“You can lead a horse to water, but it is probably crowded with all those people you taught to fish.”
I agree the risks are small, which is why I spend no time worrying about the risk from the local nuclear plant. Just see no reason to prefer nuclear over the alternatives, which don't carry a 12 figure risk of loss, unknown risk of loss of lives, should they 'fail.' Especially since nuclear energy wouldn't exist without taxpayer subsidies and backstop for the losses in the event of a disaster.
And the analysis really isn't about the risk of instant death by radiation etc. It's a matter of costs, and subsidies, and picking which of various forms of energy to subsidize. Nuclear if it exists is subsidized by taxpayers - that's just a fact of life. So the question is how to allocate those dollars, not whether some terrorist will blow up the plant near me and incinerate my family. That's not going to happen, but there is a real risk of an eventual nuclear disaster that will cost hundreds of billions in damages, and the question is whether that's what we should allocate scarce resources to, or how much of those resources should we allocate to energy sources that carry that kind of risk.
Similarly, that's not the question. No one suggests that in our lifetimes we will replace fossil fuels. The question is what should be our national energy policy with regard to fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear. They will ALL play a roll for the foreseeable decades. And we can certainly replace a good SHARE of the fossil fuels currently being burned - we've already done it, with wind producing up to a quarter of electricity in some states.Renewable is great in theory but realistically doesn't provide enough to replace fossil fuels.
You're right, our energy solution moving forward should be a combination of different sources. However, issues with renewable energy such as intermittency (you need to build ~4x the required capacity to account for efficiency issues) and practicality (some states simply don't receive much wind/sunlight) means that it is incredibly unlikely that it will be able to meet the bulk of our energy needs. Nuclear energy can. The current split for energy in the US is around 70-20-10 (fossil/nuclear/renewable). I would advocate for something like a 70-30 (nuclear/renewable) split, with renewable only at 30 because countrywide that's probably the highest feasible %. If we can get that % higher, great, but we won't be able to phase out fossil fuels (which should be our overarching energy priority) without investment into nuclear.
I'd also like to add that funding into nuclear does not just mean fission. While the current major international effort into fusion (ITER) is currently way overbudget and is not even thinking about commercialization until 2050 onwards, fusion represents the pinnacle of energy production. It essentially bypasses a layer of inefficiency present in wind/fossil/solar by going straight to the source, fusion as it occurs in the sun.
"Education is the only thing you can do that will change society. Everything else is just a band-aid." - Jacqueline de Chollet
"Boys will be boys. But boys will not be president." - Ronald Regan
Life has risks and we can acknowledge that without living in fear of natural disasters. There has been reference to the "Three Mile Island disaster" in which no one was injured or exposed to radiation, but enough was made of it to slow down its development for years. Barring a combination of tsunami/earthquake proportions they are among the safest and practical sources of energy for heavily populated areas.I agree the risks are small, which is why I spend no time worrying about the risk from the local nuclear plant. Just see no reason to prefer nuclear over the alternatives, which don't carry a 12 figure risk of loss, unknown risk of loss of lives, should they 'fail.' Especially since nuclear energy wouldn't exist without taxpayer subsidies and backstop for the losses in the event of a disaster.