Anne Will: TV physicist Harald Lesch breaks down nuclear power in three minutes

TV debate at Anne Will
“Hands off, never again” – TV physicist Harald Lesch takes three minutes to destroy nuclear power

TV physicist Harald Lesch makes clear what he thinks of nuclear energy in Anne Will’s April 16 program.

© Wolfgang Borrs / NDR

The last three remaining German nuclear reactors have been standing still since Saturday – but the debate continues. With “Anne Will” there was a dispute about continued operation, dismantling and the CO2 calculation for the exit. Highlights: a wild Söder diss and a passionate anti-nuclear plea by a physicist.

In these days of nuclear farewell there is little between apocalypse and euphoria. Either Germany as a business location will be buried – farewell, ammonia production, from now on an agricultural nation again. Or the renewables flutter happily in the wind, waving at us from a rosy future. In the line-up of “Anne Will” the “Welt” journalist Dorothea Siems and the Green Katrin Göring-Eckardt occupied these two extremes.

Siems did so with a communicative bulldozer strategy that bordered on bad behavior. And Göring-Eckardt displayed a will-everything attitude that almost bore Merkelian traits. Nonetheless, the debate was more insightful and thought-provoking than expected. And when the FDP representative made a pretty wild diss against Markus Söder, it even got funny for a short time.

To guest at “Anne Will” were:

  • Katrin Goering-Eckardt (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Vice President of the Bundestag
  • Reiner Haseloff (CDU), Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt
  • Harald Leschastrophysicist and science journalist
  • Dorothea Siemschief correspondent for economic policy “Die Welt”
  • John Vogel (FDP), Deputy Federal Chairman

“Ask about atheists on a plane in turbulence,” countered Harald Lesch when Anne Will presented him with the current survey results. 59 percent of Germans are for the continued operation of the three nuclear power plants, 34 percent against it. In view of the energy crisis, which for most people is a price crisis, Germany is back on nuclear power. For Lesch, this is only a little reliable picture of the mood. In three minutes, the physicist dismantled the “high-risk technology” to such an extent that any further discussion was actually superfluous.

1900 Castor containers as a “gift” for future generations

No insurance company in the world wants to insure nuclear power plants, he argued, among other things, “that should tell us from an economic point of view: hands off, never again.” Nuclear fans don’t like to talk about the 1900 contaminated Castor containers that we left as a “gift” to future generations and that would eventually have to go underground. In addition, we were approaching climate scenarios in Europe that were already presenting “huge problems” to France in particular, with its almost 60 reactors. “They hardly have any water to cool them down at the moment. In the summer there won’t be any.”

With regard to renewable forms of energy, Lesch sees “difficulties in adapting” because society suddenly has to adjust to “natural rhythms” – instead of being provided with energy 24/7 as before. The climate price that he believes has to be paid for the energy transition: “Much higher CO2 emissions for 10 to 15 years than we want them to be.” This is where Reiner Haseloff intervened, himself a qualified physicist. Never before has so much lignite power been generated as it is today. Dorothea Siems shot in the same direction and also delivered a perfidious devaluation of Eastern Europe: “We are as dirty as only Poland and the Czech Republic are.”

“Söder changes his positions like underpants”

So should the three reactors that have been shut down be kept in reserve and their dismantling postponed? Definitely, according to Haseloff and Siems. “You don’t get off until you’ve gotten on somewhere,” the CDU Prime Minister put it pointedly, referring to the insufficient storage capacity of renewables. The FDP man Johannes Vogel is also in favor of a scrapping moratorium. His idea: Instead of the three nuclear power plants, it would be better to shut down three coal-fired power plants. When asked about Markus Söder’s recent omissions about continuing to operate Isar 2 under Bavarian control, Vogel went all out. “Söder changes his positions like underpants,” he scoffed. In 2011, when Fukushima happened, the CSU boss threatened to resign when the FDP demanded that the reactor be left online until 2025 instead of 2022. Just two years ago, on the tenth anniversary of the disaster, Söder boasted that he was the first to be in favor of the shutdown. Vogel: “I wouldn’t want to leave the responsibility for energy policy to someone so erratic.”

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The promises of nuclear technology, such as transmutation or nuclear fusion, which had just been dropped from the Union camp, sent Harald Lesch into the realm of fantasy or a very distant future. For transmutation, for example, i.e. the use of radioactive waste for the operation of a nuclear power plant, there is not even a real research facility. The concept will be effective in 25 years at the earliest. The scientist also disappointed the expectation that the three much-discussed reactors could easily be put back on the grid next winter. They would have to be subjected to a “significant revision”. Lesch: “The decision should have been made earlier to let the piles continue to run.”


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