I find myself reluctantly agreeing with much of Andrew Lee’s editorial (Comment, 28 November 2005) regarding the re-opened debate on nuclear power.
However Tony Blair’s revelation that nuclear energy is seen as a serious option for meeting long-term energy needs only emphasises the complete lack of progress made in this area, rather than heralding a new age of enlightenment.
The issues of the day regarding energy are depressingly similar to 1984 when I graduated with a BSc in Environmental Studies from Hatfield Polytechnic. The buzz words are the same — energy gap, conservation, nuclear option, strategic supplies, depletion, terrorism, alternative energy, renewable resources and climate change.
Add them up and you have the basis of a fine essay. I wrote many on the subject.
In the 21 years since graduation very little has changed. Coal has been replaced by gas, some nuclear power stations have shut, renewable sources make up a mere three per cent of the generating capacity, climate change is now generally called global warming and we’re facing another real or imaginary energy gap.
And what has stayed the same? Conservation has still not gripped the nation, and sadly the notion that you can get people to cut back on energy use is as preposterous as ever. Though perhaps not as preposterous as the notion that we can achieve commercial nuclear fusion before time runs out.
The brave new world never happened where redundant shipyards would be fully engaged constructing ingenious offshore generating devices to secure our energy supplies forever, freeing our scientists to concentrate on terra-forming Mars — just in case.
And I continue wearily to suggest that the great advantage of wind turbines over nuclear stations is that when a better method is found they can simply be taken down.
I can also tell you all about the great strides the