Sunday, 5 June 2011

Land reform not nuclear power needed to combat climate change

It was good news for the future of the planet to learn that Germany will be phasing out all nuclear power installations over the next 10 years.The Germans response to the horror that recently unveiled in Japan at the Fukishama nuclear plant following the earthquake was the appropriate one. People took to the streets in protest at the dangers posed by nuclear power. The feelings of people against nuclear power were also reflected in the recent elections in Germany. All in all the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel were left in no doubt as to what course of action they should take over future energy provision. As a result, the German government has taken a bold step to replace the 23 per cent of nuclear provision with renewable energy sources.So what has happened in this country, well hardly a whimper of dissent, certainly no street protests of German proportions. While the German people recognised the danger and acted appropriately, the British continued to dwell in their insular comfort zone, complaining about Europe. Despite the evidence of devastation from Japan, the Coalition Government is committed to continue with the ill thought out programme of new nuclear power stations laid down by the last administration.Indeed, not only was there no protest over the dangers of nuclear power but previous opponents of the industry like environmentalist and writer George Monbiot declared his conversion to this form of energy as a result of what he saw in Japan.There has been a narrative developed in the public discourse here that equates combatting climate change with the need to adopt nuclear power. The cost of this misconception in human and environmental terms in the form of a crisis like Fukishama should be clear enough for all to see. The irony of using such a destructive technology as nuclear power to allegedly save the planet must surely be lost on no one.

It is extraordinary that people with children are not concerned about these issues. It is the future of the planet that is at stake and it will be the children of today who pay the price in the world of tomorrow. The effects of climate change will hit the present generation of youngsters hardest and the nuclear option is only likely to add to the appalling legacy that that today's adults are leaving to their children.It is high time that the threat of climate chage was taken seriously. Nuclear energy is no solution, as Japan proves it is dangerous and costly. What is required is to get back to a much simpler way of living. Local communities need to be rebuilt around their energy needs and locally produced goods. This will mean getting back to the land. In order for this to happen one vital prerequisite is land reform. A recent study found that if all the land in the world were divided equally amongst the present population then everyone could have four acres. This would be more than enough to sustainably support individuals and families. However, in reality large swathes of the world are owned by a small number of individuals. One of the largest landowners in the world is our own Queen. If there is truly to be land reform along the lines needed for people to get back to a more agrarian and less environmentally destructive way of life then there will have to be a land redistribution.But before any of this can happen there needs to be a recognition that the present economic system is not working, indeed market capitalism of the type being practiced now is not only responsible for destroying the planet but also for disempowering the very people who could bring about the change. Human beings have changed from being citizens to consumers, shorn of the power to make change outside of anything beyond a transactional notion.People need to get back democratic power. The way in which the Germans have rejected the nuclear industry proves that democracy is stronger in some countries than others. But if the world is to move to a more sustainable way of living, involving getting back to the land and production at a local level, then the democratic leavers need to be restored uiniversally. Only then can developments like the land reform needed to get back to a truly localised form of agrarian production be accomplished.

No comments:

Post a Comment