Forces of Nature

In my first post on this blog I discussed some of the issues that accompany developing nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Point number 3 was “The potential for nasty accidents”. Witness Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, northern Japan, March 2011.

Advocates of nuclear energy claim that nuclear reactors are safe and clean, and technology has advanced enough since Chernobyl to prevent ‘accidents’. But how does Technology stand up to Mother Nature? Earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes…our predictive ability is fairly limited when it comes to these phenomena, despite Technology apparently having our back. Continue reading

Combustible Debates

The only thing that man learns from history is that man doesn’t learn from history.

This quote, in various forms, has been attributed to a number of people over the years, so I’m not going to credit any one person. But the gist of all these versions is the same — and I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, however it’s articulated.

Today I’m thinking about alternative energies. Whatever camp you’re from, you must agree that we need to figure out alternative forms of energy, pronto? Even if you don’t believe in climate change or carbon emissions; even if you don’t care an iota about the environment, green spaces, nature or wilderness areas, there is still the basic economic issue of Excess Demand.

The consumption rate of coal exceeds its natural production rate — hence, its classification as a non-renewable resource.  Yes, it’s still being dug out of the ground. Yes, there’s still quite a bit lying around the place, and occasionally someone even announces that they’ve found a new reserve. But eventually, the last lump of coal will smoulder off into the sunset and every coal-powered television, PC and light around the world will sign out.

Do you reckon it would be sensible to have a back-up?  If you were going caving in Mammoth Cave, and you knew with absolute certainty that your headlamp batteries were going to run out of juice halfway in, would you pack extras? Continue reading