Nuclear energy

I published these cartoons back in 1979. One of the monks says: “An idiotic tradition to walk to the ceremonies in front of the temple in this heat wearing lead armour. But our high priest swears that it keeps evil spirits at bay”. The second cartoon shows a protection of a nuclear power plant against a glacier of the next ice age.

The problems of nuclear energy were known four decades ago (nuclear waste, damaged reactors that cannot be left unattended, nuclear weapons, plutonium, limited reserves of uranium). I myself criticised nuclear energy in 1979 in a book dedicated to sustainable energy: “Return to the Sun, Hydrogen – the Energy of Our Future” (Book Rückkehr zur Sonne: Wasserstoff – die Energie unserer Zukunft). The proponents of nuclear energy countered that with improved technology all problems could be mastered.

They criticised that sustainable energy was desirable but economically and strategically not feasible on a large scale. Nuclear energy experts received the support they demanded, while sustainable energy research had to make do with a very modest budget. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the public also knows the reality better. Interestingly, however, nuclear energy science and technology were not asked to explain their unrealistic claims and long-term promises.

At present, attempts are being made to bring nuclear energy back into play as a sustainable, CO2-free technology. I think this is the wrong approach. A much simpler, largely established and environmentally friendly technology could be used to produce low-cost, sustainable hydrogen from stormy seas (Ref. 453). The cost of developing this technology is probably less than the cost of building a single nuclear power plant. Moreover, this development would take no longer than the construction of a nuclear power plant.