“Nuclear electricity” – 1978 booklet by Australian Mining Industry Council

So, the Australian government has torn up a contract it made with the French for some submarines and is now going to buy some nuclear ones. Smarter people than me (Laura Tingle, Guy Rundle etc etc) have written about the geopolitics of all this.

One point, made by various commentators, is that building/operating nuclear subs will strengthen the hand (or rather, give encouragement) to the perennial voices calling for nuclear power as a “solution” to Australia’s high carbon emissions from energy production. This idea, that nuclear is suitable and available as a way of pushing emissions down, has been around for decades, and gets dragged out as a “dead cat on the table”/wedge issue (most blatantly by John Howard in 2005-6, when he was trying to contain the then-growing climate change issue, but also two years back.

Well, a few years ago, when a) it was possible to get to Sydney and b) Gould’s Books still had that big lovely warehouse in Newton, I bought the following.

The Australian Mining Industry Council was a trade association set up in the late 1960s, when a huge minerals export boom was underway and the companies wanted more federal assistance. Alongside policy-facing stuff, it also did a fair bit of PR work. Its increasingly unhinged and counter-productive attacks on Aboriginal Land rights made member companies nervous. In the early 1990s, after Mabo, a review was conducted and AMIC was rebranded as … the Minerals Council of Australia. You may have heard of them

Anyway, on page 82 of the booklet, there’s this…

This is not a startling thing – the climate issue was well understood by the late 1970s. Just not talked about so much – that didn’t come till after the 1985 UNEP/WMO meeting in Villach and the footwork to get to 1988…

So what can we expect in the coming tedious years? I for one will be startled if proponents of nuclear for Australia do not come out all guns blazing. They will ignore the fact that renewables and storage (be it batteries, pumped hydro etc) offer cheaper, safer (in so many ways) and more sensible options. They will spout endless nonsense, and get much more media attention and approval, for various economic and cultural reasons (on the cultural side of things, well, nuclear has promethean, extractive connotations that renewables don’t. I wrote about this a few years ago- “Wind beneath their contempt: Why Australian policymakers oppose solar and wind energy.

Labor, which is shell-shocked and cowed after 2019, and desperate not to offend a single regional Queensland voter, will probably mumble something about cost but not oppose (I mean, why would an opposition oppose?)

What a stupid stupid species we are. Or, to be more specific – the (mostly, but not entirely) white, masculinist, extractivist, violent, ignorant meat-head members of our species are merrily causing the sixth great extinction and are hell-bent on accelerating our transition to a grim meathook future is stupid stupid stupid. The rest of us, the rest of us are suffering the consequences (some much more than others), and we ain’t seen NOTHING yet.

This, people, this is why I didn’t breed…

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