There is a misguided perception in some quarters that the looming energy crisis in the UK can only be solved if we accept that environmental damage is inevitable.
The argument goes something like this; if we rely on fuel imports then we are forever at the mercy of foreign governments. If we re-open the coal mines we can become self-sufficient but our carbon emissions will start to increase. If we take the nuclear option then we are left with the legacy of dangerous radioactive waste. The argument usually then goes on to claim that renewables are well-intentioned but will never provide enough energy to meet all our needs.
There is some truth in this latter point but only if we continue with our current high levels of energy consumption and gross inefficiency. A determined and courageous policy of large-scale investment in renewables coupled with energy-efficiency measures (e.g. legislation to compel manufacturers to remove stand-by buttons from appliances, banning patio heaters and standard light bulbs, etc…) could lead us to a truly sustainable future. It is a vision but an achievable vision.