Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Wired = Apple

Today on Wired.com

3/5 of the headlines are about Apple
2/14 of the secondary pages are about Apple
2/10 of the blog posts are about Apple

Apple's forthcoming device features internet connectivity and a colour screen.

The Liberal Democrats and the Nuclear Red Herring

Frank Hollowell is in a pickle. He is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Copeland, located in the picturesque landscape of Cumbria, England. His party is resolutely opposed to the incumbent government's plan to replace the existing ageing nuclear installations with next generation nuclear technology. As Frank wanders, door to door, praising the many virtues of the Liberal Democrats, he is equally tainted by the fact that his party seeks to quash the prospect of 9,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs earmarked for the new facilities.

Contemplating this, he wonders what is he going to say to Mrs P., whose two sons work at Sellafield? What about Don T., whose daughter is training to be an engineer? He decides that the answer is to tell prospective voters that the new generation of nuclear power plants does need to go ahead, while his liberal chums in other electoral districts preach the deliverance that is renewable technology, which (together with imported nuclear energy from the continent) will provide all of the UK's needs. They continue to cite the KiKK study in their defense, but the jury is still out on the dangers of living beside a nuclear power station.

The Lib Dems are pro-European integration. They believe that we can be progressive Europeans, who while considering the EU essential, also believe it can be positively reformed. They support the creation of a European Supergrid which would share energy sensibly by harnessing the correct technologies in the correct places.

If the Lib Dems want Britain to meet its target of being 100% by 2050, they will need to be 100% renewable energy, clashing with a considerable amount of expert opinion which defends the base-load capacity of nuclear power to provide a constant flow in contrast to renewables. For example, energy expert Nick Butler (Cambridge) talked at the Euroscience Open Forum in 2008 of the need of a realist approach to nuclear power. The former head of research of CERN, Juan Antonio Rubio, has also spoke to me of the need for future development of fission technology. James Lovelock is a well-cited figure on the need to provide efficient and reliable carbon-free nuclear energy to meet the challenge of climate change. While the European supergrid may provide consistency of supply, this will be partly due to other member-state's baseload supply (nuclear, gas, 'clean' coal). The UK will be seen as not carrying its wait, given that there are at present no viable alternatives to baseload supply, and to act in a manner that places the onus on technology that does not even exist yet, e.g. nuclear fusion or the Sahara Desertec initiative, does not bode well for the future.

A realist, pragmatic approach, means the liberal democrats must consider all the options, and above that, defend them and act immediately. In the meantime, Frank Hollowell continues his unenviable task of announcing local economic disaster and the considerable probability that Britain will fail to meet its mitigation objectives.

KiKK study: http://www.bfs.de/de/kerntechnik/kinderkrebs