Ethics of the German Power Crisis - Nuclear Power: A Conundrum

Published: 2021-09-13 16:30:10
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Category: Philosophy

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"Nuclear Power: a conundrum"
Introduction

Fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases and are running out; this is a well known fact and an issue long at the forefront of energy related debate. Alternative fuel sources are not a new concept, countries have been seeking greener, cheaper and more recently, safer energy alternatives. One such alternative is nuclear power. Nuclear power is exceptionally cheap, produces zero emissions, and is capable of much higher output than alternative sources, however it also produces slow decaying radioactive waste and has the potential to cause horrific nuclear disasters, such as the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

Fukushima has catalysed growing trepidation amongst the world community concerning the increasing usage of nuclear power. Germany is a country that utilises the benefits of nuclear power, with 2012 figures indicating their 17 reactors produced 25% of their energy requirements (World Nuclear Association, February 2012). Talks regarding the cessation of nuclear dependence have been ongoing since 1986, shortly after the disaster at Chernobyl, with the recent disaster at Fukushima causing the German government to shut down 8 of their oldest reactors. The remaining reactors are to be decommissioned by 2022 with the loss in capacity replaced largely by renewable means (Fairley, 2011).

Utilitarianism or Deontology?

Is the German government worried about the repercussions of nuclear power? They could be taking a utilitarian approach and concerning themselves with the consequences of long term dependence to nuclear power. They may be taking precautions against disaster, or they may simply be cultivating a positive image on the global scene by presenting Germany as an advocate to a greener world. The government may simply acting according to their own moral compass, or their sense of obligation to their populace with a utilitarian response to Fukushima.

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