Publicatie Laka-bibliotheek:
Nuclear Power and Climate Action

Datumnovember 2018

Uit de publicatie:

An Assessment for the Future
By Tim Judson, NIRS

Published by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York Office, November 2018.

When nuclear power started to develop into an ever more important source of 
electric energy during the second half of the twentieth century, there grew 
widespread optimism regarding the potential of this seemingly unlimited, clean 
and, in the long run, economic resource. The unresolved problem of how to 
dispose of nuclear waste—which degrades very slowly, with a half-life of up 
to 15.7 million years—existed from the beginning but was widely ignored. 
Instead, much hope was placed in finding a solution to this problem—a solution 
that, up to this date, still does not exist.

Those who were skeptical of nuclear power were proven right by the accidents 
of Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima in 2011. The 
latter two incidents in particular encouraged demands for a nuclear power 
phase-out and led to the establishment of phase-out plans in several countries, 
including Germany. When the urgency of climate change, along with the necessity 
of rapid decarbonization, became more evident, many scientists and activists 
alike pleaded for the use of nuclear power as a transitional technology. They 
argued that the use of nuclear power could help to avoid shortages in energy 
supplies caused by the relative unreliability of renewables like wind and
solar energy.

In this important new study, Tim Judson, Executive Director of the Nuclear 
Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and renowned nuclear power expert, 
does away with persistent myths about the importance of nuclear power. Starting 
not from an abstract position but by considering real-world events, the author 
demonstrates the very concrete challenges that the production of nuclear power 
poses for the environment as well as for our economy.

In addition to the long-lasting environmental impacts of nuclear power production, 
Judson pays attention to how it affects communities—and in particular poor 
communities of color—through the mining and processing of uranium as well as the 
disposal of nuclear waste. While mainly focusing on the production and use of nuclear 
power in the US, as well as possible phase-out scenarios, this study can easily be 
applied to other contexts around the world. Informed by global trends in climate 
change, this study is of utmost urgency in showing us a path toward a nuclear-free, 
sustainable future.

Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office introduces this study as an opportunity to 
carefully investigate the possible potential as well as the dangers of nuclear power, 
and the question of its suitability as a transitional technology. It is a pleasure 
for me to present you this text today.