Thursday, June 2, 2011
Nuclear Energy: Mediapart Special Issue
Mediapart has devoted a special issue to nuclear energy. Make no mistake: this is a special issue against nuclear energy. Nevertheless, it contains some interesting pieces. In one, Jade Lindgaard calls upon two anti-nuclear experts who prepared a report on the subject prior to the Fukushima disaster to refute five myths about nuclear energy. They deny, first, that nuclear energy promotes French energy independence. Their argument is simple: France no longer mines its own uranium but imports all that it uses. But they ignore the diversification of energy sources that imported uranium provides (it is an alternative to oil). Second, they argue that nuclear energy is not cheaper than energy from other sources once the costs of fuel disposal, plant dismantlement, and safety are taken into account. For details, the reader is referred to the authors' book on the subject. Third, they discuss the cost of exiting from nuclear dependence and emphasize that the reason to exit is to reduce risk, so that cost should be a secondary concern. Fourth, they argue that French officials who defend nuclear energy belong to a "monoculture" of high civil servants trained in a few schools and taught by believers in nuclear energy. Their arguments may be sincere, but they systematically discount the negative. Fifth and last, they take on the idea that pro-nuclear officials are the only ones who truly understand France's energy needs. It is not the anti-nuclear movement that is "fundamentalist" on the issue but the pro-nuke faction, one expert says.