Volume 37, Number C1, February 2002ECORAD 2001: The Radioecology - Ecotoxicology of Continental and Estuatine Environments
|Page(s)||C1-205 - C1-210|
|Published online||14 October 2009|
The societal "surprise factor": Nuclear and greenhouse hazards and the ethics of good policy development
ANSTO Environment, PMB 1, 2234 Menai, Australia
It is arguable that one of the many triggers for the Tokaimura nuclear accident in Japan in September 1999 was the agreement by the Framework Convention on Climate Change member nations to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions reductions, also in Japan in December 1997. Whether or not the Kyoto Protocol is finally ratified there is increasing pressure on all developed nations to quantify and act to reduce or off-set their greenhouse gas emissions. For Japan where power generation from fossil fuels is already very efficient and there is relatively little available land on which to plant forests to become carbon sinks this international treaty must increase the attractiveness of nuclear power. In all nations policies must be developed to try to mitigate and adapt to the consequences of both global warming and nuclear hazards. The attitude of the general public to the risks of both is a critical ingredient in the development of these policies. Both greenhouse warming and nuclear science depend on physics which can be difficult to understand and both are therefore open to media (and other) misinterpretation - accidental and intentional. Greenhouse & nuclear management are subject to real & predicted "surprises" which greatly increase the sense of alarm amongst the public and politicians. This paper explores some of the societal & ethical aspects of this "surprise factor" for greenhouse and nuclear policy development and touches on tricky aspects of national policies which link nuclear & climate science through their consequences (e.g. "safe" repositories for nuclear waste affected by greenhouse-induced climate change) as well as their origins (e.g. nuclear replacing fossil fuel power generation).
© EDP Sciences, 2002
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