A year and a half since the ill-fated disaster at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant, the Japanese government and TEPCO are dealing with another problem – the leaking of radioactive waste water into the Pacific.
This wisdom of having nuclear reactors at all is being debated the world over, with a number of countries such as Germany, Switzerland, etc deciding to close their existing plants in the future while others such as India reevaluating their plans to build some. Whilst agreeing that in the future we need to be more careful while selecting the design and location of nuclear power plants, and that the hazard that nuclear waste poses means that we eventually have to move away from the technology, I think we need to examine the chain of thought that shutting/banning nuclear plants is the smartest thing to do, as of now.
Think about it; countries such as India, China, etc. with their voracious appetite for energy and little or no natural resources could do well to build and operate safe, low-emission nuclear power plants while the world slowly transitions to a low-carbon economy dominated by renewable energy sources such as that from wind, water and the sun. The alternative would be for India to continue using dirty coal powered plants and for China to continue importing oil from half-way across the world. The CO2 emissions would in many ways pose a bigger, albeit slower, problem. And a global one at that.
What is a better bet – a possible devil or the definite deep sea?