any drop to drink.."
Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
the almost incessant rainfall we are officially in a drought. There
can be no doubt that climate change is contributing to changing
weather patterns to adversely affect our water supply. This is a
foretaste of what conditions will be like here in the not too distant
future if something is not done to halt and reverse the destruction
of our environment on a global scale.
the biggest single contributor to the present water shortage in
Britain is privatisation. Thames Water, for example, is currently
leaking 200 million gallons of water per week into the ground through
broken pipes. Like every other privatisation scheme, the selling off
of water provided private companies with a licence to print money at
the expense of our services. There is just no profit to be made from
repairing leaking pipes. On the contrary that investment would come
from their profits eating into the dividends paid to shareholders and
bonuses paid to executives. The privatisation of our water must be
reversed and a massive programme of investment planned to repair the
damaged and neglected infrastructure.
is a windblown island, sitting on top of huge coal reserves,
surrounded by seawater. There are many alternative forms of energy
supply that can play a part in producing the power we need. Yet we
are on the verge of an unnecessary energy crisis, to match the
unnecessary drought. The fact that gas and oil were running out has
been known for decades. This is not some startling revelation, except
to the get rich today and hang tomorrow brigade.
applies the same narrow, short-term outlook to all of its endeavours.
To produce energy (or cars, or steel, etc) cleanly and safely would
cost money that capitalist firms are not willing to 'waste'. The
future of the planet does not enter into their profit and loss
columns. So capitalism is even to blame for the weather! Leaving the
production of energy – and, for that matter, large scale industry in
general – in private hands is a finished recipe for environmental
solution to the looming energy crisis is to announce, from the depths
of his bunker, the construction of more nuclear power stations. If
this plan is allowed to proceed then we will feel the fallout for
years to come.
Morley, the minister for climate change, was sacked because of his
opposition to building new fission reactors. As well as the dangers
associated with these reactors (there have been 57 'incidents' at
Britain's nuclear plants since 1997), huge amounts of deadly waste
if nuclear fission were somehow made safe, could we really have any
faith in privateers and contractors to build and run nuclear power
stations? They are already calling for the removal of red tape to
allow them to cash in. The French firm Areva (favourites to win the
construction contracts) claims it can have new reactors built and
running by 2017, 'provided the planning process is streamlined'. They
want to cut corners even before they start!
claims that building new nuclear plants will cut carbon emissions.
Leaving aside the significant contribution to those emissions made by
the construction of new reactors, uranium mining, and transport,
there remains the decisive question of nuclear waste. They would like
to sweep this under the carpet – quite literally by burying it under
our feet – but it would leave behind a truly deadly legacy.
business in pursuit of profit is already raping the planet's
resources and polluting the Earth at an alarming rate. Five companies
in Britain produce more carbon dioxide pollution together than all
the cars on the roads combined. The biggest polluter EON UK, which
owns Powergen, produced 26.4 million tons of carbon dioxide last
year, slightly more than Croatia.
According to Blair 'nothing should be
ruled out' when considering the solution to the looming energy
crisis. Yet his obsession with the market means he has already ruled
out the only viable, safe and efficient option – the public
ownership, integration and planning of the entire energy sector.
are plenty of ways to produce energy without destroying the
environment. Wind, wave, and solar power all have a part to play. So
does the cleaner use of fossil fuels, in particular, fluidised bed
combustion technology for burning coal. Research is desperately
needed into clean nuclear technology, notably nuclear fusion,
generating power by extracting heavy hydrogen isotopes from water
without waste or the risk of new Chernobyls. Unlike nuclear fission,
which tears atomic nuclei apart to release energy, fusion involves
squeezing the nuclei of two hydrogen atoms together. The hydrogen
fuel is part heavy hydrogen or deuterium, which can be easily
extracted from water, and part super-heavy hydrogen or tritium, which
can be made from lithium, a reasonably abundant metal. The energy
produced is truly colossal.
private sector will not provide the necessary investment or planning.
Electricity, gas, oil and coal must be taken back into public
ownership and an integrated energy plan drawn up concerned with the
safe long term production of our energy needs without harming the
health of the workforce or the future of the planet.
the chaos of the market system nuclear power can never be safe. The
reactors currently contributing to the electricity network need to be
safely decommissioned, the private sector cannot be trusted to do
that either. The workforce must be provided with guaranteed jobs.
They, and thousands more besides, could be employed to research and
produce our energy needs once safety, efficiency, and the protection
of the environment were to replace profit as the motor force of
private sector is a disaster on our railways. It is incapable of
supplying water. The idea of private companies building and operating
nuclear power stations is a living nightmare.
future offered to us by capitalism is air we cannot breathe, a land
polluted by nuclear waste, standpipes in the street for our water,
and power cuts. Britain is supposedly the fourth richest economy in
the world, yet capitalism is busily transforming it into a third
new nuclear plants!
water, electricity, oil, coal and gas!
a Socialist Integrated Energy Policy as part of a democratic
socialist plan of production!