Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power will hopefully eliminate, or make negligible, the negative health outcomes of energy production. However, renewables still account for only 4% of global energy production. Until that changes, the majority of our energy is being produced by coal, oil, biomass, gas, and nuclear energy. It’s therefore important that, in the meantime, we produce energy from the least harmful of the currently mainstream energy sources.
And that’s where the problem arises. Nuclear energy is in fact the currently mainstream energy source responsible for the smallest number of short term (generational) and long term (intergenerational) deaths. This article does a great job of outlining the reasons and data supporting why this is the case.
However, deaths from the production of nuclear energy, which take place mainly as a result of nuclear accidents, are very visual. They also occur in the form of a very low probability event with a single large toll, in contrast to deaths from today’s other mainstream energy sources which occur with more predictable higher probabilities, each of a smaller magnitude.
As a result, people fear nuclear energy more than other currently mainstream energy sources, even though nuclear energy is actually safer. Hopefully articles like this will help raise awareness of the large cost of our fears and lack of knowledge.