In the United States this week, the Smithsonian Institute is sponsoring Nuclear Science Week, a program to educate students — and the general public at large — about the whole picture surrounding nuclear energy. It’s an admirable program, because it’s not shying away from discussing the negatives, while taking a realistic approach. Let’s face it, nuclear power is still a crucial part of our power generation mosaic. We still need it, because renewable energy is quite a few years from being able to take over as a mainstream source of power. Hydroelectric generation (which sits somewhere between “clean” and “conventional” energy) still has a significant impact on the environment — albeit not through greenhouse gases — and is heavily geographically restricted. And burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is simply not a viable long-term solution.
Thanks to Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island, there is a massive stigma surrounding nuclear power. Nuclear Science Week aims to explore both the positives and negatives of nuclear power, and help students and the public to determine for themselves which aspects of this stigma are deserved, and which are not.
So where do you stand on the matter? Is nuclear energy too scary for you to tolerate? Or do the benefits outweigh the risks? Or, like so many things, is it simply NIMBY syndrome? And if nuclear energy still scares you, what do you plan to do with your Atomic Toaster?