Climate change

May 10, 2010

Why vs Why: Nuclear Power – new book by Barry Brook & Lowe

Filed under: IFR (Integral Fast Reactor) Nuclear Power, Nuclear Energy — Barry Brook @ 12:18 pm

Join the debate – Pantera Press releases its first of two non-fiction titles from the Why vs Why™ series debating the Nuclear Power solution.

The unique and friendly format of Pantera Press’s Why vs Why™ series of debate books focuses on one contentious issue written by two rival expert advocates, with no editorial or other publisher bias.

The first book in this series imparts an in-depth exploration of the opposing sides of the nuclear power debate. Contrasting opinions are offered by two Australian environmental scientists, Prof. Barry W. Brook and Prof. Ian Lowe AO, respected internationally as leaders in their fields.

Prof. Barry W. Brook holds a number of awards for research excellence and leads the case in favour of nuclear power, while Ian Lowe AO, Emeritus Professor and President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, addresses the case against nuclear power. (A separate website dedicated to the book will be up and running soon)

The two positions are presented in an easy to read 2-books-in-1 format. Both authors discuss the seven key reasons why we should/should not have nuclear power in Australia and further investigate the evidence behind each of these reasons through their seven chapters. Importantly, this book leaves no issue hanging. On top of the seven key arguments, each author has written a rebuttal to their opponent’s argument.

In a pocket-sized, easy-to-digest format, the Why vs Why™ series brings well-informed and credible experts together to present their cases for and against the hot topics of today, debating issues that have no easy answers across environmental, community, social, political spheres,” says John Green, co-founder, Pantera Press.

The books distil the information that’s of most relevance, offer helpful insights and communicate with clarity the details of both counter arguments.”

In the wake of US President Barack Obama’s decision early in 2010 to allocate $8.3 billion in federal loans toward the construction of new nuclear power plants it is clear which side of the nuclear power debate the US political giant sits on.

It is a subject that attracts intense debate from senior environmental scientists through to the average person on the street, the outcome of decisions made today convey serious unchangeable impact on future generations,” says Alison Green, co-founder Pantera Press.

Australia does not have nuclear power stations currently, so it’s a subject that is hotting up. Those against nuclear power cite Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the financial costs and the potential for nuclear weapons,” adds John Green. “Those in favour point to nuclear power as a clean, green, safe and sustainable solution in the race to reduce the impact of climate change.”

In Why vs Why™ Nuclear Power Australian environmental expert Prof. Ian Lowe AO notes how he changed from being cautiously in favour of nuclear power and doing research supporting it as a young physicist to being solidly against it.

Ian argues that nuclear waste issues have not been resolved and nuclear power would require massive development budgets, so there are more appropriate solutions.

He says that “advocating nuclear power as the response to climate change is like promoting smoking as a cure for obesity.”

Ian Lowe has been a referee for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change and attended the Geneva, Kyoto and Copenhagen conferences of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Prof. Barry W. Brook presents a focused and thought-provoking argument for nuclear power. A life-time dedicated to the subject of climate change, Brook sees nuclear power as the only realistic answer to the need for a developing world to power itself and to deal with atmospheric CO2 levels.

He challenges other green energies; citing the many technical challenges to harnessing renewable energy sources, declaring them as grossly uneconomic, unreliable, and presenting geographical and storage issues. He concludes that nuclear power is the most pragmatic solution within the real-world, physical, social and economic constraints.

Barry W. Brook runs a popular climate science and energy options blog, his focus is on statistical modelling, systems analysis for sustainable energy and synergies between human impacts on the biosphere.

Launched in 2010, Pantera Press is a family business, teaming passion and love for literature and debate with solid business expertise, the backing of major distributor Simon & Schuster and support from a growing stable of some of Australia’s finest publishing industry talents.

With its mantra of good books doing good things™ Pantera Press has developed innovative financial and philanthropic models. These mean authors have more support than ever for their writing, and philanthropic programs, such as The Smith Family’s Lets Read initiative, will receive a financial boost to help combat illiteracy at the earliest stages. Since 2008, Pantera Press has also sponsored the coveted Walkley Awards for excellence in newspaper feature writing.


In a nutshell:

Why we should say YES to nuclear power by Barry W. Brook


If climate change is the “inconvenient truth” facing our fossil fuel dependent society, then advanced nuclear power is the inconvenient solution staring right back at the environmental movement. Since the 1970s, when the Sierra Club and other prominent environmental groups switched from being active supporters to trenchant detractors, nuclear power has fought an ongoing battle to present itself as a clean, safe and sustainable energy source. Today, a mix of myths and old half-truths continue to constrain people’s thinking on nuclear power.

Some of the most regularly raised are that uranium supplies will run out, nuclear accidents are likely, long-lived radioactive waste will be with us for 100,000 years, large amounts of CO2 are produced over the nuclear cycle, it’s too slow and costly, and that a build out of nuclear power will increase the risk of weapons proliferation. Yet, the surprising reality is that most of these perceived problems with nuclear power were simply not true, and none of the remaining real concerns need apply in the future.

In the “Yes” case for Why vs Why: Nuclear Power, Professor Brook explains the real-world scientific and economic evidence needed to understand this most misunderstood of energy sources. He describes technical advances that can enable ‘nuclear waste’ to be totally consumed, to produce cheap electricity with no long-lived legacy. He shows that there is enough minable nuclear fuel (uranium and thorium) to power the entire world for hundreds of millennia. He describes recent efforts in Asia to bring down costs of construction and build times, and yet further enhance safety. And so on.

In summary, the 7 reasons why we should say “Yes” to nuclear power are:

1. Because renewable energy & energy efficiency won’t solve the energy & climate crises

2. Because nuclear fuel is virtually unlimited & packs a huge energy punch

3. Because new technology solves the “nuclear waste” problem

4. Because nuclear power is the safest energy option

5. Because advanced nuclear power will strengthen global security

6. Because nuclear power’s true costs are lower than either fossil fuels or renewables

7. Because nuclear power can lead the “clean energy” revolution

BARRY W. BROOK. He is a leading environmental scientist, holding the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute. He’s published three books, over 150 refereed scientific papers and regularly writes popular articles for the media. Prof. Brook has received a number of distinguished awards for his research excellence (including the Australian Academy of Science Fenner Medal). His focus is on climate change, computational and statistical modeling, systems analysis for sustainable energy, and synergies between human impacts on the biosphere. 




Let’s be clear: the only reason for rational people to take seriously the idea of nuclear power in Australia is the widespread recognition that climate change is a serious threat to the future of civilisation. Ten years ago, nuclear power was seen almost universally as a failed technology. Originally touted as cheap, clean and safe, nuclear power had by then been recognised as expensive, dirty and dangerous.

If nuclear power were the only effective way of slowing climate change, I might support going down the nuclear path. We would have to put a huge effort into managing nuclear waste, a problem that is, at least in principle, capable of a technical solution. I would also remain desperately worried about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, a social and political problem apparently without any prospect of solution. Fortunately, we do not face that terrible dilemma. There are other, much better ways of slowing our assault on the Earth’s climate system. I see the nuclear argument as a dangerous distraction, which could direct resources and technical capacity away from more sensible responses.

In summary, the 7 reasons why we should say NO to nuclear power are:

1. Because it is not a fast enough response to climate change

2. Because it is too expensive

3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated

4. Because the problem of waste remains unresolved

5. Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war

6. Because there are safety concerns

7. Because there are better alternatives

Ian’s been recognised as a leading climate change scientist for decades. He’s President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, and an adjunct professor at Flinders and Sunshine Coast Universities. He’s authored or co-authored 20 books, more than 50 book chapters and over 500 other publications or conference papers, with countless contributions to newspapers and other media. He’s been a referee for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, and attended the Geneva, Kyoto and Copenhagen conferences of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Prof. Lowe has received a number of distinguished awards for his services to science, technology and environmental studies (including being made an Officer of the Order of Australia, awarded the Centenary Medal, the Eureka Prize and named Humanist of the Year). His contributions have also been recognised by the Prime Minister’s Environment Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement and The Queensland Premier’s Millennium Award for Excellence in Science. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Pantera Press?

In partnership with its major book distributor Simon & Schuster Australia, Pantera Press is a new independent Australian publishing force.

Pantera Press is focused on discovering and nurturing new writing talent… writers who create well‐written, riveting reads, in quality popular nonfiction and fiction. Pantera Press’s first list is being released in 2010, launching with four new titles, two fiction and two non-fiction in May/June 2010 and more to come later in the year.

Pantera Press aims to publish books that readers will rave about. Their initial focus is on discovering and nurturing new writing talent… writers who create well-written, riveting reads with broad appeal. Their core goal is to become “a great home for the next generation of Australia’s best-loved authors”.

As well as launching new authors, with its symbiotic mix of business and philanthropic objectives called good books doing good things™, Pantera Press will use some of its profits to promote the joys of writing and reading, foster debate of important ideas and issues, and help close the literacy gap.

Pantera Press already sponsors the prestigious Walkley Awards and is developing a partnership with Let’s Read, a literacy program for pre-school children and their families being implemented around Australia, including indigenous communities, by The Smith Family.

Pantera Press’s readers will not only get great stories and insights but they’ll feel good about it. Pantera Press’s fresh approach has already won early positive media profile and support with articles and interviews in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, ABC Radio 702, and trade magazine Bookseller + Publisher.

Who is behind Pantera Press?

Pantera Press is a family business, founded by the Sydney-based Green family. Their kitchen table is their board room. What they passionately debate around that table is an unusual mix of… business, the arts and philanthropy… things that have driven their family for years.

Alison Green, with a background in Psychology, Business Strategy & Marketing, has been working full-time running Pantera Press for the last two years. It was Alison’s creative vision that spotted how the Green family’s trio of passions, business, the arts & philanthropy, could be brought together so uniquely and it was Alison who excited the whole family into starting Pantera Press.

John Green (Alison’s father) has 35 years in business, with some of Australia’s biggest companies as a company director, investment banker and lawyer. (For many years, John was also on the board of publisher, UNSW Press. In fact, in the 1970s, he helped saved the Press from being closed down.) John is also a well-known business writer, with his pieces having appeared in publications such as Business Spectator, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review and Company Director.


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