We do not yet know how to detoxify the waste product of nuclear power plants.
With the nuclear disaster of Fukushima, Japan, the nuclear debate
has resurfaced in the news, especially in Europe. Despite the 1979-Three Mile Island nuclear disaster
and the 1986-Chernobyl incident, a large majority of French leaders have constantly extolled the advantages of nuclear power
. Unfortunately, it seems that human beings are not in complete control of nuclear power plants, as evidenced by the recent nuclear power accident
. While some dare say that it is indecent to open a nuclear debate
at this time, I instead believe that the timing is ideal for laying the foundation for a democratic debate that helps close the parenthesis of nuclear power energy
as we enter the age of renewable energy sources
are a central topic for today and tomorrow. We need energy for human development, yet two billion people worldwide are still without it. We also face the problem of depletion of fossil resources
that have enabled the development of rich countries. In addition, we face the critical issue of global warming and the emission of greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s be clear: I am neither an environmental activist, nor an activist for the decay. To be totally honest, I was even pro nuclear a few months ago. It must be said that in France the nuclear lobbies are very powerful and are able to infiltrate the highest spheres of society, including politics and the media so much that some do not hesitate to speak of a happy atom’s land about France. After carefully listening to the speeches of the French ruling class, I thought the idea of nuclear power energy was the most effective method of energy production. It must be said that the supposed benefits of nuclear power are quite attractive at first sight. First of all, a nuclear power plant generates more energy than conventional thermal power plants (one ton of coal producing as much energy as a gram of uranium) and occupies less space. Secondly, nuclear power energy contributes to maintain a high scientific level in the national territory. And the best argument for last, nuclear power energy is supposed to be healthier and less dangerous for the environment because it does not emit a lot of CO2 and can therefore fight against the greenhouse effect. All of these benefits sound great on the surface, but after researching a little more, I have changed my opinion.
What is not said enough, is that human beings do not know exactly how nuclear power works. The radioactive nuclear power waste poses a huge problem, especially as the nuclear industry produces more and more waste and we do not know what to do with it. So this waste is kept on the surface and is sometimes even buried, which could endanger future generations. Moreover, nuclear energy entails health risks due to radioactive contamination resulting from a nuclear facility. Finally, even if the calculations of probability of engineers always lead to the conclusion that the risk is very low, many accidents have already occurred in the past, and Fukushima is certainly not the last one in the nuclear power history because nuclear power plants have not been built by considering the worst case scenario.
A woman demonstrating against the use of nuclear power energy.
It is time to move away from nuclear energy and to open up the age of renewable energy systems. I believe the mastery of energy choices in any country must return to its citizens. In several European countries such as Germany, citizen movements have obtained a vote for nuclear exit but Germany could cover its energy needs without nuclear power by 2017. Norway, Ireland and Denmark have banned the use of nuclear in their legislation. Austria has gone even further after a referendum and has banned nuclear in its constitution! This is proof, if any were needed, that nuclear power energy is not a necessity and we can do without it. We just have to make that decision.
Of course there is no question of closing nuclear plants overnight. But today we should develop plans for ending the use of nuclear power plants within the next 30 years. This allows time to effectively develop alternative sources of energy. Obviously, renewable energies
alone can not substitute nuclear energy. We must not fall into the trap of that false alternative. What we should do is focus on several elements. First, energy savings by eliminating waste and unnecessary requirements. Second, energy efficiency (especially in housing like in Germany which is regarded as one of the most energy efficient countries
). Finally, education about renewable energies
so people understand that green technology can meet our energy needs and have a lower environmental impact. There’s no way to stake everything on a single “miracle technology.” The future lies in the diversity of renewable energy sources
: wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic, wood, hydro, biogas produced by the fermentation of waste, energy waves… Everything is a matter of political will.
Spain is an example to be followed in development of renewable energies
The argument of the cost of renewable energy technology is one of the favorites of nuclear power pros. But who would have thought that the Chernobyl disaster would cost more than 700 billion dollars? Such accidents and such costs are not as likely with renewable energy systems. That is not the case with nuclear facilities which are vulnerable to extreme weather events as everyone knows. Moreover, nuclear energy monopolizes billions of dollars each year, which hinders the development of renewable energy projects and real solutions against global warming. On the other hand, investing in green technologies will create jobs in new areas of activity such as eco-construction, renovation of buildings, research and development in new types of renewable energy. In Spain, the area of Navarra produces 81% of electricity from renewable energies, and recently decided to increase this level to 100% by 2020. Navarra opted for renewable energies in 2002 and has since succeeded in revitalizing its economy. More than 6000 jobs will be created to achieve the goal of 100% of electricity from renewable energy sources. This example underlines that it is possible to remove nuclear energy in developed countries. It is an outrage that we are still using nuclear power energy in 2011. It is time for the world to wake up and shift to renewable energy sources.