In this issue
Autumn is traditionally a time of rich harvests
and spectacular fertility, when Mother Nature shows off her seasonal
wares in a kaleidoscope of colour. And yet in recent months Mother
Nature has increasingly shown her darker side, one that is anything
but nurturing and maternal. So far, this autumn has hardly been
the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness that the
poet John Keats famously wrote about. Hurricanes, tsunamis, floods
and earthquakes have repeatedly battered several parts of the
world, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.
Such catastrophes used to be once-in-a-lifetime events that most
people only read about in history books. Today, as whole cities
and regions feel the devastating force of nature with increasing
regularity, the history books are being rewritten - and it doesn’t
make good reading. The apocalyptic pictures of the dead and dying
that are so often plastered across our TV screens and newspaper
front pages, although unpalatable, have become part of our daily
news diet. When what used to be the exception becomes the norm,
you know that you’re in trouble.
Today, few people genuinely believe that these
tragic events are random and inexplicable, or simple acts of divine
retribution. We instinctively search for a more rational and scientific
explanation and the most commonly accepted one is that climate
change, which is regularly described as the greatest threat facing
our planet today, is the real culprit. The terrible irony is that
it is mankind’s poor stewardship of the environment, his
unhealthy dependency upon CO2-emitting fossil fuels that has,
to a great extent, caused the climactic upheaval that we are experiencing
today. In short, man has sewn the wind and is now reaping the
storm. His suffering is largely self-inflicted
Not quite the harvest that we usually associate
with autumn, is it? Issue N° 10 of ENS NEWS
focuses, among other things, on this key issue of climate
change and on how nuclear energy can - and is – playing
a central role in combating it. The real challenge for our industry
is to show those who still doubt whether climate change is really
to blame that they need to wake up quickly and smell the coffee.
Of all available energy sources, it is non-CO2-emitting
nuclear energy that can help most to appease the forces of nature.
In the ENS NEWS section President
Bertrand Barré casts his scientific eye over the results
of a recent Eurobarometer survey on
nuclear waste. This survey - the first of its kind to be carried
out in EU-25 - canvassed over 24,000 European citizens’
views on the sensitive issue of radioactive waste management and
on nuclear energy in general.
A number of key statistics emerged from the survey, including
that more than 60% of those interviewed believe that nuclear energy
helps countries to diversify their energy mix, to reduce their
dependency on oil and to emit no greenhouse gases, unlike oil
Bertrand also uses the survey results as a starting
point for analyzing the general level of public acceptance in
the EU for nuclear energy and highlights the lessons to be learned.
The Events section of ENS
NEWS highlights two remaining conferences in 2005:
ETRAP 2005 (Brussels, 23-25 November), which focuses on education
and training in radiological protection, and the European Nuclear
Conference (Versailles, France, 11-14 December). ENC is a major
event for the scientific and technical community and provides
a panoramic view of what is going on in the world of nuclear.
Also under the spotlight are the many events already scheduled
for 2006, about which more details will emerge in due course.
In the Member Societies
section there are three reports. Firstly, Peter Leister, Vice
President of the Swiss Nuclear Society and a member of the Board
of Directors of ENS, writes about the potential applications of
hydrogen power and the global impact that it could have on the
world energy scene. In the second report our colleagues from the
Finnish Nuclear Society give a detailed analysis of the decision
to go ahead with the construction of Olkiluoto 3. This report
highlights how the EPR project was born, how competitive it is,
what its development goals are and how its new design offers state-of-the-art
safety standards and levels of radiation protection. Finally,
our friends from Young Generation Nuclear (YGN) mark the tenth
anniversary of their association with a review of its objectives,
activities and future plans to attract a new generation of talented
scientists to invest in a career in the nuclear industry.
The European Institutions
section of ENS News puts the news spotlight on the UK
Presidency of the EU. It analyzes a speech that British Prime
Minister, Tony Blair, recently gave recently to the European parliament
in Strasbourg. In his speech he emphasized that it was “time
that we (the EU) developed a common European energy policy.”
Mr. Blair also stated that the EU should “develop a common
position on nuclear energy,” – a subject that is very
much back on the political agenda in the UK
Finally, the ENS World News section
turns the spotlight onto the hot topic of climate change. First
up, there is an article about the recent FORATOM seminar on climate
change, Nuclear energy: Meeting the challenge of
climate change, which was attended by senior officials from
the European Commission, MEPs, industry leaders and environmentalists.
An MEP Declaration advocating nuclear energy as the best energy
option for combating climate change was signed by a cross-party
group of 25 MEPs and presented during the seminar. It was later
presented to the media and subsequent press coverage was extensive.
The second article on climate change focuses
on the adoption by the European Parliament’s Committee on
the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of Swedish
MEP Anders Wijkman's (EPP-ED) own-initiative Draft Report on the
Commission's February 2005 Communication Winning the Battle
Against Global Climate Change. The Communication presents
the European Commission’s vision of the EU's climate change
policy beyond 2012.
Finally, Andrew Teller writes a thought-provoking
article about how people exercise their democratic rights using
heuristic shortcuts rather than spending much time studying the
issues at stake. He looks at the relationship of trust that must
be established between providers of information (e.g. politicians)
and receivers of information (voters) if these shortcuts are to
be effective. He concludes that, in the case of nuclear issues,
better information of the public, although ultimately highly desirable,
is not necessarily the immediate goal to be aimed at.
The ENS Members section reminds
readers of important events coming up in 2006 and provides details
about how ENS NEWS readers can register now for PIME 2006, which
takes place in Vienna, from 12-16 February. Additional information
is also given about the next RRFM conference, which will take
place in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 30 April – 3 May.
Enjoy your autumn edition of ENS NEWS!