Nuclear: George versus Jonathon with Germany in the middle


I’ve been getting a bit behind when it comes to the nuclear energy debate started by George Monbiot in his 27th May blog. So I put a little time aside this evening to read both Jonathon Porritt’s answer’s to George’s four original questions and the subsequent reply made by George’s to Jonathon’s article.

If you haven’t read either then sit down in a comfy seat, with a nice drink and two computers (unless you like your screen full of windows). The second PC is to allow you with more ease to go and look at the various sources each quotes in defence of their own positions and/or attacks regarding the others alleged lack of vigorous research or alleged willingness to accept their ‘preferred’ industries data.

Oh and if you aren’t already familiar with developments in Germany you will be after this, as the decisions by Angela Merkel’s government this summer on nuclear energy and the wider development of renewable in Germany form a significant battle ground for our two combatants.

Four things that struck me when reading these pieces were:

1) George’s complaint “I regret the highly personal and vicious tone of his (Jonathan’s) response. This is now the third time in recent months that I have asked Jonathon to tone down his vitriolic personal remarks. I struggle to understand why they are necessary or how they help us to resolve the dilemmas in which we are all enmeshed.” Personally I think he’s got a point. If Jonathan is right he doesn’t need to cloud the debate by seeking to distract attention away from the arguments or being dismissive.

2) So long as you accept climate change is real (and man-made in respect of the current situation) then this debate is about how we deal with this as quickly and effectively as possible, which therefore means dealing with the energy gap. George is for new nuclear plants as part of a mixed strategy. Jonathan is for renewables only and no (new) nuclear power plants. The questions I as a reader need to decide is how much are either of them (and others) cherry picking figures to justify their (preselected selected or not?) cost effective solutions.

3) A lot of the debate between the two is a rational assessment of practicalities and choices. Some is simply green ideological debate (which is fair enough). The rest is the ‘politics’ of who you can and can’t trust and how much can be risked, win or lose. The danger with the latter is that we’re back to politic and ideology (which again is fine) but you should either argue openly for your agenda or support consistent and rational arguments for protecting the environment.

4) Personally, I’ve enjoyed reading and being challenged by George’s arguments. I’ve never liked nuclear power but I’m being challenged to defend my point of view or change it. I’ve long favoured (effective) renewable energy alternatives and would do so even if climate change was suddenly resolved tomorrow. In short I would expect to find myself fully behind Jonathan’s arguments but I’m left wondering is that it?

So here are the links:

The moral case for nuclear power

Why George Monbiot is completely wrong on nuclear power

Interestingly Jonathan did a blog this week Germany gets it wrong on nuclear which is also worth having a look at once you
finished the other pieces.

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