After Fukushima

The six essential features of the revolution in the nuclear power decision- making process for the 2010-2020 decade, from GEAB No. 55 (May 2011), a longer excerpt made public Septembre 4, 2013.

… The world is here today:

Operators, investors and opponents of nuclear power, as well as policymakers, are wondering what will be needed to be done tomorrow, what trends will prevail and the choices available to them. It is precisely what the LEAP/E2020 team modestly intends to anticipate in the second part of this analysis with the six essential features in the revolution of the nuclear power decision-making process for the 2010-2020 decade.  

On a subject that often triggers the passions, we recall that, according to the principle of political anticipation, it’s not for our team to portray what it wants (moreover, its members have different views on the subject), but to present what it believes will happen.

The six new factors which will revolutionize the nuclear power debate in the next decade:

We can identify two kinds of new factors in this revolution in the nuclear power decision-making process. First, there are three factors that characterize a radical change in the context in which decisions are taken: the profound changes in the nature of the debate, the participants in the debate, and the “ultimate decision maker”. Secondly, we can identify three factors that override the development of the debate and its conclusions: the significant changes in the collective perception of the nature of nuclear energy, the requirement level in terms of safety, and the appropriate level of regulation and supervision.

The magnitude of the Fukushima shock in the context of “Internet and crisis” creates a demand for rational international debate and the adoption of new tools for risk anticipation:

The world of 2011 which suddenly received the shock of the Fukushima tragedy is no longer the technologically naive, ideologically divided and highly media supervised world of the 1950s-1980s, nor a world of the 1990s-2000s dominated by a West confident in its technological superiority. It is a world which has faced, almost non-stop, major natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, …) for a decade, blatant failures to prevent or repair industrial or semi-natural disasters (mad cow crisis, Katrina and New Orleans, Haiti and the earthquake …), the huge failures and lies of the leaders of the world’s major countries (9/11, the invasion of Iraq …), etc… The frequency and size of these tragedies are magnified by the media sector, which now covers the whole planet and of which the Internet provides a growing share, beyond the control of the relevant authorities, allowing discussions which are already “extinguished” in the mainstream media to continue “slowly simmering” for years, fuelled by people of different regions in the world and creating a kind of “alarmist magma” at the heart of the Internet, mixing rational debate and delusional fantasies. It is on this changing and dynamic base that the Fukushima disaster has just been grafted and in which the future debate on nuclear power is rooted … //

… Don’t forget that if existing plants, in developed countries able to ensure their proper maintenance, are designed for a major risk of 1/10000. Global risk was 5/10000 in 1965, 0.0005%, when there were five reactors. Due to the expansion of the nuclear field worldwide, it has risen to nearly 500/10000 in 2011, i.e. 5% (not counting the inevitable deterioration due to the aging of the nuclear stock). If policymakers don’t quickly infer that we must therefore increase security levels to keep this rate at least at 1965 levels of 1 /10000, there’s no doubt that, by the many ways described above, public opinion will manage to find leaders better educated in calculating statistics.

(full long text with map, graphs, notes, related articles).

Links:

Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin GEAB, confidential newsletter of Laboratoire Européenne d’Anticipation Politique LEAP (de, en, es, fr); Sitemap;

EUROPE 2020 (en, fr);

(see also: Welcome to our new blog: politics for the 99%).

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