Wednesday, May 02, 2007

So little systemic analysis of major policy initiatives in the mainstream media

ASEN (Australian Student's Environment Network) held a launch of a new report, 'Opportunities to Waste. Australian Universities and the Nuclear Industry' at the University of Melbourne the other night. The recommendations from their report deserve consideration - I hope they are examined by the Senates of Australian Universities and then taken up.

At the same event a new documentary 'Climate of Hope' was shown. It is an excellent documentary that begins to develop the sort of systemic analysis that is so obviously missing from reporting and debate about expansion of uranium mining and nuclear power. Journalists and others need to appreciate:

  • the water requirements to mine uranium and to produce yellowcake;
  • the amount of ore that has to be mined and discarded to produce yellowcake
  • the dangers associated with managing uranium tailings in perpetuity, and the propensity of systemic failure e.g. tailings dams
  • the energy requirements to extract yellowcake and how this dramatically increases as the quality of uranium ore goes down

And these are just some of the factors that have to be considered before considering long term storage, human failures, technical failures, sabotage etc.

The lack of 'joined-up' thinking and action between Australia's water policy and the move to expand uranium mining is hard to fathom:

As Greens Senator, Christine Milne notes:

'The Olympic Dam mine [in South Australia] uses massive amounts of water. At present it takes 30 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin, central Australia’s ancient underground water supply. The proposed expansion of the mine originally included plans for 150 million litres of water a day to be sucked out of the ground, free of charge, some 30% of all artesian water flowing into SA.'

The following account about Climate of Hope appeared in the Perth Post:

'Scott Ludlam, producer of the documentary Climate of Hope, will introduce the project in the context of Australia's energy future.......

Climate of Hope is a 25-minute documentary intended to demystify climate change and nuclear energy.

While the threat of climate change is widely accepted in the community, the potential for a host of nuclear power stations in Australia has raised questions about the best way to move to a low-carbon economy.

The animated documentary takes viewers on a tour through the science of climate change, the nuclear fuel chain, and the energy revolution.

Scott Ludlam is a campaigner with the Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group (FANG) and lead Senate candidate for the WA Greens in the 2007 federal election.

He said his introduction to nuclear issues was the succesful campaign to stop the Jabiluka uranium mine in the Northern Territory.

He said this opened his eyes to the environmental and human rights consequences of the nuclear industry worldwide.'