Nuclear power: A double-edged sword in climate action

Feb 11, 2019, 6:47 AM EST
(Source: IAEA Imagebank/flickr)
(Source: IAEA Imagebank/flickr)

Nuclear power has been a divisive subject among environmentalists. On one hand, nuclear tempts with its yet unrivaled potential to generate large-scale power without any carbon emissions and on the other, it’s frightening for its radiation, radioactive waste and occasional but colossal accidents such as Fukushima.

The debate on the subject is active once again as Britain, which has been struggling for years to find a dump site for radioactive waste temporarily stored at the Sellafield site in Cumbria, identifies nuclear as a source of clean energy alongside renewables as it pursues an ambitious plan to cut down carbon emissions to zero by 2050, notes the BBC.

Writer Marc Gunther, in his recent post for Medium, draws attention to how environmentalists are torn into two rival groups, faced with a dilemma over nuclear power. Political scientist Joshua S. Goldstein bats for nuclear, which he calls the “only carbon-free energy source proven able to scale up very quickly.”

Joshua describes the slogans of “100% renewables” as misleading, because setting such a long term target detracts us from urgently decarbonizing the world.