At the press conference of the International Forum at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, 10 March, 2012, Dr. Gordon Edwards, President, “Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility”, gave his address. This followed his keynote address aptly titled: “The Labyrinth of Challenges and Choices”.
My organisation is called the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and the difficulty is that at this time we have nuclear irresponsibility. The responsibility has to come from ordinary people like you and I and people around the world who are more and more aware that our beautiful planet is in peril.
Life itself is great, life is beautiful and the human race has great resources, look at our poetry, our art, our culture. Why jeopardise all this for a foolish mistake and that mistake is investing in a technology which is like writing a blank cheque on the future of our great grandchildren to bear because there is no way we ourselves can deal with the problems we are creating for ourselves with this technology.
If you build windmills, geothermal installations, solar installations and if you decide later they were a mistake you can just take them down, no problem. But with nuclear you cannot do this. You have created a problem that is going to last for millennia, for millions of years, and this is totally irresponsible.
Add to that the unavoidable connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapon in that both deal with the raw materials which are essential for nuclear explosive devices and one realises that the possibility of a nuclear weapons-free world is fatally compromised by the proliferation of nuclear technology of a peaceful nature.
Look at Iran today. Iran is justifying building enrichment facilities which they are legally entitled to build, they are not breaking any international law or convention. But the problem is, we have created a peaceful programed that acts as a camouflage for any military intentions and without that peaceful programed there would be no need to enrich uranium, no reason to separate plutonium, and anyone who attempted to do so would be unequivocally interested in weapons because there would be no alternative, so the whole peaceful programed is a camouflage for the proliferation and the perpetuation of nuclear weapons and we have to realize the enormity of what this is doing to our children’s and grandchildren’ future and act now to put an end to it.
With regard to the claim that nuclear power can solve the climate change problem this is absolutely and irrevocably untrue and anybody of any integrity within or outside of the nuclear industry knows this.
In 2005 nuclear power contributed 16% of the world’s electricity but that is less than 3% of the total energy used. It is only 2.7% of total energy use. According to the International Committee on Climate Change, in a 25 year period nuclear power could possibly increase that proportion from 16% to 18%, that is still only 3% of global energy use. This is not going to solve the climate change problem and there is no way nuclear power can.
That being the case one has to realize that the problems posed by nuclear vastly outweigh any marginal contributions it can make. As a matter of fact at the present, nuclear power has declined not increased, from 16% down to 13% and is still going down. Think tanks of various kind independent of the nuclear industry have indicated that nuclear power cannot play any significant role in climate change for at least 40 years. That’s way to late to make a difference.
Germany closed down 8 reactors immediately after Fukushima and they have committed themselves to closing down all 17 of their reactors by the year 2020. In eight years Germany built 30,000 megawatts capacity of wind power and that 30,000 megawatts is twice the capacity of all of Canada’s 22 nuclear reactors all running at 100%, which they are not. You could not possibly build 30,000 megawatts of nuclear power plant in eight years and if you think about the wind power that Germany has invested in, every year they are getting benefits from this as in the first year they get so much and the following year more and you build up to 30,000 getting relief all along the line.
If you invest in nuclear you get nothing, nothing, until the reactors are finished and then you will perhaps get some benefits but look at all the global warning gases you have released in building those reactors. You have not only delayed the problem you have worsened it.
So I beg people to see that we cannot afford the luxury of sitting back and saying it’s not our problem. This is our problem. We, as citizens of the planet, have to take our responsibility seriously. Nuclear responsibility means each one of us taking responsibility, we all have to take this problem to heart, to make it part of our life and part of our work, because now is the time to shut it down.