“Hey, we’ve got a problem with our energy.”
“Well, we’re relying on fossil fuels. We’re burning a finite resource, it’s not like iron or something that we can recycle, once we burn it, it’s gone.”
“Hey, I’ve got the solution!”
“Yeah! We’ll change to burning another finite resource!”
“Even better, this finite resource is really hard to burn well and safely, so we’ll need the best and most conscientious engineers and inspection regime ever just to make sure hundreds of thousands of people don’t get killed.”
“Awesome! But isn’t there a problem with waste, which no-one in the world has ever managed to permanently store safely?”
"There is that. But some people have plans for breeder reactors. These take ordinary depleted uranium and turn it into plutonium - they make new fuel! So we'd end up with at least one hundred times more fuel than we have now."
"But I thought that breeder reactors were unsafe and didn't produce very much fuel anyway?"
"That's all just greenie propaganda!"
"Not actual facts, then?"
"Okay it's facts, but the new designs will be safe and efficient, honest!"
"Won't there still be deadly waste, though?"
“Sure! But on the other hand, the waste from the burning process is also good to make weapons with, weapons which can kill millions in an instant. In an age of failing states, that’s just what we need!”
“Sounds great! When can we start?”
“Well, first we must get official approval, and push the official approval over the protests of the public, for some reason those idiots are against it.”
“Can’t think why.”
I believe in democracy. That’s why I propose that people should get to vote on what power source they want in their backyard. Because in the end, whether it’s objectively a good or bad idea, if that’s what the people want then they should get it. For some reason, those in favour of nuclear and fossil fuels never support my idea for a vote. I wonder why?
Austria, 1978 – in a referendum the Austrians voted 50.5% against nuclear power. They had 1 reactor under construction, plans to finish it off were not set aside until after Chernobyl.
Sweden, 1980: 12 reactors, they voted to “keep the 12 reactors in operation, but to shut them down at a later date by taking into consideration the welfare of the country and its economic development and the supply and demand of power in Sweden.” They have closed down 2. Basically they built up other sources and found they enjoyed all that extra electricity (they now have about 25,000kWh per capita annually, twice the US and three times Germany or Denmark).
Italy, 1987 – in a referendum the people voted to abolish nuclear power in their country, closing the three power plants which had in any case been closed since Chernobyl. They’re still closed, but Italy does not scruple to buy nuclear-generated electricity from France.
Japan, Maki, 1996 – residents of the town voted 60% to refuse land for building a reactor. Plans to build it there were dropped.
Taiwan, Yenliao, 1994 – residents voted 96.2% against two reactors in their region. Plans to build them there were dropped.
Switzerland has had many referenda on nuclear energy, with all voting to keep it or not phase it out.
Thus, it can be fairly said that of all the countries and regions in the world where citizens have been given a choice about nuclear energy, only the Swiss have chosen to have it. All the others given a choice have rejected it. But most countries have never bothered to ask their citizens. I wonder why?