XIV – Reflections

Flying home from Ukraine, I looked out of the airplane window at the Polissia – that vast, water rich forest that knows no national boundaries.

Most debate about nuclear power assumes that we have a choice.

The reality is that whatever we do in the west, others will use up every scrap of fossil fuel they can get their hands on. And although solar and wind and wave power may provide part of our energy needs, once the world switches to driving electric cars the balance changes.

An individual country may prefer to radically reduce population and change the way they live to reduce energy consumption, but one nation won’t be able to stop other nations choosing a different path. Or invading them.

New nuclear reactors are under construction right now: twenty-one in China, nine in Russia, six in India, four in the United Arab Emirates, two in Pakistan and two in Egypt.

Radiation doesn’t obey national boundaries. So, it is in everyone’s interest to harness the power of the atom safely. And that means a high level of centralised control, and a minimum of human interaction. But human beings are essential to the design, the operation and maintenance of such facilities. And humans make mistakes.

Let no one underestimate the risks we run.

A visit to Chernobyl should be a requirement for energy policy makers everywhere.


Fiona Erskine’s debut thriller “The Chemical Detective” is published by the Oneworld imprint, Point Blank Books and is avialable from all good bookshops and on-line here.