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'Quakes & Nuclear Power

It is nearing the end of March and the variable weather of early Autumn is with us; but this far north the sea is still warm enough to swim in and the days still warm enough to want to. The past few weeks have been horrific for first Christchurch, and then Japan. The triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and potential nuclear disaster in Japan dwarf the Christchurch earthquake by several thousand times, and probably make New Zealanders even more horrified and heartsore for the people of Japan because of their own experience. Here in New Zealand it is sad enough, but the problems are not insurmountable and the damaged CBD and suburbs of Christchurch so badly damaged will be rebuilt over the next ten years. There are still a small number of people missing in Christchurch after more than a month, but it difficult to see how Japan will cope even in the very long term, with their massive losses of life, whole towns, and so much of their infrastructure.

Here in NZ we are feeling lucky to live in this country, and even in Christchurch, and glad that we have stuck to our Nuclear Free policy for over 25 years, in spite of considerable pressure from other countries – and particularly the USA -- to allow at least nuclear powered ships into our harbours. Whether this will one day happen I don’t know, but it seems inconceivable that the NZ people will ever agree to nuclear power plants. Here on Great Barrier Island, each household makes its own power and stores it in batteries-- from solar energy in the main, with some wind, and a few experimental wave action power systems, with backup for rainy days with diesel and petrol generators. But even on a rainy day, with an efficient alternative power system, the generator needs to be on for just two hours, and that is sufficient to run the trappings of a modern world --TVs, lights, computers, fridges, freezers, washing machines, and even bread makers! As a consequence, most islanders know how much power each piece of electrical equipment uses, and thus make environmentally-friendly choices. Electrical house and water heating is not an option, and hair dryers on for longer than a few minutes (and preferably not at all) are definitely frowned upon!
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