AUKUS Christi?

| December 24, 2023

We got nuclear submarines for an early Christmas present! Expect the same at every Christmas for generations to come!

Until recently, the USA had a submarine named “Corpus Christi” (body of Christ). Its motto was “For God and Country”. A more obscenely ironic name for a warship is hard to imagine. And we are buying into this madness with much less public discussion than the Lehrmann v Wilkinson defamation trial. The Voice referendum was a handy distraction too.

AUKUS represents Australia’s entry into what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, and there can be no turning back. The deal will pump more than $300 billion Australian dollars into the debt-ridden US military republic’s economy.

Until now, all levels of Australian government have been opposed to nuclear technology.

Just finding a site for storage of low level radioactive medical and industrial waste has been strongly resisted.

Now it seems that nuclear is OK for military purposes but not for electricity generation because, opponents say, it is too expensive, and the lead time is too long.

The government claims that replacing all of our coal-fired electricity generation capacity with nuclear power would cost as much as AUKUS, around $360billion.

The first nuclear submarines won’t be commissioned until 2040, or later, if ever. However, even if the AUKUS subs turn out to be duds we could always rebadge them as ‘mobile power stations’.

More realistically, coal-fired generators could be replaced with small, modular nuclear power stations, such as Westinghouse AP300 reactors, near existing infrastructure. That could be done for less than half the cost of AUKUS and commence operating within a decade or so.

Returning to the foolishness of the here and now, bans are being imposed on gas while electricity is being promoted as the preferred energy source for industry, household and transportation purposes, regardless of the imbalance between supply and demand.

The energy demand for road transport alone in 2023 was equivalent to the output of 30 Hazelwood power stations, running at full capacity 24/7.

There is a risk that the global climate system may reach a critical threshold (‘tipping point’) leading to accelerating and irreversible changes. That would force us to consider geo-engineering interventions such as spaying reflective aerosols into the upper atmosphere.

Alternatively, we might try to be a little more pragmatic about how to reduce carbon emissions sooner rather than too late.

The relative risks associated with small scale nuclear power, meddling with the atmosphere or doing nothing, can be evaluated. Ideologically driven policy would be exposed to public scrutiny and forced to adjust.

Who knew that the government had a cunning long term plan for nuclear power all along, disguised as defence spending? But then, anything that looks like a government conspiracy almost always turns out to be a stuff-up.