IoS letters, emails & online postings (11 January 2015)

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The Independent Online

Nuclear energy is neither renewable nor zero-emissions and it is extraordinary that a serious academic can make this claim ("Nuclear power is greenest, say top scientists", 4 January). Recent research published by Stanford University estimates nuclear's greenhouse gas emissions to be up to 25 times higher per unit than wind power.

The actual figure is unknowable since the emissions created by the mining and milling of uranium (the largest single factor in nuclear's greenhouse gas impact) is dependent on the number of nuclear plants globally, and the corresponding level of demand for uranium. The higher the demand, the greater the emissions as miners exploit poorer quality ores requiring vastly greater processing. To talk of a "golf-ball-sized" lump of uranium is absurd; it is to ignore the tens or hundreds of tons of rock that are dug up and pulverised to extract a few grams.

The eminent biologists who have fallen for the nuclear industry's PR rebrand as a "green" solution to looming climate catastrophe are doubtless well-motivated but they have been sold a pup. Nuclear is not the answer to climate change, only huge reductions in energy consumption and massive investment in renewables can do this.

John Hare

Norwich Green Party

Rupert Read

Green Party parliamentary candidate for Cambridge

Why not invest a tiny fraction of the money spent on research into "new" nuclear and techniques for its waste disposal, in less glamorous technology to reduce the 70 per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions not produced by electricity which all the nuclear power in the world will scarcely touch? How about universal free household insulation for example, or proper integrated public transport? Both much cheaper, more effective and with a greater positive impact on people's lives.

Taking things further, how about increased investment in large-scale energy storage to counteract the intermittency of some renewables?

Nuclear power, at the very least, is a hugely expensive distraction of minimal benefit in the fight to lower CO2 emissions.

Ian Ralls

Friends of the Earth Nuclear Network, Cambridge

I was excited to read that "Nuclear power is greenest". I thought perhaps a way had been found to overcome the hazards of nuclear waste, but no mention of waste was made. I cannot help wondering how many "top scientists" would buy a house without any facility to dispose of their toilet waste.

R F Stearn

Stowmarket, Suffolk

Yes, cigarette ends and chewing gum are bad, but for me the mile after mile of plastic bags, soft-drink bottles, cans and fast-food wrappings strewn along every lane, road and motorway verge is worse, often causing me, as a passenger, to close my eyes unable look upon yet more of this lovely country so blighted ("Pick up some of the £1bn litter bill, MPs tell businesses" 4 January). Yet by far the worst are the filled and tied carrier bags of rubbish thrown from a car by occupants who must have more pride in their vehicle's interior than the world outside. How can it be, that what for me, is our beautiful countryside, is to them, a bin?

Mary Bolingbroke,

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

We are writing in response to your editorial "Common-sense rights" (4 January). We are proud of the coalition's record on civil liberties.

It is not true that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill grants the power simply to remove the passports of suspected foreign fighters. There were calls from some during the summer for the power arbitrarily to strip suspected foreign fighters of their citizenship. Liberal Democrats opposed this potential breach of international law and, in fact, the new legislation provides something very different – a managed return process. This will enable the police to speak to those who have fought abroad, and make sure that if they try to return this is done safely and with support – to divert them away from extremist groups.

Simon Hughes MP

Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties

Lynne Featherstone MP

Minister of State for Crime Prevention

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