As soon as oil and gas get dearer (and scarcer), many Germans and people in other countries want to use nuclear power and coal.
Have we forgotten that:
- in the 60s washing on the line in the garden was still often black with soot,
- without pumping with energy costs of at least 100 million EURO per year (I have also heard much higher figures) the Ruhr area would become a lake district and the town Essen would be flooded (see “Kosten des Bergbaus – Pumpen bis in die Ewigkeit“, if you understand German),
- in German mining areas, to build a house, special permission from the mining authorities is needed, due to the risk that a new house could disappear underground,
- German coal mining was phased out principally for financial reasons. (But I fear that now, ignoring resulting damage and costs, it may soon seem profitable again),
- brown coal mining (and uranium too, see Wismut Aue) has ruined whole landscapes,
- increasing carbon dioxide in the air is damaging the sensitive and chaotic weather system and the end effects are only partly predictable,
- nuclear power is also no solution, since radioactive material cannot be fully controlled,
- there is no way to dispose of nuclear waste products. They remain dangerous too long. Nobody can guarantee what happens to them in the next million years,
- a GAU in a nuclear power station can be a real catastrophe,
- the uranium needed for nuclear power will last not more than 40 years. (Oil has by the way lasted almost 100 years).
Some say: Science will solve the problems:
destroyed landscapes can be recultivated,
- the problems of coal mining can be mastered with new technology (or the coal can be imported!),
- coal power stations can be made clean,
- carbon dioxide can be stored somehow somewhere.
Can we really expect that science will save us from the need to change our ways? Will we be saved by utopias like nuclear fusion and hydrogen technology?
- The energy and other valuable resources, such as water, needed to get and process oil increase constantly, due to the poorer quality of newly found oilfields.
- Oil cannot be used as an energy source if all its energy is needed to get and process it. This principle goes for alternative energy (e.g. bio-energy) too. There are some very dubious examples.
- Bio-oil from cultivation competes with the production of food.
- It needs a lot of land to produce a little bio-oil.
Oil – whether pumped out of the ground or extracted from plants – is too valuable to burn, whether for heating or mobility.
And there is already a world drinking water shortage too!
Is it not high time to drastically change our lifestyles? Why not adopt a free lifestyle and just ignore the old compulsions? Is that a good area for applied ethics?
Probably we would all feel better..
The energy ministers of the G8 states at a recent conference in Japan could not think of anything better than to ask the oil producing countries to produce more (?)
The worst climate sin is flying, which I always liked. In July 2008 I shall visit a dear friend in Mallorca and if possible I shall fly with another good friend to the football world championship in South Africa in 2010 (both trips are booked). Aside from this, I have resolved never to fly again. I shall keep to this with my typical obstinacy (or consistency?). I hereby apologise to and beg for understanding from those who are annoyed or inconvenienced by this.
I also find it interesting that despite loud oil-discussion the subject of speed limit seems no longer to be on the agenda. The figures for possible savings are very varied. That is to be expected, since 110 km/h on motorway and 80 km/h on other main roads would have much more effect than 130/100 km/h. Every driver knows that the consumption increases more rapidly as the speed increases. So the savings in oil and in carbon dioxide generation will depend how drastic the limit is. I only want to hint at the other positive effects of a tempo limit, (crashes and deaths, smoother traffic flow, reduced agression…).
I dedicate this article to my wife and all other mothers, who are generally wiser than men and who suffer so from our carelessness.