Devils Advocate – Re-Power Alice

A few weeks ago I wrote the piece below for planned inclusion into a handout for an Alice Springs event timed to coincide with World Environment Day. It was to be inserted in a pamphlet called “The Devil’s Advocate” – a play on “The Centralian Advocate” – the local newspaper!

Anyway to cut a long story usefully shorter – my article was spiked! Apparently in the eyes of some doubtless well-meaning ‘Communications officer’ my use of “pro-Nuclear advocacy” – and use of the word “Devil” (This was going into the “Devil’s Advocate” remember) was too likely to offend or confuse the readership. I, correctly I believe, spat the dummy at this unbelievable piece of stupidity and elected to publish it to my own blog.

The decision to spike my article was, to my mind, yet another example of the myopia that unfortunately seems to effect many environmental activist groups. That they only ever seek to communicate with those of “like-mind” could well be why we’re in the mess we’re in.

The following text was offered as my way of “reaching out to those outside the tent” as it were.

Unlike many around here, I won’t rule out the nuclear option. In fact I’m absolutely convinced by its superiority over all other energy ‘options’. But only one nuke will do it for me! You see I’m also a fan of ‘biggest’ too. Fortunately the biggest and, as far as I’m concerned, the best nuclear reactor in the entire solar system, is just 8 minutes from Alice Springs.  

The nuclear reactor I’m referring to is, of course, the Sun. It doesn’t use Uranium, or Thorium, not even Unobtanium. Nor can its by-products be used to make bombs! Not only is it a truly awesome form of lighting, and useful source of vitamin D, the Sun transmits its Nuclear-fusion derived bounty wirelessly to us in the form of photons (lots of them), which are predominantly beneficial and easy to manage when excess to requirements (Slip. Slop, Slap?).

Unlike energy in electrical form, there is little loss in photon-based energy transmission over truly vast distances. The Sun’s output is also (somewhat fortunately) readily converted into food (and building materials). This is more than can be said for Earthbound Nuclear reactors, or for Coal, Oil or Gas fired power stations for that matter. 

Whilst the photons we receive from the Sun are decidedly ‘fresh’ – made perhaps just 8 minutes earlier – they have travelled a long way. This handily puts the more dangerous aspects of ‘Nuclear’  at a safe distance of approximately 150 Million Kilometres (ask the folk of Chernobyl or Fukushima as to the value of this arrangement).

In addition to these convenience factors, our nuclear reactor, or Sun as some might know it, safely – and reliably – delivers to our planet many times more energy than we currently consume or need. More than sufficient for all life on Earth in fact. At no cost.

And with no toxic waste management issue, either! It is indeed the ONLY nuclear reactor we need for the whole of humanity!

When you think about it, you can see why the Sun has been worshipped as a god. Not only does it illuminate the Earth (and the surrounding Solar System’s planets and moons) it even contributes starlight to those on distant planets presuming we are not alone in this Universe. 

And Yes, I understand that plants do like a little CO2 to work with. However, it transpires that we have had adequate, and indeed stable, amounts of it in the atmosphere since the beginning of life on Earth until the onset of the Fossil-fuel-age. And quite frankly we don’t need any more, as it is inclined to limit our ability to shed excess heat into the rest of the Universe. Imagine running a marathon in a thermal onesie and you’ll get the idea.

With ‘just the right amount of CO2’ the Earth maintained a stable environment in which all of life as we know it was able to thrive and evolve – over many millions of years. Yes, we had a few Ice Ages, which seemed to help our evolution and which had the beneficial effect of sequestering a significant volume of Methane too. Methane is even worse than CO2 for preventing the re-radiation of the Earth’s excess heat back into space. However, such variations in temperature happened over hundreds, if not thousands, of years, allowing the evolutionary process to perform the necessary adaptations. Change, in the form of rising average temperature, appears to be happening too quickly now, with savage drought, cataclysmic storms and bushfires affecting much of the globe.

Whether you think CO2 is the cause of global warming, or not, is essentially immaterial. Solar power is economically the right the thing to do. That it benefits the atmosphere is a bonus.

Whether you view the Sun as a god, or the handiwork of God, or merely as a consequence of the laws of physics, there can be no doubt that it is a ‘good thing’.

Writing on behalf of ‘The Devil’ I should point out that whilst the Sun is, inarguably, good, some people on Earth aren’t. They have been all too easily persuaded that burning stuff (owned by someone who is not a deity) is somehow better for them and the economy (on which we allegedly depend). That the so-called ‘economic rationalists’ can’t see that you need a sustainable ecology in which to operate an economy, is almost as damning an indictment of their understanding as is the fact that they can’t see that zero input costs are the path to zero marginal cost (i.e. Sunlight is free – Coal, Oil and Gas aren’t).

Fossil-fuel resource ‘owners’ may be regarded by many these days as ‘friends of The Devil’ but as far as I’m aware (he’s merely my client) The Devil has no friends. Associates perhaps?

The Devil’s advocate