WEF Future of Energy: Can the world ever learn to love nuclear power?

World Economic Forum website July 2021.  Written by John Letzing Digital Editor, Strategic Intelligence, World Economic Forum

Some experts say nuclear power may be essential for cutting emissions and curbing climate change.  But the energy source is wildly unpopular in much of the world.  When I was three years old, a reactor at the nuclear power plant 30 kilometres east of our split-level suburban home partially melted down.  Like most people in the neighborhood, when my parents heard about the trouble at Three Mile Island, they considered loading up the family station wagon and fleeing. Like most people in the neighborhood, they didn’t.

Like most people in the neighborhood, when my parents heard about the trouble at Three Mile Island, they considered loading up the family station wagon and fleeing. Like most people in the neighborhood, they didn’t.  Several years after the worst nuclear accident in US history, a Columbia University study couldn’t establish a clear connection between the radioactive gas it released and elevated local cancer rates. Yet by that point, the public was in no mood to hear about the relative safety of splitting atoms.

In a strange coincidence, a Hollywood blockbuster about the perils of nuclear power was released just days before the incident at Three Mile Island. “The China Syndrome” benefited from auspicious timing, but it was just part of a long thread of similarly themed, similarly alarming entertainment. Headlines generated by events like the Fukushima disaster in Japan have only further hardened public opinion.

But what if this source of so much collective anxiety is also one of our best bets for averting a climate catastrophe?

You can read and listen to the full article on the WEF website here.

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