The nuclear debate is not a black-and-white one and therefore I have little time for those on either extremes of the spectrum who argue so assertively for or against. Unfortunately, many writers that debate nuclear fail to see the nuances involved. It is an either/or stance.
I welcome Angela Merkel’s decision to temporarily switch off seven nuclear power stations built before 1980 whilst urgent safety reviews are conducted. In the wake of events in Japan, Merkel has quite rightly stated that safety must be the priority at this time.
In neighbouring Poland, the ruling Civic Platform party has pledged to continue with plans to build two new nuclear power plants, each with a 3,000 megawatt capacity. It is hoped these new plants will help diversify Poland’s energy sources away from coal and move the country beyond its over-reliance on gas from Russia to the east.
Anti-nuclear campaigners may feel vindicated [by the Fukushima crisis], but they should be careful what they wish for: if we abandon nuclear, prepare for a future of catastrophic global warming, imperilling the survival of civilisation and much of the earth’s biosphere.
The world has a generation of reactors coming to the end of their days and politicians putting intense pressure on regulators to extend their use well beyond their design lives. We are planning to double worldwide electricity supply from nuclear power in the next 20 years, but we have nowhere near enough experienced engineers to run the ever-bigger stations. We have private companies peddling new designs that are said to be safer but which are still not proven, and we have 10 new countries planning to move into civil nuclear power in the next five years.
Back in October, I posted this short extract from Tony Blair’s “A Journey”:
The case for nuclear power is now so overwhelming that frankly it is almost irresponsible – faced with an energy crunch and climate change – to oppose its development. I bet many of them know that privately, but it would be such heresy to say so and would divide the movement.
There are also worthwhile, and different, perspectives on nuclear in the following publications: