one more thing, there were two things that bugged me in the Australian Uranium Council's "Nuclear Energy Prospects in New Zealand"...largely because of its slopiness (well it is Australian!)
The comment that NZ is "having to retreat from using gas extravagantly for power generation". While it is true that we have used gas extravagantly it was in the manufacture of Methanol that we were extravagant. I suspect it is little know, but a significant percentage of Maui's gas (if forced to make a guess I'd say greater than 40%) was used to make methanol (originally it was meant to then be turned into synthetic fuel but this famed Thing Big project didn't fly). I also suspect that the energy minister's comments quoted in the article ("committing NZ to the profligate use of a very valuable and increasingly expensive resource.") were directed at the use of gas for methanol manufacure rather than for electricity production.
The other mis-leading statement is that wind is "already well used, with some of the highest capacity factors in the world." I'm by no means an expert on wind resources in NZ but I doubt very much that we have made even a small dent in our potential wind resource. I believe the term "capacity factor" refers to the percentage of installed wind capactiy that is utilised and has nothing to do with the amount of resource that could be used if more facilities were built. What a lot of nonsense.
From a European point of view, nuclear generated electricity is more attractive (for Europe) because there is:
1) An over reliance on Russia and North Africa for gas (together they control more than 40% of Europe's gas supply)
2) Limited hydro and other renewable sources
3) Strong social concerns over environmental/CO2 emissions (making coal unattractive...until viable sequestration options are developed)
4) Nuclear generated electrity already exists (which affects the debate in two ways i. you already have sites which should be suitable for new/replacement reactors ii. if you retired the existing reactors you would have to find alternative supplies)
Largely as a result of the above the UK government in likely to replace it's current stock of nuclear reactors which I believe is a defenisble decision in the medium term.
However, in New Zealand the situation is very different...
1. Almost all our power is generated from indigenous sources (with the exception of coal to supply huntly) so the security of supply question is less relevant.
2. There is unlikely to be a major gap in demand that needs to be met in the medium term (e.g. by having a booming economiy of 1 bln people in the case of China/India or by having to replace existing reactors as is the case in the UK). Hence, I strongly suspect that through energy efficiency initiatives (or shutting down huntly) and a stronger focus on renewables we could meet our energy requirements much more easily than resorting to nuclear.
We don't get labelled because if you strip away the accent/language the differences are incredibly subtle and impossible to detect through casual observation (except when the clogs give it away).
For me the point about the climate debate is not whether or not you can absolutely prove that human activity is contributing to global warming but whether or not their is sufficient evidence to support action.
The mind set goes something like...
If in 20 years we discover that we could have stopped global warming and we did nothing our children will not forgive us.
If in 20 years we discover that global warming doesn't exist or is not caused by us then by acting now we will have lost very little (a couple of percentage point lost from GDP).
The public seem to have decided that there is sufficient evidence. I think we are likly to see significant action on this from Europe and even the US in the next few years.
(Note - Bill Phillips is an unsung NZ icon, found out about him as a result of a wonderful talk given by Dr. Bollard a few years ago.)
There is also a full version of the Moniac Machine machine in the Science and Technology Museum in London. Unfortunately it was not operational when I was there...seems to me that it would be a fantastic educational tool.
I had duck for dinner last night.
<quote>It's not hard to find some clown declaring that Europe will be under sharia law in 15 years, even though many (most?) of the Muslims they so eagerly count in the EU are from central and east European countries with completely different traditions.<quote>
First of all, in many European countries most muslims in aren't from Eastern and Central Europe. France/Spain = North Africa, UK = South Asian, Germany = Turkey (part of Europe??). Here's a good overview...
But your point remains... very few come from regions whose traditions coincide with the type of Sharia Law practiced in Saudi Arabia and promoted by al qaeda...Wahhabism. However, this is exactly the problem, the huge diversity of muslim traditions are under threat by Wahhabism...fueled by poverty, ignorance, American incompetence, money from Saudi Arabia, maddrases in Pakistan (and elsewhere) and extremist rhetoric from Bin Laden and his cohorts.
The battle between Wahhabi/radial islam and "modern" islam has been termed the Islamic Reformaton by Reza Aslan (an Iranian, devoute muslim, a professor and a havard graduate)...and if he is right then indeed the world is in for some serious upheaval (a good and educational read is "No God but God").
Do I have faith in our democratic/liberal tradition to help us survive this tumultous time...No, I have hope. But we had better get better than Bush is at selling, promoting and articulating what that ideal and tradition is. That way we might be some use to our moderate muslim friends who are trying to promote many of the values that we share.
Not sure what the american's should do about the war in Iraq now... seems a mess either way. But the comparison with Vietnam is interesting. Here's some more food for thought...
I guess my summary take on the comparison with Vietnam is...
While we must learn from history we have to be careful not to take analogies too far. Case in point...I think Blair was rather fond of making an analogy between the rise of Hitler and Sadam Hussein (ie. act now to depose the despot or pay the price later). In retrospect it seems that his analogy was rather poor.
Imagine if there was more unity of post-colonial purpose amongst 2006's Maori, Pacific, Asian and MELAA people: 1, 220, 598 people united against Pakeha domination of the political, social and economic systems of the nation.
You sound as though you are about to chase us into the sea!?
I was at the Wales game in 2006, amazingly at the back of the stadium, a sign with the famous words..."Bring Back Buck"