John Crown: Our judgement was distorted by Chernobyl tales
We need to discuss nuclear power as a serious option. So let's do it openly, writes John Crown
Published 12/02/2012 | 05:00
Even if you are sceptical about global warming, the case for reducing our dependence on carbon as an energy source is overwhelming.
In the first instance carbon fuels are non-renewable. They will run out. There will come a time when the oil, gas and coal will be gone. Many argue that we are already at or near "peak oil", when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, and production begins to decline. Some contend that vast untapped reserves still exist in North America and in off-shore sites, and that the barriers to their exploitation are "above ground", ie, political and environmental. Even if the decline in production is slow, however, the growth in demand is not, and a burgeoning world population together with growing industrial and domestic demand in rapidly developing parts of the world, especially India and China, will magnify the supply crisis.
The second argument is economic. We are hugely dependent on imported fuels. This is not some theoretical abstraction. This dependence was recently used as an argument by those who insisted that we must stick with the terms of our bailout, warning that Ireland-bound, oil-laden tankers might turn about if we welched on our debts. Even if we discount such a doomsday scenario, the sheer economic drain of pouring billions of euro into the hands of foreigners is huge.