By Digoy Fernandez
As expected, the nuclear energy option is one that continues to elicit passionate arguments from both sides of the fence. In fact, the only reason I have chosen to bring the topic forward for thought is the perceptible change in the views of many who were violently against the use of nuclear energy.
The United States seems committed to the addition of more nuclear power plants. France gets 80 percent of its power needs from nuclear plants. But the most telling change in attitude is that one taking place in Germany, where nuclear energy has been an anathema subject for the past decades. In fact, the few nuclear energy plants in the country are bound by an exit law that mandates that they be decommissioned in a few years. However, the practical Germans are now reconsidering this position, and are even mulling the addition of new plants.
So, leaving Dr. Moore out of the equation, how does one assess whether a country does or does not need to consider the viability and safety of the nuclear option? I know that many anti-nuclear activists still have to be mollified with respect to what they suspect is the lack of a truly fail-safe power plant. Not a few are haunted by the memory of Chernobyl (Wormwood!) and the countless casualties caused by the failure of this reactor. Others feel that the issue of nuclear waste is not being handled properly, especially since the chance of leaks and leaching remains no matter where or how deep one consigns said waste. And the biggest nightmare is the prospect of some of these spent waste finding their way into nuclear weaponry, given the number of rogue states and groups that would give their arms and legs to get such material.
The countries that exist along the rim of fire like the one I live in should certainly make more effort to explore the use of geothermal energy. But a friend who has assets in such a project says that there is much work to be done in this area still. We have a huge gas field that should be able to make us less dependent on crude oil and coal fired plants. There is one viable wind farm that provides clean energy to a locale up north. Solar energy is supposed to be a viable option, but I understand that -- even for a country that has sunlight for a great portion of the year -- we have too much humidity and a long and violent rainy season that militates against the use of this method on a large scale. We have huge tides between islands that can possibly be harnessed, but this area still awaits both an intrepid and loaded group willing to invest in such a venture.
That brings us back to the heretical nuclear option……