2016 brought a new word – the Anthropocene. It has been the year in which many of us realised that the planet has been irrevocably changed- by the human species. Of the wide-ranging effects of human activities, climate change is the one that has now become the most terrible threat. People around the world are trying to change our destructive ways: individuals, town councils, city mayors, states, and, to a much lesser degree, national governments work to conserve energy and promote renewable energy generation.
Countering that, the polluting industries have used their think tank front groups, and mainstream media, to confuse the public, and deny the science.
In November 196 countries participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, to develop agendas for carrying out the the Paris Agreement of 2015. But international action was hampered by the presence of fossil fuel companies, and even more, by the election of climate sceptic Donald Trump to the USA presidency.
The nuclear disarmament movement was boosted on October 27, when—by a vote of 123 for, 38 against, and 16 abstaining—the First Committee of the UN agreed “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.”
Nuclear power issues focussed on both the decline of the nuclear power industry, and the desperate efforts of the industry to survive. Notably in Britain, a clearly uneconomic pro nuclear programme has been pushed, with the gigantic Hinkley white elephant in the lead. In America, subsidising of nuclear power is a contentious issue.
Meanwhile. nuclear countries, unable to make the nuclear industry profitable, and unable to deal with its toxic wastes, have persisted in their marketing drive to export nuclear technology. The target countries are many, but South East Asia is a prime example. That campaign for SE Asia suffered a setback when South Australians rejected an ill-advised government push to commercially import nuclear wastes – a plan that was intended to solve the problem for new nuclear stations in South East Asia.
Within the nuclear lobby, a quiet battle has gone on between the conventional Big Nuclear Reactor industry, and the campaigners for Small Nuclear Reactors. The latter reactors do not exist, but their hype is everywhere, particularly led by Bill Gates and various nuclear front groups. Unfortunately, Gates has bought into the nuclear lobby’s deception about nuclear fixing climate change.
So – we end the year with climate change not just looming, but already here, endangering us and other species. The extraordinary attention given to Donald Trump and his impact on global climate and nuclear policy leaves us with very worrying questions.