Nuclear energy can’t be the world’s main source of energy change.

Nuclear power is very bad when something goes wrong.

Japan was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake and a 15-meter tsunami on March 11, 2011. This caused a nuclear accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Three of the plant’s six reactors were damaged, which caused them to melt down and release a lot of toxic material into the air.

The effects of this accident are still being felt in Japan 13 years later. After the earthquake, more than 160,000 people were quickly taken to safer places. Only about 29,000 of them have not yet found a new home.

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Many people are still very worried about the terrible health effects that can come from being exposed to radioactivity. There are also still clear effects on the land, water, crops, and fisheries. The damage has been very expensive, including paying victims. Since 2011, $7bn has been spent every year, and the work is still going on.

Japan’s plan to dump more than a million tonnes of treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean last year caused worry and anger, especially among people who depend on fishing for a living in Fukushima to Fiji.

Japan and the rest of the world don’t seem to have learned much from this terrible event, though. High-level officials from around the world, including Masahiro Komura, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, joined the first Nuclear Energy Summit in Belgium on March 21. The goal of the event was to encourage the growth, development, and funding of projects and studies that use nuclear energy.

At last year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), more than 20 countries, including Japan, said they would triple their nuclear energy output by 2050. This summit came after those plans.

In spite of all of these changes, there is more and more proof that nuclear energy is not a safe and effective way to move away from fossil fuels.

Even though technology for storing trash has improved, there is still no foolproof way to deal with nuclear waste. Nuclear power plants keep making radioactive waste, and there is still a big chance that it could leak, cause accidents, or be used to make nuclear bombs.threats to mental health, public health, and safety.

Also, nuclear power is the least effective way to reduce carbon emissions in the short, medium, and long run. It is the most expensive and takes the longest to set up. The latest study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that solar and wind energy were more cost-effective and had a bigger chance of lowering emissions by 2030 than nuclear energy.

Atomic power plants and other large-scale energy systems also cost billions of dollars up front and take ten years to build because of stricter safety rules. It costs a lot to put small modular reactors (SMR) into use. Costs kept going up, so NuScale had to give up on a big project that the US government had paid hundreds of millions of dollars for.

Another thing is that a report released by Greenpeace in 2023 says that by 2050, even in the best case scenario and with the same amount of investment, installing wind and solar power infrastructure would produce three times more electricity and release four times less CO2 than a water nuclear reactor during the same time period.

And it’s not just CO2 emissions that are making the climate problem worse. There are a lot of environmental justice and democracy problems that need to be thought about. And nuclear energy doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to this.

For example, uranium mining, which is the first step in making nuclear energy, has been linked to habitat loss, polluted soil and water, and bad health effects for people who live near mine sites. Uranium extraction and processing take a lot of energy, which is often sourced from nonrenewable sources. This makes nuclear power even less environmentally friendly.

A lot of power is held by a small group of people because nuclear energy uses centralized technology, government, and decision-making processes.

For an energy transition that is fair for everyone, energy options must not only be safe, but also be sourced and used in a fair way. Nuclear power plants need kilometers of pipelines, long-distance planning, and centralized management. On the other hand, solar panels and wind turbines are getting easier to make and place, and they use less energy.

Regulations and recycling programs can help with important materials and end-of-life disposal issues if they are used properly. Instead of giving more money to the trillion-dollar fossil fuel business, community-based solar and wind projects can make new jobs, boost local economies, and give people the power to control their own energy future.

The Fukushima accident in 2011 may seem like a long time ago, but the way it still affects the health of the area’s people, environment, and community serves as a warning that we should not let the “promises” of nuclear energy take our attention away from the real issues at hand.

We can’t switch from one broken system to another.

In light of history, rich countries have a moral obligation to support global financial change and give low-income countries plenty of money for renewable energy. To keep our world safe and fair, we need to quickly, widely, and fairly switch to green energy sources like wind and solar. We also need to tax and phase out fossil fuels right away.

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