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Although John Howard has (thankfully) begun to fade into history, it is quite clear that a number of his rather more questionable initiatives may well be with us for a long tme to come.
In the dying year of the Howard Era there was a large push from the government and many of those with vested interests in the Liberal (Overseas Transalation: read Hyper-Conservative) Party Of Australia to push for a reactivated Nuclear Energy Programme in Australia.
At one level it was a blatantly opportunistic attempt to realise the commercial potential of what had been it's effectively 'sidelined' Uranium deposits which now had the capacity to add to Australia's already booming mining sector. On quite another level it was a dangerously radical right wing solution to what was the increasingly obvious disaster of Climate Change commonly linked to Green House Gas emissions from traditional fuel sources such as Oil and Coal; a problem that the previous government had wilfully ignored and denied through it's obstinate refusal to ratify The Kyoto Protocol.
That senior Liberal Party associates stood to gain massively from this change of Energy policy direction was never mentioned in the Mainstream press, as was the secret offer to make Australia's deserts the 'Nuke wastedump of the world' in an effort to allay US security concerns about the military potential of spent Nuclear fuel.
Whatever the real motives and plans of those at the heart of the push; the government was tipped out of office in November 2007. The status, however, of the initiative to return to Nuclear driven power sources may still be far from settled.
As the push for a Nuclear Industry in Australia regains momentum perhaps it's time that we reminded our government that there are many very valid concerns about nuclear energy; regarding weapons proliferation, safe disposal of waste and it's huge and ongoing potential for disaster that must rank more highly than the endless need for profit and energy consumption by business in this debate.
Most importantly, it is not just the likelihood of an accident in a reactor that must be evaluated in considering the pros and cons. That, admittedly, is lower in this century given recent developments in nuclear technologies It is, however, the overwhelming and catastrophic outcomes of such an accident that must always remain the pivotal consideration.
A coalmine collapse may kill scores of company workers but a fullscale nuclear accident could kill hundreds of thousands and render all surrounding land, water and air unuseable for decades, even centuries.
This is a technology that must never be used in Australia unless there is an 'absolute 0%' chance of any accident, ever. And that is something even nuclear energy's most ardent enthusiasts cannot and will not guarantee. Because they know that eventually, somewhere, with enough reactors in place, it will happen.
But, like John Howard in Hunter's Hill, they will make damn sure that they are not ever personally exposed to such a risk. As with aircraft noise, that risk will be inflicted upon a working class or rural electorate. Those who voted for Howard over the last Decade with a weather eye on their property values, should guess what that would do to their land values. If reactors are safe... I challenge those behind this latest push to establish one in their own suburb.
It's time governments world wide realised that they are ultimately at the helm of Societies not just Economies. And Australians must learn not to simply go on directing their voting preferences to support their hip pockets at the expense of their consciences.
The eventual outcome of such a practice is disaster for us all. This planet belongs to your children and your children's children. It is not simply yours to consume.
This is a must see sight for anyone even thinking of supporting the Prime Minister's current push. It is journal of a trip by a physicist's daughter an ardent motorcyclist, with a camera and a geigacounter though the dead zone of Chernobyl. Best estimates are that the land mass will not be habitable by humans for 300-600 years.
Oh, and for the fundamentalist Christians among you...the site has a little caption below one picture with a somewhat disturbing and relatively unknown claim about what Chernobyl actually means in Ukrainian. Can someone confirm this?
"In the Ukrainian language Chernobyl is the name of a grass, wormwood (absinth). This word scares the holy bejesus out of people here. Maybe part of the reason for that among religious people is because the Bible mentions Wormwood in the book of the revelatons - which fortells the end of the world....
REV 8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
REV 8:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
If I tell someone that I am heading to a "dead zone"... the best case response is; "Are you nuts?"
Posted: Wed 07 Jun 06 at 11:20am
There have been plenty of nuclear industry accidents - the
one's we know about. Like Mr Howard's government, the nuclear
industry already has a long record for secrecy. A list of known
accidents can be found on this reuters link:
To boot on the 1st of June this year, a Greenpeace activist was able to fly over the top of a French nuclear power centre (within 100metres) in an ultralight without any interference. This shows that French reactors are not protected from September 11 style suicide attacks. http://www.wagingpeace.org/blog/nuclear_energy/
Sure all forms of power generation have environmental effects, but special consideration must be given to the huge potential for radioactivy to cause massive and extremely long lasting damage.
I know from my experience of living in Switzerland that the Suisse have built nuclear fallout shelters everywhere in their country. This is not only for the eventuality of a nuclear war, but also in the case of a nuclear accident occuring in France just next door.
It surprises me that Howard who has used the fear button more
often than any other politician in Australia (terrorism, Iraq,
asylum seekers, home loan rates) is now telling us to be wary
of fear mongerers. In this instance it seems to me that we are
actually really facing a grave danger.