Before leaving the flat for work this morning, I was watching BBC News 24, when Greenpeace protestors appeared in the roof of the building where Tony Blair was about to speak. It was a good bit of breaking news, which has set as the lead story on the BBC News website throughout today. The presenters commented that it was great publicity for Greenpeace, although posed questions about the security arrangements, etc etc.
I, too, was impressed by the stunt - a great way of grabbing media attention, and done in a non-violent, responsible way (they wore safety tethers). The protest will clearly have little impact directly on the opinions of the key policy-makers, but it might push the nuclear debate higher up the public agenda.
For me, I'm incredulous that the nuclear power debate even needs to be had. Surely it's obvious that nuclear power is fundamentally a bad idea? It doesn't need cost-benefit, risk assessment, carbon footprinting, or any other analyses in order to see that creating toxic waste that won't be stable for tens of thousands of years isn't very sensible. Nuclear power shouldn't be an option. I'm also sceptical of the cost of nuclear power, and the fact that it may pave the wave for the renewal of the UK's nuclear weapons arsenal.
The alternatives to nuclear aren't simple, of course. Wind, solar and wave energy all have negatives attached to them. But it's only by committing to going down these routes that the problems can be solved and the technology can be developed. And alongside the development of these renewable sources, we need to be working to improve energy effeciency (insulate every home and make sure everyone has effecient boilers for starters) and keep our gas-generated energy as clean and effecient as possible.
In a straight choice between nuclear and gas, I'd choose gas, despite the problems with CO2 emissions. If we have to buy it from Russia or other 'unstable countries' at inflated prices, then so be it. Energy is expensive and we just have to learn to live with this and pay the cost.
For me, this is the biggest political issue that I care about since the Iraq war. And those of us who agree should prepare ourselves to dig in for a long-term protest. This could be the current generation's CND.
Related feeds: BBC News | In Depth | the nuclear debate.