Archive for April 26th, 2011


The calls for an end to nuclear power.

I can still clearly remember the day I first heard the name, Chernobyl.  It was the day that the nuclear power plant situated there, played host to the worlds worst nuclear disaster.  That was 25 years ago, but since that day the whole world, has lived under the shadow of it all happening again.  Then it did, making the names Chernobyl and Fukushima synonymous with the dangers of nuclear power generation.

Today marks that 25th anniversary of Chernobyl.  In many places within mainland Europe, protests were held in the hopes of winding down Europe’s nuclear energy.

While the good intentions of the people at these protests are not in question, their reasoning needs to be intensely questioned.  After all without nuclear power, what will pick up the new strain on each of their country’s power grids?

As a species we need to face certain facts.  Green energy is a non-runner right now.  Wind turbines only work when there is actually wind.  Most tidal generators are considered prohibitively expensive.  Solar power, while becoming more plausible as better solar cells are developed, is still a long way from being more than a minor consideration.  Green energy might, one day be able to take over a significant part of our planets power needs, but not without massive investment.

Oil and natural gas are running out.  They are a finite resource which is only becoming more and more expensive.  That expense is going to be passed on to the customers of the various power companies.  I have in the past spoken about a possible alternative, but again it will require immense investment of both money and political will.

So without nuclear power in a relatively short period of time, Earth could find itself put back into a dark age.

No-one can deny that nuclear power carries its own set of dangers.  There is however a large “but” attached to that.  But we exclusively use nuclear fission.  The potential for a much safer alternative does exist, nuclear fusion.  And while it too would require large amounts of cash to make it viable, much of the scientific development has already been done.  Fusion is not science fiction, every sunny day you’re enjoying the fruits of nuclear fusion, in the form of the sun.  Labs across the world have achieved fusion on many occasions, they now simply need the funding to make it sustainable and efficient.

Protesting against nuclear power has never gone out of fashion.  It probably never will.  But unless those protesting either have a workable safer alternative, or will support one even if it has got the word “nuclear”attached to it, they need to shut up.  Because if they do manage to end the use of nuclear power, those are the very same people who will be protesting the accelerated price rises on electricity, heating oil, heating gas, petrol, diesel and all the other essentials of our civilisation.

Nuclear power isn’t evil.  But it does need better planning or better still a new safer form.  So I say if you want to protest and wave a placard, protest in favour of research spending into fusion.  Then you can tell your grandkids about how you spoke out for sustainable, cheap energy and help to usher in a more stable future for them.

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