As global warming continues apace, governments and institutions round the world are grappling with alternatives to carbon-based fuels. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that nuclear power is a vital one, both effective and carbon-free. Yet this same study shows that Americans concerned about global warming are no more likely to support nuclear power than those who aren’t.
In this article Richard Meserve, who chairs the International Safety Group of the International Atomic Energy Agency, calls for a greater public understanding of nuclear energy. But this can only happen, he says, when its advocates make the connection with global warming – something the Bush administration, for instance, has hesitated to do. Publicising the industry’s improved safety record is just as important.
When the risks are weighed up, says Meserve, they lead to a conclusion that some might find unpalatable: that nuclear energy must at least bridge the gap until other carbon-free technologies come along.
Reference: Science 303, 433 (2004)