Should Australia develop a domestic nuclear power industry – what problems would such a venture confront?
The environmental environment, which causes global warming, is one of the most significant problems facing the world. Humans are progressively destroying the world due to excessive industrial emissions, which complicates the future of life on earth. Humans must find and implement better methods of generating energy to reduce the rate of carbon emission. However, the main debate concerns the issue of the specific sources of energy that will protect the environment, but at the same time be affordable, efficient, and able to meet the growing energy demands. Mark Lynas (2008) explores the great debate and the concepts that have emerged concerning the production and use of nuclear energy.
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Although it is considered a renewable and highly effective source of energy with the capacity to meet the world’s demand for energy, nuclear energy is the most controversial form of “green energy”. In the recent past, the development and use of nuclear energy have received criticism from advocates of the “green world”, scientists and politicians. Lynas (2008) describes the wrong notions of anti-nuclear ideas and debates.
First, Lynas (2008) describes the source of these stereotypic ideas. According to the author, the original use of nuclear energy was to produce plutonium for atomic bombs. Secondly, Lynas (2008) describes the fear and notion that the few cases of nuclear disasters have created, including the Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986). However, the author reveals that the fear is unfounded. For instance, he claims that the destruction of life caused by these incidents is significantly small compared to the number of deaths caused by other incidents such as the North Sea oil incident of 1988 (Lynas 2008).
Thirdly, the author notes that Chernobyl and other past disasters occurred in nuclear energy systems that were built in the 1960s and 1970s, meaning that modern technology does not allow similar flaws to happen, thus mitigating such incidents. Also, the author claims that most opponents of nuclear energy state that the environmental degradation and dangers caused by nuclear waste are a major reason for abandoning nuclear projects. While these fears are justified, it is worth noting that modern technology can develop nuclear energy systems that utilize the wastes from the old systems to produce energy and save the environment.
Laynas (2008) further states that scientific studies and empirical observations have revealed that the exposure to radiations in nuclear reactors is insignificant and less dangerous compared to the exposure to the common radiations in the environment.
In its 2011 report, CEDA supports the idea of developing extensive nuclear plants in Australia to reduce the rate of carbon emissions and propel the country towards becoming a major competitor in the power production industry (Brook 2011). To justify these claims, the report shows that the fears associated with nuclear energy are unfounded because most of the facts are based on the projects built some 30 to 50 years ago (Brook 2011). It states that modern technology can solve these problems, reduce the risks, and develop better methods for reusing nuclear waste for the production of additional energy.
Therefore, it is clear that Australia should venture into the lucrative nuclear energy industry. Nevertheless, the country should be cautious of the risks involved, including incidents of disasters such as earthquakes that may disrupt and destroy nuclear power plants, exposing the radiations to the environment. Also, the process of mining and extracting uranium or titanium for nuclear production destroys massive tracts of land, which pollutes the environment.
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What are the main political obstacles to finding suitable public policies to address the chronic overuse of water for horticulture?
Water, one of the most important human needs, is also a major source of controversy, conflicts, and global debates over its usage. The use of water for agricultural purposes, especially in the horticulture industry, has become chronic. It leads to depletion and destruction of natural and man-made water sources due to the extensive use as well as the release of agricultural chemicals. Klare (2002) states that water is a scarce natural resource that creates ethnic clashes and sectarian life in various parts of the world. Ethnic, national, and regional conflicts over water resources are common in such areas as the Nile Valley, Africa, and other nations.
According to the author, the increasing tendency to use massive resources of water for horticultural purposes will turn these conflicts from the ethnic and local levels to the national and regional levels. The conflicts will also include the developed world. The author suggests that water and other resources be under the control of international agencies to ensure effective prevention of conflicts and fair allocation of resources during scarcity.
However, managing water resources effectively and creating fairness in the use of water resources cannot be achieved easily due to political obstacles that obstruct suitable public policies required to address the chronic overuse of water for horticulture. In Australia, this problem has occurred in some instances. Connell (2007) highlights some of the factors that create a crisis in the Murray Darling Basin.
According to the author, the general willingness to share responsibilities and water resources between the various irrigation companies in the basin is lacking, creating hostility. The author argues that the development of an effective water management institution has been limited by the historical and political context because the process is based on public policy development. This is a clear indication that political unwillingness and economic politics play an important role in the water sector.
Where do you stand on the question of ‘State’s Rights’ versus ‘Commonwealth powers’? Should the Commonwealth have more power over the Murray-Darling Basin?
Cornell (2007) argues that an institution is required to manage the use and conservation of water resources at the Murray-Darling Basin. He considers the “state of rights” versus “commonwealth powers” (Cornell 2007). In my opinion, the commonwealth should have more financial (but not direct) power over the basin than the state governments to ensure equitable use of the resources as well as shared responsibilities.
The powers over environmental policy granted to the Commonwealth by the Australian Constitution outlined by Crawford
Cornell (2007) further describes the powers that the federal constitution of Australia has inferred to the federal government in the management of resources. Some of these powers include the responsibility to force state governments to adhere to the laws governing resources, the creation of policies to govern water use and conservation as well as the financial powers to force the states to adopt national policies and ensure that they stick to them.
What would you say constitutes the Greens (Australian and Europe) core constituency?
According to Rootes (2002), Green parties have used their popularity as environmentalists to access real political power in various parts of the western world. The green parties were initially advocating for the political, civil, and economic focus on the environment, especially during the anti-nuclear campaigns. Nevertheless, Rootes (2002) argues that the platform was used to achieve real political power. It appears that the core constituencies of the green parties are comprised of the desire to gain political power and influence voters by making them believe that the principal interest is to conserve the environment. Also, Rootes (2002) argues that the constituencies of these parties are made up of policies that turn the members against the mainstream political parties, thus creating hostility and controversy.
What conditions particularly help Green parties so well at the polls – conversely, what hinders their success?
Robert Manne (2011) is one of the most outstanding analysts of the position and motives taken by the Green parties, especially in Australia. According to Manne (2011), the green parties can mobilize the people to vote for the green candidates in the lower political levels due to their anti-left and anti-right stand. Also, they invoke the critical issue of the environment as their political weapon, which influences voters (Miragliotta 2006). Nevertheless, this is also the cause of their inability to succeed.
In terms of political ideology, is it fair to say that Green parties are ‘beyond left and right’?
Manne (2011) says that due to their anti-left and anti-right campaigns, the green parties are considered hostile, which hinders their ability to succeed in regional and national politics. The greens say that they are “in front” rather than being “on the right” or “the left”. Manne argues that these parties’ main idea is to make the public believe that they fight for the interest of the nation, especially in terms of environmental conservation and the need to create wealth for all the people, unlike the mainstream parties.
Brook, B 2011, ‘The Role of nuclear fission energy in mitigating future carbon emissions’, CEDA, Australia’s Nuclear Options. Web.
Connell, D 2007, Water Politics in the Murray-Darling Basin, Federation Press, Melbourne.
Klare, MT 2002, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict, Metropolitan/Owl Book, New York.
Lynas, M 2008, ‘Why greens must learn to love nuclear power’ New Statesman. Web.
Manne, R 2011, ‘The Rise of the Greens’, in R. Manne ed, Making Trouble: Essays Against the New Australian Complacency, Black Ink Publishing, Collingwood.
Miragliotta, N 2006, ‘One Party, Two Traditions: Radicalism and Pragmatism in the Australian Greens’, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 41, no. 4 pp. 585-596.
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Rootes, C 2002, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green: Green Parties: From Protest to Power’, Harvard International Review, vol. 23 no. 4.