News / USA

Experts: Japan’s Nuclear Problems Could Greatly Affect Global Energy Policies

A view of Enel's power plant, built on a site of a projected nuclear plant which has not been completed, in Montalto di Castro in central Italy March 18, 2011. Italy, which is prone to earthquakes, is the only Group of Eight industrialized nation that doe
A view of Enel's power plant, built on a site of a projected nuclear plant which has not been completed, in Montalto di Castro in central Italy March 18, 2011. Italy, which is prone to earthquakes, is the only Group of Eight industrialized nation that doe

Multimedia

Audio
Nico Colombant

Experts and diplomats are predicting Japan’s recent deadly earthquake and tsunami, along with its ongoing nuclear reactor crisis, will not have too much of an effect on Japan itself in the long-term, but rather on energy policies in other countries. During a discussion Friday in Washington, they said a scaling down of nuclear energy projects could have a damaging effect on efforts to curb pollution from other energy sources.

Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki, said he was confident his country would eventually overcome the earthquake-borne disasters.

“I do not want to prejudge the situation now, but what I can say is we are trying our best. We should overcome the situation and we will overcome the situation”

Possible chilling effect on nuclear power

Economists predicted the situation will have little overall effect on Japan’s economy, and may actually spur stimulus spending for reconstruction projects.

But an energy expert, Charles Ebinger, warned countries investing more and more in nuclear energy, may now stop those initiatives, and turn back to other energy sources.

He said this could derail international efforts in terms of trying to limit potential climate change.

“If China and India said we are not going to build nuclear and burn more coal, we might as well not worry about what we do on fossil fuel consumption because it will not make any difference. We will have climate change. And I do not think people have realized the degree to which you are not going to replace the nuclear plants with wind and solar in the near future. So you are talking about a fundamental change. You would see upward pressure on petroleum prices and it just would not be good for the world economy,” said Ebinger.

Anti-nuclear movement gets lift

Ebinger said it is clear that politicians in Germany, Italy, and Sweden already are trying to either phase out nuclear energy or eliminate new plans in the wake of the unfolding situation in Japan.

He says he believes the United States, which relies on nuclear plants for 20 percent of its electricity will see a slow downward trend in terms of nuclear reliance.

Ebinger, the director of the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution, said he believes there is currently an overreaction.

Possible overreaction

“I think a lot of people have not thought rationally about what the overall implications of using this incident as a death knell for nuclear power might lead us to.”

Exceptions where he believes there will be continued growth in nuclear plants include France, Belgium, Britain, and Baltic states in Europe, as well as Japan itself.

Japan’s government is continuing in its attempt to cool damaged reactors at the 40-year-old Fukushima-1 plant, where the tsunami knocked out diesel pumps that were used for back-up water power.

Worst-case scenarios considered

Many nuclear plants are located in coastal areas where it is easier to transport needed materials, but some experts are now questioning whether earthquake-prone areas should be avoided.

Outright opponents of nuclear plants say these type of accidents - where high levels of radiation leak out - have too much potential to harm the environment, fauna, food chain and human health.

The most significant accident at a nuclear plant was at the Chernobyl plant, in what is now Ukraine, nearly 25 years ago. Estimates of deaths attributed to that accident vary from several dozen staff and emergency workers to many more.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs