Taiwan can shut down its reactors too. With industry moving to mainland China, the Taiwanese can afford to be more forward-looking, and live in a glorious agricultural paradise akin to what Pol Pot ushered in in Cambodia. This is the future for all civilized peoples: import cheap manufactured shit from China while living off the fat of the land.
Oh please. Pol Pot was a wanker. An evil little wanker. If we're going to start with the bizarre analogies (grandfeller, that means you): if America's agricultural policy were run by Kim Kardashian and it all went to hell in a handbasket, we can conclude that agriculture is a complete non-starter and we should stop doing it, yes? It never ceases to amaze me how people look down on agriculture as something third-rate and uncivilised, with the assumption that we should all be manufacturing cheap plastic shit for ourselves instead of importing it from China. Pol Pot was right about one thing: without agriculture, everything stops (although the start of his
problems was that he knew absolutely fuckall about agriculture ... or anything else for that matter, except reading pretentious philosophy in Parisian cafes). No food = no workers in factories, or drones in cubicles. Someone, somewhere, has to be growing stuff.
- Nuclear reactors are horrifically complicated beasties. They are extremely difficult and expensive to build and operate - very few people on this planet know how to do it properly. The pollution they generate is almost impossible to dispose of safely. Given the choice between CO2 and rotting nuclear fuel rods, I'll take the CO2, thanks. They might be safe to operate under most circumstances, but if some outlier event does occur, the consequences are serious. You'll note that insurance companies refuse to touch anything to do with nuclear for that reason.
- There was some US state in the news recently who actually had to shut down some of their wind turbines because they have so much renewable capacity installed (yes, due to inappropriate gov't subsidies, but that's another story) that they were already cranking out more than the grid could absorb. I'll rephrase that: they were running on 100% renewables (temporarily) completely by accident
. It's easier than it looks, apparently.
- As other people have mentioned, commercial nuclear only took off because of massive government subsidy and other freebies (such as gov't indemnity in case of accidents). Even after 50 years, it's still not really cost-effective. In some countries, solar is cheaper than nuclear, not to mention a whole lot easier.
Why shut down the nuclear power plants? Why not have vastly improved energy efficiency AND nuclear power?
That's the point. Inefficiency costs you money. Keeping energy prices below cost causes inefficiency AND adds to your tax bill (you have to pay for it somehow or other). If you believe in free markets, then anything that is using resources less efficiently that (say) China ought to be optimised away, not kept on life support.
Doing so, however, carries heavy economic and environmental costs.
Coal plants have to be operated pretty much 24-7 anyway; they're just like that. You can't control them the way you can with (say) a gas plant. Post-shutdown, Japan's emissions from coal will be pretty much the same as they ever were. As for gas, yes, they're emitting more, but I would guess they are now operating at or near full capacity and therefore delivering better returns on their build cost.