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Cute animals will have to die

That's the message from today's Indie in relation to the Severn Barrage. It would provide 5% of the UK's electricity at the cost of some Beck's Swans breeding grounds. On the other hand we could open some more coal-fired power stations which would be bad for all of us.

So I think they're right, the swans have got to go.

The same series of articles calls for more nuclear power and questions the green credentials of the Prius.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
undyingking
Mar. 3rd, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
That article is, to say the least, rather simplistic. There are a number of different Severn Barrage options, some of which (while not generating so much electricity) don't affect the various zones of ecological significance.

And of course if we were to eventually have to obey their call for more nuclear power, we might not need a Severn Barrage at all, and then it would be a shame if cute animals had died just to make our government appear politically brave.
timgray
Mar. 3rd, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
If it advocates nuclear power it lacks credibility.
gbsteve
Mar. 3rd, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
I advocate nuclear, but perhaps lack credibility too.

It also calls for more coal power stations but only with CCS (if it works).
mytholder
Mar. 3rd, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Care to expand on that? I had the impression that even in the best case, renewables would only make up 60-70% of our energy needs in the medium term, and that there was a growing acceptance of the need for more nuclear stations.
timgray
Mar. 3rd, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
Based not on numerical scenarios, but on principle. I think George Monbiot's articles have an alternative view, where he did some sums and found that he would have to make some compromises. To be honest, the only reliable answer is to go back in time and cudgel a lot of people about the head.

But my principle is that nuclear power is an unsolution: that is, it's being put forward as a *response* by politicians so they look like they're doing something, but it doesn't actually *solve* the problems in question. We have an energy system that takes in non-renewable resources (that are currently peaking) and throws out harmful waste products. Why invest in another form of generation that does the same?

Plus, nuclear stations have a load of embedded energy and will take too long to get going. I've heard people argue that we have only a finite amount of practically accessible energy available from fossil fuels, so we should use this now as an investment to create the new energy infrastructure - because if we wait too long there won't be enough energy left to make the changes required.
undyingking
Mar. 3rd, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
There's also a deeply concerning security of supply issue with nuclear. The parts of the world where uranium is found are politically even dodgier than those where oil comes from. And it's by no means evident that there even is sufficient uranium to support the kind of globally massively expanded nuclear industry we would have if it was the main replacement for fossil.

And that's not even starting to think about the risks, the disposal problems, etc.

Fusion OTOH might be a better angle. I'd like to see a bit more money thrown at that, while we still have money to throw.

Realistically though there is more than enough solar, geothermal and offshore wind capability in Europe to cover all our foreseeable energy needs, if we could get organized about it.
mytholder
Mar. 3rd, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
cavalorn recently pointed out to me that the UK spends considerably more money on mobile phone ringtones than on fusion research.
undyingking
Mar. 4th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
Heh! That says it all.
gbsteve
Mar. 4th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC)
Yep £350 million on ringtones, £100 million on fusion. Perhaps science should try the fundable method of fundraising, or something similar. After all, we got £140,000 just for atheist bus ads. What if all that disposable income were channeled into "Science!"?
undyingking
Mar. 4th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
I might pay a couple of quid to have the sound of tortured nuclei howling their way into a plasma as my ringtone.
mytholder
Mar. 3rd, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Cheers for that.
timgray
Mar. 3rd, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
If anyone wants to invest some time in listening to people who actually know what they're talking about, I've been maintaining the website for a local lecture series on climate change:
www.hiye.org.uk/climatechange
timgray
Mar. 3rd, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Having read the original article, I'd say that it's a piece written with a particular goal and a particular tone (a rather irritating trying-for-attitude one). As you would with a piece advocating opposite views, I recommend taking nothing at face value and checking both facts and logic of anything you're interested in.

For instance, part of an argument for forgetting about food miles is that apples from New Zealand are grown in farms that use renewable electricity. Surely the conclusion there is not that shipping food halfway round the world is good but that British farms should use more renewable energy.

Anyway, I wasn't planning on preaching so let's give Steve his blog back. ;)
gbsteve
Mar. 3rd, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
I don't have a problem, I'm interested.
kruku
Mar. 5th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Can't they compromise? What a about a power station fuelled by swans? Then there would be an incentive for the power companies keeping Beck's Swans as species around as a natural resource.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )