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People and Politics Forum 18. 07. 2008

"Can we afford to abandon nuclear power?"

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More information:

The Nuclear Question - Why the pros and contras of nuclear power are under debate in Germany.

The subject should be done and dusted. The governing coalition agreed that Germany's last nuclear power station will be turned off in 2021. But that was always a bitter pill for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservatives. At a time of rising fuel prices and a nuclear renaissance, the subject looks set to be an election issue. German scientists at the atomic research centre in Karlsruhe are surprised. They are currently working to develop the super nuclear power station of the future. Even if it will only be built abroad.

Our Question is:

"Can we afford to abandon nuclear power?"

Thomas Hess, in Cambodia, writes:

"This whole anti-nuclear debate dates back to the 80s. At that time, diesel fuel was seen as environment-friendly, but no longer. You can't compare research, technology and safety with today's standards. Considering today's energy problems, you can't just give up atomic energy in countries such as Germany. Here in Cambodia they don't have the same safety awareness and I would reject atomic power despite high electricity prices."

René Junghans, in Brazil, says safety is no longer an issue:

"Over the years, I think nuclear plants have become so safe that they can be operated without any worries, even if small accidents occur every now and then. Things have changed since Chernobyl concerning safety and new technologies. No country dependent on expensive oil imports should reject atomic power. Even Brazil is aiming for a third nuclear plant... despite being totally self-sufficient when it come to oil and sitting on massive oil reserves.But the country seems to think it's economically advantageous to be able to fall back on atomic power..."

Other sources such as solar and wind power are not an option, says Herbert Fuchs in Finland, and he goes on:

"..Nuclear power itself is not the problem but the way people use it, and how they deal with nuclear waste. We have to live with it, whether we like it or not. Nuclear power will deliver urgently needed and affordable energy for generations to come. And who in the future wants to sit around in the dark?.."

Albrecht Hegele, in Brazil, does see other options:

"If nuclear-generated electricity can be replaced by electricity from ecological sources then nuclear plants can be switched off!"

Erich Prinz, in Thailand, agrees:

"Yes we could abandon nuclear power if all governments signed up to this, helping to reduce the costs of installing solar power, because I think everyone would consider mounting solar panels on the roof. Every kilowatt produced by the sun or the wind saves nuclear energy.."

Not the view of Adalbert Goertz, in the USA, who says, simply:

"Nuclear energy must be Germany's priority!"

Helge Weyland, in Argentina, says it's not that easy:

"The question was wrongly put: no, we can't give it up, but it has to be affordable, clean,safe and environment-friendly. That's a challenge for research and industry. Here In Argentina, we've had the same problem for years: the government doesn't subsidise anything, and that has led to short working shifts and production losses in industry.."

In the USA, Karl-Hans Rath warns:

"It would be irresponsible to exclude nuclear energy from the energy range - as this would impoverish the German people."

Lee Davis, also in the USA, is less worried:

"I hope that a President Obama will make it easier for Germany to abandon nuclear power. You will need to rely on Russia to supply oil and natural gas..."

Gerhard Seeger, in the Philippines,says:

"Atomic energy is often viewed as a clean form of energy because you can't see harmful emissions. In fact, you can be surrounded by high levels of radiation and still you can't see, smell or taste any of it. But it doesn't make much sense to break ranks when other countries are building nuclear plants all around you, and dangerous emissions don't just stop at borders. A good example, but one that could trigger an economic downturn. Germany, however, could set an example in terms of reactor safety and maintaining safety standards."

And Erwin Scholz, in Costa Rica, takes a humorous stab:

"Power from atoms,

used for gain.

But you've got problems

if they go insane..."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.