CAN THE WORLD fight global warming without nuclear power? One major industrialized country — Germany — is determined to find out, and another — Japan — is debating whether to try.
Both illustrate how hard it would be.
To date, nuclear is the only proven source of low-emissions “baseload” power — that is, electricity that’s always on, day or night, powering round-the-clock elevators in Tokyo or office buildings in Munich. Yet both Germany and Japan are poised to prematurely shutter their large nuclear sectors, giving up all of that guaranteed, low-carbon electricity generation in an anti-nuclear frenzy, on a bet that they can multiply their generation of renewable electricity within a decade or two.