As an Australian*, living in Japan at the time of the Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami in March of 2011, with no plans to go anywhere at this stage a year later, I have read a lot in this past year about Nuclear Power, why we use it and it’s risks/dangers.
* Australia has no NPP’s, but are mining & supplying a lot of Uranium
I’ve also read a lot about where we are all heading, with the interconnected Economy that has evolved across the world and that we all so rely on continuing ‘as it always has’. I’ve been studying, reading, listening and watching everything I come across about how the Economy, Energy & the Environment are not separate issues – how they cannot be separated from each other when we discuss the impact that might be felt by the average person, if problems in any one or more of these areas should occur.
So when it comes to Nuclear Power and whether it is good, bad, necessary or not necessary – I have formed these two conflicting views, which in the end may be moot:
1. There is no such thing as Alternative Energy – we’re going to have to use every possible known energy source, discover and develop new & better ones, more efficient ways to live off of our consumption of any energy source available, if we are going to maintain anywhere near current worldwide usage (let alone emerging economies & population growth!). There is no way around this & the impact may well be felt in our lifetimes.
Article related to this opinion:
Why don’t we ditch nukes, AND coal?
To emphasize this, almost everyone I speak to & most common online theorization focuses on the fact that humans have always been resourceful and will invent/discover new sources of Energy & continue to improve technology in sourcing it, producing it and consuming it – the vast majority of us humans that actually think about where Energy comes from, when all is said & done, are pinning our hopes on this!
2. The next world Conflict (or ‘it’s too late anyway‘) – when, not if, partial world conflict from the pursuit of energy occurs, which country will hesitate to blow up Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) in opposing countries?
If there is geopolitical disorder, conflict between major powers; energy source countries & highest consumer countries, and/or social disorder on a large scale for any reason, in countries that have NPP’s – who will keep the lights on and the Cooling occurring, for the decades required?
Does anyone really believe the human race has advanced to a level that world conflict, or conflict between one or more nations with significant armed forces & strike capacity, won’t ever happen again?
These are my concerns about the use of Nuclear Power, over and above concerns of the danger they pose from more ‘mundane’ accidents, like say building them on fault-lines & in countries with undeniable history & threat of Earthquakes & Tsunami (!).
Of course these too are close to moot points for most of us as we don’t have much influence as individuals and in regards to NPP’s that exist – it’s too late. Even if the world decided to shut down the 435 existing NPP’s and cancel the 63 under construction tomorrow*, it would take decades to shut them down and for decades more, we’d need to keep the Fuels cool – many decades.
* like Japan did, while they waited/still wait for enough money to flow to decision makers to ‘allow them’ to be switched back on – or it becomes obvious without them the country will go broke &/or catastrophically regress (impacting the general populations way of life no doubt.)
On that basis then, I can conclude reluctantly that we will probably continue using Nuclear Power and we have to. We can only hope that we move to retire the oldest, dirtiest & most dangerous NPP’s (and begin longterm cooling operations for the decades worth of spent fuel), build only the safest technology available new NPP’s and, like 80% of people reading this probably believe will happen – no doubt in their minds, work tirelessly to identify sources of energy and technologies that deliver us energy that is clean and can sustain the world as it expands – before Energy (all core resources we consume actually) and/or Environmental impact of the way we live & consume our planet, impacts what increasingly looks like a vulnerable and fragile world economy – an impact which would simply means a drastic change to your, my and our families safety, security and the quality of life we are able to enjoy.
What do you think?