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More Polling Sleight of Hand from the Guardian

A few weeks ago, we told you about a poll commissioned by the Guardian (U.K.) that claimed a majority of Britons opposed the expansion of nuclear power. Of course, what the Guardian failed to mention was that the poll had been taken weeks before Russia decided to play games with Western Europe's natural gas supply.

Then, I said it might be time to take another poll. And the same holds true today, as the Guardian is touting results from a poll that was done by the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research:
[T]he Tyndall Centre today releases the results of a survey of public attitudes to climate change and nuclear power, which show that 42% of people oppose building nuclear reactors and 34% support it. The results broadly mirror previous surveys: a Guardian/ICM poll last month showed 48% against new building and 45% for.

The Tyndall Centre survey of 1,491 people, carried out with Mori, found 60% of people supporting new building as long as renewable energy sources were developed and used at the same time, and 63% agreed that Britain needed nuclear power as part of a mix of sources to ensure a reliable supply. However, 74% said that nuclear power should not be considered as a solution for climate change before all other energy options had been explored.
I have no reason to doubt the poll's methodology, but I can still question the results, which were based on interviews done in October and November of 2005 (PDF), weeks before the Guardian's outdated poll.

Like I said before, it's time for another poll. Or perhaps the Guardian and the Tyndall Centre would prefer to wait until news of Vladimir Putin's mercurial habits disappear down the memory hole?

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Ceridwen Devi said…
The whole point is to encourage conservation and energy efficiency. If biofuels can be used in the transport sector this would also save on energy imports as North Sea oil declines. Business as usual is not an option. We need to invest in alternatives.
Eric McErlain said…
I have no problem with encouraging conservation and energy efficiency, which must be part of any energy program going forward. The problem I do have is releasing polling data weeks after a major event that would undoubtedly affected the results.
Anonymous said…
I have the answer as to why Ceridwen Devi posted what he or she did about the vaunted virtues of “conservation and energy efficiency.” It is simply a desire to return to a simpler, communal, rustic, hedonistic lifestyle where technology, engineering and science no longer exist. Just read his / her own words:

On Ceridwens, Cauldrons and Churches...

“...'My church is a tree,' said an old friend once. We agree. Trees are our church too as is all of creation. Ceridwen is the muse, the mother and the poetic inspiration of the beauty of life. The cauldron is the crucible, the cooking pot of life, the warm breath of love, the heat of truth. We are pagans and follow the old ways and believe in the variety and multiplicity of wonder, spirit and the spiral dance of the divine.”

This isn't the 1700s anymore (nor the mythical Celtic 400s in Ireland), and we can't go backward in history with a planetary population of more than 6 billion. The simpler, communal, rustic, hedonistic lifestyle fantasized about by people like Ceridwen Devi is simply that – a fantasy.

1.2 billion Chinese and 1 billion Indians want to live in the same technological wealth as we Americans and Europeans. Only affordable and pollution-free base-load energy supplies can bring that about. That means nuclear fission, pure and simple.

Paul W. Primavera
Ceridwen Devi said…
So since the 1700's there is no point in putting value on nature. It's OK for oil companies to destroy wildlife habitats such as that of the Pacific Grey Whale or the Amazon Rainforest. That which we value we take care of. The Earth is not meant to be a trash can for human greed and folly. It is precisely the application of cutting edge high technology that offers us alternatives.
Anonymous said…
Ceridwen Devi,

I agree 100% with your statement that "The Earth is not meant to be a trash can for human greed and folly." That is EXACTLY why we need to use nuclear energy. Coal supplies 52% of electricity in the United States and every single day, depending on the source of the coal, a coal fired plant of 1000 MW output dumps between 1000 and 3000 tons of ash, let alone the tens of thousands of tons of NOx, SOx, COx and mercury spewed into the atmosphere. In comparison, a 1000 MW nuclear power plant produces 30 tons of spent nuclear fuel each year (NOT each day, NOT each week, but each year) that can be reprocessed and reused, thereby SAVING the environment from harm.

If you care about the environment, then you will support nuclear energy. It's that simple.

By the way, did you know that a coal plant gives off more radioactivitiy in the form of naturally occurring uranium, thorium and radium than a nuclear power plant?

Yes, we will need clean coal as an energy source, but I suspect that it will be far more expensive and difficult to sequester CO2 and make those coal plants clean than it will be to build and operate nuclear reactors. The cutting edge of high technology (to use your own words) IS nuclear energy.

I agree that we should use renewable energy to the maximum extent possible, but when there is no sunlight, there is no power; and when there is no wind, there is no power. Powering a modern industrialized, technological civilization requires terawatts of power (not the mere hundreds of kilowatts or tens of megawatts received from a solar array or wind mill generator) and that requires reliable and consistent delivery of such power unaffected by the vagaries of the weather. To preserve wild-life habitats, to ensure a healthy environment for our descendents, to keep pristine the Congo and the Amazon Rain Forest requires nuclear energy.

But I will nevertheless leave you with this one thought from Robert Heinlein which explains why mankind is always more important. You won't like this, but it's quite true.

There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who "love Nature" while deploring the "artificialities" with which "Man has spoiled 'Nature.' " The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature"-but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the "Naturist" reveals his hatred for his own race--i.e., his own self-hatred.
In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate. As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women--it strikes me as a fine arrangement and perfectly "natural." Believe it or not, there were "Naturists" who opposed the first flight to old Earth's Moon as being "unnatural" and a ''despoiling of Nature.''


Paul W. Primavera
Ceridwen Devi said…
First of all I am not a naturist. I keep my clothes on, except in the bath. If nuclear power is cutting edge go tell that to: or
I would also point out I have no connection with either of these companies. What about solar power, wind power and energy efficient building design and lightbulbs etc., etc., etc. A little imagination goes a long way. PS This stone age gal studied biology dude!
Anonymous said…
Ceridwen Devi,

There is no electricity from wind mill generators when there is no wind. There is no electricity from PV cells when there is no sunlight. Capacity factors for wind are around 30% and for solar even lower. Capacity factors for nuclear-generated electricity are more than 90% in the US. Conservation (which is NOT an energy source) and renewable energy schemes are all well and good, but they cannot power a technological, industrialized civilization for six billion people.

As far as nuclear being cutting edge, perhaps browsing the following web site on Generation IV reactors may give you a clue, but I suspect that you have already made up your mind:

BTW, do you drive a gasoline-fueled vehicle?

Do you get your electricity from the national grid?

Do you buy your groceries in a supermarket supplied by diesel fueled vehicles with all manner of food stuffs?

Do you use a computer powered by electricity?

If you haven't cut yourself off from the grid, if you haven't substituted your transportation means with non-fossil-fueled engines, if you don't do your own farming, if you haven't forsaken your computer, then you're just like the rest of us: utterly reliant on fossil fuel and nuclear energy.

You have no idea what it takes to cut yourself off from fossil fuel or nuclear energy, or what the result is. But I will elucidate: 2 million people in third world countries die every year from biomass burning because they got no electricity - biomass, that darling of green energy schemes. That's 5475 dead every day, or 228 every hour or 3.8 every minute - all because they don't have access to either oil / coal / natural gas or nuclear energy. EVERY SINGLE MINUTE 3.8 PEOPLE DIE BECAUSE OF GREEN ENERGY - BLACK DEATH. That is the result of what you so eloquently stated: "The cauldron is the crucible, the cooking pot of life, the warm breath of love, the heat of truth. We are pagans and follow the old ways..." The old ways KILL. That's why mankind invented coal fired power plants and nuclear power plants. Ayn Rand explained it best back in the 1970s and her words still hold true today:

“Ecology as a social principle…condemns cities, culture, industry, technology, the intellect, and advocates men’s return to ‘nature’, to the state of grunting subanimals digging the soil with their bare hands.”

“An Asian peasant who labors through all of his waking hours, with tools created in Bibical times – a South American aborigine who is devoured by piranha in a jungle stream – an African who is bitten by the tsetse fly – an Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth – these do live with their ‘natural’ environment’, but are scarcely able to appreciate its beauty. Try to tell a Chinese mother whose child is dying of cholera: ‘Should one do everything one can? Of course not.’ Try to tell a Russian housewife who trudges miles on foot in sub-zero weather on order to spend hours standing in line at a state store dispensing food rations [in the former Soviet Union], that America is defiled by shopping centers, expressways and family cars.”

“In Western Europe, in preindustrial Middle Ages, man’s life expectancy was 30 years. In the nineteenth century, Europe’s population grew by 300 percent – which is the best proof of the fact that for the first time in human history, industry gave the great masses of people a chance to survive.”

“If it were true that a heavy concentration of industry is destructive to human life, one would find life expectancy declining in the more advanced countries. But it has been rising steadily. Here are the figures on life expectancy in the United States (from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company):”

1900 – 47.3 years
1920 – 53 years
1940 – 60 years
1968 – 70.2 years…

“Anyone over 30 years of age today, give a silent ‘Thank you’ to the nearest, grimiest, sootiest smokestacks you can find [or alternatively, the Indian Point Energy Center].”

“Now observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists – amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for ‘harmony with nature’ – there is no discussion of man’s needs and the requirements for his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision – i.e., on the level of the sea urchin or polar bears….”

“In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods which Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire.”

“Without machines and technology, the task of mere survival is a terrible, mind-and-body-wrecking ordeal. In ‘nature’, the struggle for food, clothing and shelter consumes all of a man’s energy and spirit; it is a losing struggle – the winner is any flood, earthquake or swarm of locusts. (Consider the 500,000 bodies left in the wake of a single flood in Pakistan [or the current 130,000 plus lives lost in the tsunami of 2004]; they had been men who lived without technology.) To work only for bare necessities is a luxury that mankind cannot afford.”

“It has been reported in the press many times that the issue of pollution is to be the next big crusade of the New Left activists, after the war in Vietnam peters out. And just as peace was not their goal or motive in that crusade, so clean air is not their goal or motive in this one.”

“The immediate goal is obvious: the destruction of the remnants of capitalism in today’s mixed economy, and the establishment of a global dictatorship. This goal does not have to be inferred – many speeches and books on the subject state explicitly that the ecological crusade is a means to that end.”

“If after the failure of accusations as ‘Capitalism leads you to the poorhouse’ and ‘Capitalism leads you to war,’ the New Left is left with nothing better than: ‘Capitalism defiles the beauty of your countryside,’ one may justifiably conclude that, as an intellectual power, the collectivist movement is through.”

“City smog and filthy rivers are not good for men (though they are not the kind of danger that the ecological panic-mongers proclaim them to be.) This is a scientific, technological problem – not a political one – and it can be solved only by technology. Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death.”


Paul W. Primavera
Ceridwen Devi said…
This side of the pond it's now my bedtime, which is a pity as I'm rather enjoying our little chat. Homo sapiens sapiens managed to get by for 160,000 years without nuclear power, and death, like taxes, comes to us all either wholesale or retail. Ifan's grandfather fought in the Boer War and lived to be 98. He outlived many of his son's generation. We have lost good friends to cancer and heart disease, and one of our best friends died of influenza at 21, just 10 years ago in an intensive care unit in Germany. Much of life is contingent as Stephen Jay Gould always used to like to say. There are so many of the world's leading scientists who are now warning us of the ecological dangers we face. We have to learn to make do with less for less is more in the long run.
Anonymous said…
Ceridwen Devi,,

Steven Gould's assertions have been debunked again and again. See:

200 years ago life expectancy was far shorter than today. Access to cheap energy has changed that. People 200 years ago didn't live long enough to get cancer. They died of other diseases or malnutrition long beforehand.

Technology, science, engineering has benefited the human race immensely. To bring up the living standard of third world countries to ours will require the inevitable use of nuclear energy. Even the Gaia theorist James Lovelock now sees the truth in that:

We should not condemn the innocent women and children in third world countries to a measely existence of poverty, disease and death merely because people like YOU are afraid!


Paul W. Primavera
Brian Mays said…
Interesting discussion.

Although "Homo sapiens sapiens managed to get by for 160,000 years without nuclear power," they have not done so with a global population as large as we have now. Now perhaps if we killed off 90% of the world's population we could go back to the way things were in 1700, but short of that, we will have to rely on advances in technology to support as many people as we have now.

I remain unconvinced that "renewables" and conservation will be able do it by themselves. Their proponents like to point out the great advances that have been made in these technologies, but it is difficult to accept this when one of the links given in this discussion as an example of this "cutting edge high technology" brings up a website that proudly boasts that its technology has been around for a approximately a century!

I'm sorry, but I cannot see how setting aside enormous portions of fertile land, which could be used to grow food, for the production of something to stick into internal combustion engines similar to what we have now is either a wise thing to do or a step ahead. It sounds to me like business as usual with extra farm subsidies.

Conservation and efficiency should be promoted. The use of technologies such as wind, hydro, and solar should be investigated and applied when and where they are practical. But to dismiss a proven, viable, and readily-available option because of political, ideological, demagogic, or phobic reasons is simply foolish.
Anonymous said…
While I believe that we should use renewable energy to the maximum extent possible, what the Cato Institute has to say about this is quite illuminating:

Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not "Green"

Additionally, Ceridwen Devi would benefit from studying the information in various web links provided at:

Eco-Imperialism - Green Power, Black Death

So-called environmentalists have done more to both harm the environment and impoverish hundreds of millions of innocent people world-wide than Adolph Hitler or Josef Stalin ever dreamed of doing.

Sober, sane environmentalism requires nuclear energy as part of the energy supply mix. Yes, solar and wind and tidal and geothermal and hydro can all help, some more and some less. But the only way to reduce dependency on fossil fuels is with ALL these methods. Dr. James Lovelock recognizes that. Would that the followers who have disowned him would pay more attention to their 'spiritual' father.


Paul W. Primavera
Ceridwen Devi said…
As a so called environmentalist living on this so called planet I happen to believe that we are not always clever enough to calculate the so called consequences of our so called actions. The so called biologist Stephen Jay Gould was not as stupid as many of his detractors maintain. Contingency is part of life, creepy heh! Are the big boys afraid that their toys do not provide all the answers. In a week when one conservationist was murdered and another, Jane Goodall, received the Legion d'Honneur maybe our arguments deserve a little more respect. Chernobyl happened. Three Mile Island happened. Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened. And Kennedy nearly blew us all to bits over Cuba. And as for the radioactivity left after the bombing of Belgrade, we won't even go there.
Hwyl fawr, Ceri!
Anonymous said…
Ceridwen Devi,

You confirm everything I had suspected when I first went to your blog site. Please ponder the following:

The event that occurred at Chernobyl cannot happen at a Western light water cooled and moderated reactor. Chernobyl was a graphite moderated, water cooled weapons breeder. It had a positive void co-efficient of reactivity and no containment structure. Western light water cooled and moderated reactors have a strong negative void co-efficient of reactivity which makes them inherently stable and containment buildings made of steel re-inforced concrete some 3 to 6 feet thick. The laws of physics prevent what happened at Chernobyl from ever happening at a Western reactor.

As far as TMI goes, that accident PROVED that when the worst happens to a Western reactor, neither the environment nor the public are adversely impacted (except for the fear-mongering and hysteria that people like you disseminate). Not a single human life (nor animal life for that matter) has been either injured or killed as a result of any radiological event at any commercial US nuclear power plant for the past 50 years. NOT ONE!

As Rod Adams points out at his Atomic Insights web site, nuclear power is safe enough and clean enough to provide heat and electricity to 120 people in an enclosed submarine for years at a time. No other power source can do that.

As far as Hiroshima and Nagasaki go, the best way to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons is to consume nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors to provide low cost, pollution-free electricity so that it is never available for use as weapons. Indeed, Western reactors cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium; there are too many non-fissile isotopes mixed in. Additionally, Western reactors are ideal for being fueled with down-blended HEU or MOX (mixed oxide fuel that include plutonium from deccommissioned weapons and uranium). There is such a program to do this and it's called "Megatons to Megawatts". See the following web page:

From the web site:


Anyone who supports nuclear dis-armament has to support commercial nuclear power. It only makes sense.

Now consider the plight of Russians living in one of the coldest winters ever. Nuclear power can alleviate this plight, but because of fear-mongering, hysteria, and disinformation dissemination by people like you, innocent men, women and children are freezing to death right now. How much human blood would you have on your Celtic hands? Or is Mother Nature in all Her Divine Celtic Fury more important than innocent Human babies being kept warm? Read what Rod Adams writes. Read and think about the consequences of your vanted environmentalism. Those consequences are HUMAN DEATH - death of men, women and children.


Paul W. Primavera
Brian Mays said…
Ceridwen Devi,

What does Jane Goodall have to do with this conversation? And using "Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened" as an argument against commercial nuclear power makes as much sense as me saying, "The firebombing of Dresden happened. Therefore, we should ban all burning of wood." (And if you want to compare body counts, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are believed to have ultimately caused approximately 300,000 deaths total, whereas the Anglo-American bombing of German cities in WWII claimed around 400,000 civilian lives.)

By the way, in this discussion people have been talking about two different Goulds. The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould and the statistician Jay M. Gould were not the same person.
Anonymous said…
Brian Mays,

Thanks for the correction - I was the one who confused the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould with the 'statistician' Jay M. Gould.

Steve J. Gould

Jay M. Gould

My apologies for the confusion.

But I still don't understand what relevancy Steve Jay Gould has with nuclear power.


Paul W. Primavera

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