Just look at the best of our nuclear scientists staring fascinated at Fukushima and the unpredictable series of events in the remainders of the power plant. Against their will, Fukushima and Japan turned into just another open air laboratory and a real life experiment. Remember, Japan already once served well to study the effects of nuclear power. What makes us separate the civic use of nuclear energy from its Siamese twin, the nuclear bomb? What makes us believe that nuclear power is a means to mitigate climate change? Is this indeed a valid opportunity, or is there a huge brainwashing machine at work?
I think it's necessary to understand this tragic nuclear catastrophe also as a challenge to re-evaluate our arguments. We have to compare what my skeptical friends call 'eco-dictatorship' with what my no-nukes friends call 'Atomstaat' (nuclear dictatorship) or what the sociologist Ulrich Beck calls 'risk society'. We have to compare the prize we have to pay; the prize Japanese people already have to pay (without ever being asked). Currently, no scientist in this world is able to reassure them that they are and that they will be safe. Again: how will nuclear science ever be able to regain the trust of the public?
addendum: Andrew Revkin on dot.earth has a great collection of articles and opinions which hit a similar tone. He collects some interesting remarks about what might happen when scientific knowledge meets different organizational cultures, such as in Japan. When Andrew Revkin visited in 1995 the reactors at the Indian Point nuclear power complex 50 miles north of Manhattan, he wrote:
'Robert Pollard, a nuclear engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which focuses on energy and environmental issues, said that valves, cables and wiring at the plant and others like it have never been tested under conditions simulating emergencies. “If the public understood the risk from Indian Point, they wouldn’t tolerate it,” he said. “Instead they get fed this pabulum of cultural something-or-other that puts everyone to sleep.” (...) If a new religion is being practiced by the 900 employees of Indian Point 3, then the 215-foot-tall concrete and steel dome encasing the reactor and related equipment is their cathedral.'
Here again the definition of Lysenkoism according to wikipedia: