"The problem is the same in the energy debate. Many environmentalists who argue, as I do, that climate change is probably the big overarching issue facing humanity in the 21st century, nonetheless often refuse to recognize that nuclear power could have a role in saving us from the worst.
For environmentalists to fan the flames of fear of nuclear power seems reckless and anti-scientific.
Nuclear power is the only large-scale source of low-carbon electricity that is fully developed and ready for major expansion.
Yes, we need to expand renewables as fast as we can. Yes, we need to reduce further the already small risks of nuclear accidents and of leakage of fissile material into weapons manufacturing. But as George Monbiot, Britain’s most prominent environment columnist, puts it: “To abandon our primary current source of low carbon energy during a climate change emergency is madness.”
[George] Monbiot attacks the gratuitous misrepresentation of the risks of
radiation from nuclear plants. It is widely suggested, on the basis of a
thoroughly discredited piece of Russian head-counting, that up to a
million people were killed by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. In
fact, it is far from clear that many people at all — beyond the 28
workers who received fatal doses while trying to douse the flames at the
stricken reactor — actually died from Chernobyl radiation. Certainly,
the death toll was nothing remotely on the scale claimed.
“We have a moral duty,” Monbiot says, “not to spread unnecessary and unfounded fears. If we persuade people that they or their children are likely to suffer from horrible and dangerous health problems, and if these fears are baseless, we cause great distress and anxiety, needlessly damaging the quality of people’s lives.”
One sure result of Germany deciding to abandon nuclear power in the wake of last year’s Fukushima nuclear accident (calamitous, but any death toll will be tiny compared to that from the tsunami that caused it) will be rising carbon emissions from a revived coal industry. By one estimate, the end of nuclear power in Germany will result in an extra 300 million tons of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere between now and 2020 — more than the annual emissions of Italy and Spain combined."
Yeah, but Chernobyl [here's the first picture taken after the meltdown]:
It's taken from a helicopter. The fogginess in the pic? Radiation.