Nuclear Future - Utopia or Nightmare?

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  • Speakers:

    Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald (KIT / ITAS),

    Prof. Dr. Behnam Taebi (TU Delft),

    Dr. Thomas Walter Tromm (KIT),

    Dr. Anna Veronika Wendland (Herder Institute),

    Prof. Dr. Eberhard Umbach,

    Katharina Linnepe (Moderation)

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Nuclear Future - Utopia or Nightmare?

Do the benefits of nuclear energy outweigh the risks?

Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after the accidents at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, but how to dispose of our nuclear waste remains unresolved - waste that will have an unprecedented impact on future generations. The new search for a permanent nuclear waste disposal site has named 90 locations around the country as potential candidates, sparking a debate on who should bear the risks of a permanent repository.

Alongside the issue of waste, the operation of nuclear power plants itself comes with notoriously controversial risks. At the same time, nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gases and is not hampered by the difficulties associated with renewables. While Germany phases out nuclear power, on a global scale the use of nuclear energy is expanding.

These divergent responses to the risks and benefits associated with nuclear energy may be grounds for critically reassessing Germany’s phase-out strategy. A reassessment may well determine that this strategy is justified, but from an ethical perspective we should not simply assume this conclusion.

This interdisciplinary panel seeks to open critical discussions about the ethical aspects of the civil use and phase-out of nuclear power. We will discuss this issue with our audience and an interdisciplinary group of world-renowned experts: Armin Grunwald (technology assessment), Behnam Taebi (philosophy of technology), Veronika Wendland (history of technology), Eberhard Umbach (physics/former KIT president), and Walter Tromm (safety research for nuclear reactors). The panel will be moderated by the cross-media journalist Katharina Linnepe, and is organized by the KIT Academy for Responsible Research, Teaching, and Innovation (ARRTI), represented by its director, Rafaela Hillerbrand (physics and philosophy).

We look forward to engaging in discussion with you!

Panel participants

Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald (KIT / ITAS)

Head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, Head of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB), Professor of Philosophy of Technology at the Institute of Philosophy, KIT, and Member of the national monitoring committee for the repository search.

Prof. Dr. Behnam Taebi (TU Delft)

Associate Professor in ethics of technology and Scientific Director of the Safety & Security Institute at Delft University of Technology. His research interests are in energy ethics, ethics of nuclear energy, risk governance, responsible research and innovation (RRI) and engineering ethics.

Dr. Thomas Walter Tromm (KIT)

Head of the Program Nuclear Waste Management, Safety and Radiation Research (NUSAFE) and Spokesperson Topic 6 – Nuclear Energy and Safety.

Dr. Anna Veronika Wendland (Herder Institute)

Project leader: C01, “Enlarged Security / Nuclear Governance“, Collaborative Research Center SFB-TRR 138 “Dynamics of Security“ (Marburg / Giessen), PI Project “Peer Reviews and the Making of Transnational Nuclear Safety“, Habilitation Project “ Atomgrad. Nuclear Modernity in Eastern Europe 1966-2020“ (accomplished 2020).

Prof. Dr. Eberhard Umbach

2006-2008: President of the German Physical Society, 2007-2009: CEO of the Karlsruhe Research Center, 2009-2012 president of the KIT, Member and Board Member of acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering, responsible for topic Energy, Member and Board Member of ESYS – Energy Systems of the Future, common project of the national academies Leopoldina, acatech and Academy Union, (Co-)Project Leader of several energy studies on nuclear energy, renewable energy and energy transition.

Katharina Linnepe