Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Torygraph confusion

Two letters sent to the Daily Telegraph this week: Your leader “Nuclear failings” (Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2020) suffers from several errors of its own. Firstly it wrongly asserts the new proposed giant nuclear power plants at Sizewell C and Bradwell B “will each produce seven per cent of the UK’s energy.” They would not, as you conflate energy with electricity. Electricity is only one form of UK energy alongside fossil fuels such as gas and oil. These big plants would only provide much less than 1 percent of energy demand. Secondly, you erroneously write about “non-carbon energy generation” when discussing these nuclear plants. Moreover, energy cannot be generated, only converted from one source (eg solar, wind, or uranium. ) Also, nuclear power is not non-carbon or carbon-free, as Rachael Millward wrote a day earlier (“Will nuclear be the winner in Britain’s race to go net zero?” Business, December 14) wrote a day earlier. Recent analysis published by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, California eg a detailed study “Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security” ( demonstrates nuclear power's CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies. Nuclear power will not provide any useful dent in curbing harmful emissions, when the carbon footprint of its full uranium ‘fuel chain’ is considered- from uranium mining, milling, enrichment ( which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, packaging to final disposal. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>. Ian Duncan Smith MP is right to point out that “scientists learnt about this ( virus) mutation back in September.”(“It is vital that the House of Commons scrutinises these harsh restrictions,” 21 December 2020) Yet Boris Johnson told his Downing Street press conference on December 19th:”Yesterday afternoon, I was briefed on the latest data showing the virus spreading more rapidly... It appears this spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus, which we first learned about earlier this week...Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.” But was the Prime Minister being fast-and-loose with the truth on when and what the Government knew about the mutant virus? The evidence - from an academic paper published in early December, which must have been drawn to the attention of ministers – is yes. Titled “Preliminary genomic characterisation of an emergent SARS-CoV-2 lineage in the UK defined by a novel set of spike mutations,” (written byAndrew Rambaut and 9 others, it reported “Recently a distinct phylogenetic cluster (named lineage B.1.1.7) was detected within the COG-UK surveillance dataset.….The two earliest sampled genomes that belong to the B.1.1.7 lineage were collected on 20-Sept-2020 in Kent and another on 21-Sept-2020 from Greater London. ..infections have continued to be detected in the UK through early December 2020.” Boris Johnson said the Cabinet was informed on Friday of the implications of the viral mutation; Matt Hancock said four days earlier, that he had only just heard of the mutation. This paper suggests they are both dissembling. The outstanding question is why did they stay silent, and not change policy much earlier, when the facts had changed?

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