Renaissance of Nuclear
Energy - Highly Feasible
By Yang Myung-seung
Thomas Robert Malthus "An Essay of the Principle of Population"is based on two premises ¡ª the essential need for food and people's sexual desire. On the one hand, human beings inevitably need food for survival. But on the other hand, population is supposed to increase due to sexual desire. Malthus cited the need to curb the geometric growth of population compared with the arithmetic increase of food production.
The United Kingdom was in extreme chaos at the time Malthus wrote the Principle of Population. The Civil War in the United States and the French Revolution had a far-flung impact upon the British intellectual community. Domestically, farmers were moving to urban areas since they lost their land in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. The chaos further deepened, prompted by a steep rise in commodities prices coupled with serious confrontation between labor and employers. To make matters worse, the price of grain skyrocketed with the effectuation of the "grain law"for the prevention of imports of food grain at relatively cheap prices.
In order to help the people maintain a minimum living standard, the government of the time had to spend more from the state coffer, which led to stringent treasury. In the midst of the difficulties, the population of poor people continued to increase. Against this backdrop, the Principle of Population was written.
The international price of rice has continued to increase from last year to break a record, intensifying concerns over a possible food crisis. The United Nations has also been warning about the increasing instability due to the further rise of grain prices. The price of rice has already increased fivefold since 2001. Experts are of the opinion that the price of rice will continue to increase in the future.
The stiff rise in the price of rice has mainly been due to the move by rice export nations to control outbound shipments. Import nations cannot purchase food grains due to the high prices. The UN said starvation will be another phase of the crisis.
Without doubt, grain has become a significant resource, given the steady hike in the price of rice. China, the No. 1 rice producer, has begun to impose a tariff on rice following Thailand and Vietnam. Fortunately, the Korean Government has said the self-sufficiency rate of rice will reach 96 percent by the end of this year. But the price of rice will undergo fluctuation due to such factors as possible bad weather or an increase in demand due to a possible poor harvest of international grains. Despite the minimal impact of international grain prices upon us, we cannot overemphasize the need to cope with the move to "weaponize"food grains by major rice exporters.
A crisis resulting from an energy shortage and environmental destruction has also become a serious problem, along with the food crisis. These issues await immediate settlement by humankind. We were alarmed when the price of oil rose to $70 per barrel, but it now hovers well over $100. Climate change due to global warming will become another threat to the food supply. Farming will suffer a serious setback should global warming continue the current trend in the decades to come, resulting in drought, flood and typhoons. There has also been discussion on how to decrease the emissions of carbon dioxide in logistics.
The global war on climate change has already begun. Global warming will have a far-reaching impact upon humans and the survival of the earth. We will owe our descendants should we neglect our duty to tackle the issue of climate change. Development and further distribution of energy resources that replaces fossil fuel has become a pressing task facing humanity. Nuclear energy is the most preferable and reasonable choice. This is why the renaissance of atomic power has begun to gain an impetus around the globe. nw
president of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)