It looks like nuclear energy is starting to get the respect that it deserves as a very legitimate alternative to burning fossil fuels (or daming our rivers), as least in Australia. Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said:
If you want to address the climate change issues then it's very important you address the issue of CO2 emissions from power stations - in the short term wind mills and solar power are not going to provide you with a base load power in any country on earth that you need . . . Nuclear power is a very real option, it works well in a lot of parts of the world and it's entirely clean.
Australia currently has no nuclear power plants. Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said:
Australia would be foolish not to consider introducing nuclear power because it could play a major role in slashing greenhouse gas emissions . . . We are preparing the ground for a factual, non-hysterical debate in Australia on nuclear energy.
Having a non-hysterical debate is going to be a bit challenging with so many environmentalists against the prospect of expanded generation electricity from nuclear sources. Fortunately, there is a called Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy. According to their website:
ENVIRONMENTALISTS FOR NUCLEAR is in favor of all energies which respect the environment, including the peaceful applications of clean nuclear energy (which has the greatest industrial potential), as well as renewable energies (hydro, solar, geothermal, and wind, all have appropriate roles to play, but with a much smaller potential).
It looks like their board of directors is comprised of a fairly diverse group of individuals, some environmentalists and some from industry.
Some environmental groups say: "renewable energy sources — such wind and solar power — are a safer, more sustainable long-term solution to global warming." I'd like to see someone actually crunch the numbers and tell me how much of the earth's surface area would have to be covered with solar panels and how much of the earth's surface area would have to be covered by wind wills to provide for the energy needs for the earth today.
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard gets the last word:
Those who say they are in favor of doing something about global warming but turn their faces against considering nuclear power are unreal . . . If we're serious about having a debate about global warming . . . we have got to be willing to consider the nuclear option.
I agree that we should not pursue the nuclear option willy-nilly, but it has to be considered, as Ian Macfarlane said, through factual, non-hysterical debate.