No more than a few days on from the most strident call yet for serious consideration of expanded nuclear industry in South Australia, home of some of the world’s richest uranium reserves, we have just avoided our third heat wave for the year. The elderly and frail are invariably put at risk in this weather by their access, or lack thereof, to adequate relief from the relentless heat. I personally know of a colleague’s parents-in-law who are hesitant to incur the bill for running their AC unit, and must be ferried to said colleague’s house when conditions become extreme.
The other major problem in this weather is right in front of everyone’s face in the morning, though it’s easier to see by commuting from an elevated suburb. The brown smog which is thickening by the day is primarily a build up of NO2, a byproduct of vehicle engines and industry. It is a hazard to the respiratory system, particularly for asthmatics and young children.
So there’s no excuse for energy to be far from anyone’s mind. Some might bemoan the fleeting attention paid to Business SA’s proposals… but I don’t. I understand the furore which dominated headlines over the Adelaide Crows’ attempt to wear the state colours at a Showdown, and it’s entirely appropriate that football supporters voice their opinions on what is undeniably a matter of sports tradition. The fans are quite rightly passionate about the game.
As an example of all that is vibrant and positive about this state, I want them to continue that passion, and be able to continue well into the future without disruption by constrained energy or dramatically escalating climate variation. I want to be able to make it down to a match at our new stadium and see 38,790 people absolutely loving their game… without anyone needing to pretend that the choice between mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and continuing to burn fossil fuels isn’t one we’ll have to face, whether we’re ready or not. Nuclear power’s mitigation capacity is well established. South Australia’s wind generation potential has been firmly utilised, and if more can be effectively added then that’s great, but it is still fundamentally shackled to fossil fuel baseload. But nuclear and renewables are not footy teams – yes, they would compete in the market but both can win by doing what they do best. If anything, we can only win by all being on the same team.
Aside: some of the most polluting electrical capacity on the NEM comes from Victoria… at the risk of being absurdly parochial, shouldn’t our state’s electricity be showing the Vics how to clean up their act?
The same old rejection of Australian nuclear just isn’t going to hold up, as is rather mercilessly demonstrated in the criticisms of this piece at The Conversation. (If you’re interested, definitely have a read through the more analytical comments. The article’s premise just doesn’t stand up.) Advocates will keep advocating with mounting evidence, and though opponents will keep opposing, they will increasingly come to resemble other brands of skeptics.