By Morven McCulloch
The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan, seriously damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, has led to anti-nuclear protests in several countries and forced governments to rethink their energy policies.
The UK currently has 10 nuclear power stations, representing 18 percent of the country’s energy supply according to Energy UK. Should British Prime Minister David Cameron, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reverse his position on the safety of nuclear power?
Environment and climate scientist Lord Julian Hunt told Reuters in a video interview that although the situation at the Fukushima plant is an “extremely serious event,” there are risks to consider with every type of power.
Hunt says: "I think the difficulty about a public debate is to weigh up very short-term risks with longer-term risks that happen all the time.
“Take for example coal, which is still used very widely in India, China and Denmark (80 percent of Danish power comes from coal). The coal is mined... which leads to massive air, water and ground pollution. A million people die a year from air pollution, according to the World Health Organisation figures, and that’s a global figure. So there are risks associated with fossil fuels, let alone the question of climate change.