Ten years have passed since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, triggering the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The accident struck at a time of renewed hope and untested optimism surrounding a new wave of nuclear-energy technologies and the part they might play in achieving a low-carbon future. It led to retrenchment, amid fresh concerns over the technological, institutional and cultural vulnerabilities of nuclear infrastructures, and the fallibility of humans in designing, managing and operating such complex systems. A decade after the disaster, these serious questions linger, even as the climate crisis grows nearer. Many academics have cast nuclear power as an inevitable choice if the planet is to limit global warming. But, given the environmental and social concerns, others are more circumspect, or remain opposed. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its 2018 special report on global warming, acknowledged a possible role for nuclear energy in limiting global temperature rise, but highlighted the crucial role that public acceptance will have in boosting or derailing investments.
Nature 5th March 2021 read more »