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Visions of the future / Nuclear power and future generations

The spectre of a nuclear catastrophe has recently resurfaced in Europe, with the war in Ukraine and the deliberate attack by Russian troops on several of these industrial sites as well as on the one at Chernobyl. The risk of seeing one day a power plant becoming a collateral damage of a conflict, and notably treated in the book "Hopes" from which are drawn these animated digital paintings that we publish in this column every week now. I will probably devote an article to it soon, because the subject deserves to be discussed. In the context of this column, I will only include the caption from "Hopes" which accompanies this painting in the book and which questions above all the impact of our choices on the long term, or even the very long term when we are talking about nuclear energy, since radioactivity lasts at least several hundred thousand years.

CAPTION / The issues of global warming and our impact on the environment are inextricably linked with the question of energy and the resources our societies exploit by choice. These types of problem now demand a totally new order of philosophical thinking for humanity, starting with the repercussions our decisions will have on future generations, and even generations in the far distant future when our societies have ceased to exist. Global warming and the use of resources such as nuclear energy require us to look far ahead into the future with our projections. The changes that global warming brings to our ecosystems will persist for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. The same goes for nuclear energy: the core of the Chernobyl plant will remain radioactive for over 4 million years! France is one of the countries seeking a solution with deep geological repositories for radioactive waste, but since geological layers cannot be depended upon to maintain their integrity over such vast timescales, other options are also being considered. Near-surface disposal for example, which would provide relative safety for radioactive waste in the short term and also allow for it to be disinterred and disposed of in the future when we have the technology to completely eliminate it. This indispensable ethical and philosophical thinking is important because it concerns us all, whatever our nationality, and because we must find lasting solutions to these problems that affect us all by working together.

Digital painting from the book HOPES, Symbiom Editions 2021

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