The irony of Fukushima is that in forcing us all to confront our deepest fears about the dangers of nuclear power, we find many of them to be wildly irrational — based on scare stories propagated through years of unchallenged mythology and the repeated exaggerations of self-proclaimed “experts” in the anti-nuclear movement.
And he then lists several specific fears, compared to their reality in both Fukushima and elsewhere, before pivoting to focus on the concept that in the end all energy policy direction choices need to be made from as accurate a perspective as possible:
For the green movement, which is often justifiably accused of making the perfect the enemy of the good, having to confront real-world choices about energy technologies is painful. Most environmentalists assert that a combination of renewables and efficiency can decarbonize our energy supply and save us both from global warming and the presumed dangers of nuclear power. This is technically possible but extremely unlikely in practice. In the messy real world, countries that decide to rely less on nuclear will almost certainly dig themselves even deeper into a dependence on dirty fossil fuels, especially coal….
What is needed is perspective. Nuclear energy is not entirely safe, as Fukushima clearly shows, even if the current radiation-related death toll is zero and will likely remain so. But coal and other fossil fuels are far, far worse. And insisting only on renewables risks worsening global warming as an unintended consequence. We need a portfolio of clean energy technologies, deployed in the most environmentally responsible way. Above all, let us base our energy policy on a scientifically valid appreciation of real-world risk, and not on scare stories from the past.