

    But in the last century or so, associated…

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    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Are you serious? You actually claim to be a Dr?

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    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Spiro, Peter doesn't claim to be a Dr - he's a farmer.

      I have a PhD in Physics.

      All of which is irrelevant. If you wish to offer an evidence based logical argument we are all waiting?

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    3. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Gentlemen

      Dr Harrigan and I virtually never agree on anything, however his comment put the first part of the problem beautifully, especially this line

      "So in just a few hundred years we have reduced the asset that nature provided (fossil fuels) over many millions of years. In the last 50 to 100 years we have built up a liability in nature's balance sheet."

      I do not agree with his view that humans should try and control the temperature with numbat schemes like the Australian Carbon Tax, however I do agree him that we are running on nearly empty and out of time.

      As for Senator Milne. Well she comes from Tasmania, a beautiful state that I love. Sadly its abysmal economic performance dooms it to seeing it's best, brightest and hardest working youngsters take the boat to the brown coal fired lights of Melbourne.

      Gerard Dean

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      OMG - that's twice in about a week that Mr Dean has agreed with me about something.

      Who are you sir? And what have you done with the real Greard Dean??

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  8. SUSTAINABLE POPULATION PARTY

    Written & authorised by William Bourke, Sydney

    Perhaps title should read:

    Christine Milne: the economy must serve (evermore) people and (therefore diminishing) nature, not vice-versa

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    1. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to SUSTAINABLE POPULATION PARTY

      I say honour our obligations to take in genuine refugees who are persecuted in their homelands but drastically cut our immigration numbers or this nation of 10 deserts will go the way of the Easter Islanders. It is a clear example of an overpopulated society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources.

      Lemmings at the ready...........

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Can't really Shirley.

      If the argument is about "sustainable" civilisation we're talking somewhere between 220,000 and 400,000 or so... the estimated number of people this place supported with a minimal - sustainable ? - impact on the resources - "our resources" as you say.

      Nah if the sustainable population argument was serious we'd be switching off Adelaide and maybe most places really. What we do here is not sustainable. Our "standard of living" - this thing I'm typing on is not - can never be - sustainable.

      It is not the number of people - it is what they do Shirley - how much of "our resources" they gobble. How many refugees make one Gina Hancock? How many Afghani kids equal one of Clive Palmer's buttocks?

      There is a deeply flawed basis for the "sustainable population" arguments Shirley. Unless we accept that the idea is really that we incumbents can continue to live "sustainably" while others watch at the window or through the razor wire.

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    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Actually such arguments are about "carrying capacity". I am yet to see any reliable data from credible objective sources that assess the real carrying capacity of this country, adjusted for consumption patterns.

      There are many unsunsubstantiated claims - but that's it.

      It would be useful if some one somewhere could raise some funds to do the research. Then the discussion could be based on evidence instead of ideology

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    4. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, seven countries with populations below nine million rank in the top 10 highest income per capita in the world so I think that debunks the theory that endless population growth creates wealth.

      In the "firsst world" nation of the US, there are 47 million people living below the poverty line, up from 37 million six years ago. One in five families earns less than $15000/pa. Well over half of all people living in 10 of the United States’ 11 most populous states (more than 158 million Americans…

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    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Oh No Shirley - don't shoot! I'm convinced. There areway way too many of us.

      But there are some rather awful consequences of trying to pretend we can "determine who will come", Lot's of razor wire. Where would we be suggesting the Pacific Islands go when the water is lapping at their feet more regularly? New Zealand. Yep. All of them?

      Meat production is probably a pretty poor use of land here - certainly not the most efficient use of water or land I'd hazard.

      See I'm saying that 500 folks living like we do isn't sustainable. Let alone 30 million. That's not the point. It's about spreading the damage fairly, coping with the consequences of the damage fairly, providing somewhere to live fairly. Or we spend a lot of time money and good will saying no to more and more people. The world's driest gated community.

      South Africa tried that.

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    6. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: " I am yet to see any reliable data from credible objective sources that assess the real carrying capacity of this country ...". How could any such thing happen? The sheer number of variables and associated assumptions would be a politician's dream. The result would be whatever the instigators of the study wanted.
      For what it's worth, based on my observations of the way Australia and the world have gone during my lifetime, national and global populations probably exceeded sustainable limits sometime before the middle of last century. Reducing our population to whatever it was in 1950 would be a good start.

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    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Boxall

      Seethere's the nub of it David - I reckon moreso than any other country we have a reasonable shot at what a SUSTAINABLE population - that is if longevity is anything to go by.

      The estimated population at the time of European Settlement is between 318,000 and 1,000,000. Either way a lot lot fewer than us. Few countries would be in a position to make even such a variable set of estimates.

      And they didn't do a fraction of our first few years here in all that time. They - in total - would not…

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    8. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - such an effort would be no more difficult and complex (in fact considerably less so) than the modelling of climate or Diesendorf's modelling of how to supply the country with renewables (probably similar level of complexity to that).

      As long as one's assumptions were transparent the modelling could be challenged and refined.

      It's well within the scope of a univeristy or CSIRO.

      To suggest as you do, is to want to be ignorant. What is the point of that?

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    9. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "To suggest as you do, is to want to be ignorant." No, to want to avoid any more attempts at misleading me.

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    10. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde: "That's a lot of razor wire ...". When I mentioned reducing population, I wasn't referring only to Australia. No need for any wire if nobody's there.

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    11. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      Okay David - but how will you "avoid attempts at being misled" when all we have at the moment are unsubstantiated claims about what population Australia should, or should not have.

      The concept of carrying capacity has been around for a while. I think it's time we started measuring/assessing it based on transparent assumptions and data. It could even be a measure of how well a naation was performing environmentally if it managed to improve its carrying capacity.

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    12. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "The concept of carrying capacity has been around for a while." Centuries, if not millennia. Start by talking to a livestock farmer. You'll find the practice of increasing carrying capacity rather slippery; gains in one aspect tend to trigger losses in others.

      In the short term, you might consider a meta-analysis of the studies you seem to consider aren't "from credible objective sources". Perhaps the biases will cancel out. Years ago I read one; from memory, estimates of the globe's carrying capacity ranged between one billion and one trillion(!), with the median at 5 billion.

      There was also one more recently: 1.5 billion at the standard of living in the US; 2.5 at that in the UK. That's global, of course, I haven't concentrated at all on this one country. After all, if the planet goes to Hell, Australia isn't going to stand in splendid isolation.

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    13. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Boxall

      Do you think this is imminent this outbreak of world tolerance and freedom?

      That life here is no better than life there?.. I reckon we've been trying that without much success actually.
      We make this place so dreadful that nobody wants to come? That living in Kabul is a better option for the daughters than Dangenong? Is this do-able?

      It matters very little I suspect how many kids we have scattered about our Mc Mansions. It is immigration that determines our population growth. It is…

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    14. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde: "Do you think this is imminent this outbreak of world tolerance and freedom?" I have a dream. ;)

      Peter Ormonde: "That life here is no better than life there?" I believe making life better elsewhere is the answer to the issue of refugees. When they're on the way we can't decently stop them, so the solution is to prevent them leaving home.

      Peter Ormonde: "Is this do-able?" All we need to make it happen is a supply of fairy dust.

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    15. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Not really ideological Mark - just awful grinding economics.

      Try this: to be "sustainable" we are limited to surviving on what is produced. Not what is found here - not coal or iron ore or topsoil - but what the biota can generate by way of a "surplus" we can harvest.

      So forget about adjusting for modern consumption patterns and the like. It's time to start eating each other. I've got my eye on a couple of neighbours but the local obesity epidemic will play havoc with my arteries.

      More…

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    16. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      And assuming that Australia and all First world countries will remain democracies for say the entire nuclear waste radioactive life.

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    17. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The flaw in that logic Peter is that we get to choose. If a country decides to pursue the nuclear option for military rather than power generation options we cannot stop them.

      In any event there is another flaw in yours and Dianna's logic. It is the unexamined assumption that all nuclear power options carry with them endless radioactive waste streams that cannot be properly managed.

      That is not true of IFRs

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

      If we are going to focus on new technology solutions, and argue for renewables based on their future capacity (as we do) we should treat nuclear the same way - not reject it based on old designs

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    18. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark,

      I do not understand your point regarding this choice business or that we cannot stop them... tell that to the Israelis. Tell that to the yanks who have a global system of restrictions applying to nuclear technology transfers.

      What I am talking about is unstable poor violent places which will NOT be getting nukes any time soon... unless you are endorsing some sort of aid program to drop a few into the Congo or Syria or Yemen, or Sierra Leone.

      As I keep saying - the biggest issues with nuclear power are not technical - they are political, strategic, economic and social.

      And I can't get any of these technicians and engineers and geologists who are spruiking this option to answer these questions. I reckon they can't.

      Explain what you mean Dr Mark about choices and not being able to stop them going military. It doesn't make any sense to me.

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    19. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde - I realised I had not replied to your post on military options and choices (sorry)

      1) There has not been, to my knowledge, a single case of being able to "stop" any country pursuing the adoption of nuclear for military that I am aware of. If a country decides to adopt nuclear weapons for their own perceived security reasons - however much we may not like it we cannot "stop" it - except perhaps via regulatory management (IAEA) or through political efforts (e.g. sanctions). Whilst…

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  9. Zvyozdochka

    logged in via Twitter

    The more I think about it, the more I believe Bob Brown's retirement timing was most likely spot on.

    Milne is a far better communicator than Brown.

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      She also has a bit of nouse - certainly enough to tackle some of the more simplistic members of her party.

      Her submission to the recent Houston Panel for example proposed a substantial increase in resources to permit offshore processing of asylum seekers in Indonesia. Very sensible. This position however is in stark contrast to the sloganising of Ms Hanson-Young and indeed the Greens official policy which adamantly rejects ANY and ALL forms of off-shore processing for some bizarre reason, regarding this as synonymous with deterrence.

      This is the difference between leadership and followership. And there area few spineless populists in the Greens I'm afraid.

      A gutsy play, Ms Milne.

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    2. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Greens policy does not reject funding UNHCR or Australian agencies to assess asylum seekers in transit countries.

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    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Obviously not Zvy ... but chanting the slogan NO OFFSHORE PROCESSING doesn't really convey the reality then does it?

      Without offshore processing people will hop onto leaky boats. Simple.

      It is the only option for "stopping the boats".

      But not punitive offshore detention of the sort proposed by the government and opposition - not a deterrent - but as an efficient and humane way of assessing applicants and getting those who are successful over here safely.

      Sarah Hanson-Young's chanting is simplistic and gets in the way of finding a reasonable humane solution - too oppositional and, in my view, populist and cheap. Complex politics doesn't lend itself to chanting slogans. It insults the audience. Brown and Milne well know this.

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  10. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    "Well, we continue to do so, but it is extremely frustrating to know what you do know and to take the science seriously and to have people say to you that it’s wildly exaggerated, it’s not true, and so on, when they haven’t even tried to read the science. They’ve made a decision to reject or ignore the science because it suits their world view."

    Isn't there a great irony in that this is what we experience all the time when trying to talk to "Greens" about, say, biotechnology or nuclear power?

    There's far more to science than just climatology. Good political support for science and science literacy - or science illiteracy and science denial - in the political arena doesn't just begin and end at climatology, although some people seem to think that it does.

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    1. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Luke Weston

      The Greens have clear positions of biotechnology, quite a few to do with unanswered science but most to do with controlling intellectual property / economics.

      Do you want your canola fully controlled by Monsanto while helping to create Roundup superweeds?

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    2. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      "Do you want your canola fully controlled by Monsanto"

      Could you elucidate what you actually mean here? Because, at the moment, you're not actually telling us anything.

      What do you actually mean, and how and why is it actually a problem?

      "while helping to create Roundup superweeds?"

      As above. Could you elucidate this actual problem that you're implying exists? You are, rather unscientifically, vaguely implying that there is some sort of problem, whilst completely neglecting to provide any details or any evidence of any kind.

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    3. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Luke Weston

      I know what Zvyozdochka means.

      Examples: State-corporate Crimes against Citizens and the Environment:

      In 2011 Resources Minister Ferguson issued permits to BP to drill for gas and oil in a 24,000 square kilometre area in the Great Australian Bight, eight months after the oil company committed the worst environmental tragedy in the history of the US. Minister Ferguson was the one who supervised Montara – considered the worst oil spill ever in Australia.

      2010: WA’s Agriculture Minister…

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    4. Bob Phelps

      Director at Gene Ethics

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Science is not master of the universe as you would like it to be, Luke. Science is a method of acquiring and organising knowledge. Nor is science the only valid way to know and understand the world and how it works. Science's findings are always provisional and most experiments are never replicated so it it always a work in progress. You also conflate science and technology, yet they are the products of science, engineering, business, marketing, profits and more. Most scientific evidence on the basis…

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    5. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Bob Phelps

      "Nor is science the only valid way to know and understand the world and how it works."

      Last time I heard words to that effect around here it was from that silly homeopathy proponent. That ended well.
      Please do tell us about these other ways.

      "It is therefore rational to be sceptical of new technologies and to insist that they not be commercialised until there is compelling evidence of their benefits, safety and efficacy."

      It doesn't really seem to work as far as the homeopaths and snake…

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    6. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Ahh Shirley.

      I wonder if you every fill your car up at a BP service station. Or, perhaps you might burn BP JetA1 fuel on your interstate and international flights for holidays.

      Your concerns with gene modified foods, I do agree wit. It is going to be near impossible to stop them, however when a foodmaker uses gene modified ingredients, it should be on the lable.

      Gene modified food enthusiasts always say there is nothing wrong with GM foods and that the are better for us and the environment. It is somewhat strange therefore, that they don't want to put this on their packets.

      Your old sparring partner

      Gerard Dean

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    7. Bob Phelps

      Director at Gene Ethics

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Put the onus of proof for benefit, safety and efficacy on new technological innovations on the proponents as they have the resources and desire to proceed. Our regulators must also use the scientific method whereas they now claim only to be 'science-based'. Require the regulators to set, in advance, agreed standards and benchmarks for the rigour, scope and scale of the experiments and experimental data acceptable for submission in support of their licence applications.

      Then everyone will know where they stand and the informed views of critics will receive the same due respect and critical scrutiny as those of proponents.

      Under present ad hoc, case-by-case assessment criteria, there is no clear, objective and agreed basis on which the OGTR, APVMA, FSANZ etc. can say 'no' to inadequate or dangerous applications, especially as applicants are paying for their assessments.

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    8. Bob Phelps

      Director at Gene Ethics

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/state/cotton/general/no-more-miracles-so-look-after-bollgard/2620636.aspx?storypage=0
      No more miracles so look after Bollgard, 24 Aug, 2012 (edited)

      BIOTECHNOLOGY gave the cotton industry a new lease of life – or more accurately, allowed the industry to survive – but the age of miracles is over, Moree consultant Andrew Parkes told the Australian Cotton Conference.

      Mr Parkes, chairman of the Transgenic and Insecticide Management Strategies Committee…

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    9. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Bob Phelps

      Totally agree with solid regulatory standards of research.

      Monsanto are notorious abusers of this, employing scientists to run research and then fudge, omit and misrepresent data to suit their purpose. Combined with regulatory capture that is clearly rife in the US with zero action happening to fix the problem and you have a dysfunctional system that people lose respect for. Then they start saying all science delivers the results that are paid for and everyone starts sliding backwards.

      Which is exactly what all big business wants, for 'interference' to get out of the way.

      And that homeopathy muck should carry a label saying 100% pure placebo. If people still bought it, then they deserve what they get.

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    10. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Bob Phelps

      And thus, the dream of growing our liquid fuels will meet the same problems, the ongoing fight against nature to extract the maximum out of a crop, with nature doing its level best to stop us.

      Gerard Dean

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  11. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    I can see the deniers resorting to personal attacks when any one dares to disagree. Just like Tony Abbott, as Christine Milne has pointed out:

    " Abbott has changed his position in the last couple of weeks and the focus is now not so much on carbon pricing, it’s gone back to “can you trust the government?”. So it’s gone back to integrity issues rather than carbon pricing because he’s not making way on carbon pricing."

    Hence the nasty little trawl for dirt bringing up some fluff when the PM was employed as a solicitor.

    When in doubt - shout.

    Meanwhile back on planet earth, forests continue to be destroyed, factories billow out pollution, fossil fuels gulped down by a greedy and powerful group who fear change - even though change to sustainable practices will benefit their own children, grandchildren and beyond.

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    1. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Perhaps, as is so hard to undertand for the Too Cheap To Meter Crowd and it's cabal of pushers, The Greens have a full understanding of nuclear economics.

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    2. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Mark Duffett: "... ban uranium mining or otherwise put obstacles in its path". I wonder, is it possible to impose export tariffs (on uranium, coal, etc.)? That might be one way to reduce Australia's unhealthy impacts, while gaining revenue for the Commonwealth.

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    3. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Nuclear power is the most expensive and dangerous method in which to boil water. The entire nuclear fuel chain dumps its waste on humanity.

      The Ranger mine discharges 100,000 litres of radioactive solution from its tailings dam every day, 5,400 times in excess of normal background levels - and with impunity.

      The Ranger mine operates under a ‘no release’ water management edict, which makes a mockery of the regulatory regime’s ‘enforcement’ policy.

      The suggestion of nuclear pushers that we can add artificial radiation sources to background levels is as sensible as a druggie having 2 hits of heroin instead of one.

      I am aware that you have previously peddled over to BNC to advise that no-one should sink as low as Shirley Birney for debunking the myths perpetrated by nuclear proponents. More grist for your nuclear mill?

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    4. Bob Phelps

      Director at Gene Ethics

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Saddling all future generations of humans with care of our nuclear waste is unconscionable. And the risk to the viability of life on Earth of 20,00 nuclear warheads is similarly unacceptable. Have you learned nothing from 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima? The only acceptable nuclear reactor is the Sun.

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    5. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Bob Phelps

      The sun is power by nuclear fusion, not nucelar fission which is how nucelar reactors work. They are fundamentallt different processes. Fusion is alas beyond our technological capabilities and likely to remain so for some time.

      If, just hypothetically, renewables are unable to dispolace fossil fuels and the only choice is between nuclear power and fossil fuel induced AGW, which would you choose?

      The reality is it is possible that this may be the choice we will face. I hope not. But it would be better to have a rational fact based exploration of the the nuclear option rather than one based on misinformation (from wither side).

      Perhaps you should study the evidence in relation to death per MwH of power produced rather than fall victim to the fallacy of the availability heuristic in realtion to perceptions of the relative saftey of nuclear as an option?

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    6. Bob Phelps

      Director at Gene Ethics

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Fortunately nuclear and fossil fuel electricity generation are no longer the only options. The world must move on, leaving both behind. There must be more robust and meaningful measures of impact than present deaths per MwH?

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    7. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Bob Phelps

      There are many meaningful measures Bob - but you drew attention to the "high profile" reactor "disasters" as an argument against nuclear. So that measure is relevant.

      The main measures are, I would suggest, cost per unit of power produced, deaths per unit of power produced (plus any other measures of harm) and emissions of CO2 per unit of power produced. All measured objectively over the life cycle.

      It would appear, however, that you wish to indulge in wishful thinking, or hope. Just what…

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    8. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Ever been to France Shirley? Ever sat on a Parisien footpath cafe and sipped a latte and watched the passing parade of beautifully dressed men and women?

      Well if you have, your latte was made on a machine powered by nuclear power.

      Funny how facts get in the way of a good rant.

      Gerard Dean

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    9. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Boxall

      What a remarkably fatuous statement, David Boxall. Every tonne of uranium exported means over 10,000 tonnes of coal that doesn't have to be. Even if every atom of uranium fission products ever dispersed turned out to be Australian, its cost would be far less than the value of the electricity generated by Australian U. And that's in purely financial terms, never mind the climate benefits.

      Seriously, Zvyodochka and others, what part of Milne's "we must do everything we can" do you not understand, or reject? If you accept that, it follows that if nuclear has a EROEI > 1, and it displaces dirtier forms of generation (both indisputably true), then we should do it.

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    10. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You would have said exactly the same thing about hanging out around Chernobyl drinking the milk from the cows that fed on grass all around the 'safe' reactors. Oh hang on, the Russians did.

      And now all the land around it will be a radioactive wasteland for a long time after all of us are dead.

      The impact of accident is too high for too long to justify the risk. The French have been lucky so far, but when it runs out, I hope you will personally volunteer to go there and clean it up since you're…

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    11. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Before I give some new info here, I would say risk analysis is required in the equation.

      Probability of accident * impact of accident * length of impact of accident. This is where I see nuclear failing dismally.

      So here's a very nice summary done in England six years ago..

      http://www.withouthotair.com/

      It is focused on England, so conclusions about solar, wind and wave are very different in Australia. I won't preempt it, but I think his overall approach is good and needs replication. If someone has produced one for Australia, I'd love to know.

      And here's a link about how much Uranium there is to be used and when peak Uranium will happen.

      http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5060

      Combine the two and there's a nice start.

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    12. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Indeed they do and in addition, nuclear physicist, Dr Ron Nielson is, I believe, suitably qualified to offer his opinion on nuclear energy:

      http://home.iprimus.com.au/nielsens/ronnielsen.html

      “The number of existing nuclear power reactors (in 2006) in the world is 443. Using their average annual output of electricity we can calculate that to replace the currently operating plants based on fossil fuels we would have to have 1587 nuclear power reactors or about 3.6 times more than we have now…

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    13. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Seriously, Mark Duffett and others, what part of "politically not possible" and "economically impractical" don't you understand? NPPs, especially for Australia, will not happen.

      The world has given nuclear a try and it ended up expensive, dirty and more importantly, a complete distraction from the a wholistic energy system approach needed being JUST about electricity.

      Example; when was the last time you contacted your local representative to bleat at them about nuclear power, but missed the opportunity to DEMAND that solar hot water be compulsory in Australia?

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    14. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Zvy,

      It's a bit like that awful issue for shock comedians - when is it too soon to be making 9-11 gags? I was wondering how long they would take to try and scramble to their feet after Fukushima ... pretending it all away, spraying snow and something else.

      By way of the solar HWS - I always found it rather disappointing that the Federal Government chose insulation over free solar water. A far more strategic and quantifiable investment I reckon.

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    15. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "If, just hypothetically, renewables are unable to dispolace fossil fuels and the only choice is between nuclear power and fossil fuel induced AGW, which would you choose?" I'd choose a lower energy lifestyle.
      If we can't learn to live on renewables, I reckon we're toast.

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    16. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "The sun is power by nuclear fusion, not nucelar fission which is how nucelar reactors work." Whoa Mark, has your enthusiasm for fission clouded your judgement?
      Isn't fusion a nuclear reaction? Doesn't that nuclear reaction take place in the sun? Isn't the sun therefore a nuclear reactor?

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    17. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Thanks Gary. Diesendorf and his group do some great work and I know this paper is part of a series and I look forward to more. But you cannot simply, on the basis of this paper, make the unqualified assertion that you do "Renewables can do the job"

      There are several assumptions that Diesendorfs makes that are either missing or questionable.

      1) It would require a radical restructure of how our current grid system works - and I do mean radical - there is no estimate or plan for how that would be done or at what cost
      2) critics have pointed out that the wholesale cost of electricity for the simulated system would be SEVEN times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. Mr Diesendorf has yet to respond to this problem

      Nuclear has a much lower abatement cost than that.

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    18. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - I'd choose a lower consumption level too. Alas the more than 1 billion people on the planet who today have NO electricty don;t have that luxusry of choice :(

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    19. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David a few points

      1) You misrepresent me. I do NOT have an enthusiams for nuclear fission - nor have I ever stated such. In fact I am extremely wary of it as a technology - although mainly because I think the history of its use shows that the technology is actually highly reliable and safe but that when something does (rarely, fortunately) go wrong you cannot trust the humans who run it to do the right thing. Those are the real lessons from Chernobyl and Fukushima. What I DO have an enthusiam…

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    20. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Mark Duffett: " Every tonne of uranium exported means over 10,000 tonnes of coal that doesn't have to be." So you reckon the tariff on uranium could be that much higher?
      Could be a nice little earner!

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    21. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Yes - changing the options for distribution - networking the system smarter - is an important design issue. Particularly for industry and the larger scale generation options. The flexible structure of the grid is most important in influencing how quickly renewables can be introduced, how they - and the benefits are perceived - by those who benefit - directly and considerably.

      I'm not sure if anyone has some notion of what a smarter system that encouraged medium scale local renewable initiatives directly while maintaining the benefits of a national grid - a grid at several scales. I suspect it might cost a bit for switching gear and metering but the wires and cables are still there. In return one can take whole towns off the grid for at least much of the time - or in the case of bio-gas - selling power into the grid much of the time.

      Does this get discussed?

      If not, an interesting honours project?

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    22. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal,

      Judging nuclear power on the basis of Chernobyl - and comparing what happened there to the reactors in France, is like judging the entire fleet of automotice models on the basis of the Ford Pinto (which was very badly designed and had a distressing tendency to burst into flames when rear ended).

      I am all for a debate about the merits and downsides of nuclear. But it should be one based on evidence and valid logic.

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    23. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      No question Mark - it is possible to manage technical risks far better than Chernobyl or for that matter Fukushima. And that's the problems isn't it?

      We end up relying on people - lawyers and accountants and global banks and stock-markets and we can end up with TEPCO. There is no fail-safe human system. It's why we aren't all jumping with joy at Teheran's nuclear development. Or Pakistan's. Let alone Sudan or the Congo or the Balkans.

      It's a high risk strategy. And it is a scale of risk that is far more difficult to deal with than technical hazards I suspect.

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    24. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Exactly Peter.

      This aticle is relevant
      http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/06/15/the-rise-of-nuclear-fear-how-we-learned-to-fear-the-bomb/

      and so is this
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fukushima-blame-utilities-goverment-leaders-regulators

      I think there is far too much ill informed fear of nuclear as atechnology. At the same time I suggest that many of the valid criticisms that can be directed at the industry are, alas, typical of the criticims to be…

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    25. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Gee I didn't pick up that the Japanese Government has taken over TEPCO and that it's gone belly up. An actuarial horror show I'd imagine!

      I'm not sure the poor will benefit from nukes any time soon. They live in unstable places with coups and black markets and corrupt soldiers and rebels and child soldiers. Or their neighbours don't like them.

      That's why the industrialised countries must develop the most efficient technological and socially acceptable alternatives to ensure that the dramatic economic growth of some emerging powerhouses is not purely or largely coal based.

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    26. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Dr Harrigan - I largely agree. I would only add that at every point we boost renewables or contemplate expansion of nuclear, we first emphasise that consumerism and growth economics are what drives most of our energy demands. We can give everyone sufficient nutrition, lightbulbs, education and decent health care. But not a car and 200m^2 of domestic space with A/C and three plasma TVs and food from the other side of the world and transcontinental holidays and...

      Culture and consumption need to change along with energy infrastructure and policy.

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    27. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Yes, but how? And what if abundant nuclear energy using more up to date technology that consumed the existing waste stream (and consumed a far greater percentage of the U235 so existing fuel limits didn;t apply) was available to extend those limits?

      http://prescriptionfortheplanet.com/

      Shocking idea?? If it were viable by what right do we deny the same standrad of living we have enjoyed to the aspiring world's poor?

      It's based on the somewhat controversial, but quite real, option of IFRs…

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    28. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley - that response is misleading. Dr Nielson is correct IF you base your calculations on Nuclear technology that is decades old.

      If you consder newere options, such as IFR - his assumption abbout the consumption of uranium is flawed.

      And if you are going to advocate for renewables on the basis of new, yet to be proven technologies (such as for example CST) then you have to apply the same standrad to nuclear.

      To do what Nielson is doing is to compare where Solar PV was in the 70's and use that as a basis for its deployment (or not) today - clearly flawed

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    29. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley - your statement

      "Nuclear power is the most expensive and dangerous method in which to boil water."

      Is false. You are an enemy of the environement if all you can do is peddle misinformation about the options.

      Of course actual cost comparisons of technologies are notoriously difficult since different baselines are used and different assumptions about the life cycle

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

      But this shows clearly nuclear is FAR from the most…

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    30. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      All too hard? That's an argument for, if not business as usual, then a trajectory that will take us to four degrees and beyond, with economically crippling energy scarcity laid on top of that. You can keep that future.

      Nuclear is past tense now? Try telling that to China, Korea, the UAE and dozens of others besides. The (quite justified) Fukushima-induced pause for review is over.

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    31. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "by what right do we deny the same standrad of living we have enjoyed to the aspiring world's poor?"
      By right of the fact that even powered by 100% IFR electricity, our standard of living shared among nine billion people would (even more) rapidly exceed planetary boundaries and undermine the conditions of possibility for stable human society. Climate change is not our only glaringly unsustainable issue and electricity production is far from the only contributor to climate change. IFRs are no silver bullet, even if they might play a useful part.

      The earth cannot afford our lifestyle as is. Lowering consumption in wealthy nations is crucial to any just prescription for the planet (as one of many elements). Any claims that a transition to a human society responsible for significantly less ecological degradation than at present will be "painless" are very likely being made by snake oil salesmen.

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    32. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Byron Smith

      PS "Standard of living" is frequently misleading as it easily confuses issues best distinguished. It is quite possible for *greater* human flourishing to occur with lower levels of material consumption by the world's wealthiest societies. Indeed, above a certain threshold at which basic needs are met, happiness does not really increase with increasing material consumption.

      Therefore, in order to avoid one line of potential misunderstanding, replace "our standard of living shared among nine billion" with "our average level of material consumption multipled by nine billion".

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    33. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Hmmm, that sounds like a utilitarian practical imperaative rather than a moral/ethical standrad being applied.

      But, I agree, we need to lower the non-renewable resource consumption across the board - with the industrialised west leading by example otheriwse it will be hypocritical. That does mean changing how we consider well being/happiness not being linked to material consumption - a challenge in a market economy structures we have at the moment.

      Don't discount IFRs though Byron. There is no such a thing as a silver bullet anywhere/anytime. But I would encourage you to read this before forming a definitive view

      It's a long read - but it is worth contemplating

      http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/pdfs/P4TP4U.pdf

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    34. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I've read quite a bit on IFRs and you'll note that twice already in this thread I have mentioned them positively. I've also spent many an hour conversing with IFR fan-boys (not many IFR fan-girls for some reason), so I'm not discounting them.

      And I'm very happy to deploy more overtly ethical considerations for reducing consumerism. I often say that overconsumption is poison for the soul, weakens relationships, enervates the common good and is disastrous for the planet. Indeed, from a Christian…

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    35. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, attributing flaws to Nielson’s argument reveals that it is you who is the enemy of the environment. It is rather cheeky to pass the buck and it displays an ideological stance deflated by facts – pesky things facts.

      Fact 1: Those 70s technologies (Generation II reactors) of which you speak are under construction as I write. In fact the vast majority under construction are Generation II.

      Fact 2: Operators of Generation II nuclear reactors (which should have been decommissioned right…

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    36. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Brought forward:

      Fact 6: Tom Blees says: “Those who maintain that we don't have the technology (IFRs) are either ignorant of the facts or lying.”

      Fact 7: I am in complete agreement with Blees. Over a billion dollars of taxpayer funds was spent decades ago at the Argonne Labs in Idaho. Co-developer of the Integral Fast Reactor, Charles Till claimed in 1996 that IFRs were a proven technology yet they are non-existent.

      Similarly small module reactors for commercial nuclear energy first…

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    37. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "You cannot compare Fission and Fusion." I doubt anyone is ignorant of the differences.

      You said: "The sun is power by nuclear fusion, not nucelar fission which is how nucelar reactors work." Isn't a fusion reactor a nuclear reactor (not that anyone's managed to create one that sustained a usable reaction)?

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    38. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Too often, we confuse quality of life with standard of living.

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    39. In reply to Byron Smith

      Comment removed by moderator.

    40. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      The paper proves that renewables can do the job. I don't think it analyses costs. I would like to know which critics you get your cost figures from.

      "Nuclear has a much lower abatement cost than that."

      Recent figures from the US DOE:
      Wind 96.8; Nuclear 112.7; PV 156.9; Biomass 120.2

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

      And those nuclear costs don't include decommissioning (ie extremely long-term waste storage) or disaster risk insurance.

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    41. In reply to Gary Murphy

      Comment removed by moderator.

    42. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Gary - the paper doesn't "prove" anything. It shows that in in a simulation, based on a number of assumptions, a theoretical renewable supply could have met the entire 2010 Australian demand IF there was enormous capacity investment - far more than we invest now.

      I agree that's useful - and Mark Diesendorf does good work. But simulations are not reality and the issue of cost goes to the heart of practicality and acceptability

      The figures releveant for Australia are in the recent ABARE report - the one most relevant for Australia

      http://bree.gov.au/documents/publications/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf

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    43. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - you said "I doubt anyone is ignorant of the differences". Are you sure about that?

      probably not the erudite readers os the TC - but most people are

      http://www.science20.com/news_releases/science_literacy_american_adults_flunk_basic_science_says_survey

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/americans-believe-in-creationism_n_1571127.html

      There's a very high level of scientific illiteracy out there. One might hope it's better in Australia??

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-07-30/science-literacy-at-risk-of-extinction/925484

      NOT by much

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    44. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Byron - Is suspect our positions are not far apart. Although I start from the view that we should be doing as much as we can to increase material well being for those that lack it as a priority before telling the rest of the world they are not entitled to the same level of wealth that we enjoyed.

      Not being christian I don;t normally refer to the bible as my moral inspiration (though you quotes are germane). But I am reminded in this instance of Matthew 7:5.

      IF and When the west reduces its…

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    45. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Absolutely.

      This is precisely why turning away from conspicuous/wasteful/hyper-consumption in rich nations is critical. Since we're already considerably exceeding various planetary limits (and getting close on some others) while something like a billion lack access to clean drinking water and about two and a half billion lack adequate sanitation, those of us in countries with lifestyles requiring multiple planets (if they were to replicated everywhere) have no morally-defensible position other…

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    46. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "David - you said "I doubt anyone is ignorant of the differences". Are you sure about that?" Yes Mark, I'm sure that I doubt it - at least in this forum.

      As far as nuclear power generation (fusion, fission, uranium, plutonium, thorium or unobtainium) I don't know whether it can be safe, but I doubt it. I believe protestations of economics are based on externalising major costs. Then there's that inconvenient gap between theory and practice.

      Now matter how safe we can make nuclear power, history has shown time and time again that we won't. It's time to admit that no matter how well we _can_ do it, we _will_ do it poorly. How many Chrenobyls can we afford before we run out of habitable planet? Time to stop wasting resources on it.

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    47. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Byron Smith

      There's more than a touch of Catch-22 about this line of anti-nuclear argument, when a lack of abundant reliable energy is one of the most likely causes of "a period of significant political disruption and/or serious economic crisis". Especially when abundant reliable energy will almost certainly be required for climate mitigation and geoengineering (indications are that the emissions reduction battle is already all but lost).

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    48. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Byron Smith

      OK. Fess Up. Who let Young Byron out of his box in Edinburgh? It takes half my waking hours herding him back in.

      Now, I best go and read what he has written so I can robustly dismiss his arguments.

      Read, read, read,read.

      I am not going to walk in on this one because good old Doc Harrigan is swinging it out with Young Byron and they have both made some good points.

      Tis a pity that the bete noire, Mr Hendrickx has taken leave, forsooth, he doth know how swing the keyboard claymore.

      I must away

      Gerard Dean

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    49. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Yes, I'm aware that there is some circularity involved. The question is whether heavy nuke deployment reduces the likelihood of severe economic and political disruptions in coming decades by such a large margin that it becomes the more prudent choice. Yet it precisely because my impression after a number of years studying these matters is that even heavy and immediate deployment of nuclear power would not make it likely that we avoid such disruptions* that I currently lean against such a path. Yet…

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    50. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Byron Smith

      "Yet it precisely" --> "Yet it is precisely"

      And I freely acknowledge that discerning a prudent path at this point in time, faced with the plethora of historical novelties that we do, is a challenging task in which much humility is required. I'm not pretending that my suggestions will be either obvious or uncontroversial.

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    51. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      The US DOE figures are based on real projects.

      The AETA estimates are:

      (2012) Nuclear 96; Wind 116; PV 224; Solar Thermal 311; Biomass 128.
      (2030) Nuclear 102; Wind 91; PV 116; Solar Thermal 189; Biomass 136.

      Selected Quotes:

      "Data available for nuclear power reveals that, due to the high capital costs and lengthy plant construction times, projects are more sensitive to finance conditions. Furthermore, delays in construction cause a higher impact on generation costs than for other electricity…

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    52. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, that’s some smelly red herring you drag across the forum to weasel out of fessing up to your woeful blunders and not least the ones on the Nielson forecast and the 9 facts I provided.

      Time for the confessional methinks. And since you feign an altruistic stance (sob) for the less priveliged, why not say a Hail Mary for the latest victim to have been murdered by nuclear corruption? You know that stuff that's censored in the West?

      Oh and how about a couple more for the rascals at IAEA, WHO and UNSCEAR? After all their snouts are firmly entrenched in the public purse's trough which picks up the tab for the obfuscations, cover-ups and hence the multi-billion dollar externalities.

      http://www.ejolt.org/2012/08/ukrainian-environmentalist-brutally-beaten-to-death/

      http://ecopravo.org.ua/en

      http://ecopravo.org.ua/2011/07/19/environmental-disaster-in-ukraine-in-figures/

      http://www.uraniofestival.org/images/documents/uranium-report-2011.pdf

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    53. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Byron Smith

      I just wanted to bring a point David made in a lower thread into this one... The technical comparison of technologies that you're exploring here is good and useful discussion to have...been giving me some good reading material...but it leads us to another angle to cover.

      Technical systems operate in the real world and suffer real world problems that you're also looking at here... as David put it, just because it is possible to do a good job on safety and accident control, does not mean that will…

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    54. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Gish Gallop Shirley. I note you attempt to sidestep the data of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences I referenvce and haven't the honesty to admit the truth of your position. No nuclear consideration regarldess of the climate.

      And everyone in IAEA WHO and UNSCEAR are corrupt but you know better? By the way - I quoted the IEA - they are not the IAEA - who I didn't reference - but apparently you have no idea what the difference is?

      That sort of ill informed blinkered environmental anti-nuke zealotry is not for me.

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    55. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      That's selective Gary. The ABARE report quite clearly says that the LCOE comparisons are the same across the technologies. It also makes it quite clear that the expectation is that disposal/ storage of spent fuel will add only $1MWh.

      The full quote is

      "It should be noted that the LCOE analysis for nuclear technologies does not include disposal/
      storage of spent fuel or provision for decommissioning of plant. A report in the Journal of
      Economic Perspectives (Davis, 2012) puts the contribution of spent fuel storage in the order of
      US$1/MWh."

      The fact that you only quoted the bit that supports your view is misleading

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    56. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - I agree it's an issue "how well we can do it" versus how "poorly we do do it".

      But one might also comment "judge by the worst example" or "judge by the sample that is represenative of the real population"

      There has really been only one disaster (Chernobyl) that has been badly done. And that was a crappy design run badly.

      If you look at the totality of the Fukushima disaster it's telling that other reactors that were hit by the Tsunami ( Daini) survived rather well

      http://depletedcranium.com/the-other-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant

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    57. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "You don't judge the performance/saftery of all cars on basis of the Ford Pinto - why is it rational to judge the entire nuclear endeavour by these examples?" Because of the nature of the risks.

      I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. For me, the question is not of the potential if we do it perfectly, but of the risks when we don't. History has given us enough information to answer that last question.

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    58. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      Okay David - but I think you are avoiding a difficult question. What if renewables cannot do the job?

      What if you are mischaracterising the nature of the risks because you are falling for the "Pinto" fallacy (i.e. applying experience from a flawed instance to a general situation that is inappropriate)?

      I accept you don't agree and I respect your view. I just urge you to have an open mind on the topic.

      http://www.sacome.org.au/images/stories/Nuclear_Series_SA_Mines__Energy_Journal.pdf

      This link is relevant for that consideration

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    59. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      “Sidestep the data” Mark? AMACAD confirmed exactly what I wrote. What is your problem? Cognitive dissonance or is truth a casualty of your propaganda?:

      “In fact the bulk of nuclear reactors under construction are Generation II.” (Shirley Birney)

      <AMACAD Report Page 5 – Reactors under construction:

      36 Generation II reactors
      8 Generation III reactors
      8 Generation III+ reactors>

      i.e: Generation II under construction = 69.22%. Generation III and III+ = 30.78%

      The bulk of China's…

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    60. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      So Shirley - still can;t come our and say it?

      No Nuclear no matter what - even if the climate goes to hell in a handbasket?

      I have repeatedly asked you, and you have repeatedly avoided the question. If renewables cannot displace sufficient fossil fuels to avoid significant warming of the planet (an unpleasant and hopefully avoidable but hardly unrealistic scenario) and you are forced to CHOOSE - which would it be? Nuclear, or a much warmer planet - with all the concomittant damage to fumanity and species loss assoicated??

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    61. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      If you haven’t yet learnt about the elephants in the room then you got a problem pal. Try gluttony first but don’t get back to me. I’ve had enough of your nonsense and your second-rate salesmanship.

      Hint: Livestock systems occupy 45 percent of the earth’s surface – 57% in Australia. It takes 50,000 - 100,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef in Australia. To produce one kilogram of oven dry wheat grain, it takes 715 - 750 litres of water (Source: CSIRO).

      If everyone in the…

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    62. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Still incapable of answering the question? If the coice were between nuclear and climate change - which would you choose? Some nations may only have the option of nuclear vs fossil fuels to provide the energy for their nation. What should they do?

      It would appear your irrational zealotry causes you too much cognitive distress to enable a rational consideration Ms Birney

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    63. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "What if renewables cannot do the job?" Then perhaps we need to find a different job. A friend came up with a pithy comment last night: at present, fossil fuels are sending us to hell in a handbasket; with nuclear, we just change handbaskets.

      Mark Harrigan: "I just urge you to have an open mind on the topic." Speaking of which, don't write off fossil fuels entirely. I live in the Hunter Valley, where there's a distributed generation project that recently featured on the ABC's Catalyst…

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    64. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I didn't quote that bit for the same reason the report did not include them in the final costs - the costs of such waste management will largely fall outside of the modelling period. (ie it will need to be properly managed for thousands of years - can you cost that?).

      The fact that you focused on that tiny detail and ignored all of my other points and went personal suggests desperation.

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    65. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      About this 'Pinto' argument you keep peddling.

      1. The Pinto was one car manufactured in a long stream of cars of improving technology from a number of different companies over time.

      How was it possible for that one to be so fundamentally bad, even though there were so many around at the time with a similar design flaw?

      Can you guarantee that the same kind of mistake wont happen with nuclear design?

      2. The Chernobyl reactor that went bad was not the only reactor of it's kind built…

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    66. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Oh I’d rather go to hell in a handbasket. We know what real life monsters are capable of doing to innocent people - willfully, deliberately, covertly. The whores are all on your side.

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    67. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Personal attacks do not constitute a valid or reasoned argument. I wonder why you think, as a female, it is acceptable to use language such as this which is generally aimed at demining women?

      The question is clear, logical and reasonable.

      We need to replace, as rapidly as possible, fossil fuels as a source of energy because of their high GHG emissions. What are our best options?

      The downside with many renewables is that their intermittency and (relatively) low capacity versus their nameplate…

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    68. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Gary - I am calling for a rational consideration of the nuclear option. On your own figures it's costs are favourable aganist fossil fuels and comparable to Renewables.

      The ABARE data I have presented shows them to be lower than most renewables.

      Since you raise the issue of decommissioning and waste streams I suggest you look here

      http://www.iea.org/techno/essentials4.pdf

      Decommissioning adds $0.35 per MwH produced, Waste $1/MwH. These are credoble figures from the IEA.

      It may well…

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    69. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      Okay David. But that sounds like a lot of rationalisation for being close minded on the issue.

      I accept that you have that view today - the question is, is it capable of changing?

      This report from the Internation Energy Authority (or are also gung ho on renewables) does not have those shortcomings.

      http://www.iea.org/techno/essentials4.pdf - it shows the full life cycle costs

      Thanks for the link to Catalyst though. I am familiar with Ceramic Fuel Cells. I actually led the technical…

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    70. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "... a lot of rationalisation for being close minded ...". Look in a mirror. You're sounding like an acolyte.

      Mark Harrigan: "... you have that view today - the question is, is it capable of changing?" Certainly. Is yours?

      To change my view, they'll first have to overcome a lot of history. My opinion is based on more knowledge than you credit. For one, I view with some scepticism the assumption on waste disposal. Too much detail left out on externalised costs. Storage of high…

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    71. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal

      A few pertient facts

      All the Chernobyl reactors were of a design that the Russians call the RBMK--natural uranium-fueled, water-cooled, graphite-moderated--a design that American physicist and Nobel laureate Hans Bethe has called "fundamentally faulty, having a built-in instability." Because of the instability, an RBMK reactor that loses its coolant can under certain circumstances increase in reactivity and run progressively faster and hotter rather than shut itself down. Nor were the…

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    72. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - first - you presume I have a "view". But I have simply said we need to consider the question. I have not advocated nuclear - I have tried to objectively list it's positives and its shortcomings - along with other options.

      You ask if my view can change. Well, apart from pointing out, repeatedly, that my posts have asked questions to challenge those with fixed views, rather than advocated a view - the answer is yes. I have even pointed out in my posts that I have a preference for 100…

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    73. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Rational consideration.

      So why did you start with this unsubstantiated assertion:
      "Nuclear has a much lower abatement cost than that."
      When the reality is:
      "... it's costs are favourable aganist fossil fuels and comparable to Renewables."

      Only comparable - and that is with many costs being externalised. IMO not worth the extra risk.

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    74. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Tell them about nuclear’s obscene use of CFCs Mark. Tell them about the global warming and the hole in the ozone layer. Tell them about the GWP of Chlorofluorocarbon—114. Tell them about the killing and corruption.

      Tell them about the ‘dirtiest/worst’ site in the US:

      http://scorecard.goodguide.com/env-releases/ranking.tcl?tri_id=42001PDCHGHOBBS&comparison=us

      And the marine life that’s no more? Billions every year for fifty years = trillions of them.

      Why won’t you tell them about…

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    75. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      In brief, you seek "balance" in consideration of alternatives and "certainty" that renewables will do the "job", then issue an impassioned appeal for all those who don't have what we have. That's eerily familiar. The more you say, the more you sound like a greenwashed nuclear industry lobbyist. Well cloaked perhaps, but just that.

      I have "rationally" considered fission, at length and in depth; it's a very poor option. Elsewhere, I've described it as second-worst; I stick by that.

      It's a question…

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    76. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Boxall

      The flat assertion "fission is a short-to-medium term fix with long term negatives" is invalid without at least addressing the potential of Generation IV nuclear technology. Which you should be able to do quite readily if you've considered fission at the length and depth that you claim.

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    77. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Thermoelectric power production has been the largest category of water use in the United States since 1965, and it is currently the fastest-growing user of freshwater. In fact, thermoelectric production accounted for more than 41 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in 2005, the most recent year for which US Geological Survey data are available.

      Thermoelectric production consumes more than 200 billion gallons of water daily in the US. A UCS study found that on average in 2008, plants in the…

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    78. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Spurious ad homs from one sided anti-nuclear zealot Ms Birney aside - the question is, can we address the problem of climate change without rational consideration of nuclear as one of the options?

      The problem with renewables alone is that, in most scenarious in which they aare envisaged, they need Gas as a supplement. This was even acknowledged by the Wind Industry advocate in the Recent IQ debate on Big Idea

      http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2012/08/06/3561706.htm

      The problem is…

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    79. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Hi Mark,

      I have to admire your persistence. But you will never persuade Shirley. She is a serial plagiarist:

      "Thermoelectric power production has been the largest category of water use in the United States since 1965, and it is currently the fastest-growing user of freshwater. In fact, thermoelectric production accounted for more than 41 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in 2005, the most recent year for which US Geological Survey data are available. Thermoelectric production consumes more…

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    80. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hi Peter,

      I have no intention of trying to persuade Ms Birney. Zealots cannot be reasoned with. Only to counter her emotional one sided propaganda

      The truth is that the differences in water consumption between, say, nuclear and coal and solar CST are negligible

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/uploadedImages/org/info/water%20use%20efficiency.png

      And that is for older nuclear designs rather than the IFR.

      The problem that anti-nuclear zealots do not wish to confront is that renewables…

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    81. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      My god it is late - but thanks to iPad one can lie in bed and still correspond.

      I understand your position. Personally I agree with it. But Shirley and her ilk never will. Their views are well meant but based on ignorance. Have you read Carl Sagan's "This Demon Haunted World"? It explains the likes of Shirley very nicely. Less than 5% of our population (assuming we are similar to the USA) is scientifically literate. Hence the craziness on both sides of this debate.

      If Shirley actually understood what she argues she wouldn't need to plagiarise.

      As I have said previously - this medium empowers the otherwise powerless. It makes "experts" out of Inexperts. It is impossible to conduct serious debates here. But don't let me dissuade you. We each do what we think is important.

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    82. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Thanks Peter - it would appear we agree on this one. As I said I know Shirley cannot be persuaded because her mind is closed.

      For me these posts make a welcome intellectual distraction from my work which I tend to doat night.. I am afraid I developed the bd habit of night owl work when I did my PhD - I was at my most productive between about 10pm and 3am when there were few other distractions (pre -internet of course!) and wrote up the entire first draft dissertation of over 300 pages of physics formulae, words data tables and diagrams then in about 3 months. The habit has stuck.

      Enhoy your Ipad :)

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    83. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hello Peter, has the clock struck 12? Back on your midnight prowls again? And it would be remiss of me not to inquire if you’re still bristling over being the biggest loser with 127 red flags “awarded” by The Conversation’s readers. If I may “plagiarise” a few of your comments for a moment:

      “I don't cite Andrew Bolt as a reference, but I do respect his integrity………Simply said climate change is not the most pressing issue confronting our planet. It's over emphasis simply clouds our perceptions…

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    84. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      For the umpteenth time Ms Birney I am not pushing nuclear - I am pushing rational consideration of it as an option to address the dilemma of climate change - an issue you have never addressed

      I understand that is a nuance that eludes you - rather like your ability to spell my tiitle

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    85. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley,

      Your interest in red flags is fascinating. One has to wonder why? Or perhaps the answer is obvious. If I so choose I could give myself as many blue flags as I want, and you as many red flags as I want. But I can't be bothered. I am comfortable knowing that I can and therefore know they are simply meaningless! But for you??????

      A small lesson in English. When you cite what I have said or others have said in quotation marks (or other appropriate indicators) and the citation is appropriately…

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    86. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      " I am not pushing nuclear - I am pushing rational consideration of it as an option to address the dilemma of climate change"

      Which just happens to be nuclear.

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    87. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      I believe there are far more offensive posters here than Shirley. Yet she does garner a huge number of red flags.

      Just sayin'

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    88. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Generally Ms A the nuclear option looks quite acceptable for folks who never leave home. It assumes everywhere is nice and clean and stable and placid and rich like us. But it's not is it?

      So when they are saying that nuclear power can help the world's poor - they are talking through their cud. The world's poor simply live in the wrong places to be planting these high risk wagers.

      Unless Dr Mark is seriously endorsing North Korea as a suitable location and condemning those nervous nellies in the Pentagon and the State Department who might have quibbles.. Or Iran. Or the Congo. Or Somalia. Or pretty much anywhere else I can think of that has a lot of seriously poor people just crying out for ipods and plasmas.

      It is - at best - a solution for us rich fat white folks. Nothing global about it at all. Even a nice clean rich country like Japan looks dodgy don't you think?

      It is sophistry, pure and simple.

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    89. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Mr O

      Nuclear is the easy option.

      It does not require the same amount of ingenuity as solar, wind, thermal or (insert clean renewable of choice here). Also these energy sources benefit the little people - that's you and me - not leprechauns. We can stick solar panels on our own rooves. Even our own windmills - depending on where we live. There is so much that is do-it-yourself about clean tech which must really cut up the noses of all those with vested nuclear interests.

      It (nuclear) also has some very powerful and cashed-up backers who want to become even more cashed up and powerful - funny that.

      Yet they continue to pee on our legs and try to tell us it is only rain.

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    90. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Forgot to add that clean renewable energy is easier for third world countries to install and utilise.

      Now before someone jumps down my throat and asks where they would get solar panels from, I am not suggesting using solar panels as the only solution. Simply to use alternatives to suit the conditions.

      Strange how little attention is given to these possibilities and how much excess attention is given to nuclear.

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    91. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Mr O - this is not up to your usual standard of wit and honesty.

      It is intellectually dishonest to twist my point about not having the sovereign right to dictate to other nattions (however loathesome their regimes may be) their options in relation to power sources or military options into support for, say, North Korea (possible the most loathesome regime on the planet).

      First, nuclear as a power source need not involve adopting it militarily (Japan, Kprea and Germany are clear examples…

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    92. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Sorry if you found my response was disengenuous Mark.

      It's just that I have for a long time found that the greatest impediments to nuclear power are not so much technological as social and political. And it annoys me to the max when the discussion is couched in purely technical and extremely localised terms while ignoring or minimising these factors.

      It is particularly annoying when there is an assertion made that the peaceful atom can help the world's poor. It blissfully ignores where they live and the political instability of poor countries and regions.

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    93. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Yo Peter Sommerville, faux-scientist, climate change denier and midnight stalker. I don't give a fig about five star Hoppy badges. I am merely the messenger of facts which speak for themselves. The covert yellowcake gang from SA don't like facts so the more red flags they award, the greater they're exposed as charlatans and greed merchants.

      The pathetic mob are incapable of challenging the messenger on the irrefutable evidence provided so when they're cornered like rats, they play the zealot card and scurry over to the red flags.

      And just to alleviate your ignorance, females don't need viagra. It's the impotent midnight stalkers that OD on the stuff. Oh by the way, are we keeping you "up" or are you overdue for the second hit?

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    94. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Yes, renewables, especially solar panels, are an excellent option in some areas, because of their distributed modularity advantage - especially in countries without a grid and the lack of a capital base to establish one.

      http://www.sciencemag.org/site/feature/data/energy/pdf/se107800651.pdf

      I suggest the right answers come from rationally considering the best solutions for the circumstance.

      If you are really open minded you quickly come to realise the either/or debate between nuclear and…

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    95. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark

      Regarding third world, I was thinking of renewable energy sourced from materials available to the locals - for example; much easier to construct windmills, than solar panels.

      This is why alternatives will take more imagination and ingenuity than to create a reliance on advanced tech such as nuclear or solar panels.

      Will look at your link re: Japan later - just too tired right now.

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    96. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley

      I just stood up for you and you went and displayed a level of childish insult I expect from the likes of Dale Bloom or Craig Minns.

      Won't make this mistake again.

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    97. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna - whilst I agree with you in principle about local materials, and I don't want to sound un-necessarily discouraging - I think you may be underestimating the technological complexity of wind to generate electrical power. Imahination and ingneuity are indded required. But such ingenuity needs to be grounded in what is real - not what we wish to be in contradiction to the evidence

      The turbines, brushes and electronics etc are fairly sophisticated. Windmills to generate mechanical power…

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    98. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      David:

      A few others to throw into the mix... biogas (cheap simple and operates at a decent mid-scale (about the same as wind) ... and seemingly inexhaustable. We really should be lookin g at this here as well.

      Solar Thermal ... have a look at the link I sent Dianna somewhere here - a spiffy little set-up made by MIT students and funded by the World Bank in Lesotho ... cranks off enough juice to run a small hospital and accommodation while keeping the beer cold.

      Small scale hydro power - virtually useless here but has some serious applications in places to our immediate north.

      There's also some seriously odd stuff like osmotic generation - for estuaries where you have fresh and salt water mixing ... Norway have a little plant operating from memory.

      Lots of options and possibilities. I'm not satisfied with any of the renewable technologies on offer actually. All need more work and more smarts.

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    99. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes Peter - interesting options. And the MIT project using a crude but effective solar thermal approach utilisable at a local level was a great example. More foreign Aid to projects like this that both empower poor communicaties AND avoid emissions and pollution.

      But I'm Mark :) and she's Dianna. Though I bet David Arthur if he's reading this will possibly also beinterested

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    100. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      @ Peter Sommerville: "Perhaps you should take a couple of viagra's before entering The Conversation."

      Dear Dianna Art @ fastmail, welcome to your new role as self-appointed moderator of this forum and for "sticking up" for me, however, I have been successfully sticking up for myself and many of the underdogs of society for 65 years and that will continue, with or without your assistance or your feigned outrage at my lack of political correctness. Childish? Pot/kettle?

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    101. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      There is a history here Dianna over other conversations. Shirley has offended a lot of others.

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    102. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley,

      You remain a plagiarist. It is a judgement you constantly avoid. But it is so simply fixed. That is up to you.

      I for one am happy for you to articulate your views robustly. There is nothing wrong with quoting from sources, as a support. That is what Mark does.

      But degenerating into abusive comments does not add weight to the debate - it simply makes you irrelevant. Take care.

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    103. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "... the either/or debate between nuclear and renewables ...". The only one I hear pedding that dichotomy is you.

      Mark Harrigan: "If renewables are the answer ...". As I've said before, if we can't learn to live on renewables alone, I reckon we're toast. To that, I'll add; if we resort to fission, we're toast that glows in the dark. If the latest technologies live up to the hype, the glow might just fade a little sooner.

      I remember most of the history of fission power. I've heard too often how cheap, clean and safe it is - and found that to be false on all fronts. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. You seem determined to be fooled again. That horse is dead; time to stop flogging it.

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    104. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      My mistake Dianna - I think I was a touch too provocative. I knew what the response would be. Sorry.

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    105. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - if you choose to be close minded on the subject that is your perogative. I do not.

      It is quite plain that many advocates of renewables do treat it as an either or question (though to be fair many on the nuclear side are unfairly dismissive of renewables).

      Certainly, those of us in the developed world could get by with less. It is also clear that using less energy is not the answer for the world's poorest. As the discussion on this thread explores - modular renewables seems a great…

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    106. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Except that there are technological solutions to the issue you keep raising. If you're that worried about the huddled masses somehow contriving to sabotage their own power plants (and do so in a dangerous manner), the travelling-wave type reactor advocated by Bill Gates can be supplied as an entirely sealed black box, with no human intervention (and therefore no accessibility) required for years.

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    107. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Show me a manufacturer of affordable solar panels and wind turbines, and I'll show you a massive corporation with some very powerful and cashed-up backers.

      And DIY clean tech will result in far more deaths per kWh than any amount of nuclear energy. Faffing about on rooves with heavy devices producing hundreds of watts is highly dangerous.

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    108. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mr Harrigan’s trickery offends the principles of integrity . One reason is his obsessive emphasis on the IFRs and how the technology makes it unnecessary to mine uranium.

      He then crows about the public debate on nuclear power and boasts of the pro-nuclear speakers’ ability to impress the crowd. Spruiker for the affirmative, Michael Angwin is the CEO of the Australian Uranium Association and former chief employee relations adviser at Rio Tinto and owner and director of a management consultancy…

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    109. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Er, sure Shirley. Your "balance" and open minded even handed evidence based approach is apparent to everyone here :)

      I think my record on TC in adhering to the science speaks for itself. It is apparent that you hate nuclear so much that you would prefer AGW regardless.

      In the meantime, for all its many ills, the fact is the current nuclear generation of power avoids around 2 Gigatoness Per Annum of additional atmospheric CO2 - or about 4x the entire output of Australia.

      It would be great if we didn't need nuclear to get rid of the more than 30 GTpa the world currently emits. And the more renewables can do the better.

      But there is no compelling evidence it can reduce it any where near enough.

      I understand open minded rational consideration of that is beyond you

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    110. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Ah. So there's nothing to worry about Mark. We can dispense with the IAEA and the State Department and all those obsessive ill-informed worriers - we have a sealed black box ... we have engineered all those silly worries of mine away. North Korea can have as many black boxes as it wants. Iran too. And Somalia.

      I know I keep repeating this silly worry of mine ... but obviously you engineering types aren't understanding what I'm saying. I try putting it differently.

      It's not the huddled…

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    111. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "Are you aware that Japan, after a long history of stable emissions, has recently had a large increase in their emissions."

      Japan with 50 nuclear reactors in operation is the 5th largest polluter on the planet and the only states that emit more pollution are nuclear states - China, US, India and Russia.

      Japan has had nuclear energy for 40 years and its dilemma is a result of its snub of the Kyoto Protocol, its refusal to invest in renewables and the greedy interests of its elite to expand nuclear power to protect its fiefdom, despite years of mass public protests.

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    112. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Every month this year I've heard about a new development and improvement in the scope of renewable energy. I think this trend is going to continue now the message is well and truly out that new answers are needed.

      What Australia should be doing is encouraging all development of these technologies.

      Why isn't Australia the global leader in solar, wind and wave energy? We have THE country for all of the above, but we're kept huddled close to the coal generators by the lobbies that have the money…

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    113. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Renewables can be deployed, but the problem is political and financial. Which are always the problems around the nuclear industry.

      Japan hasn't deployed them already because the nuclear lobby have successfully lied their way to the top in influencing decisions. I can only hope this accident will force the government to see the lies for what they are and start investing heavily in other solutions.

      Show me how much industry has to reduce their consumption by to meet the right level and make that…

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    114. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Truth and transparency are the enemy of the nuclear state. Only its arrogant fools and charlatans know everything and understand nothing.

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    115. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter:

      " I'm not satisfied with any of the renewable technologies on offer actually. All need more work and more smarts. "

      Agree.

      Meanwhile the nuclear lobby obfuscate and delay most possibilities of the work required for renewable tech. They not only delay transition to renewables for first world countries but add to the misery (for the most part unintentionally - I am being very generous here) for third world development. As I have stated previously much alternative energy's small scale…

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    116. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark

      Please read my response to Peter I made a few minutes ago.

      Human technology has never remained static, therefore arguing from a POV that there will be nothing better than nuclear as an option is quite frankly myopic in the extreme.

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    117. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal asks: "Why isn't Australia the global leader in solar, wind and wave energy??"

      Because of a very powerful nuclear lobby, represented by people like Mark Harrigan et al.

      Why would nuclear be favoured over far safer forms of energy? Because the big dollars are in nuclear not in the small scale flexibility that solar, wind and wave energy clearly offer.

      Why have we seen small scale anything disappear in favour of multinationals? The local traders forced out by the Coles and the Woolworths? Same story, just different players. Am betting that there are a lot of oil companies with their fingers in the nuclear pie, they are not stupid - just greedy.

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    118. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      @ Mark Duffet:

      "Show me a manufacturer of affordable solar panels and wind turbines, and I'll show you a massive corporation with some very powerful and cashed-up backers."

      Really? More powerful and cashed up than pro-nukers?

      Show me.

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    119. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      On this point, when the idea of recycling was first posed in the US in the early 80s, the business world and many politicians said "you'll never get people to change their habits to separate rubbish for recycling"

      What in fact happened is that people adopted the separation before anyone had real recycling centres set up. It seems business was making excuses to not change and blamed the population at large.

      With water restrictions in Australia, we're seeing the same behaviour. The people handle it while industry complains.

      I think the same will be the true with power. The people will react much quicker than industry.

      So it's time to call industry to account first and force the innovators to come forward.

      At the same time give the general population targets. I bet general consumption will be at a sustainable level within ten or twenty years.

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    120. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Actually Mark you have made an unintended, I believe, point.

      Part of the reason for so many obstacles being put in place of R&D into renewables is that these forms of tech are difficult to monopolise. While solar panels and wind turbines have yet to be owned by just a couple of corporations - I'll bet my favourite kookaburra they (Big Business) are working on it.

      And BB already have the nuclear industry tied up - its very nature requires huge scale projects - perfect for the oligarchy.

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    121. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Morning Ms A...

      What's this with wagering our wildlife? Cease and desist Dianna lest you give Mr Waterhouse ideas.

      I must admit when looking at some of the work done on Solar Thermal plants in particular there seems to be a rather strange Big Engineering approach that seems rather unnecessary and unjustified. You know the sort of set-ups - hundreds opf little mirrors on robotic racks, focussed on a central "boiler".

      I'd be interested if any of the learned folks here have done any work on the underlying economics of this sort of operation - what they are designed for and why this sort of complexity and size is deemed worth exploring. I've never seen such an analysis myself and would welcome some enlightenment.

      And keep your mitts off the marsupials Ms A!

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    122. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      That's great Dhugal. And Rooftop Solar PV is a great, possibly even the best?, solution for domestic supply.

      I'm all for it - and in Aus, from memory, it's about 28% of the market. Will require significant improvements in battery technology for it to really dominate and larger higher density housing is a little more problematic - but that's a quibble.

      That doesn;t do 100% of the job though.

      If the point is that given that the rate at which we decarbonise will determine how much warming the planet experiences, and given that we decarbonise more rapidly if we use both renewables and nuclear power, and that every single 100% renewable scenario on offer involves the use of gas - which is NOT decarbonising, how many degrees of warming do you think it is worth to avoide the use of nuclear?

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    123. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal - I have a very open mind about renewables - and would prefer a world that was 100% renewables (without gas). But I also like to live in a real world.

      There are newer and better nuclear options on offer than the ones everyone here judges by - just as the future of renewables hoprfully continues to improve.

      If the problem is how to rapiddly decarbonise why is it that you won;t consider ALL aternatives?

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    124. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal you make a claim

      "Japan hasn't deployed them already because the nuclear lobby have successfully lied their way to the top in influencing decisions"

      in response to my raising the point that, post Fukushima, Japan's emissions have gone up

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-09/japan-utilities-emit-record-co2-after-fukushima-disaster.html

      What's your evidence for that claim??

      They've gone up - because Japan has NOT replaced the nuclear they switched off with renewables - but with fossil fuels. What is your evidence that this is because of nuclear lobby lies?

      Or is it ust a smear to avoid facing the reality that renewables are NOT the sinecure veryone here seems to think they are?

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    125. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Top O, back atcha Mr O

      "Big Engineering approach that seems rather unnecessary and unjustified. You know the sort of set-ups - hundreds opf little mirrors on robotic racks, focussed on a central "boiler""

      I Know.

      Seems like overkill to me. Used to live in Brunswick, Melbourne and this suburb used to have (until it was Jeffed) its own electricity grid. That this no longer exists should be setting off alarms as to why the "big Engineering" approach is favoured and why so little is being done to implement renewables - the great unwashed might be able to go completely off BB grid and then, where will the oligarchy be?

      BTW

      Kookaburras aren't marsupials they are flesh eating dinosaurs.

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    126. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna I resent your slur that I am part of, or represent, a powerful nuclear lobby.

      I am a private citizen with opinions who differ from yours and I happen to support my claims with evidence - something you do not - instead prefering to avoid to the difficult question by side show slurs balming it all on some corporate consipacy.

      The difficult question, as a citizenry, we have to confront is this one

      If the rate at which we decarbonise will determine how much warming the planet experiences…

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    127. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Not marsupials?? Really??? That would explain quite a lot. Not least the rather coarse turkey taste. And the dissapointing lack of eggs from my local Eastern Grey roos. Still I live in hope.

      Actually I was trying to head off any escalation in your wagering up from old dinosaurs into more substantial species... upping the antechinus as it were.
      Do you get them - shocking little critters ... quite bizarre actually.

      I live on the coalfields and a lot of the rural towns had their own power grids and gas plants. All gone now of course - uneconomic, a relic, demolished and scrapped..

      It's like my shed - no sooner do I do a clean-up and throw stuff away than I'm wanting some uneconomic useless widget or gizmo back next day.... just the thing.

      I'm kidding about the turkey taste - more like tough chicken actually... but a long way tastier than koalas which resemble ute tyres marinaded in eucalyptus lollies. Shocking!

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    128. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      You're painting a false choice here.

      I will not be forced into making a bad decision by pretending there are only two options.

      The third option that you're ignoring is that we have to change the demand to make renewables the complete solution.

      I have considered and reject the nuclear option for the reasons I've already given at length.

      Trying to claim that I'm not open minded because I disagree with your apparent conclusion is incorrect and the kind of statement I normally hear from homeopathic merchants and UFO fanatics.

      Real world evidence considered on how the nuclear industry actually operates as opposed to the magical engineering theory world and I do not see any benefit in inviting those environmental terrorists into my country.

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    129. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I'd just like to thank you Mark for presenting the case so well and in so much detail.

      You have repeatedly made it clear the point of your stance is to provoke discussion, making people see the problem we're facing clearly.

      It's certainly given me lots of new and educational reading and given me a much broader and detailed picture of both the energy crisis generally and the decisions we must face.

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    130. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Have considered and rejected the nuclear alternative. It's a poisoned chalice.

      And it is not the only alternative choice to solve the issue.

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    131. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      So you're telling me that the government knowingly invested in a plan whereby the moment an accident happened the company involved would go belly up because they simply hadn't catered for such an eventuality?

      Or was the government told that everything would be fine and there wouldn't be an accident and to stop worrying?

      Who would tell them something like that?

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    132. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      No Dhugal - I'm saying that, post Fukushima, wisely or not, The Japanese government, and TEPCO, made a decision to shut down and have not yet restarted most of their nuclear plants.

      As a result they are now using far more fossil fuels - they have not replaced the lost capacity with Renewables.

      Any criticism of the Japanses for not having lots of renewables on stand by would be unfair as this is criticism after the fact.

      There is no evidence to support your original claim that the increase…

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    133. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      On what basis is it a poisoned chalice - and please focus on the future of nuclear via IFRs in formulating your response since, when you ask to consider renewables you demand (quite rightly in my view) that their potential future capability is primary.

      And what, exactly, is the other alternative to solve the issue?

      The evidence in relation to efficieny gains is that

      1) Delivered outcomes on the ground are useually way short of abstract theoretical possibilities - just ask any practitioners in the field
      2) Efficiency and demand reductions are important low hanging fruit but by definition have limits
      3) Efficiency reduction frequently suffer from the Jevons paradox

      If, however, you have another option on the table - the world wants to hear about it.

      Otherwise we must confront the hard question - how many degrees of warming are we willing to pay to avoid nuclear?

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    134. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Thanks Dhugal - I appreciate that. Again I would articulate. IF we can do the job without any new nuclear - so much the better. I'm just skeptical.

      And we shouldn't forget that existing nuclear offset about 2GTPa of emissions (prior to Fukushima) - so closing nuclear is a retrograde step with respect to AGW without a clear replacement.

      That said, I would like to see us increase renewable subsidiies and investment to maximise their impact - especially where they can unequivocally do the job (i.e. 3rd world, small villages and advanced economy domestic). Remove the restrictions (but not the controls and oversight) on nuclear investment but improve the watch men/ safeguards and accountabilities and remove all fossil fuel subsidies as rapidly as possible and decommission fossil fuel plants as rapidly as possible.

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    135. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      No, criticism of Japan for not having renewables steadily growing with the intent to phase out nuclear power is very legitimate.

      Nor is it criticism after the fact to suggest Japan have a better fallback plan than burning a vast amount of coal. Epic fail on behalf of the Japanese government for believing the PR from the nuclear industry that everything would always be fine.

      Actually any nation that exists on volcanic islands should remove nuclear power from their list of choices for the…

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    136. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Okay Dhugal - but I don't agree and think you are being unfairly judgemental, not considering all the evidence and also not offering an actual solution for them

      1) If not nuclear or fossil fuel for Japan - what? Their solar insolation isn;t that great and they are not large enought to hope to have relable distributed wind. Doesn;t mean those technologies don;t have a role to play but they need a lot of energy to support their manufacturing powerhouse and they have very few natural resources…

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    137. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Stop! Hammertime!

      <insert mad dancing skills here>

      It's a poison chalice in the same way oil and the oil industry is a poison chalice. They are exactly equivalent in the style and scope of their malevolence, hell, it's the same people....just with different environmental outcomes from their actions. Better if you're measuring carbon, worse if you're measuring operating safety and legacy.

      The third solution is to change the demand to bring it back to a level that renewable energy can provide…

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    138. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Japan needs to rethink their industry strategy as does everybody else.

      If they have trouble building the energy, then rather than public bailouts of private industry followed by hundreds of years of terrible pollution, they should look to changing the industry.

      The attitude to power has always been the same as our attitude to oil and natural resources: infinite capacity. We know it's not really true for other finite natural resources, why do we think it is for energy derived from those finite…

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    139. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal your mad dancing skills are appreciated.

      I haven't seen the particular TED talk but will watch as I am a big Fan of TED.

      Even though I might share, at least in part, some of your sentiments about sustainability, infininte growth etc and I agree it's time to start doing things differently - which is why I support as much renewables as we can make work - unfortunately I think the clock has run out.

      Those sort of changes take time - more time than we have. They should have started decades…

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    140. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      See my post above. I might agree with your aspirations but not how pragmatic they are. I would support making a start in the direction you espouse but suggest doing so won't solve our immediate problems with AGW which must be tackled this decade.

      Perhaps I might argue that any poison in the chalice with nuclear lies more in the people and management accountability side than the technology. Although if you actually examine the full technology lifecycle of IFRs they tick most of the sustainability boxes pretty well - consume waste, rather than produce it and recycle their fuel inputs - but that's getting a bit technical.

      Thanks for the discussion. There's no easy answers but the important point is to think deeply based on evidience rather than reactively and emotionally based on FUD and misinfomation about the matter. I appreciate you engaging at that level

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    141. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Can we take it that you were unaware that the authors in the “iopscience” link you provided were funded by the allegedly aggressive Intellectual Ventures (TerraPower) who are building nuclear reactors?

      Bill Gates, the GM/Nuclear/”donate a goat” devotee tipped in a few million biggies for the project. That’s hardly an unbiased source for assessing the impacts of natural gas. Strange that you were unaware of the project since Barry Brook at Brave New Climate wrote about IV/TerraPower’s nuclear…

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    142. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "I would support making a start in the direction you espouse but suggest doing so won't solve our immediate problems with AGW which must be tackled this decade."

      Ah well that completely disqualifies IFRs since they have barely progressed beyond the drawing boards and haven't a hope in Hades of "tackling the problem this decade."

      And who would recommend IFRs anyway when it will take a thousand years for a fleet of IFRs to even consume the existing radioactive waste that’s languishing around the world and expanding as we write? Obviously the motives of nuclear proponents is to propagandize on non-existing IFRs while sucking up to the uranium industry. It’s a bet each way and bugger the consequences.

      To insist that a comparatively small population of 23 million has to have nuclear energy is simply ludicrous.

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    143. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley you really are completely blinded by your prejudices aren't you.

      The study was published in a piece of peer reviewed literature - so who funded it is irrelevant,

      The BEST study was partly funded by the Koch brothers - known backers of Big Oil and fossil fuels. Are we to reject it's fundings because of the funding source?

      Typical of your biad you call Bloomberg a "tabloid" - as it conveniently allows you to dismiss what they say. Shall we dismiss them also here?

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-11/clean-energy-investment-rose-24-in-second-quarter-bnef-says.html

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    144. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Ms Birney again you misrepresent.

      1) The time to START is now. Read what the IEA actually says and try, for once - to actually understand the evidnece before you. They talk about STARTING this decade in relation to pilkcy changes. They, and every single creible person and body who actually understands this issue (as opposed to being completly being blind by hate filled prejudice and bile) knows that it will take at least until 2050 to solve the problem

      2) I have not insisted that "that a…

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    145. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      ROFL Mr O

      I am told that koalas are very good for head colds.

      Have been away installing new O/S to see if I could get something that loaded this website a little more swiftly - as the time it took to log-in, find whomever I wanted to reply to, was taking up way too much time. If I had a dollar for every hour spent waiting on computers do do something - I'd be telling Gina Rinehart what to do.

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    146. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I apologise for assuming you have vested interests in the nuclear industry.

      I do not apologise for holding a different opinion to you.

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    147. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Well said Dhugal.

      Due to O/S issues my patience has been severely tested and I tire of pro-nuclear people suggesting I am stupid for not agreeing that nuclear is a safe clean option. It is not. It has limited use in medical and in the space industry.

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    148. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      No one is suggesting you are stupid Dianna (or at least I am not).

      I am suggesting that using words like "safe" as an absolute is illogical.

      Safety and risks has to be weighed versus alternatives and the costs/risks/benefits they carry.

      I have offered evidence to show that nuclear stacks up well on those measures versus alternatives - and can offer a greater reduction/abatement of risk in warming than any credible solution on offer that excludes it.

      I accept you have a different opinion. I question whether it is grounded in valid evidence though?

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    149. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Thank you Dianna. I did not ask for an apology on either matter but I accept it gracefully.

      Of course you do not, nor should, have to apologise for a different view - anymore than I should for mine.

      My challenge to you is this. Are you capable of changing your view?

      When people went to the debate on nuclear (hosted by the St James Ethics Centre) many changed. Before the debate started, the organizers took a poll. The audience was split almost evenly into three camps 35.1% in favor of nuclear, 30.6% opposed and 34.3% undecided. After the debate, the results were substantially different: 51.4% in favour of nuclear, 31.6% opposed to nuclear, and 16.8% undecided.

      Why is that I wonder?

      Watch and decide for yourself :)

      http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2012/08/06/3561706.htm

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    150. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I have done years of study on the environment - and cannot see a need for nuclear except for use in medicine and currently as part of the space program.

      I would regard myself as irresponsible in the extreme to prefer the use of nuclear to power our homes and cities when we have and are further developing far cleaner and sustainable methods of energy.

      This topic does go further than mere opinion - I have studied for years and have an excellent understanding of the issues. You couldn't bribe me to swallow the line that nuclear is the best way for Australia to obtain energy.

      I find it difficult to believe you when you claim no vested interests in the nuclear industry, you say you are not therefore I have to accept this. However this latest attempt just leaves me thinking you are game playing.

      I will not be responding any further to your comments.

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    151. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      That sounds like a closed mind to me - not open to new input. It's your choice of course.

      Many hundreds of people who had an open mind attended the debate to which I linked and came to a different view. I do not think they are all ill informed or stupid. If you haven't watched the video of the debate how can you tell? If you refuse to watch it can you really claim to be rationally open to persuasion?

      I accept your view is different. It's a pity your mind is closed.

      Perhaps you might contemplate then the implications of that for AGW.

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    152. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Really Mr Harrigan? Several Moncktonians publish in the peer-review journals too but I wasn’t aware that the bios and affiliations of peer-reviewed authors were classified material. Does the TC know this? Have I incurred a penalty for advising that the co-author of the study funded the research or that he’s the owner of TerraPower, a company that’s designing nuclear reactors?

      Co-author of the study, Nathan Myhrvold states that “It takes a lot of energy to make new power plants—and it generally…

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    153. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      You really can't help yourself but slander and slur can you Ms Birney. It's a reflection of the sad state of ypour mentality and the puacity of your logic and arguments - not to mention the confirmation biad seeing only that which re-inforces your world view. I feel sorry for you really - to have such anger inside.

      The other author of the study is one of the most respected Climate Scientists in the world, Ken Caldeira - no doubt you are happy to slander him too.

      No doubt also the many hundreds of people who attended the St James Ethics centre debate of whom more than half, after open mindedly listening to the very strong presenations from both sides, decided nuclear might be alright - are also evil corporate dupes and "Moncktonians".

      Pathetic really - grow up and learn to debate with rationality and civility

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    154. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      In patterns of argument, the lowest form of debate is the verballing of one’s opponent. It would be prudent of you to delete the spurious allegations in your last post, Mr Harrigan.

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    155. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Truly laughable - anyone can see that you verbal anyone and everyone who has a different view from you. It is indeed a low form of debate.

      Ms Birney it is patently obvious you are incable of a rational balanced view on this. We get it.

      You just don;t have the courage to consider there might be other views. I note you haven't the ability to watch the ethics centre debate

      I don't have a problem with people who object to nuclear - but maybe you need to take a leaf out of the book of someone like Dhugal who is at least capable of something resembling a civil and balanced discussion.

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    156. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      “I note you haven't the ability to watch the ethics centre debate..”

      That is yet another total fabrication and an indication of an ideologue who never flinches from an opportunity to scheme and plot no matter how sordid.

      Truth is irrelevant to Mark Harrigan. Who would buy a used car from this master of spin?

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    157. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "... sounds like a closed mind to me ...". Mark, Mark, Mark; pot calling the kettle black?

      Dianna Art: "I find it difficult to believe you when you claim no vested interests in the nuclear industry, you say you are not therefore I have to accept this. However this latest attempt just leaves me thinking you are game playing." Too right, except that I don't accept your assertions of no vested interests.

      From my perspective, you sound a lot like Alex Cannara. He's a member of many…

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    158. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      Mr Boxhall - on what basis do you say my mind is closed?

      I am open to persuasion on this matter. I have posted many times about the negatives of nuclear. I have debated vigorously with blind nuclear zealots (like Peter Lang). I would not accept any nuclear plant in this country without many strict conditions and even then would make a judgement based on specific circumstances. The main problems with nucclear, it seems to me, are the people ones.

      But, when I weigh that against the downsides…

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    159. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      In relation to your comment:

      "I'd be interested if any of the learned folks here have done any work on the underlying economics of this sort of operation - what they are designed for and why this sort of complexity and size is deemed worth exploring. I've never seen such an analysis myself and would welcome some enlightenment."

      You might find the following site interesting:

      http://beyondzeroemissions.org/

      I will leave it to you to make our own assessment.

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    160. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "... on what basis do you say my mind is closed?" On the basis, less of your words than of your behaviour. On that evidence, your mind appears open to all possibilities except the one that history implies is most probable; that fission is not a viable option.

      Mark Harrigan: "The main problems with nucclear, it seems to me, are the people ones." The field does seem to be populated with more than the usual proportion of Black Swans, tough.

      Mark Harrigan: "... when I weigh that…

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    161. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      Sorry David, but with due respect I disagree

      1) I am open to persuasion that 100% renewables can provide the answer - but on the available evidence they cannot. Every single credible renewables scenario has a significant, often as much as 1/3rd, gas component. Gas, over the life cycle, is not a low emissions technology

      2) I am open to persusion that nuclear fission with IFRs is not a viable solution but at the moment think it is worthy of considerartion/evaluation. The techbnology is sound…

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    162. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan said: “I have not insisted that "that a comparatively small population of 23 million has to have nuclear energy" - in fact nowehere have I explicity advocated Australia go down the nuclear path.”

      Despite Harrigan's protestations, he has bludgeoned the reader senseless with his incalculable number of references to the nuclear debate at St James Ethics Centre and not least to speaker, Michael Angwin B.Comm, CEO of the Australian Uranium Association.

      “Oh what a tangled web he weaves…………….”

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    163. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      People are free to watch the debate and decide for themselves - or are you afraid Shirley that some who might actuall have more open minds than you - might find something that informs them? Afraid? I wonder why you have a problem with a reference to a public open debate on the matter hosted by The St James Ethic Centre - or do you think it is better to be ill informed?

      http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2012/08/06/3561706.htmhttp://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2012/08/06/3561706.htm

      Actually - I don't believe I have ever mentioned Mr Angwin on these threads. You are the first to refer to him.

      I thought the best and most balanced speaker was Professor Daniela Stehlik - although It was also revealing and informative to hear Dr Fumihiko Yoshida.

      Open mind Shirley? They work best that way you know

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    164. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Despite having 317 comments on this thread, I have yet to witness one poster giving the thumbs up to the nuclear debate with which you have bombarded readers. This does not prevent fanatical egotists from believing they can brainwash the audience by resurrecting the link again, again and again. Get a grip on yourself Harrigan. Your horse is dead.

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    165. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      You really dont get it do you Shirley.

      I am advocating rational consideration of nuclear - I am against irrational zelots and closed minds (such as yours).

      Some one like Dhugal and Peter Ormonde have shown such rational consideration. The fact that they come to a different view to mine is not the point. I respect the fact that they have considered the matter - and also that they might be open to further consideration. You are clearly not and therefore irrational.

      I challenge those who…

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    166. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, there's wisdom attributed to America's Dakota Indians; when your horse is dead, it's best to dismount.

      You will never be convinced that fission is not a viable option and I will not be prevailed upon to ignore the lessons of history.

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    167. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "Some one like Dhugal and Peter Ormond have shown such rational consideration."

      Augumentum ad Populum – pitiful.

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    168. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Oh I have to butt in here (put a rug in it, Shirley).

      Only males, Peter Ormonde and Dhugal Fletcher "have shown such rational consideration".

      Wrong.

      I have presented my case clearly and succinctly (sans personal insults) - I have given reasons why nuclear is a dead end choice compared to clean sustainable and variable energy.

      I have explained why marine power plants are harmful to an already endangered marine environment..

      I have noted the $/time line to produce, build and implement…

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    169. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley,

      "Augmentum ad Populism"? Do you understand Latin? It literally means "if many believe it then it must be so". It is an argument you and many others have used over and over to justify your own positions. Strange to see it being used against Mark. Just a comment.

      This has been an interesting debate.

      Mark's argument as I understand it, supported by reams of references, is that there is an urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions. On the other hand modern industrial society relies upon…

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    170. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      That's just a silly unfounded assertion David. You claim I will "never be convinced nuclear is not a viable option" - on the contrary. If renewables can be developed to provide a 100% solution without gas that would convince me they were a preferable option to nuclear. I don't like nuclear - I would prefer not to use it. I jsut think the downsides of adopting it are outweighed by the benefits of averting dangerous warming.

      You, on the other hand - have clearly stated you will never be prevailed upon to change your mind.

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    171. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Diana - I meant no disrespect to your gender. But no, I did not find your debate with me rational since you resorted to a personal slur upon me without evidence.

      I accept you may well have considered the problem rationally - although I don;t recall you offering any evidence to support your conclusions - just that you claim to have studied and considered the problem. I am more than willing to take that at face value.

      I do note though that you have not acknowledged that you are deciding to make the trade off I have aluded to - or else are acce[pting that renewables can do 100% of the job without compelling evidnece they can - just a hope they will.

      It is possible toi share that hope, as I do, and still come to adifferent conclusion with respect to the risk trade off.

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    172. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, your summary of my argument is accurate. Thank you.

      As to impact? Well, although none of us here appear to be infuential policy makers I don;t see how it can hurt to have public discussion about such an importnant matter.

      Cheers

      P.S. The BZE plan is so full of outrageous assumptions its a joke. Not the least of which is a completely unrealistic energy consumption target by 2020. And it includes lots of gas. It's been critqued many times

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/09/trainer-zca-2020-critique

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    173. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      "I have explained why marine power plants are harmful to an already endangered marine environment.." Nonsense.

      Dianna Art, your posts are bereft of reputable sources to substantiate your blatherings. Providing reputable sources is a requirement for non-technical egotists who suffer from the I, me, myself syndrome.

      When someone sings her own praises, she always gets the tune too high so don't talk about yourself; it will be done when you leave.

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    174. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      @ Peter Sommerville

      I understand your summary and find your assessment very reasonable.

      @ Shirley Birney

      Alternative energy requires collaboration and cooperation from a diverse range of people - you are shooting yourself in the foot by being so incredibly insulting, there is no need to be so abrasive. BTW I have written at length on marine damage.

      @ Mark Harrigan

      I do understand your sense of urgency - I am equally concerned, however nuclear is simply another problem that will…

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    175. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I really should've written the above after my first cuppa.

      "cost to the average consumer or present energy"

      should read:

      "cost to the average consumer of present energy"

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    176. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      David Boxall: "... not a viable option ...". In response; Mark Harrigan: "... a preferable option ...". See the sleight of hand?

      David Boxall: "... I will not be prevailed upon to ignore the lessons of history." In response; Mark Harrigan: "... you will never be prevailed upon to change your mind." Is there a pattern here?

      As I've said, my judgement is based on your behaviour.

      The nuclear power industry is putting substantial resources into profiting from environmental concerns. In my view, either you've been deceived by the industry's tactics or you're in receipt of some of those resources.

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    177. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - it is possible to come to a view that nuclear is worth consideration and be neither fooled nor in the industry's pay. Many have done so, some prominent environmentalists included.

      I accept you have a different view, I just don't completely agree with you.

      It doesn;t say a lot for you though that you find it necessary to accuse someone who disagrees with you of being either a fool or paid off. But if that makes you comfortable in your own foxed view of the world I wont be able to change it

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    178. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna. If your judgement on the cons was based on the nuclear industry and its technology of the 70s I would agree with you. I would only support (perhaps) nuclear if it were based on the IFR design - where a number of the cons you mention are diminished or non-existent. SoI wonder if you have factored that into your thinking?

      100% renewables means 33% Gas - thats too miuch climate change for me. If its okay with you fine - but that is in effect what you are saying yes to.

      As for "diplomacy" and "Shirley" - well, its very hard to be diplomatic with Shirley. I've tried before in on line debates and, quite frankly, her one sided attack dog approach makes it difficult.

      adieu too - hope you enjoyed your cuppa - I'm off to have mine

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    179. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna Art @ FreeMail, you appear to cite facts but your terms are so vague that no facts are present. As a result, my baloney detection kit has triggered the ‘intellectually dishonest’ alarm bell. Please direct me to where you have written at length on “marine” power plants that harm already endangered marine life.

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    180. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "It doesn;t say a lot for you though that you find it necessary ...". As I've said, over and over again, my judgement is based on your behaviour. Above, I've outlined some of the deliberate distortions you've introduced to bolster your case. Elsewhere (https://theconversation.edu.au/christine-milne-the-economy-must-serve-people-and-nature-not-vice-versa-8854#comment_67675) I've mentioned some of your other sophistries. If you want to be trusted, act trustworthy.

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    181. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - all you've offered are snippets of alleged quotes from me out of context. You are being dishonest - not me. You are also being offensive

      My position is clear. I have stated it many times. Peter Sommerville summarised it well.

      I think we need to rationally consider nuclear (at least at a global level) as a viable option to combat climate change. I have reached this conclusion because on the evidence (which you consistently fail to address) there is not a single credible renewables…

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    182. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Sorry, but I can't let that pass without comment. If your concern is mining, Dianna, then you should be in favour of nuclear. The footprint of uranium mining is less than a ten thousandth of that of coal and gas. There is greater impact from mining of the materials used to build the nuclear power plant than there is from fuelling it - yet renewables construction requires from 5 to 15 times more mining (than nuclear) per unit of energy delivered.

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    183. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark,

      As far as BZE is concerned, my view exactly - I didn't want to prejudice the discussion by expressing it.

      I also think their costings are totally unrealistic and in terms of the positioning of their heliostats they really did not take water supply into account.

      I too like Mark Diesendorf - not because I always agree with him but because he is prepared to engage - as is Judith Currie, another much maligned scientist.

      The principal problem you are confronting in this debate is that…

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    184. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hi Peter, again much on which we agree.

      Not on Judith Curry though. While I think she started out trying to build a bridge to anti-AGW denialists she has since said some silly things.

      I understand she is trying, rightly, to draw attention to the whole uncertainty/ambiguity issue - which is good. But I suggest she is rightly criticized for her uncertainty-focused climate discussions containing mistakes and inflammatory assertions unsupported by evidence.

      In effect her arguments about uncertainty…

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    185. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      We will have to agree to disagree on Judith Currie. I have a reference, but I have posted it elsewhere, so you have probably seen it.

      My apologies for not correctly attributing your qualifications. Atomic Physicist, nuclear physicist? Both still need and understanding of physics at the atomic level. But I am happy to accept your qualification.

      But fundamentally we are on the same wavelength here. Which simply illustrates a quotation I have cited before saying there can be no debate until the…

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    186. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      No, haven't seen your Curry reference (or it may have slid by).

      You've probably seen this?

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-heretic
      and this
      http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/10/26/206933/scientific-american-jumps-the-shark-online-polls-judith-curry/

      I think the Sciam article was useful but flawed. The Think Progress more balanced. I don't completely damn Curry and she does, at least, try to enage in constructive discourse which, as you say, is mmore helpful than not.

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    187. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, I don't think you really quite hit the nadir of condescension with this post.

      One does not need a PhD in nuclear physics to weigh up the pros and cons between nuclear and sustainable energy sources.

      Our PM isn't even versed in the "soft sciences" let alone rocket science - nor does she or subsequent leaders require hard science training to form an opinion, to evaluate, to arrive at a solution.

      Nor do the majority of people need be "rocket scientists" to follow a topic.

      Your…

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    188. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Mornin' Ms A,

      Curses! I am undone.

      For months now I have been gently convincing Dale Bloom of the inherent virtues of renewable energy and you come along with this:

      "Renewable tech will not have women returning to boiling clothes, chopping wood and cooking on wood fuel stoves in the height of Australian summers."

      Right when I almost had him convinced to strap some panels on his roof.

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    189. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Mr O

      Your humour has brought some much needed, and as far as I'm concerned, well-deserved sunshine into my day.

      Have you been watching the Good Twin/Evil Twin Dale Blooming over on the Misogynists and Nutjobs page?

      I am completely beholden to the Conversation team for permitting this feast of the surreal to go on as long as it has. Maybe no-one has alerted the moderator. And I'm not going to. In fact I shouldn't have mentioned it myself - but does real life get any funnier and weirder than watching Femboy duke it out with Macho-mincer?

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    190. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I have indeed Ms A and it raises a series of awkward questions in my addled mind.

      How does one steal an identity and if one could why Dale's? Perhaps it is easier to pinch a fragile sense of self than one more tightly tethered to reality?

      But I suspect you are insightfully correct when you allude to the twin notion, and that what we are watching is Dale wrestling with his inner feminine side... circling himself in the ring, embracing his more nurturing self and applying a full-nelson in a battle to the death.

      Something like this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBynXo3UQN0

      My money's on Dale.

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    191. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I do believe that Dale will prevail, heh, heh, with judicious use of the double overhead nostril and win by a hair.

      Such genius selection of videos.

      Did you require a PhD in Nuclear Physics given such an erudite choice?

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    192. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "... all you've offered are snippets of alleged quotes from me out of context." Any reader can scan your posts to confirm the accuracy of the quotes. I've put them in context to highlight your tactics. It's revealing that the tactics you've adopted are commonly employed by climate science deniers.

      Mark Harrigan: "I think we need to rationally consider nuclear ...". I wonder why you're so determined to divert resources to profit the nuclear power industry.

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    193. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "The BZE plan is ... a joke. ... It's been critqued many times". Then you quote bravenewclimate.com, that scion of credibility that published a critique complaining about the transport provisions in a _stationary energy_ plan. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/

      The nuclear power industry is evidently getting desperate.

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    194. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      Fine Mr Boxhall - have it your way. I;ve made my views clear. If it comfortsyou to engage in conspiracy ideation in realtion to someone who holds a different view from you so be it.

      You did not put my quotes in context - you cherry picked them. I've made it clear how you misrepresented them. I've stated my views. You can choose to have your head in the sand about AGW and the trade off you are making re nuclear - that's up to you. I can even respect that it is a rational trade off, as long as it's done with an open eyes

      I suggest it is you who are adopting deniliats tactics but I'm sure you wont be able to see that or agree

      For the record I also linked to Mark Diesendorfs criticism of BZE - and Diesendorf is probably one of the most respected renewable researchers in the country for whom I have much dmiration.

      You can stay stuck in your certainties. I prefer to keep inquiring.

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    195. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      I also quoted mark Diesendorf - but you conveniently ignored that (ring a bell from denailists David? Ignoring that which you find inconvenient?)

      Mark Diesendorf is doing probably the most valuable research on renewables in this Country.

      His comments on BZE are here

      http://www.ecosmagazine.com/view/journals/ECOS_Print_Fulltext.cfm?f=EC10024

      Unlike you, Mr Diesendorf has productive and engaging debates with all, including those like Barry Brooks who advocate nuclear as part fo the Mix…

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    196. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      "Renewable tech will not have women returning to boiling clothes, chopping wood and cooking on wood fuel stoves in the height of Australian summers."

      Sure about that? Dhugal Fletcher probably won't admit to it in those terms, but when he said

      ""Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy intensive society"

      Correct: so society must change."

      that's pretty much what he's implying.

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    197. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      It appears that all who disagree with Mark Harrigan are conspiracists, or “closed-minded” zealots.

      In fact, respected scientist, Mark Diesendorf is quoted thus:

      ““Nowadays, renewable energy deniers are almost as active in spreading misinformation as the deniers of anthropogenic climate change,” Diesendorf wrote recently. “One of their principal false claims is that renewable energy sources are too unreliable to form the basis of an energy system for an industrial society. In particular, they…

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    198. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Wrong, on the facts, as usual Shirley. I've never claimed renewables can't supply baseload - although the evidence of Mr Diesendorf (whose work I am on record as admiring) that it can is based on simulations - not actual experience - and most acknowledge that it would require substantial investment in grid management technology. But it seems achieveable.

      What I have argued - and you would know if you actually READ the work of Mr Diesendorf (as opposed to blindly cut and paste selective cherry…

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    199. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      “Wrong on the facts, as usual Shirley. I've never claimed renewables can't supply baseload.”

      Oh I think you have Mark Harrigan: “None of the alternative power sources you suggest (geothermal power, solar, wind, wave motion, tidal, deep ocean thermals) can reliably generate baseload…….” (Mark Harrigan – The Drum – 2011)

      Further, your repetitive and negative beat up of Dr Diesendorf’s references to gas is curious since you wrote at Skeptical Science and DeCarbonise:

      “What is needed…

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    200. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan: "... conspiracy ideation ...". The nuclear power industry sees their window of opportunity closing, so they spend up big in the hope of profiting. No conspiracy required, just business as usual. See Mark, they're not really out to get you.

      Mark Harrigan: "... you cherry picked ...". That whine says much about you, Mark. Anyway, neither you nor I will decide. Judgement of our respective credibility lies with others.

      Mark Harrigan: "... I also linked to Mark Diesendorfs criticism…

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    201. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Gee Shirley - seriously? You want to quote something I said a year ago??

      I meant on this thread I never said renewables could supply baseload. A year ago I thought otherwise. Since then, because I like to learn and am open to persuasion, I have read the work of Diesendorf (and others) who have persuaded me otherwise because they offer evidence.

      Unlike you I am willing to change my beliefs in the face ov evidence. perhaps you should reflect on the famous quote by Keanes in this regard…

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    202. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Sorry, typo, on this therad I've not said renewables could NOT supply baseload.

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    203. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David - you were the one who accused me of being in the pay of the nuclear industry and said "In my view, either you've been deceived by the industry's tactics or you're in receipt of some of those resources."

      That IS a form of conspiracy ideation.

      Im gld you looked at bravenewclimate. The fact that you interpret their statement "To advocate an evidence-based approach to eliminating global fossil fuel emissions, based on a pragmatic and rational mix of nuclear and other low-carbon energy sources" the way you do is telling. It's ridiculous to translate that as an Econimic Rationlaism for Global Warming - in fact - it's downright stupid.

      As for renewables doing the job - read Diesendorf's critique of it. he doesn;t think their plan is viable either.

      Again - since you have comprehensively failed to do so - point me to a credible plan based on 100% renewables WITHOUT gas and I'll cheerfully embrace it and argue that IFR based nuclear is a poorer choice

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    204. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      No Mark Harrigan, you implied in March on the TC that renewables are useless so that’s it – argue about stuff like IFRs and imply they’re soon to happen, but they’re not. Argue by fast talking so when you dodge one topic and go to the next quickly enough, the readers won't have time to think. What a pickle you’re in but you’ve more front than Wal-Mart. The only avenue left for you with that massive hole you’ve dug for yourself, is to keep digging and carry on trollling. I'm rather partial to slapstick comedy.

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    205. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley - if the only way you can conduct a discussion is to lie and twist what the other side has said - so be it. It doesn't say much for your ethics, logic or discourse skills.

      I've never said renewables are useless - ever (even in the past) or even implied it. I have questioned in the past their reliabilty as baseload (it's a legitimate concern). I've since seen evidence to persuade me that it is possible (though it's yet to be demonstrated)

      On the various threads where I debate, inclouding…

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    206. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Denial is your defense mechanism in which you are faced with irrefutable facts that are too embarrassing to accept and so you seek to scapegoat an opponent in the desperate hope that no-one will read the small print.

      Act your age Mr Harrigan and take responsibility for your duplicitous conduct. We know who is “lying and twisting.” The evidence of your intellectual dishonesty is in black and white and spread across the web.

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    207. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley - this is pointless. All you seem to be able to do is throw accusations and smear.

      You've not produced a quote where I have said renewables are useless - because I've never said it

      Not once have you addressed the core issue I am raising - that renewables appear not to be able to do the job without gas and that implies more warming. My goal is to displace fossil fuels. Renewables are my first preference but if they can't do the whole job what then? Most 100% renewable scenarios involve…

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    208. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, you and I evidently view the world from very different perspectives.

      On nuclear fission, you believe the industry's hype. I accept the lesson of history; that it's not worth the bother.

      Your favourite whine "What if renewables won't do the job?" is not an option, in my view. We have a budget of energy, provided by the sun, which manifests in various forms on earth. If we can't live on that, then I reckon we're toast. If we resort to fission, then we're French toast (remember the Force…

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    209. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David, on what basis do you say it's "industry hype". I say it is pubslished data

      From MIT - http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-full.pdf

      "We decided to study the future of nuclear power because we believe this technology, despite the challenges it faces, is an important option for the United States and the world to meet future energy needs without emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) and other atmospheric pollutants. Other options include increased efficiency, renewables, and sequestration…

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    210. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      OK, let's compromise; using gas in the interim, to soften the shock of change, is unacceptable and history's right about nuclear. Failure is not an option. Where to from here?

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    211. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Way to jam words in someone's mouth.

      This is the kind of backward thinking I'm getting used to every time I say 'sustainable economy' instead of 'infinite growth'.

      Sustainable means sustainable, it does not necessarily mean living like the Amish (although they are pretty damn sustainable). They represent one approach to the problem and not one I'm happy with. Other people are certainly saying living middle ages style is the answer, I'm not one of them.

      The internet is too damn powerful…

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  12. Shirley Birney

    retiree

    Here’s anotheree to get the trigger happy red box nuclear pushers miffed since their overriding motive is not to challenge but to slay the messenger.

    The use of depleted uranium from civilian power plants is responsible for acts of maiming and mass slaughter. Workers at uranium mines are killed every year and thousands of people continue to suffer painful and lingering deaths from the ravages of radiation exposure, compliments of the nuclear madness.

    Book reviewer of: “If You Poison…

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    1. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Myrley Shirley wrote: "Here’s anotheree to get the trigger happy red box nuclear pushers bla-bla-bla"

      I am just wondering if you ever seen a nuclear power station. I am sure not. You have never visisted the reactor room, you ahve never seen the technological process, never designed any equipment for this process, never knew what the voting principles are when designing such high-tech equipment and so on and so forth.

      If so, how on Earth can you know anything about the nuclear power and oppoose to it.

      No wonder Australia shuts down communities in peak demand when people turn aircons on. Solar power or wind are useless in this case but thanks to people knowing nothing in electricity production new and even old proven technologies are not implemented.

      Do you have any idea how the grid operates and the supply / demand management? Of course not because Green people have no idea how this stuff works...

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      So Lolu Lolu....... (is that your REAL NAME?) what do you know about Solar?

      Not muh by the sounds of "No wonder Australia shuts down communities in peak demand when people turn aircons on. Solar power or wind are useless in this case"

      In actual fact, it's on hot sunny days when aircon demand is highest that solar REALLY comes unto its own......

      And NEVER generalise with crap like "Green people have no idea how this stuff works...", because some of us are actually very knowledgeable about this.

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    3. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      I dont have to know how to build an AK47 to know its a bad idea in the hands of children.

      I dont have to know how to build a car to know people die in car accidents every year.

      Your argument that you need to be an engineer to oppose nuclear power is ridiculous.

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    4. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I know about solar much more than you think Mike.

      Recently the Solar Trust of America (STA), owner of the world’s largest solar plant, filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Trust_of_America

      STA joins a long list of companies in the solar energy sector, who’ve gone bankrupt, ducked into protection from their creditors. Across the world, a few of the more prominent and expensive casualties are Solyndra, Solar Millennium AG, Energy Conversion Devices…

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    5. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      Well that was a long diatribe that didn't even tell us that those companies went bust because the Chinese undercut them with slave labour...

      NASA has solar panels that are 50 years old and STILL working.... you obviously didn't know that. I have 10 year old panels on my house that work as well as when they were put up. it's not the panels you need to worry about, it's the inverters in my experience.

      It's all rather immaterial really, I firmly believe that 50 years from now we won't have ANY energy that remotely looks like the excessive current consumption. in the end, ENTROPY always wins out, the current spike in energy consumption is 100% due to cheap and abundant fossil energy running out over the next 10 to 20 years. By then it will be all over Rover..... this is as good as it gets.

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    6. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      You even did not bother to read, of course. THis is typical Green attitude.

      The companies I mentioned broke because the govermnet and investors stopped supporting them. We cannot support companies for dozens of years having no return in a similar manner how you cannot go to the bank and give your money to have aterm deposit with 0% interest.

      However, when it comes to your money you clearly understand it, when it comes to the taxpayers money (your money is there too) you do not catch up. No surprise.

      Stuff about entropy doe snot respomd to any other questions I asked. This is again a typical Green attitude when inconvenient truth is ignored.

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    7. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      I trust you realise you're coming across as an arrogant know it all.....

      Are you aware that people posting here are supposed to use their REAL names...? So we know WHO we are communicating with, and maybe check their credentials?

      0% happens to be the current interest rate in the USA. So they probably moved all their investments out of the US..... to CHINA!

      Entropy is absolutely relevant..... the surplus energy we've taken for granted for the past 100 years and which we exploited to build EVERYTHING around us is fast vanishing, and it's causing all sorts of economic problems.

      Your precious nukes will cost so much to decommission (if they're ever properly decommissioned at all...) there will be none left to build new ones. Except in China maybe..... but even that is temporary as collapse sets in.

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    8. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike Stasse wrote: "I have 10 year old panels on my house that work as well as when they were put up"

      This is because we, as taxpayers, heavily subsidized your installation through the government grant. If we have not done this, you would still pay for this installation and start getting a return in 15 years only. This is very simple. YOu conveniently forgot about it.

      We cannot subsidize industries for dozens of years at a taxpayer’s cost. Conventional electricity is not subsidized and it lives…

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    9. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      I hate to tell you......... but ten years ago I put in $14,000 of my own money + $2000 of the government's........ I put my money where my mouth is!

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    10. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike Stasse commented: ""Are you aware that people posting here are supposed to use their REAL names...?""

      Well, when you have no arguments you go personal. This is a well known trick.

      As for the name, have you heard of the name Cameron Howard? I am sure you saw such names once or twice in your life. Have you heard of the name Howard Cameron? I am sure you saw them a lot during your life. So, what’s wrong with that? Is it just because you cannot think outside the box or is it just because you…

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    11. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      So, MIke, you still used the goverment grant of $2000. Can I use the grant of $2000 if I use my conventional electricity? No. Therefore, there is nothing to support your views.

      Even $2k grant is my money and everyone else's money to support you, which is all wrong.

      On top of that, having invested $14K of your own money you are about to start getting any return or so. A proper business model does not work this way and in particular when billions of dollars are wasted for subsidies.

      We wasted our money on our car industry here in Australia and therefore this industry is incapable to design any vehicles, they are all designed elsewhere. If we have not done so, they would do something and Australia would grow technologically. Instead, we wasted billions and the industry is still at its knees and goes down each year.

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    12. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      For goodness sake....... I've put 14.6MWh of clean energy into the grid with 'your' $2000...... that has saved nearly 146 tonnes of CO2, which at $29 a tonne is worth $4234. So the government's already made a profit!

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    13. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      Googling your 'name' reveals nothing....... as I expected, you're just a troll.

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    14. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      You conveniently forgot about 2 things again.
      1. You sold it to the grid. So, we subsidised you and then YOU got a piece of the pie again. THis is all wrong in the business model.
      2. You consumed electricity and the typical time of cost recovery for solar systems is 10 years.

      When houses are built and electricity connected, no one subsidises that. Why on Earth should I and millions of other taxpayers subsidize an industry which cannot survive without my suuport for sozens of years?

      Why on Earth should I increase my subsidy in 20 years time when solar panels are required to be decommissioned?

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    15. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      See........ you're jumping to conclusions again. For the first seven years, I sold what was generated to the grid for 21c, so I was subsidising YOU.... because by your own reckoning, solar power is expensive. So it must've been worth more than 21c....

      Furthermore, I consume very little electricity.... not even 10% of what YOU probably waste.

      And power stations ARE subsidised.

      "Recent federal government funding for the Hunter Valley Corridor Capacity Strategy rail upgrade totals almost…

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    16. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Appreciate the frustration dealing with the illogical fallacies and unfalsifiable facts in comments.
      Mike Stasse wrote; "Googling your 'name' reveals nothing" You are too kind.
      The link below works.
      Particularly given the context of all comments this pseudonym has made since the 18 October 2013
      _____________________________________
      http://goo.gl/l3xPHt

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    17. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul Richards wrote: "Particularly given the context of all comments"

      Mr Richards, you have not responded on any issue related to solar power scam, which I desribed in detail in this topic. Of course, you are not going to respond because you have no answers. It is much better for you to go personal than switch on the brain.

      BTW, unlike me, you posted for the last two years several comments a day looking at the number of posts. This is a good sign which proves that googling skill works really…

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    18. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      "...it's on hot sunny days when aircon demand is highest that solar REALLY comes unto its own..."

      That's not really true. PV performance deteriorates with increasing temperature. And on hot summer days (which aren't necessarily that sunny), at least in Australia, demand peaks between 4 and 5 pm, just as solar output is beginning to plummet.

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    19. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, as a professional in accounting I am telling you that you got it all incorrect. My comments are below.

      Re: For the first seven years, I sold what was generated to the grid for 21c, so I was subsidising YOU.... because by your own reckoning, solar power is expensive. So it must've been worth more than 21c....

      You were not subsidizing anyone in this instance as you sold your electricity to the grid and the company then sold it to all of us using market prices. So, we all have not benefited…

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    20. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      "...you won't have any power. But I will!"

      Are you still on the grid, Mike? If so, you do realise that if the grid goes down, you'll still be blacked out irrespective of how much PV you have on your roof?

      As an aside, it'll be interesting to see how the efficiency of those panels is holding up in 20 years time. Very few have warranties extending any longer than that.

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    21. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Not where I live in Qld.........! Walk down the street on a hot sunny day, and it's not traffic noise you can hear... it's AIRCONS humming!

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    22. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Panel warranties guarantee that the rated output will be still generated in 25 years time. Brand new panels can generate as much as 25% more than their rated output, then 10% more after 12 months tapering off to 0% more at 25 years. It's highly likely that after 50 years they will still be generating 80% of their rated output. I know people in Canberra who have 35 year old panels that still generate close to the output on the nameplate.... and technology today is much better than what it was…

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    23. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      The grid will die not because of "green hysteria", but because of Peak Oil and the collapse of Capitalism.....

      And in 20 years time, my panels will be just fine (my next system in Tasmania is highly likely to be a hybrid solar/wind/micro hydro system actually). it's the batteries and inverters that worry me.

      Well designed stand alone systems have been known to last 30 years (including batteries - you just have to get the best ones)

      And when it comes to decommissioning........ how can anyone who is a supporter of nuclear power say the crap you've just written with a straight face?

      By the time I have no power......... NOBODY will!

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    24. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      As an accountant, you must of course be fixated with money. What most people don't realise is that money's not worth the paper it's printed on...... created out of thin air so that rich bankers can get even richer while the likes of you slave away behind a desk to keep an unsustainable system going for as long as possible.....

      I personally don't care for money. The exorbitant prices I paid for solar ten years ago were never spent for making money..... it was the right thing to do. And for…

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    25. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      How does the world reach limits? This is a question that few dare to examine. My analysis suggests that these limits will come in a very different way than most have expected–through financial stress that ultimately relates to rising unit energy costs, plus the need to use increasing amounts of energy for additional purposes:

      To extract oil and other minerals from locations where extraction is very difficult, such as in shale formations, or very deep under the sea;
      To mitigate water shortages and pollution issues, using processes such as desalination and long distance transport of food; and
      To attempt to reduce future fossil fuel use, by building devices such as solar panels and electric cars that increase fossil fuel energy use now in the hope of reducing energy use later.
      http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/10/23/rising-energy-costs-lead-to-recession-eventually-collapse/

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  13. Carol Daly

    Director

    Read Bill Gamage's 'The Biggest Estate on Earth' Chapter 10 Farms without Fences and in particular, the last paragraph on page 304.

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    1. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to Carol Daly

      If in the last 100 years the average temperature has moved up o.8 degrees C , the world has in that time produced enough food to feed the worlds population. Yes there are millions starving ,but the reasons are varied as to why some people have excess and others are terribly poor. The increase in CO2 has increased plant and food production. Why do we think the temperature will go up more than 0.08 degrees C in the next 100 years. The world has adapted to that change. The direction we are taking…

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to trevor prowse

      Ah good - so it's not happening then this climate change business - and if it is -which of course it isn't - we can cope. Just so wrong all these experts eh? All these Cassandras warning of dead oceans and rising sea levels... all rubbish. Science - what would science know? Facts? Well we've seen what they can do in the wrong hands.
      I'm with you Trevor - I'd be ignoring all that nonsense.

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  14. Dave McRae

    logged in via Twitter

    Thank you, TheConversation for making this an editors' pick. What a delight to read.

    Thanks David Bowman for the sane questions posed - this is so rare of late. And to Christine Milne, thanks and good luck.

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  15. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    Is it statistically true that very few of those agitating to save the planet have never so much as picked up a geology text book let alone read the whole thing?
    Shows a remarkable low level of natural curiosity doesn't it?
    Geology is the easiest science to study because it helps to walk around on it every day by way of direct relevance.
    It is sad then that the champions of the planet feel it unnecessary to actually study it by way of promoting their aims and go out of their way to denigrate the…

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    1. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Hill

      James Hill wrote: "Is it statistically true that very few of those agitating to save the planet have never so much as picked up a geology text book let alone read the whole thing""

      On top of that, it is also statistically true that those agitating to save the planet have never
      * seen a real nuclear power station or designed any equipment for it
      * seen any oil platform or designed any equipment for it
      and lots of other technical things.
      ON the other hand, this complete absence of knowledge still allows them to protest against nuclear power or oil drilling without having any clear idea of OH&S and technological processes.

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    2. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      I dont have to know how to build an AK47 to know its a bad idea in the hands of children.

      I dont have to know how to build a car to know people die in car accidents every year.

      Your argument that you need to be an engineer to oppose nuclear power is ridiculous.

      Engineers were running Chernobyl when it went apocalypse. I dont trust them more than anybody else.

      In any case, the real problem with nuclear power has nothing to do with technology or engineering today or in the future, the business case makes no sense and no private company will take it on. We should do the same.Look further up this conversation where I explain in more detail.

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    3. Lolu Lolu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Really? Typical Greenpeace attitude.

      Will you oppose iron producing in Berlin without knowing the details? Will you oppose preservatives in food without knowing the details? BTW, in the second scenario they might kill you much quicker than the whole myth of global warming. However, you do not oppose preservatives because you have never thought about them but you dan oppose iron producing in Berlin having no idea that iron is not produced in there and having no idea of the technological process and risks involved.

      Well done.

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    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Lolu Lolu

      I'm sorry but that dirt under your feet is not a "Technical Thing, yuck!" unless those who cannot be bothered to privately study geology have evolved above ordinary mortals and now reside in a spiritual plane.
      Perhaps this is the thinking that excuses them from the basic requirement to study the subjects that they embrace.
      Geology is an Earth science and it is part and parcel of evolutionary biology.
      So is it true that environmentalists imagine that they "divinely" comprehend their subject, with no intellectual effort necessary?
      Goes with the arrogance one must suppose.
      No wonder Abbott has found it so easy to boot their backsides.

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    5. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Re: In any case, the real problem with nuclear power has nothing to do with technology or engineering today or in the future, the business case makes no sense and no private company will take it on

      In lots of other countries this business model works really well for dozens of years. BTW, if you go to these you would see the light is shining at night and all streets are perfectly visible unlike our dark highways. I am not even mentioning secondary streets which in their vast majority are really…

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