More nuclear support

The Herald on Sunday editorial slams opposition to nuclear power:

The nuclear threat to the planet pales into insignificance beside the threat posed by climate change.

Among the Kiwi contingent, the suggestion was as appetising as a plutonium milkshake. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters muttered darkly that we were not going to “abrogate our sovereignty”; Trade and Disarmament Minister Phil Goff cited “other concerns”, including waste disposal, safety issues and the creation of terrorist targets; and PM Helen Clark, who sees no role for nuclear power in the climate-change debate, dismissed it as “not something we are going to endorse”.

Such an unequivocal attitude flies in the face of shifting international and scientific opinion. Barely a year ago, Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace (which now derides him as an apostate), wrote that “nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power”. James Lovelock, the author of the Gaia hypothesis, pronounced that “only nuclear power can now halt global warming” and wrote “I entreat my friends in the [Green] movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy”.

Most people think countless thousands, even millions, of people died as a result of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. The World Health Organisation’s count is 75 – and all of those were people involved in fighting the fire and the cleanup. What is more, Chernobyl was a shoddily built, poorly maintained Soviet-era station belonging to a collapsing oligarchy: more than 20 years later, with all the technical development that has occurred, it is a poor example of the supposed risk.

It may well be that nuclear power is not viable here on practical or political grounds, though the likelihood is that we will fail to meet our emissions-reduction targets without a change in energy strategy. But we do ourselves and the world no favours by refusing out of hand to endorse or explore the nuclear option. When the biosphere collapses, it won’t spare this country just because we remained philosophically pure.

It would be good to have a response from the Greens to this.  Or from Labour.