Nuclear power seems like exactly what we want: a reliable, low-carbon source of huge amounts of energy. So why does it produce less of our electricity per capita now than it did decades ago?
A major reason: nuclear power suffers from very bad PR. In this episode of The Studies Show, Tom and Stuart discuss the ever-present safety fears surrounding nuclear power, the problems of nuclear waste, and the reasons that nuclear power is so drastically expensive. How many people died in the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, anyway? Could new reactor designs fix some of nuclear power’s problems? And is nuclear power so irredeemably unpopular that we should just give it up and move on to renewables?
The Studies Show is sponsored by the i, the UK’s smartest daily newspaper. You can get a half-price deal on digital subscriptions to the whole paper, including full access to Stuart’s columns and his subscriber-only science newsletter, by following this special podcast link.
The Studies Show is also sponsored by Works in Progress, an online magazine about science, technology, and human progress. The newest issue of Works in Progress is out now, with essays on topics like the discovery of the malaria vaccine and the surprising economics of copper.
Graph showing the plateau in nuclear power generation
Article on the wildly-varying cancer and death numbers suggested for Chernobyl
IAEA analysis of Fukushima water and comparison to normal levels of radiation
Report on deaths from the evacuation after the Tōhoku earthquake/tsunami
Tom’s article in the i on Fukushima and nuclear power’s PR problem
Article on spent fuels and waste from nuclear reactors
Summary of “breeder” and “burner” reactors
Hannah Ritchie on mining for low-carbon energy vs. mining for fossil fuels
Article on the pollution produced from lignite mines
Sceptical view of new nuclear plant technologies
Graph of solar panel prices dropping over time
The Studies Show is produced by Julian Mayers at Yada Yada Productions.