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Energy Conservation; immoral and dangerous
Posted: 6 March 2008

I can't support the notion that energy conservation is dangerous. But I agree that sustainable energy policies and principles needs to the the driver for our future as a civilisation.
The notion of wasting energy vs conserving it should be the focus of debate not the issue of depriving people of energy to the detriment of their lives.
I have just listened to Dr Patrick Moore ex co founder of Greenpeace address various audiences in South Africa and his very reasoned approach on the global sustainability of Nuclear power versus the rabid dog approach of the extreme environmental lobby. His reasoning gives us engineers food for not only rational thought but hope for a better energy solution for all mankind. Refer to his web sites for some additional comment.

John Menasce Pr Eng.

We must put humanity before our planet
Dateline: 12 February 2009
Back in 2007, Dr Brian Cox, a member of the High Energy Physics Group at the University of Manchester, started a ripple that has now turned into a political and social tsunami. "Our responsibility is not merely to look after the Earth, but also to be custodians of our civilization. We need to harness the same power that fuels the sun, and use more, not less, energy", he wrote. "The human ...
John Menasce Thanks Doug for correcting that typo.
How do we instill a culture of nurturing our resources? I have lived through two energy crises [1970 oil crisis and the electricity crisis in California in 2001]. I certainly don't want to live through a third as it may make the other two look like a walk in the park. I certainly don't want my children to live with the legacy of waste that has been left by my generation of baby boomers. What is becoming evident is that the X generation are questioning our legacy and taking their own steps to be more in touch with our planet.
Posted: 7 March 2008 at 14:58
Doug Vining I'm all for efficient energy utilization, but human nature being what it is, those who have an abundance will use a lot. Efficient lights in that case means they can erect even more, and they will if they can afford it.
By the way FISSION is the current way nuclear power is generated from uranium. FUSION is the experimental method of generating power from plasma. See the ITER project ( for the latest state of play. Another white elephant or the future of energy?
Posted: 7 March 2008 at 08:54
John Menasce Turning off street lights after midnight to save energy is not energy conservation. In the same example:- Energy conservation is effective street lighting like compact fluorescents and sodium vapour lamps that are orders of magnitude more efficient than old incandescent lamps. Conservation is about effective use and minimising wasted energy.
Lets be clear about nuclear waste:-It requires high tech safe storage but lets also understand that it is radio active not corrosive and so containment is relatively easy. Nuclear waste from current technology may well be the fuel of future "secondary" nuclear power stations. My understanding is that this technology is not yet fully developed and currently produces some undesirable wastes [used in weapons manufacture] but technology may change that. The mining industry has only just started cleaning up its act in the last decade so it is incorrect to imply that increased uranium mining and enrichment will cause increased environmental damage.
I'm also not convinced that nuclear fusion is the only way to go as two future energy scenario models that I have seen up to 2050, show nuclear as less than 10% of global power generation with 80% of the power generation still based on fossil fuels. The models differ in that one shows coal being dominant and the other shows coal and natural gas being shared equally [about 40% each].
What about Nuclear Fission? Can anyone enlighten us on this option?
Posted: 6 March 2008 at 16:18
Doug Vining Energy conservation can be dangerous. To give a trite example, if we switch off the street lights to save energy after midnight, and there's a bad accident in the dark, is that not a dangerous policy?
I remain unconvinced that nuclear power is a sustainable green solution to energy shortages. Have any of the nuke pundits really considered the full environmental impact of vastly expanded uranium mining and enrichment? And don't tell me that radio-active waste is no longer a problem - that's another inconvenient truth we seem happy to ignore.
I'm sure the solution lies with technology we haven't discovered yet - but I fear the current benign approach to nuclear is a knee-jerk response. Equally, 'conserving' energy at the cost of human life or economic development can't be defensible, especially when most of the conservation is expected to take place in high-growth economies.
Posted: 6 March 2008 at 14:56
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