The Danube
Danube and Europe
Living Force

Mr Thomas Spencer

Meeting in the Great Hall of the Academy of Sciences in Vienna,
the debate on energy choices was tense and taut. It generated
both heat and light. It underlined the complexity and the
difficulty of decision-making in matter relating to mankind's
demand for energy.

Rupert Sheldrake, speaking as scientist, theologian
and mystic, reminded us that energy has become one of the
great unifying principles of modern science. However, there
could have been no debate about energy when the great 18th
century hall was built, as nobody spoke of energy until the
19th century. The sweep of the debate moved back and forward
in time. At one moment searching for the spiritual, theological
and scientific routes of the concept, and at the next sweeping
forward to contemplate the energy needs of generations far
into the future.

It would be difficult to find a more concisely-put dialogue
over the desirability or otherwise of nuclear power than to
compare the defence of nuclear power by Yanko Yanev from the
International Atomic Energy Agency with the passionate rejection
of the nuclear option by Heinz Hogelsberger of Anti
Atom International. Anyone listening to this exchange with
an open mind would have to acknowledge the reality and complexity
of the choice that faces us.

Choices of a different, and often more subtle kind, were
raised in the presentation by Dr Manfred Lenz. He spoke
with the passion and excitement of an engineer about the history
of hydropower. His story started with the technical but rapidly
moved into the ethical and the political.

Underlying the exchanges, and high in the mind of the audience,
was the complex and intangible question about the health and
the future of the Danube. The choices taken in one country,
at one moment, have consequences far away geographically and
distant in time. As mankind confronts the choices which his
mastery of technology offers, it must be essential to bear
in mind Rupert Sheldrake's injunction:

All organisms transform energy. Plants transform the energy
of the sun into chemical energy, which we use as food; animals
transform the food they eat into movement, into the structure
of their bodies, into the sounds they make, into the things
they build. Unlike other animals, through science and technology,
we have the capacity to transform energy in new ways; then
of course we have the problem of whether we transform it
or use it wisely.

Energy from a scientist's perspective (Dr Rupert Sheldrake)
Nuclear energy: the ethics of the energy debate (Mr Yanko Yanev)
Nuclear power: is it worth the risk? (Dr Heinz Hogelsberger)
Hydropower within the Austrian Danube (Dr Manfred Lenz)