Throughout the ‘Cold War’, the Soviets led a concerted propaganda effort against nuclear power stations in the West. Among other methods, they used the KGB’s good offices to provide surreptitious financing for various anti-nuke groups, such as our own dear CND. Now the Cold War is officially over, though they forgot to tell that to Col. Putin, but that particular offensive has proceeded to a victorious end.
The Soviets, it has to be said, didn’t mind their own nuclear power, even though most of it conformed to the Chernobyl standards of safety and quality control. When that particular one blew up into their faces, the sainted Gorby’s first time-honoured reaction was to declare that any rumours of the accident originated with the CIA and other enemies of progress in the world.
It’s only when westward winds carried the radiation towards the capitalist Sweden, whose Geiger counters went haywire, that Gorby had to own up. Had the winds blown in the other direction, the catastrophe would have been hushed up, just as a much worse one was in the fifties. Then underground nuclear facilities and storage sumps in Siberia blew up, killing 100,000 instantly, and God only knows how many by delayed action.
In those parts of the world where human lives are still held in some esteem, nuclear energy facilities have never had a fatal incident. Nonetheless accidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima are routinely described as ‘disasters’ even in our Tory press, leaving one wondering what word they’d reserve for incidents in which people actually get killed.
During the same period, tens of thousands of miners died of black lung and in pit accidents, and hundreds were killed by offshore platforms capsizing. This proved beyond any sane doubt that nuclear energy is by far the safest source of energy available, not just the most effective. As I hope you understand, I’m talking here about the kind of sources that can provide most of our energy needs, not the tree-hugging cloud-cuckoo-land varieties.
Even the most fervent champions of wind farms claim that eventually they’ll supply only 17 percent of our energy, and anyone who has studied the issue seriously will tell you that this estimate should be pasted in the dictionary next to the entry on wishful thinking. But even supposing they are right, where will the remaining 83 percent come from?
Our nuclear industry is moribund, with old stations being decommissioned and no new ones planned. Frau Merkel has declared that all German nuclear power stations will be shut down by 2020. France, which gets 80 percent of its energy from nuclear stations, will soon follow suit, Japan has already done so – what else do you expect after the catastrophe of biblical proportions in which no one died?
That leaves coal as the only viable home-produced alternative, which is good news for lung physicians who are thereby guaranteed more black-lung business than they could handle. Incidentally, even radiation levels around a coal mine are much higher than right next to a nuclear power station, but hey, never mind the facts, feel the passion.
Getting back to Soviet antinuclear propaganda in the West, why did they display such touching concern for our health? Why, for example, did the East German communists churn out nuclear stations like hotcakes, while paying their West German stooges to wage massive propaganda against nuclear energy? Why did Soviet cartoonists draw mushroom clouds over nuclear stations, displaying ignorance of secondary-school physics only matched by their expertise in Goebbels-style agitation?
Strategy is the answer. In those days Arab oil producers were in the Soviets’ pockets, which gave the communists a huge strategic advantage. The greater the West’s dependency on Arab hydrocarbons, the better it was for the Soviets, who could instigate oil crises at will. Unlike our own CND idiots (Tony Blair, ring your office) the Soviets knew that nuclear energy was the only reasonable alternative to hydrocarbons, which did wonders to focus the minds of KGB propagandists.
The situation has changed in details, but not in principle. Now it’s not only the Arabs but also the Russians who have their hands on the tap. Germany, for example, gets 36 percent of her gas from Gazprom (in which Col. Putin is reputedly a major shareholder), and central Europe even more (98 percent for Slovakia, 100 percent for the Baltic states). That gives the Russian KGB government a powerful blackmail weapon and perhaps a greater strategic edge than they’ve ever had.
Characteristically the Americans cottoned on faster than the Europeans, but then they haven’t been distracted by such vital issues as how much money the Germans must give to the Greeks to make them refrain from staging Nazi parades for Angela’s viewing pleasure. The Americans have developed hydraulic fracturing techniques that enable them to produce shale gas cheaply and on a large scale.
Quite apart from going a long way towards easing the country’s economic crisis (by, for example, making the raw materials for their chemical industry cost a third of Europe’s prices), this has largely eased America’s strategic conundrum – and complicated ours. The US is now producing 81 percent of its energy, making it less dependent on the Middle East. As America’s idealism is largely driven by fiscal concerns, this will reduce both her strategic stake and her interest in the region.
That will leave the EU in the driving seat – of a car with flat tyres and no engine. Only someone teetering on the edge of a crack overdose can believe that the EU will be in any position to control the situation in the Middle East. And only someone over that edge can really think that, left to itself, the situation won’t explode into the world’s face.
Meanwhile prepare yourself for the immediate consequences of HMG’s touchy-feely PC affection for wind farms, which are as useless as they are ugly. We’ll all freeze in the dark soon, but at least this will leave us enough time for tree hugging.