Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blogger Takes on Caldicott

Helen Caldicott is at it again, fortunately this time, we're not the only ones who are noticing. Here's The View from Benambra:

[T]he biggest problem with Caldicott's argument is that she doesn't examine the alternatives. And, even if we accept nuclear power is bad, the alternatives are far worse.

Sure, we have to store nuclear waste for an indefinite period. That's not unique. There is also considerable amounts of other toxic industrial waste that humanity is currently storing indefinitely - in countries with nuclear power programs nuclear waste represents only 1% of the stuff they have to store. And, as for spreading pollutants over its neighbours, I go back to it again; coal kills almost as many Yanks annually as car accidents do. Given the choice between nuclear and coal - and, whether Dr. Caldicott likes it or not, that's what the choice will likely be - I'll take nuclear any day.
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2 comments:

Matthew66 said...

Dr. Caldicott is a pediatrician by profession, unfortunately she seems to have forgotten her scientific training when it comes to the effects of radiation. Whilst not particularly noticeable in this Age article, Dr. Caldicott frequently refers to "anecdotal evidence" to support her arguments against nuclear energy. Unfortunately for Dr. Caldicott, scientific studies on the effects of radiation, including the UNSCEAR report in 2000 on Chernobyl, its 2001 report to the General Assembly and the June 2005 report on the incidence of childhood cancer around nuclear installations by the British Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, do not support the "anecdotal evidence". This suggests to me that Dr. Caldicott wants to find someone to blame for certain illnesses, and the nuclear industry is a convenient scapegoat that fits within her ideological belief system. Really, it is a bit like blaming a butterfly in Africa for a hurricane in Florida.

Robert Merkel said...

As an Aussie, we've been hearing from Helen Caldicott for many years - she's been a professional activist for over two decades. Given her commitment to the anti-nuclear cause, there's no way in the world she'd ever change her mind.

You may have noticed that there's been a considerable resurgence of interest in nuclear power in Australia. Most of Australia has recently suffered a very severe drought which, while not directly attributable to global warming, is the kind of thing that the climate models predict will occur more frequently if the climate heats up. Therefore, given the choice of nuclear or frying ourselves, nuclear starts to sound more attractive.

Vigorous discussion has been going on in the quality media about the issue for months now, and is starting to filter out more broadly, mainly due to Bob Carr's (Premier of New South Wales, the most populous state) advocacy of the issue. The debate splits both major parties.

In the Labor Party (akin to British Labour) the left of the party has a very strong anti-nuclear streak, but the right is starting to worry about global warming; a third factor is the influence of the coal miners' unions on the party. In the conservative ranks, you've got the economic rationalist global warming sceptics who like the very cheap power Australia's major cities get from conveniently located coal reserves, a lot of NIMBYists who know what the likely reaction of their electorates will be if a nuclear plant or waste dump was built there, and a few, like the Labor right, who are starting to worry about global warming and have identified the limitations of the alternatives.

A Parliamentary enquiry on the issue is just about to begin; it'll be interesting to see what comes out of it.