Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nuclear scream

While I was watching the news on NHK World, I saw a group of anti-nuclear protesters brandishing this sign and I thought it was quite cool. It is of course a mash-up between the radiation warning symbol and the famous painting “The Scream of Nature” [Der Schrei der Natur] by Edvard Munch. Quite clever.

Of course, the use of nuclear energy has always been controversial, particularly in Japan where people still rightfully bear the stigma of having been the first and only country to be bombed with a nuclear weapon. The anti-nuclear movement is an aggregation of groups with both environmental and nuclear disarmament concerns. If I am in favour of disarmament (although I would not readily dismiss the idea that the bombing of Japan was unnecessary like it is currently in fashion to believe), I've always been on the fence on the environmental argument.

Nuclear energy is after all the best example of science in the service of man. It offers cheap and clean energy. But (there's always a but) is a dangerous energy (no problem to control it until shit happens: human error, neglectfulness, freak nature accident, etc.; a couple of disasters [like Chernobyl and Fukushima] have caused a serious rethinking of nuclear energy policies, particularly in Germany) and there's always the thorny problem of the waste… I've always thought that as long as there is no better alternative it must be an option on the table, but with solar, wind and hydro energy getting more advanced and less costly, the nuclear option become less and less attractive. Of course, if we want to move away quickly from Fossil-fuel based energy, nuclear power must remain an option at least temporarily. But maybe not in regions that are subject to earthquake, tsunami and typhoon like it is the case in Japan. However, considering the constant rise of energy cost since the total shutdown following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Japan will have no choice but to restart at least some of their fifty-something nuclear power stations.

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