On 11 March 2011 Japan suffered an earthquake of very great magnitude, followed by a tsunami that killed thousands in the Sendai region and, most importantly, led to a major nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power station. This nuclear accident ranked at the highest level of severity on the international scale of nuclear events, making it the biggest since Chernobyl in 1986. It is still impossible to gauge the precise scope of the economic, health and human consequences of this disaster, but it is clear that it has triggered most intense debates on the nuclear issue once again.
Even if nuclear disasters of this severity are relatively rare, are we justified, given the consequences that follow, in continuing to resort to this energy source which, though admittedly it emits little “greenhouse” gas, produces much highly dangerous waste that often remains toxic for more than a century? In this summer issue devoted entirely to energy questions, Futuribles raises this question in its “Forum” column.
Corinne Lepage, a specialist in environmental questions and former French environment minister, offers us her point of view here, in substance taking the view that the human, ecological and financial dangers are much too great to be risked, particularly in a world where sources of renewable energy can now largely meet the energy and climate challenges with which we must contend.