In light of a possible nuclear catastrophe in Japan, countries around the world are rethinking whether atomic energy really is the future. DW's Judith Hartl believes the crisis could lead to the end of the nuclear age.
One thing is clear after Fukushima: nuclear power stations are not safe - always and everywhere. Those who say otherwise are lying. It is that simple.
After Fukushima, the perennial reaffirmations that Germany's own reactors are more technically sound than the Soviet reactor at Chernobyl no longer hold sway. No, Fukushima shows us that even in a technologically advanced country like Japan, control of technology can be lost in an instant, suddenly leaving us helpless - like dwarfs armed with blunt spears standing before a huge fire-spewing dragon.
The longer the desperate fight against the meltdown continues in Fukushima, the more cognizant the world becomes of this sudden and very deadly danger.
Deutsche Welle's Judith Hartl
Now, after some initial knee-jerk reactions of loyalty to their own nuclear policies, some countries are beginning to question the nuclear path - at least in a cautious manner. Germany has already dissociated itself from the infallibility of nuclear power, and now Brazil has announced it will examine its plans for an expansion of its nuclear program. Israel, too, has thrown its plans for a new reactor overboard, and even China, which currently has more than 20 new reactors in the pipeline, is considering a building freeze.
In no other country in the world could it have been made clearer than in Japan that we cannot and never will be able to control nuclear power. It is just too dangerous. And maybe Fukushima will indeed cause a lasting rethink of nuclear power, that it is not the energy of the future. Perhaps it will show us that we must invest in a massive expansion of renewable energy sources - solar, wind and geothermal energy - and of course also in developing energy-saving technologies.
And perhaps Fukushima will even come to represent a turning point - the beginning of a new era without nuclear power stations. A dream? Who knows.
Author: Judith Hartl /dfm
Editor: Nancy Isenson