Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Will nuclear energy become the next big global environmental problem?

Until the tsunami hit Fukushima, the future of nuclear energy appeared bright. Several nations were poised to expand their nuclear energy portfolio. Since the crisis in Japan, however, some countries have reversed their decision. Germany is a good example, as is Japan itself. Both nations are committed to increasing their renewable energy portfolio, instead. From an environmental perspective, particularly nuclear waste and water usage, this is a positive development.

But, not all nations are on board. Other countries, notably emerging economies such as China and India, are poised to expand their nuclear energy. So is the United States. What does this mean to the global environment?

At present, it appears to be a non-issue. But, let us consider a scenario where a few countries generate a substantial amount of nuclear energy. Where will their waste go? What will happen in case of a meltdown? If there is transboundary harm, who will bear the responsibility? These are be issues that require some forethought and may be a good reason to pursue a global regime for civilian nuclear energy. It may seem to be a far off problem, but as environmental history has shown, such problems tend to catch with us quickly, leaving little room for meaningful action.



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