Monday, February 21, 2011

Nuclear power and sandals

I'm sitting here doing a couple of HS&E/environmental awareness courses necessary for the site induction for the building I've been working out of for the last week.

Apart from the obviously stupidity of this as a situation, it has occurred to me that this would be at least the 20th more or less identical site induction I've ever done, so what is the purpose of doing yet another one?  Don't put heavy stuff on high shelves.  Don't use electrical equipment if there are blue sparks coming out of it.  It's inadvisable to use the benzene to clean your desk, although it does a really, REALLY good job.

The answer, of course, is liability.  Liability drives the entire world these days, because as always it comes down to a culture of blame.  Until blame is assigned to someone for something happening, it might be assigned to someone else, and we can't have that.  In some ways blame is like a heat seaking missile; once released, it's dangerous until it finds a target.  Once that happens, everyone can calm down and get on with it, because the danger to them is gone.

So we put out yellow a-frame signs to let us know when the floor is wet.  That way, if we fall over and break an elbow, we were deemed to have known this, and it's out fault.  Every product in known creation has a 49-page disclaimer and acceptable usage policy that you're deemed to have accepted by breaking the shrink-wrap (which you had to do to read the policy in the first place) which can be used to prove that no matter what you did and how you did it - you did it wrong, and any disasters so arising are therefore your fault.

And so, here I sit doing HS&E 21 of my life, and I'm sure there will be many, many more to come - all designed to ensure that the management of the company can prove that when any problem occurs, they'll be able to prove it was my fault.  It really is a matter of the most splendid irony that "health and safety" actually means "minimising our corporate liability".

I've also been sitting here this morning listening to two of the people nearby banging on about some David Suzuki film that one of them saw on the weekend, some we're-killing-the-planet epic about the evils of plastics.  I'm sitting here at a plastic desk, on a plastic carpet, wearing partially plastic clothes, operating a lumop of electronic plastic.  I doubt that plastic water bottle is going to be the death of me, something else is gonna kill me first I suspect.

At the same time, there's been media coverage over the weekend over the same old carbon credits debate (doom and gloom that prices will go up) plus an alleged ethical debate over Australian uranium exports.  Most of the people arguing about the latter are, to quote Colm Meaney from Con Air, off saving the rain forest, or recycling their sandals or some shit.  Without even reading the rest of the article, I can tell it's going to morph into some useless discussion about "renewable energy", "renewable" apparently being the current buzzword of choice for bunny and tree huggers.

I'd like to see our tree hugger build a car out of wood, or actually pay for a shirt manufactured out of pure flax.  Or do something radical like feed himself in a totally environmentally friendly and energy renewable way while standing in the middle of a city.

Most of the proponents of "renewable energy" will happily quote solar/wind/wave energy as somehow being adequate for anything other than running a transistor radio, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the transmitter that puts out the radio signal alone is broadcasting about 50 megawatts.  Let's see you run that one off a wind turbine, shall we?

The solution is, of course, the same as its always been.  Go nuclear.  Nuclear is the only source of energy we have in abundance that will provide sufficient energy for earth's requirements without polluting the living crap out of the place any more than we already have, and maybe if we stop burning coal and oil for power then David Suzuki can go back to fishing plastic bags out of the creek in some peace.

Of course, we won't make this decision until it's too late, and the situation is so completely fucked that there's really no solution left at all, just degrees of alleviation.  I just wonder what it would take for society to collectively grow a set of balls and do what needs to be done?  Whatever it is I doubt it will be acheived under out current system of government, which is based on offending as few people as possible to preserve the lousy stinking jobs of the politicians, as opposed to being any sort of stewardship for society.

Ah well, enough of a rambling rant for the meantime.  I think I'll go make a coffee.  In a plastic cup, using electricity, with non rainforest alliance beans, and I plan not to give a damn about it either.

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