The Great Debate UK

Tide turns against nuclear energy


By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.

As the nuclear threat in Japan steps up a gear, global politicians have pre-empted a wave of anti-atomic feeling from their public and spoken out against nuclear reactors, which threatens its future as a viable alternative to oil.

As Japan has found out with devastating consequences when things go wrong with atomic energy the effect is both devastating and immediate. Unlike carbon fuels, which have a lagged detrimental effect on the atmosphere, a nuclear accident doesn’t get worse in increments – once radioactive material is released into the atmosphere the damage to the surrounding areas is done.

In contrast carbon-based fuels are more of an incipient threat. Increased rates of asthma, holes in the ozone layer and deterioration in air quality take many years take of oil-burning to come about, which makes it hard to pinpoint who the real culprit actually is. But if a radioactive cloud suddenly appears you know exactly where it has come from.

The outlook for nuclear energy is not good at this juncture. The relative infrequency with which nuclear disasters happen (there have only been three notable accidents in the past decade including the events in Northern Japan) seems to only increase their negative impact on public opinion. In contrast, individual oil companies can have multiple spillages over the same time frame and demand for crude will continue to rise.

from The Great Debate:

Nuclear power: pros and cons

As part of the Reuters Summit on global climate and alternative energy, asked Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club and Ian Hore-Lacy, director of public communication for the World Nuclear Association to discuss the role of nuclear energy. Here are their responses.

(Carl Pope's rebuttal was posted at 8:30 a.m. ET on September 10.)

from The Great Debate (Commentary):

Nuclear power is not the way forward

carlpope-sierraclub-- Carl Pope is executive director of the Sierra Club. The views expressed are his own. --
Nuclear power is not a responsible choice and makes no sense as part of America's clean energy future. We can meet our energy needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and have a clean and healthy world without nuclear power.

There are four insurmountable problems with nuclear power.

First, nuclear power produces highly dangerous radioactive waste. Every nuclear reactor generates about 20 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel and additional low-level radioactive waste per year. The waste can kill at high doses and cause cancer and birth defects at low doses. Nuclear waste remains dangerous to humans for 200 thousand years.

“Green growth” strategy viable for African economy


michael_keating -Michael Keating is director of the Africa Progress Panel. The opinions expressed are his own.-

After a decade of solid progress Africa is now facing the daunting task – at a time of economic crisis – of maintaining stability, economic growth and employment, addressing food security and combating climate change. No country on the continent is escaping the impact of volatile fuel and commodity prices, the drop in global demand and trade.

from The Great Debate:

Clean energy investment needs greener light

-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

paul-taylorInvestors in clean energy are like motorists stuck at broken traffic lights. The public policy light is green but the price and credit lights are deep red.

Investment in wind, wave and solar power should be booming after the European Union last year adopted an ambitious goal to draw 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 to help fight global warming, and U.S. President Barack Obama made green power a central plank of his government's policy.