Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did the greens make a return to nuclear power inevitiable?

What do governments do when faced with a crisis?

Easy. They spend enormous amounts of money.

Which is why the enthusiasm with which the environmental movement has talked up the threat posed by human-induced climate change was always likely to lead to the government deciding to back the nuclear option in a big way.

Despite Windscale and Chernobyl, the chief argument against nuclear power has never been the safety one but its cost. The huge and unquantifiable sums needed to build and run nuclear plants has meant that they cannot been built without being subsidised with public money - if only in terms of guarantees over footing the bill for their eventual decommissioning.

But make the sense of crisis deep enough and the economic argument no longer works. If we're threatened with The End Of The World As We Know It then everyone will say that the government should spend billions.

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