As presaged last week, I attended the 2011 Science and Technology for Society Forum in Kyoto, Japan. This was a truly wide-ranging and high-level meeting of politicians (including many present and previous Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers), funders, academic leaders and CEOs of major companies. The focus was on ensuring sustainability, not least in energy. I cannot possibly do it full justice, so I present a few examples, arguments and highlights.
The terrible Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11th, 2011, with its devastation of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, had served to concentrate minds firmly on the wisdom or otherwise of including nuclear power (especially conventional fission) in energy supply plans, with countries such as Germany and Japan likely abandoning it while others (the US, France and UK among them) are seemingly taking a different view. This looks like having the makings of a classical example (and study) of how and on which bases policies are made in different places. According to Matthias Kleiner of the DFG, “no production engineer would develop a process where after 50 years we do not know where to put the waste”. [...]