Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nuclear power and climate change – what now?

The nuclear power plant debacle in Japan in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami has complicated what already was a contentious

question: Should we look to nuclear power as a major component in solving the climate change problem?

The situation at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan is getting more manageable by the day, though the ultimate repair and cleanup will be a long-term project. The 24-hour news cycle has feasted on the public’s dread of radiation, relegating the deaths of tens of thousands in the earthquake and tsunami to almost a footnote on American cable news shows. Anti-nuclear crusaders have been trotted out with little regard for their qualifications, some resurrecting long-debunked tales of deaths and injuries at Three Mile Island (where nobody was even hurt, much less killed).

The predicted nuclear renaissance may founder temporarily in some countries because of these events, but the lessons that will be learned from Japan’s accident won’t stop the growth of nuclear power in the long run. It will only make future plants safer. Despite the dire warnings of Cassandras, nuclear power plants being built today are far safer than those at Fukushima, and the Generation IV reactors to come will be even better. The aged power plants at Fukushima that would likely have survived the tsunami intact if not for the woefully misjudged placement of their backup power supplies had been running as long as forty years, and were designed half a century ago. More >>>>

Location: Cayman Islands

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