Modern engineering (including but not limited to nuclear) came through the Japan earthquake and tsunami pretty well. Loss of life due to infrastructure collapse was surprisingly low. I don’t mean to downplay the loss of life, home and security or the ongoing efforts to recover from the catastrophe, but others have expressed them well. Strange also to read of knock-on effects including panic-buying of salt in Hong Kong.

Passing a Worst-Case Scenario Test summarises the damage to all forms of infrastructure in Japan, including nuclear, as well as the deaths attributable to each source. Well worth reading as it collects together a number of papers on the reactions to such disasters, and notes that any retrenchment to coal and oil are likely to be greater disasters.

That’s not to say Fukushima won’t be a great disaster: it is very early days yet. The management company certainly doesn’t come out smelling of roses.

While we need renewables to be the major source of power for all of our futures, a knee-jerk “no nuclear” (as the opinion polls were guaranteed to show straight afterwards) is not a thoughtful response.

[Update: lots of excellent thinking from Edge. Why prediction is so hard for these events, why a move to nuclear to combat climate change could lead to a dictator getting the atomic bomb and many more.]