Friday, 8 March 2013

The 5th Demand Of The Anti-Nuclear Movement

1. Stop supplementing the budget of 4th nuclear plant
2. Stop the installation of fuel rods in 4th nuclear plant
3. Stop dangerous nuclear power and decommission 1st, 2nd, and 3rd nuclear plants
4. Remove nuclear waste from Orchid Island and comprehensively review nuclear policy
5. Implement ”zero-growth of electricity demand policy”..."
This five-item demand list is taken from the "Wild At Heart" legal defense association website, and whilst the first four items are obviously about the nuclear power plant, the fifth item is rather more interesting.

"Zero-growth of electricity demand policy."

Excusing the grammar, it is plainly obvious what this is, and it is not about nuclear power plants per se; it is a call for the government (or a future government) to attempt to restrict growth in demand for electricity. This is noteworthy on two counts.

First, if the anti-nuclear group's objective was simply to prevent environmental pollution, then they could have demanded zero growth in electricity generation capacity, as this would encompass the demand that no new coal, gas or nuclear power stations be built. Under a policy such as this, any growth in electricity demand would have to be met by more efficient use of the existing supply, with transformer and transmission savings the likely priorities. Still, even a policy such as this would likely be considered "extremist" by most people on the Left and in the DPP because it would obviously preclude construction of new renewable power stations also such as solar arrays and wind turbines. Yet the policy demand is not for zero growth in capacity, but for zero growth in demand - it is even more radical than a policy of preventing the construction of any new power stations.

Second, the fifth demand appears to reflect a seemingly common belief among environmentalists in which "sustainability" is predicated upon the absence of growth, particularly economic growth as assessed by conventional measures. In this view, producers and consumers on the market economy are demonized as "exploiting" the earth's finite and fragile natural resources, and - in order to save the earth and facilitate a transition to a "sustainable" society - the imperative of ensuring economic growth adopted by governments around the world (particularly during the post-war years) must be overthrown. Instead, a "sustainable" society must, according to this view, be organized around the principle of stability, in which the possibility of growth is institutionally precluded. So, because electricity is a necessary constituent to economic growth in an industrialized market economy, it is easy to see how someone could believe that a "sustainable" society must be based on zero growth demand for electricity - as this would be a superordinate imperative of a plan to prevent economic growth (other superordinate imperatives being zero growth demand for fresh water for agriculture, and zero growth demand for gasoline and diesel for transport).

I do not think this is a translation error. There are at least two other possible explanations; the first, and perhaps most likely, is simply human error - i.e. the people organizing and running the anti-nuclear movement are as sharp as marbles and haven't really thought through the implications of their fifth demand beyond a brief assessment of how nice the words sound; the second possibility is that the anti-nuclear movement is a front-group for a far-left socialist organization attempting to gain political influence by piggy-back riding on the DPP.

Of course, the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. I met people like that when I was at University; I was amazed at how stupid some of them were - if their noses had been on upside down, they'd have drowned in the rain.

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