Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

'I'm opposed to nuclear power. We haven't even scratched the surface of what solar, wind and wood can do


Those of us opposed to nuclear energy are often accused of longing to return to a dimly lit, Stone Age-style past. But I don't know any greens who want to live in a cave, indeed have never yet met this green yeti anti-progress person that the pro-nuclear lobby keeps talking about. Most of us just want to live within our means to ensure survival.

Personally I'm opposed to building nuclear power stations because they are dirty, dangerous, and expensive. Plus, we haven't even scratched the surface of what solar, wind and wood energy can do. Also, more emphasis must be put on reducing the energy we use in the first place. We could reduce emissions by more than 60 per cent without any loss in comfort or well-being.

We've become so accustomed to guzzling energy it's second nature. In high streets all over Britain shops keep their doors wide open no matter how arctic the conditions outside and position their heaters right by the door in a desperate bid to attract debt-ridden shoppers to buy more stuff they don't need. Supermarkets heat the aisles but then use vast amounts of energy to freeze their chiller cabinets, which are kept wide open. This profligacy is repeated in homes and offices worldwide. Our society has built itself on the belief that energy is a bottomless resource. And if we build nuclear power stations there will be no incentive for us to stop wasting energy.

At this point I must come clean and admit my own part in the energy crisis. I live on the top floor of a Victorian house which has, horrors, communal heating over which I have no control. My saintly neighbour Chuck runs the house and controls the temperature. He is from Arizona and favours tropical temperatures – I fear I could fry an egg on his floor. My requests to turn down the heating to a more British, string-saving temperature fall on deaf ears.

You'd think I could turn my radiators off, but due to the complexities of our Victorian heating system I can only turn off half of them. My man with the spanner (aka "S") has tried but tells me the system must be "drained", which means all heating and water must be turned off for the entire house for a day. My neighbours will have a fit. Not only that but our knee-tremblingly handsome plumber, Bob, the only man in the world who understands the house plumbing and can do this terrible "draining", has just come back from his sumptuous holiday home in Tenerife and decided to become a fireman. I anticipate fires being lit by ladies all over Chelsea in a bid to stay in touch with Bob. Perhaps I should just burn our house down and start again. It would be a lot easier.

Still, I am determined to persevere and come spring will inveigle super-handy S into having a go. I can't fight nuclear energy unless I do my bit in reducing my energy needs. I must confess I am rather dreading the draining. But we must all do our bit.


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