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Sunday, 15 May 2011

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Japan's nuclear crisis

After the Japanese nuclear accident following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, there has been a lot of chatter by defenders of nuclear power that nuclear is still here to stay. That may be true.

Nuclear technology tends to be presented as a flawless technology by its proponents. But then Fukushima came like a 'black swan', casting new doubts on this source of energy and on expert opinion.

The nuclear camp has been ferocious in lobbying and calling in the right people to defend the future of nuclear power they even got to climate-change champion George Monbiot momentarily.

But two things stand out from the latest accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant: the unpredictability of incidents and their scale; and faith in technology is not the same as faith in regulation and oversight over compliance.What Fukushima teaches us is that we will never know enough. The 'unknown unknowns', as Donald Rumsfeld would say, hang over us like the sword of Damocles.

That always threatens our self-confidence and our ability to predict any incident, no matter how sure we are of the performance of the technology.Nobody really predicted that a tsunami would do so much damage, nor that it would follow soon after an earthquake in a country where things of this nature are routinely planned for, given that Japan is so earthquake and tsunami prone.

 

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