- About us
- About nuclear
- Nuclear Sites
Entertaining short cartoon: Leonardo and Albert discuss nuclear power
Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein have a short discussion about nuclear power and some of its problems. The scene is set in the modern day.
Leonardo: Well, Albert, it's a fine technology this nuclear fission.
Albert: The ingenuity of the human mind can be quite incredible, Leonardo. But the stupidity of the human being can be even more incredible, ya?
Leonardo: What makes you say that, Albert, old fellow?
Albert: Oh Leonardo! You have not heard of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl? Or the meltdown at Three Mile Island in the U.S.? Or the fire at Windscale in England? Or come to mention it, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States?
Leonardo: Well, OK, Albert. Humans will always make mistakes. But we are intelligent enough to prevent such things happening again, don't you think?
Albert: Leo, I wish I had your faith in humanity! The nuclear industry doesn't exactly have such a great track record when it comes to learning from its mistakes.
Leonardo: Well, the safety record of nuclear power has been pretty good since Chernobyl, hasn't it?
Albert: OK, we haven't had any more reactor meltdowns to date, but there have been some pretty scary near misses...
Leonardo: Such as?
Albert: In the past ten years there have been near disasters in Sweden, the Netherlands and Japan. Then there is the problem of cancers, leukaemias and birth defects from routine radioactive discharges into the environment from nuclear power plants and from uranium mining. Then there's the waste problem...
Leonardo: Ah yes, the waste! But underground burial will solve that problem, right?
Albert: I wouldn't be so sure about that, Leo! Even after sixty years the best scientific minds have not been able to show a way of preventing the waste from leaking radioactivity, and it will still be deadly many thousands of years from now.
Leonardo: Well, in that case I suppose it would be pretty irresponsible to build any new nuclear reactors before we know what to do with the waste. We can't just leave it for our children and grandchildren to clear up our mess.
Albert: Right! And on top of that, nuclear power is a way for countries to develop materials for nuclear weapons. By spreading nuclear power technology around the world, we increase the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear war. The war after that will be fought with sticks and stones.
Leonardo: Ha ha ha! And we'll be rubbing sticks together to keep warm. In spite of the risks, though, we surely need nuclear power to keep the lights on, and to prevent climate change, don't we?
Albert: Actually, new nuclear reactors take too long to build to make much of a difference in terms of maintaining energy supplies or cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy technologies can be up and running much more quickly with very low carbon emissions and no nuclear waste.
Leonardo: Perhaps you're right, Albert. Maybe we should be putting our human ingenuity to use developing renewable technologies to their full potential instead of pouring billions into nuclear.
Albert: Absolutely, Leo. And if we really want to prevent catastrophic climate change, perhaps we'd better think about cutting down on our meat consumption, and flying and driving less.
Leonardo: Well, I'm off on my bike then to get a pizza Margherita!
Albert: Ha ha! See you later, Leo. And give Lisa my regards.
Leonardo: Thanks, Albert. And you'll have to explain that relativity business to me again sometime. E equals M C squared and all that.
Albert: Oh Leo! Not again!
---- THE END ---