By George Epp
Reading the paper over breakfast is a routine that can make or break your day. This morning, I read an editorial in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that didn’t do much for my mood. The headline said: Anti-nuke gang won’t carry day in province now. The gist of it was that
Had the radicals not knocked
Later, in coffee row, the conversation turned to the decimation of the BC forests by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Someone said that the outbreak had started in a national park and environmentalists had successfully lobbied against spraying and that dealing with the pest at that time would have prevented what we are seeing today. Someone else said, “Those damned environmentalists!”
Are people who actively promote the protection of the environment really “damned?” Do they run around in “gangs?” Is common sense on the side of economic growth, or is it on the side of the protestors? Today, I felt attacked. Well, call me sensitive!
Environmentalists and assorted “tree-hugging” activists are as likely to make foolish errors in judgment as anybody else. The criticism leveled in the StarPhoenix appears to be that nuclear energy is a clean, safe way to make a pile of money, and we’d be stupid not to buy into the concept. Ergo, the “anti-nuke gang” has foolishly sabotaged the happiness of the entire province.
(For the “anti-nuke gangs” of a few decades ago,
But are proponents of nuclear energy justified in declaring it safe now? Are there good reasons to believe that the
Nuclear power plants are terribly expensive to set up and maintain . . . and to decommission. How many wind generators could be purchased for the same amount, I wondered. So I searched the web for information and found some. For instance, http://www.smallwindenergy.ca/calculator/home.php is a web page that allows you to enter your location and energy-use information, after which the viability of setting up your own wind generation facility is calculated.
I learned this: Rosthern is a good place for wind generation; to set up my own small wind generator would cost about $16,000 complete; this generator would provide me with half my current electrical needs. Downside: the cost recovery period would be about 52 years. The life expectancy of such a wind generator would be about 25 years.
What if the provincial government were to subsidize the cost of these generators to make them more viable for individuals? Say, with a $10,000 initial grant and a yearly maintenance subsidy of, say, $200.00. That would make it cost-effective for individuals. Suppose they coupled this with an aggressive conservation program. (I’m sure I could cut my electrical needs in half if you put a taxation gun to my head.)
Mind you, the spectacle of a wind generator 30 meters above every house in Rosthern would be . . . odd.
Add solar panels, water power and you’d have a province where energy production left no carbon footprint whatsoever. Well, except for the oil we will be extracting in the future tar sands project up near La Loche.
There’s another gang forming. The powers that be should take note. It’s an anti-growth gang, and they may soon be hard to stop. They’re much like the anti-nuke gang except that they will argue convincingly and loudly that the economic growth mentality is not only destructive, but unnecessary. “Unsafe” for them won’t just mean the possibility of accidents; it will mean the far greater danger of feeding a feverish economic growth shibboleth to the point of insanity and planetary ruin.
We don’t need to grow more energy; in particular, a nuclear energy alternative for
Or maybe not.