Friday, 12 October 2007

Last week's video - Tim Flannery interview

From an interview Tim Flannery did with the WWF-Australia in February 2007.

Considering the WWF is conducting the interview, Tim does a good job promoting the role of nuclear power to reduce Australia's embarrassingly high per-capita emissions. He's advocating it be done properly, but it's obvious that - at least for him - nuclear remains on the table.


  1. Flannery says some interesting and often contradictory-sounding things about nuclear energy.

    It's pretty clear that he believes in attacking the carbon dioxide issue with everything we've got to throw at it, as fast as possible, and that nuclear clearly has a role to play in that.

    "Over the next two decades, Australians could use nuclear power to replace all our coal-fired power plants. We would then have a power infrastructure like that of France, and in doing so we would have done something great for the world, for whatever risks go with a domestic nuclear power industry are local, while greenhouse gas pollution is global in its impact."

    But sometimes it seems like he has to throw in some nuclear fearmongering, perhaps so that he doesn't fall out of favour with "environmentalist" groups?

    Consider the following pieces:

    "... solar thermal, solar hot water, photovoltaics. We're doing very well in all of those. We have over 40% of the world's uranium. We're just so wealthy in all of these resources and of course a lot of natural gas. So for low emissions sources of energy we're incredibly well off."

    But then we also have this strange, nonsensical comment:

    "And of course [Australia is] exporting 10,000 tonnes of uranium ore a year, some of that's made into bombs. I can imagine where Australian coal and Australian uranium conspire to destabilise earth's climate and leave us with a world full of the most dangerous weapons that humanity's ever devised."

  2. Hi Luke.

    Thanks for the comment.

    I don't have a problem with Flannery's comments. Few of us are machines, capable of 100% consistency. In general his comments are supportive of nuclear power's role in the reduction of emissions. But I think we agree on this.

    Regarding the last quote - I suspect what he is doing is connecting the dots as follows:

    As Australia's uranium is exported it may in fact be used 100%, atom for atom, in the peaceful production of energy radio-pharmaceuticals, etc. However, if that uranium displaces other countries' domestic stocks of uranium from peaceful programmes, it could hypothetically contribute to the production of weapons. I interpret his message as one of caution, to paraphrase - 'proceed, but do so cautiously and deliberately'.

    I certainly don't think the world would tolerate many significant nuclear proliferation events. So for the sake of the industry as well as the global benefits it looks to create, I'd agree with such a purposeful approach.

    This is entirely consistent with nuclear expansion proposals and programmes in progress around the world.