Britain must embrace nuclear power if it is to meet its commitments on climate change, four of the country’s leading environmentalists – who spent much of their lives opposing atomic energy – warn todayMonbiot also has changed his tune, seeing nuclear power as less threatening than the effects of climate change. He claims he hasn't gone pro-nuclear but his position is that he will no longer oppose nuclear power if four conditions are met:
Not sure how we could ensure all those conditions are met and it's assumptions about what we can and can't control that bother me but at least Monbiot's taking a well-argued position and his article logs lots of changing circumstances and views. This move in favour of nuclear power isn't exactly news as the debate about renewable v nuclear power and fossil fuel v nuclear has been hotting up for quite a while now with many like James Lovelock arguing in favour of nuclear on grounds of reduced emissions, safety and practicality. The safety arguments in terms of what hasn't happened recently compared with other sources of power are I think increasingly impressive e.g. in this article comparing dangers in nuclear and wind energy. Though they do seem to me to make assumptions about stability in future and I'm not sure nuclear would look as favourable if necessary institutions and infrastructure were to start to break down. But increased carbon emissions seem to be seen as a bigger threat to life on earth as we know it.
1. Its total emissions - from mine to dump - are taken into account
2. We know exactly how and where the waste is to be buried
3. We know how much this will cost and who will pay
4. There is a legal guarantee that no civil nuclear materials will be diverted for military purposes.
Just recently pro-nuclear power arguments do seem to be gaining ground with long-opposing countries like Sweden lifting its ban on nuclear power. There are allegedly still lots of myths around concerning conventional v renewable energy. It'll be interesting to see how this shapes up as we head towards COP15, the United Nations next major climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen in December.