Security on one small planet
"The idea that a rich world and a poor world can co-exist without dramatic implications collapsed along with the twin towers on September 11."
James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank.
We cannot separate our own security from that of the world's poorest people. Billions of people exist on $1-2 dollars a day and their lives are determined by our actions.
On a planet wired to transmit news of conflict and disaster from every corner of the globe, we cannot avoid being reminded of the daily horror of poverty and the resource wars being fought, if not-in-our name, then as a consequence of our throw-it-away lifestyles.
These are all impacts of our addiction to war, oil and the resources that we wastefully consume, literally, as if we can't decide what we want for the future.
The attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11th showed us that there are no guarantees that the government threats of pre-emption or retaliation will succeed in preventing an attack. Indeed, it is increasingly difficult to retaliate against a sub-state opponent, like a terrorist group.
A terrorist organisation is unlikely to attack using missile launch sites; they would find it far easier to deliver a nuclear weapon by truck.
This is completely at odds with the US plans to build a ballistic missile defence (BMD) system in Eastern Europe. The plans to base missiles in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic are instead creating renewed fear and controversy in Europe and the Middle East.
US and Russian war planners aim their nuclear arsenals at a mix of military targets. Smaller nuclear states such as Israel, with limited arsenals, are more likely to aim their weapons at the largest cities of their adversaries.
A "nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Martin Luther King. Jr. Beyond Vietnam - Breaking the Silence.
Nuclear weapons and proliferation
"I am led to reflect how much more delightful to an undebauched mind is the task of making improvements on the earth, than all the vain glory which can
be acquired from ravaging it."
George Washington 1732 -1799
First president of the USA
Despite a three-fold reduction in global nuclear arsenals during the last twenty years, disarmament agreements have failed to include the verified dismantlement of nuclear warheads. The US and Russia still retain stockpiles of about 10,000 nuclear weapons each and have committed only to reduce to about half that number by the end of 2012, when the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty comes into force. These stockpiles of weapons have a destructive capability hundreds of times greater than the power of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The US has yet to take its nuclear arsenal off the high alert status of the Cold War despite this being presented as part of history. The US policy of ‘offensively' using pre-emptive nuclear strikes adds to the escalation of risk from miscalculation, poor communication, irrational leadership and accident.
Disarmament needed as never before
"Options are being lost as urgent questions are unasked, or unanswered, as outmoded routines perpetuate Cold War patterns and thinking, and as a new generation of nuclear actors and aspirants lurch backward toward a chilling world where the principal antagonists could find no better solution to their entangled security fears than Mutual Assured Destruction"
General Lee Butler, Commander in Chief of the US Strategic Command 1992-4 - speaking at the launch of a statement by over 60 Admirals and Generals from 17 different countries calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons
Nothing would reduce the nuclear threat to civilisation and increase the credibility of the non-proliferation movement more than the US and Russia cutting their weapons and associated fissile-materials stockpiles deeply.
The unalterable fact is that nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. Nuclear weapons are not just a weapon of mass murder, they are instruments of potential global annihilation which put all humanity and civilisation under risk of destruction, from the impacts of the bomb, radiation exposure or nuclear winter.
A ‘regional' nuclear war, or act of individual terrorism would not only kill millions, it is calculated that 1.5 million tons of soot from the burning cities would enter the atmosphere, and stay there for at least a decade. This in itself would cause a global climate change unprecedented in human history. In a matter of days, temperatures around the Earth would fall. Agriculture would be dramatically affected, as weather patterns would be further disrupted.
The vast sum of money spent on military and nuclear spending destroys the social environment, undermines human rights and increases political instability around the world. Real security requires people's livelihoods and quality of life to be safeguarded. The consequences of current ‘defence' spending undermines the chances of this becoming a reality.
The Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament estimates that the cost of Trident will be between £25 billion and £40 billion. That's the equivalent of 120,000 newly qualified nurses every year for the next 10 years, or 60,000 newly qualified teachers every year for the next 20 years. It could provide a bonus of about £2500 for every pensioner, or free public transport for generations.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - 162 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DQ.
Tel: 020 77002393. www.cnduk.org
1. Support the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Appeal to President Obama
- De-alert. Remove all nuclear weapons from high alert status, separating warheads from delivery vehicles
- No First Use. Make legally binding commitments to NO First Use of nuclear weapons and establish nuclear policies consistent with this commitment
- No New Nuclear Weapons. Initiate a moratorium on the research and development of new nuclear weapons
- Ban Nuclear Testing Forever. Ratify and bring into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Nuclear proliferationa and nuclear power
There are now more than forty countries with civil nuclear power programmes that give them the tools for nuclear weapons.
Any new build of nuclear power stations will send the wrong signal to all nations wanting a non-nuclear world, and make proliferation issues ever more complex.
It is vitally important to limit the spread of national gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment plants, because they can be used to produce enriched uranium for weapons. The spirit and disarmament aim of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty must also be adhered to by the existing nuclear nations.
The nuclear power and nuclear weapons industries have always been closely linked. A nuclear weapons free world also requires a non-nuclear energy policy. The first nuclear power developments were undertaken as a way of using the massive amounts of waste heat produced by reactors used for manufacturing fissile material for nuclear bombs, and the ‘civilian' nuclear industry provided and proved to be a useful cover for nuclear weapons manufacture.
Nuclear Information & Resource Service - NIRS - 1424. 16th Street, NW, #404, Washington, DC 20036. www.nirs.org
World Information Service on Energy - WISE - PO Box. 59636, 1040 LC
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. www.antenna.nl/wise
Climate Action Network - 48 Rue de la Charite, 1210 Brussels, Belgium.
The worst mortgage deal. Ever!
Building a new nuclear power station is like paying to build a new house, which you know from the start will have massive ongoing maintenance costs. Then paying rent to live in it (the cost of fuel and maintenance). Then having lived in it for no more than one generation, you find that the house is too dangerous to live in and have to move out. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to get the government to pay some of the costs for demolition, but you and your family, and everyone else in the country will be obliged to pay rent to store and keep the radioactive rubble safe.
2. Help combat Nuclear Spin
The Nuclear Spin website is designed to help people find out more about the key pro-nuclear advocates in the UK. It was started in response to the Energy Review officially launched by the Government in January 2006.
Even if ten new reactors were built in the UK, nuclear power can only deliver a 4% cut in carbon emissions, some time after 2025. Even the Government admits this (Sustainable Development Commission figure), is too little too late at too high a price. Electricity generation is only part of our energy needs.
Nuclear Spin - www.nuclearspin.org.uk
Building new nuclear plants significantly undermines renewable energy by misdirecting investment away from efficient local energy suppliers and wasting the decade in which investment in a local and decentralised energy system could be made.
Every pound invested in using energy more efficiently reduces the amount of energy we use and the carbon we produce.
The single biggest use of fossil fuels in the UK isn't for electricity or for transport, but for creating heat to warm our buildings and power our industrial processes. So any solution to climate change needs to contribute to heating, as well as to electricity generation.
The cost of introducing local and decentralised energy is estimated at £100 billion for the UK. This investment would not generate radioactive waste or increase nuclear weapons proliferation.
Greenpeace - Canonbury Villas, Islington, London, N1 2PN. Tel: 0207 8658100
By making sure that the rich nations take the lead on providing appropriate technology to the whole world, we would be creating deep cuts in carbon emissions and sending a sustainable aspirational message to the developing world. Not just that we want them to emulate our lifestyle, but that we are going to make sure that they can access the same quality of life, via an international framework that is committed to peace.
By making renewable energy technology available to the non-industrialised nations we would be helping keep their future growth in carbon emissions down and closing the gap of poverty and injustice and lessening the tensions and conflicts around the world.
The price of photovoltaic systems has fallen by an average of 5% per annum over the last twenty years and is expected to continue falling as the technology improves and the industry grows in scale. As fossil fuel prices increase, PV's become an obvious economic and environmental necessity.
World Renewable Energy Network - c/o Prof. A Sayigh, PO Box 362, Brighton, BN2 1YN. Tel: 01273 625643. www.wrenuk.co.uk
We cannot both develop truly renewable energy systems and invest in a new generation of nuclear power stations. To make renewables work, we need to shift to a decentralised generation model using a diverse range of power sources and local grid systems.
Currently a shocking 60% of the power generated from large power stations (supplying the national grid) is lost in the heat from cooling towers and in transmission over long distance cables.
Nuclear power requires a centralised model of generation, which requires a highly wasteful national grid infrastructure.
As an example, a billion dollars (the daily cost of the Iraq war to the US) released to the solar industry could fund much needed photovoltaic manufacturing plants. Such an investment in renewable energy would rapidly accelerate a reduction in CO2 emissions, as the technology could be installed at the point of use, saving fossil fuels and the energy wasted in transmission.
The estimated cost of cleaning up the existing waste stock-pile has risen by 30% in less than four years, from £56 billion in June 2003 to £73 billion in March 2007, and the Commons business committee have stated that the annual burden of about £1.5 billion will "almost certainly have to increase significantly in the coming years".
In 1976, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution declared that it would be "morally wrong" to make a major commitment to nuclear power without demonstrating a way of safely isolating nuclear waste. Yet the UK is about to embark on a programme to build at least 10 reactors while still lacking a disposal site for the waste that has already accumulated over the past 50 years. What's more, spent fuel from these reactors will be far more radioactive than existing waste. The safety situation will deteriorate as water shortages and sea level rise impact the coastal sites on which the stations are projected to be built.
A world run on renewable energy would deprive potential terrorists of dangerous nuclear targets, and help to end the production of plutonium, which continues to be sold around the world and increases the possibility of nuclear war and the use of dirty bombs.
Nuclear power requires uranium (from which plutonium is made), the mining and processing of which produces carbon emissions, causes major environmental damage, and generates toxic and radioactive waste. The reserves of uranium ore used to generate nuclear power are estimated to last around fifty years. As uranium stocks decrease and demand rises, the cost will increase both financially and in terms of the energy required to mine it. Nuclear electricity generation is not a renewable source of energy.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Uranium is a key export for Niger, which has produced 100,000 tons of uranium since the beginning of the 1970's. Mining of this very dense metal generates the release of radioactive gases and dust.
Uranium mining generates wealth for the powerful political and economic elites, but the poor of these countries are paying with their lives for a counter-productive and flawed supply of energy to the rich world. Survival International has been supporting the campaign of the Mirrar Aborigines in the Northern Territory of Australia against a proposed uranium mine on their sacred land.
Survival - 6 Charterhouse Buildings, London, EC1M 7ET. Tel: 020 76878700. www.survival-international.org
3. Find out about renewable energy technology sources and switch to ‘green' electricity
In 2001 Klaus Toepfer, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said, "The potential for rapid technological innovation leading to clean energy is clearly extraordinary. Governments need to unleash this potential". He is absolutely right, yet the UK government is not committed to a decentralised energy system provided by on renewable technology.
Wind power is the fastest growing energy source in the world and is far cheaper than nuclear power. For the equivalent investment, wind generates more electricity, offers more jobs, can be constructed quickly and leaves behind no deadly waste.
The World Energy Council reveals that the time for construction of nuclear plants has increased from five and a half years in the 1970's to nearly ten years for completions between 1995 and 2000.
Despite vast amounts of nuclear industry spin, the "new generation" of "standardised design" power plants actually does not exist.
There is no operating prototype of a Westinghouse AP-1000 and the plans for these reactors have not been finalised or been approved by the regulators. After two years of construction work, the first "new generation" French reactor being built in Finland is two years behind schedule, and more than $2.5 billion over budget.
The depth of this scam is staggering. With no finalised design and no details of how these proposed nuclear stations will be protected from sea level rise and storms, or operate without massive tax-payer subsidy and loan guarantees for insurance. It is sobering to remember that twenty-two years ago the Chernobyl accident emitted an unstoppable and deadly plume of radioactivity that travelled the world, the effects of which are still being calculated today. Such a devastating accident could be repeated at any one of the world's four hundred or so nuclear reactors at any time.
In contrast, renewable energy is ready now and action to combat climate change needs to happen now. For example, the first offshore wind farm in the UK at North Hoyle in North Wales took only eight months to build.
There are suppliers of 'green' electricity. Buying your power from these firms will actively encourage the development of sustainable energy supplies. Further information can be found at:
Good Energy - Monkton Reach, Monkton Hill, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN15 1EE
Tel: 01249 766090. www.good-energy.co.uk
Ecotricity - www.ecotricity.co.uk
4. Invest in the development of renewable generating capacity
Following in the footsteps of the successful Baywind Energy Co-operative in Cumbria, a network of community owned co-operatives are being set up to develop wind farms across Britain through an initiative called Energy 4 All. Similar developments of small scale Hydro-electric schemes are also now being promoted by H2OPE. Think about becoming a member and investing in one of these projects, or in one of the accounts that Triodos Bank offer to support new renewables developments. Renewable technologies add a premium to the property value.
5. Feed-in-Tariffs (FIT's)
The potential of renewable energy is vast and far greater than nuclear power or fossil fuels. With today's technology we can generate almost six times the current global energy demand.
Feed-in-Tariffs place a legal obligation on utilities to purchase electricity from renewable energy installations. The tariff rate is guaranteed, in the best examples for a long period -- say 20 years. The tariff rate is scientifically determined for each technology, to ensure profitable operation of the installation. This encourages the adoption of renewable technology as the economics of the system can be planned.
Feed-In-Tariffs are vital to accelerating and maximising the uptake of renewable technologies.
We have at most ten years - not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.
James Hansen, Director, NASA
Goddard Institute for Space Studies - May 2007
Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA) - www.giss.nasa.gov
Save Our Lake District – Don’t Dump Cumbria ! 2012
"Save Our Lake District – Don’t Dump Cumbria! has been formed to counter proposals to find a place somewhere in West Cumbria to dump High and Intermediate level radioactive waste. It will be close to the Lake District National Park, or even underneath it. Although it would create some jobs in the nuclear sector, it would threaten other parts of the local economy.
Something needs to be done about nuclear waste but the Government has decided, without full research and ignoring scientific uncertainties, that deep underground disposal is the answer – for hundreds of thousands of years…"
see their website for details: http://mrwsold.org.uk/
- Friends of the Earth - 26 -28 Underwood Street, London, N1 7JQ.
Tel: 020 7490 15555 www.foe.co.uk
- Campaign Against Arms Trade - 11 Goodwin Street, Finsbury Park, London, N4 3HO. Tel: 020 72810297. www.caat.org.uk
- Amnesty International UK - 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA. Tel: 020 7033 1500. www.amnesty.org.uk
- Renewable Energy Association - 17 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AR. www.r-e-a.net
- Energy Savings Trust - Application Helpline - Tel: 0800 2983978
- Solar Century - 91-94 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, London, SE1 7AB.
Tel: 020 7803 0100. www.solarcentury.co.uk
- Solar Aid - Bunhill Fields Meeting House, Quaker Court, Banner Street, London EC1Y 8QQ. Tel: 0845 094 3728. www.solar-aid.org
- Wind and Sun Ltd. - Humber Marsh, Stoke Prior, Leominster,
Herefordshire, HR6 0NE. Tel: 01568 760671. www.windandsun.co.uk
- Solar Twin Ltd. - Freepost, NWW7 888A, Chester, CH1 2ZU.
Tel: 0845 1300 137. www.solartwin.com
- British Wind Energy Association - 1 Aztec Row, Berners Road, London, N1 OPW. Tel: 0207 6891960 www.bwea.com
- National Energy Foundation - Renewables - Davy Avenue, Knowlhill,
Milton Keynes, MK5 8NG. Tel: 01908 665555. www.greenenergy.org.uk
- Centre for Alternative Technology - Machnynlleth, Powys, SY20 9AZ. Tel: 01654 702339. www.cat.org.uk
- Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3TR. Tel: 020 7238 6609. www.defra.gov.uk
- Sustainable Energy News, INFORSE-Europe, Gl. Kirkevej 82, DK-8530, Hjortshoj, Denmark. www.inforse.org
- Triodos Bank - Brunel House, 11 The Promenade, Bristol, BS8 3NN
Tel: 0117 973 9339 - www.triodos.co.uk
- Energy 4 All/Baywind Energy - Unit 33, Trinity Enterprise Centre, Furness Business Park, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 2PN Tel: 01229 821028 - www.energy4all.co.uk
Funded by the Norfolk Independent Waste Trust and Cobb Charity
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