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| FROM THE editor |

F i s s i on in fashion

Putting together this month’s Dossier about the resurgence of the nuclear industry (page 42) has been a fascinating process, as it has made me think anew about nuclear energy.

Nuclear power, along with the associated concerns about waste and safety, was one of the touchstone environmental issues when I was growing up during the 1970s and ‘80s. But then it seemed to fade from view, apparently without anything really changing in any significant way. The nuclear industry just quietly continued doing what it was doing, generating a reasonably substantial proportion of our electricity.

The issue has suddenly come back to prominence for three reasons: ageing reactors, energy security and climate change. Many of the world’s reactors are reaching the end of their use-by dates, and governments around the world are having to think seriously about what they’re going to replace them with. The shifting geopolitical landscape, whether it’s conflict in the Middle East or changing alliances in

Russia and the former Soviet states, has also made governments nervous about relying on foreign energy sources. And of course, the spectre of climate change is also focusing everyone’s thoughts on ways to wean ourselves off hydrocarbons.

It’s this last issue that has really got me thinking, and like an increasing number of environmentalists, it has led me to soften my once strong ‘anti’ stance. Obviously, I would prefer it if governments put more effort into developing and deploying clean, renewable methods for electricity generation, whether they be wind, tidal, solar or something else. But if that isn’t going to happen quickly enough, nuclear could prove to be a suitable stopgap.

However, while I’m willing to believe that the safety issues have been dealt with, following the explosion in Chernobyl, no-one has yet come up with a method for safely storing radioactive waste for the staggering lengths of time during which it will be dangerous, so I’m not yet willing to completely embrace the nuclear option.

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WHO SAID THAT? ‘The windscreen exploded. I could see blood everywhere. Suddenly, I realised: we had driven into an ambush’ Find out on page 56

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SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

British writer and broadcaster Matt Carr’s investigation of immigration in northeastern Greece uncovered a region in turmoil (page 36). ‘Greece has been expected to shoulder border-enforcement responsibilities on behalf of the EU that it wasn’t prepared for,’ says Matt. ‘This situation has exacerbated xenophobic and racist sentiment,’ and, unless policy changes, thousands of migrants will remain trapped in Greece and ‘may increasingly become the objects of persecution and violence as the economic crisis worsens’

On page 69, British adventurer Andy Heading writes about the kit he used to keep from freezing during the Yukon Arctic Ultra in Canada, where temperatures dropped below –60°C. Ultra races are‘treks of several hundred miles via human-powered means in a hostile sub- zero environment’, Andy explains. If you’re wondering whether to give one a whirl, Andy suggests ‘stu ng a sleeping bag in a rucksack, running/walking/ biking for 18 hours then bivvying out. If you wake up the next morning and want to do it again, you’ll love winter ultra-racing’

Photographer Michael Freeman spent two years shooting the images for The Tea Horse Road, his new book about the ancient tea-trading routes between southwest China and Tibet (page 20). The result is a unique document of a rapidly disappearing way of life. Horses, mules and yaks are still used for goods transportation at high altitude ‘wherever there are no roads,’ says Michael. ‘But the road-building programme is impressive and fast, so the number of animals is continuing to decline’

FEBRUARY 2011

VOLUME 83 NO 2 _ _ _

PUBLISHER Graeme Gourlay

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