The Contribution of the Churches

It is a characteristic of human beings that we tend to take effective action only when it is too late. The problem of continuing to supply industrial countries with enough electrical energy to power their various activities has been evident for years and many scientists have issued statements warning everyone of the crisis that will soon arise as the oil and then coal are exhausted. Details of the technical aspects of this problem have been given in Chapter 3. Here we are concerned with the...

Wind

Windmills have been used to grind corn since ancient times, and they are still widely used to pump water from wells on farms. In such cases it does not matter that the wind is not always blowing, because the water can be stored in reservoirs above ground until it is needed. Windmills can easily be connected to a generator to produce electricity. Modern windmills are not like those in pictures of Dutch rural scenes they are large propeller blades driving turbines mounted on high towers. About a...

Biomass

As already mentioned, wood is still extensively used as a major source of fuel in poorer countries. If more wood is used than is replaced by additional growth this can lead to desertification. It is therefore desirable to replace wood by more efficient and less damaging fuels, and certainly the use of wood cannot hope to solve the energy crisis in the developed countries. Biomass in general is an organic material that can be burned to produce heat or allowed to decay and emit natural gas. In...

Misleading and Irresponsible Statements

Many statements on technological matters are subtly misleading or irresponsible, and it may be useful to give a few examples. Language is a delicate instrument, and it is very easy to make a statement that conveys a meaning different from what it actually says. The examples given below are taken from statements made by Church and other bodies on nuclear power, but similar ones may be found in other contexts. They include a whole range of statements from those that are just false but plausible...

The Energy Crisis

Our civilisation and our standard of living depend on an adequate supply of energy. We need energy to light and heat our homes, to cook our food, to drive our transport and power our communications and to provide the motive force that drives the factories. Without energy all this would be impossible on the scale needed, and our civilisation would soon collapse into barbarism. Our dependence on energy is strikingly illustrated by the connection between average life expectancy and energy...

The Opposition to Nuclear Power

We can begin by asking why there is such sustained and vociferous opposition to nuclear power. This campaign has now convinced so many people that nuclear power is unacceptable as an energy source that Governments refuse to build nuclear power stations. If they seem to favour nuclear power in any way, they know that they will lose votes, and that is what Governments want to avoid at all costs. The arguments in favour of nuclear power are now so strong that this all seems incomprehensible. It is...