Friday, August 04, 2006

Act now, so our children won't dread their future

A range of environmental and anti-nuclear groups in Australia are encouraging the general public (that's us) to make personal submissions to the Howard government's inquiry into nuclear power and uranium mining and processing.

The deadline for submissions, which should address the inquiry's Terms of Reference, is 18 August 2006.

There are some very useful resources on the green groups' websites to assist people in preparing their submissions, including notes on what to consider and how to tackle the terms of reference. I recommend Friends of the Earth's resources, especially the publication Yellowcake Country? Australia's uranium industry (PDF 3.7 MB), and some of the points from the Nuclear Free Australia site.

I think it is very important for as many of us to make personal submissions to the inquiry, and I'm hoping to make the time to write one. Since I've been blogging on the dangers of going nuclear for a while now, and how we should resist it, perhaps I should put my words to action.

PM Howard set up a taskforce to hold this inquiry into whether Australia should expand its uranium industry and pursue nuclear power generation. Early indications were that it would be a rubber stamp inquiry for Howard's nuclear ambitions because they desperately tried, and failed, to find an environmentalist who believed it was impartial enough to participate in the inquiry commission. Also, critics claimed the inquiry is stacked with pro-nuclear specialists and scientists.

At the time the inquiry was announced, there was a lot of talk – mainly by the nuclear lobby – that what the issue needed was 'clear-headed', informed, objective thinking and arguments based on solid science.

There was a lot of related talk that there was too much 'emotive' argument in the debate – that people were responding with subjective, irrational fears and prejudices about the dangers of nuclear power and weapons that are out of step with current achievements in nuclear technology.

Bollocks. I would rather accused of being unthinking that thought unfeeling on this issue. Not having a scientific background or expertise in nuclear-physics should be no deterrent to my (or anyone else) contributing to the inquiry.

We are allowed to be angry that the mining multinationals and Australia's politicians want an easy ticket to wealth and power. We should be fearfull that this will lead the government to push through its uranium and nuclear ambitions despite our opposition.

So many of us think that expanding Australia's uranium industry is a bad idea: a Newspoll from late May found that 66% of Australians polled said that there should be either no uranium mining at all or no new mines opened, 46% opposed uranium enrichment, and 51% were against nuclear power stations being built in Australia. The danger is that we'll complacently let the specialists do our thinking and talking for us!

So, get out that pad and pen and write to the nuclear inquiry!
We should all make it clear that nuclear power is not the answer to global warming, or to anything else!

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