The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor terrified people in Japan, persuaded the government to close all reactors and turned public opinion there and in many other places against the technology.

Yet last week, Japan restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant. This should not concern the world. It should be a relief.

If you care about climate change or air pollution, you cannot casually write off nuclear power. It emits virtually no carbon dioxide while generating a tremendous amount of reliable power.

Renewable energy is intermittent, and can be expensive. Even if those obstacles weren’t present, it would still take a lot of time to generate the energy that modern countries need with mostly alternative technologies. Shutting down nuclear plants in the meantime guarantees that countries will burn more coal, oil and natural gas and therefore produce more pollution.

That’s just what happened in Japan. Energy-efficiency campaigns couldn’t reduce electricity demand enough to eliminate the need for fossil fuels.

The country’s aversion to nuclear power, moreover, blew a hole in its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions, which cause climate change. Japan had planned to ramp up emissions-free nuclear power to generate half of its electricity by 2030. The plan now is to get about a fifth from nuclear by then.

The right response to Fukushima is to make sure reactors meet high safety standards, not to make the fight against global warming much harder.

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