Ban the Bomb: Anniversary Waltz


“Wellington: 30 years proudly nuclear-free-Capital
Was A Benchmark For Other Cities” 
Michael Forbes Dominion *

Hang on a minute Michael. For what it was worth, wasn’t Christchurch the first fission free city off the reactor rank?* 

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of New Zealand’s nuclear free laws. The year before then Labour Prime Minister David Lange had argued eloquently that nuclear weapons were “morally indefensible”  at the 1986 Oxford Union Debate. His famous retort to an interjector “ I can smell the uranium”  (on his breath) has had a long half life-see video*.

It’s also 30 years since Christchurch becoming the country’s first nuclear free city. A long list of doughty locals was involved in that proclamation, including Elsie Locke, Mary Woodward, Larry Ross, Harold Evans and Kate Dewes. The latter two, with the support of Lange and other Labour like-mindeds like Helen Clark, were instrumental in getting nuclear weapons declared illegal in the World Court in 1996.

After years of official cold shoulder from Uncle Sam because of the implications of  “neither confirm nor deny” in terms of the nuclear status of visiting American naval ships, President Obama issued a personal invitation to PM John Key to the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit and said that New Zealand had “well and truly” earned its place at the table for top level discussions on nuclear security.

Since then the Prime Minister has had no reason to make any brash statements that New Zealand’s anti nuclear policy will be gone by lunchtime any time. The majority of Kiwis still believe that no nukes is good nukes, though the nuclear energy debate is simmering  just beneath the surface. Ernest Rutherford would be pleased.

Missed Opportunity

After more than 10,500 quakes and shakes in Christchurch  in the past 21 months it is just a bit of a pity that the nuclear free folk didn’t also declare the city a Seismic Activity Free Zone while they were at it. It would have saved a lot of bother.

*Blinks  Vid  David Lange Oxford Union Debate 1985’s_nuclear-free_zone

#Lyall Lukey 10 June 2012 My other (bit more serious) blog 



2 Responses to “Ban the Bomb: Anniversary Waltz”

  1. 1 Geoff McDonnell

    A nuclear free environment is nothing to be proud of, it just shows how natve people are. When electricity was discovered, the same attitude prevailed against it. Ask the British and the Japanese about their nuclear powered energy stations. As for the likes of Ross, Evans, Locke and co, they would have been first in the queue to offer tea and biscuits to any invading army as they stepped ashore on New Brighton beach. We should grow up and learn to live with Nuclear power. There/s more danger from radiation in hospital operating rooms. Think about it!

  2. 2 Kelvin (Kelly) Duncan

    I agree with Geoff. Radon is a real radiation problem in Canterbury, yet the powers that be seem more concerned with patting themselves on the back over a policy that had no effect internationally, yet destroyed our defence arrangements and harmed our trade. Of course any sane person wants a nuclear weapon free world, but rolling over for a tummy rub won’t do it. It will take negotiation and effective inspection, neither of which are we party to. We sacrificed a sound moral position for an emotional one, thereby giving up any hope of a leadership role in the disarmament talks.

    Regarding low C energy sources, wind generation doesn’t cut it as it requires immense amounts of fossil fuel to establish (especially in the production of concrete), it is hugely expensive, environmentally obtrusive to an unacceptable degree, and requires backup due to lack of storage capability and caprice by the Gods of Hau (wind). Wind farms are very unreliable (some farms manage only 25% of potential due to irreparable mechanical failure). And what are you going to do with the immense blocks of Ca-releasing concrete – dangerous to native plants – when the turbines are decommisssioned? Who will bear the cost of removal? They can’t be left in situ.

    The new generation of pebble bed nuclear reactors have a stable state of “OFF”, so runaway meltdown is impossible. They can adjust to the level of demand. They are very safe and produce cheap and abundant electricity.

    Energy storage for wind, tide etc generation is still an immense problem. There has been some small progress since the 1890s, but not much. We are still orders of magnitude away from the necessary energy storage density required for successful utilisation of wind.

    Personally, I hope that PV technologies will succeed, but they still face the storage problem.

    AND you have fallen into the trap of blaming Sir Ernest for the atom bomb.This error is discussed in John Campbell’s excellent biography of Rutherford – see Page 491. Interestingly, this slur on the great man’s name is limited to NZ.

    And a comment on our Peace Bell, it should have a notice on it such as “Remember Nanking.” Again, John has wise words to say on the use of the atom bomb on Japan to bring the war to an early end without the potential loss of millions of lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: