Letters to the editor

May 17, 2008

Carlos Caceres (Write On #750) observes that a doubling of renewable energy capacity worldwide would only result in a 0.29% reduction in global emissions, and insinuates a reduction of this scale would be "inconsequential". No shit, Sherlock. Why do you think scores of grassroots climate groups the world over are actively campaigning for a rapid and massive expansion of renewables manufacture, far beyond a mere doubling of the industry?

Being based mainly on steel, its not as though we can't make immense quantities of wind turbines and concentrating solar thermal troughs. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is based on a fairly rare metal (uranium) and could never account for the bulk of the world's energy needs — there is simply not enough uranium.

Caceres also makes a completely obscene argument, comparing hot dry rock geothermal plants to nuclear power stations.

Yes, the heat in hot dry rock beds is a by-product of decaying traces of uranium and thorium. This does not mean that nuclear power stations are a type of convenient, portable "concentrated" hot dry rock plant!

That is like comparing light beer to OP Rum — except OP Rum does not have a half life of 24,000 years like plutonium does, you can't make nuclear weapons out of it, and it doesn't cause genetic mutations and cancer.

Nuclear fuel rods are highly concentrated pieces of extremely toxic radioactive material. They are not faintly radioactive and encased in watertight granite like Cooper basin geothermal rock is.

Zane Alcorn

Hamilton, NSW

East Timor

Regarding the article by Tony Iltis in GLW #749. There is so much wrong here, and not for the first time — bring back Jon Lamb!

I have to say that the far Left's constant jibes at the present AMP coaltion government are wearying and the opposite of constructive.

As a Fretilin supporter since before Iltis was in bobby socks, I know a little of the history. Fretilin led the resistance to the Indonesian invasions of 1975 and formed Falintil to do the actual fighting. However after the country had been reduced to a starving mess in 1979, the resistance gradually reformed under Xanana Gusmao. Later it formed an alliance of all main parties to fight the war on not only the military front but political as well. This was CNRM, and later in the 90s it became CNRT. It was this alliance that brought East Timor to independence. Fretilin was part of that, reluctantly so for many members and the far Left activists in Australia, but that's what happened.

As CNRT was not a political party as such, Fretilin won the first election and formed a government, though mired in the resistance mentality. It lost favour, such that it did not win anywhere near a majority at the next election in 2006.

Horta as president gave Fretilin two weeks to try to form a majority alliance or government that could survive a parliamentary vote, but it could not. So he offered government to the AMP alliance. This alliance won the first parliamentary vote for Speaker — what they call President of Parliament. So the decision was democratic and fair.

I just worry that the constant sniping and sometimes outright lies by some who should know better is damaging to the cause of progressing the East Timorese, from the poorest peoples of the region into well fed, healthy and educated peoples, looking after their own country and its ecology for their future wellbeing.

If there are facts to deal with, lets have them, but unfounded rumour or innuendo is not helpful. I was once a member of the ALP, but parties come and go, I prefer to be progressive. I hope GLW sees that as its role too.

Rob Wesley-Smith

via email


Why do the media insist on using the same jargon as the government? Historically, governments have had a tendency to obscure the truth when it was in their interest to do so, but on the other hand journalists could supposedly see through spin and report objectively.

In the 2008-09 federal budget some $40 billion in unspent surplus to be deposited in various funds is referred to as "investment" when it is clearly not. Deferred spending is saving, not investment. It's not going to increase the skill level of our workers, improve passenger and freight rail capacity, nor deliver renewable energy to fight rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Investment will not actually occur unless and until money is drawn from these funds and spent on infrastructure. We are not told when this is to occur and how much is to be spent, which is the whole point of a budget. So why aren't journalists asking these questions?

David Bastin

Nicholls, ACT

False hope

Judging from Pip Hinman's review of Greenpeace International's False Hope: why carbon capture and storage wont save the climate (GLW #750), GI criticises carbon capture and storage as an inappropriate technology designed somehow to "breathe life into the dirty fossil fuel industry."

To its credit, GI has long considered nuclear power a major enemy of society and social progress. Since the nuclear age began at, and in the direct preparations for, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb disasters, the uncontrolled atom has represented a huge danger and dilemma for humanity. "Anti-nuclear" is synonymous with "anti-war" and "green" in most political and societal environments.

GI, as reported by Hinman, allows its frustration with central station electricity generation to spill over against coal-generated electricity. GI does not reckon with the possibility that "coal" or "clean coal" might be a meaningful political ally in the struggle for nuclear abolition and for the international prohibition and abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Such is the case in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, where the provincially-influenced electricity utility is riven with dissension over its leadership's failure to implement even a modest carbon capture and sequestration demonstration project.

The northern-Saskatchewan based uranium and nuclear industry together with the federal nuclear arm AECL has lobbied vigorously to stifle and annul Saskatchewan Power Corporation's modest but industrially promising south-eastern Saskatchewan CCS industry.

Stephen Salaff


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