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People and Politics Forum 20. 02. 2009

"Can we do without nuclear power?"


More information:

Atomic Power? Yes, Please - Conflict over Nuclear Power Plants

Finland and Britain, and now Sweden, have paved the way for a renaissance of nuclear power. Sweden wants to end plans to phase out nuclear power, and has thereby rekindled debates in Germany. The Christian Democratic Union wants to extend the permits for existing nuclear power plants. The market-oriented Free Democrats is even open to building new plants. Environmental Minister Sigmar Gabriel, SPD, is adamantly opposed. He wants to stick to the plan to phase out nuclear energy by 2021. The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, plan to end the phase-out if they win the 2009 parliamentary elections.

Our Question is:

"Can we do without nuclear power?"

Toni Wichterich from the USA offers a resounding ‘no’:

"Have the politicians already forgotten how the Russians have recently been able to use gas to their own ends? They just turn off the tap whenever it pleases them. Which politician would dare to risk losing our energy independence in that way? Of course, there is no certain, guaranteed gas source. And oil-exporting countries are no better. They provide us with as much oil as they want to –or not. There is no certain, guaranteed oil source, either. It's vital for us to be able to produce our own energy with atomic power if we do not want to become dependent on the rest of the world. Our engineers will take precautions to ensure that the plants are built to be safe. Like anything, there’s no way to guarantee 100% safety."

In Costa Rica our viewer Erwin Scholz writes:

"Splitting the atom drives,

the plants that power our lives;

but no doubt just a matter of time,

until the bells of disaster chime,

rather than suffer such terrible pain,

would it not make sense, to simply abstain?

Dieter Gewalt, from Thailand also expresses his concerns:

"There is no good reason to be against atomic energy. With the large amounts of atomic waste that we already have (which cannot be disposed of nor safely stored), a few more tons are not going to change things much."

Manfred Johannes, from South Africa gives a clear answer:

"The answer is quite simple - no! Not if you want to reduce the CO2 emissions and become more environmentally friendly. What happened in the past, is that the anti-nuclear lobby did not discriminate between peaceful use of nuclear power and the offensive use. (...) In my opinion, the German Green anti-nuclear lobby, and the public outcry against the peaceful use of the power, is based on selective use of the facts and has, as its aim, fear mongering, which is used as a political weapon. Someone explain to me why there are no demonstrations in Germany against the purchase of electricity from France? One cannot have his cake, and eat it too."

The Australian Richard Kapp adds:

"Once you’ve exposed the concept of "renewable energy" for the money making racket and con job scheme that it is, you’ll conclude that you cannot live without atomic energy. By then it will be too late. Germany isn’t going to fall decades behind, it’ll fall CENTURIES behind. German policies always take the country down a dead-end street ."

Martin Burmeister, from Venezuela, weighs the pro and cons and concludes:

"Unfortunately, we can NOT do without atomic energy! The problem with electric energy, is that you cannot store it in large amounts. Renewable energy is dependent upon wind- and weather-conditions, which means you always have to have fossil fuels at your disposal. If Germany did not use atomic energy, it would have to import it from our neighbors. Whether or not we use atomic energy after 2021, the question of what to do with atomic waste remains."

Herbert Fuchs in Finland writes:

"Right now we cannot do without atomic energy. We have no viable alternatives. Many industrial countries that are not blessed with fossil fuels which means that nuclear energy will continue to be a major player until new, advanced, people-friendly, twenty-first century technologies are developed which allow us to free ourselves from dependence upon nuclear power. Many people had hoped that atomic energy would be a thing of the past by now, but the world economy marches to the beat of its own drum –and not as some Green politicians would like."

Wolfgang Sons in Brazil sets his hopes on technical development:

"That question is easily answered by the facts: countless accidents, unexplainable multiple illnesses, and still no solution for nuclear waste after decades of debate. If the hundreds of billions invested in the atomic energy industry were invested in renewable energy, the problem would have been solved a long time ago. But that means taking on the vehement nuclear power lobby."

Lee Davis, living in the US, puts it succinctly:

"I believe we can do without Nuclear Power. This form of Energy is far too dangerous."

Ingo Ganz, in Finland says Germany can afford to forego nuclear energy:

"Easily! Germany already produces a surplus of energy - in spite of two nuclear power plants being down for maintenance. As to the dependence on foreign supplies, uranium is even worse than many other energy sources. Renewable energy, on the other hand, is always produced locally."

René Junghans from Brazil disagrees, saying Germany’s energy independence hinges on nuclear power:

"Nuclear power is essential in one day making Germany independent of uncertain energy sources in Russia and other energy-producing countries. Yet care must be taken to comply with necessary security measures in order to avoid a catastrophe. Even in Brazil, where fossil fuels are already available in sufficient quantities, nuclear power plants are still in service, and more must be built. When you begin to understand how to produce nuclear power in an eco-friendly way, you realize that nuclear energy is the future."

Ulla Schmutzer of New Zealand points to nuclear power’s dangers:

"I find it shocking that the world seems to be moving backwards. Wouldn’t it make more sense to save energy, rather than producing more and more, particularly with the help of materials that experience tells us not only are dangerous, but also generate a great degree ... of non-biodegradable nuclear waste? The attempt to maintain our current prosperity ... seems trivial when one starts to think that the Earth we’re living on will be destroyed in the process."

The editorial staff of ‘People and Politics’ reserves the right to shorten letters received.