The Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, at wind farm in Horns Rev.
This is a story about two ships.
One of them is a huge cargo ship being loaded in Japan, where
guardswith machine guns patrol its deck. It is preparing to sail
away with adeadly cargo of 225 kilograms of plutonium. The ship's
owners live infear that as little as five kilograms might be stolen
to create anuclear nightmare. Environmentalists live in fear that a
fire orcollision or storm could breach the hull and contaminate a
living oceanfor thousands of years. In nearly every port in every
country the shippasses through, local residents live in fear for
their seas and theirlivelihoods. There will be protest all along
the route, which the shipwill ignore, a gun turret menacing from
The other ship is a sailboat, with bright sails and bearing a
peacedove on its bow. It's the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow
Warrior. Half aworld away off the coast of Denmark, it is sailing
through a sunlitocean dotted with wind turbines like the ones all
over Europe that arequietly generating more than 4,700 megawatts of
energy. There's not agun in site. There are no worries about a
deadly accident spillingnuclear waste into the sea, no fear of
terrorists hijacking the rawmaterial for nuclear bombs.
Which of these represents our world's energy future?
The Nuclear waste ship is being loaded with plutonium waste as
partof a vast expansion of the nuclear industry's plans for nuclear
Reprocessing involves separating plutonium from old fuel.
Japaneseelectrical utilities have signed contracts for reprocessing
their spentnuclear reactor fuel in Europe. But the same plutonium
that can fuel anuclear reactor can also make a nuclear bomb. The
world already has toomuch plutonium, and in the post-September 11th
world, shipping itacross the globe is... well, let's just call it
foolhardy. Theprojected total stocks of plutonium will amount to
over 145,000kilograms by 2020 if the currently proposed
reprocessing contracts arenot stopped.
Tom Clements, one of our anti-nuclear campaigners who is
opposingthe shipment, has said that "if industry and government
plans proceed,the narrow straits between Korea and Japan are about
to become aplutonium freeway."
What's the alternative?
Offshore wind could supply over a third of the electricity needs
forcountries bordering the North Sea within a generation. Perhaps
you'dlike to read that sentence again -- it's one of those facts
that a fewof us have been shouting for decades now, and which the
nuclearindustry doesn't want you to hear.
In the spirit of continuing to shout this kind of fact,
ourflagship, the Rainbow Warrior, began Greenpeace's Choose
PositiveEnergy tour at Horns Rev, the world's largest offshore wind
park thatis being built in Danish waters.
According to Greenpeace UK Executive Director Stephen
Tinsdale,"there needs to be a massive expansion of renewable energy
supplies inthe northern industrialised countries to make renewable
energy costeffective enough to take off in southern countries. The
North Sea isset to be the cradle of the global renewables
Wind energy is competitive with coal and gas power generation
andclearly beats the more expensive nuclear power. This is one of
the mainconclusions of
'Wind Force 12', arecent report produced by Greenpeace and the
European Wind EnergyAssociation. The UK government's energy review
projected that windenergy will be the cheapest energy source by
More than 4,700MW of wind power was installed onshore in the
EuropanUnion last year - producing as much electricity as two large
nuclearreactors. By the end of this year, another 6,000MW will be
added and afurther growth of 30-40 percent per year is
The world has a chance to choose alternative energy when the
EarthSummit commences in Johannesburg in less than sixty days.
There,Greenpeace is calling for the world's governments to take the
followingchallenge: get clean energy into the hands of two billion
people whoare without electricity within ten years. With existing
and imminentadvances in solar and wind technologies, that goal is
So why do we choose to send deadly plutonium half way around
theworld when one of the answers to our energy needs is blowing in