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I usually say that nuclear is on par with wind and solar in terms of deaths/TWh. The numbers at these low levels have large relative error bars, and there's not much value in comparing them to each other when 80% of the world is fueled by fossil fuel, which is very clearly killing at least 4.2 million people/year from air pollution alone, (nevermind future effects of climate change).

Whenever someone says or implies that nuclear is safer than wind or solar it turns into this low-value debate that totally misses the point that nuclear, wind, and solar are vastly safer than our normal way of making power. The surprising bit is nuclear because most people think it's really dangerous.


It is an apple to orange comparison though. Somebody falls down and break their neck from installing a wind turbine is pretty obvious.

Nuclear accidents in contrast are very hard to assess the deaths from because a lot of people don't die straight away.

You don't know how long these people would have lived otherwise. Not to mention many get sever health problems over many years. You don't get that kind of effects from wind and solar. It is far more clear cut if somebody died from it or not.

From the articles I've read it seems pretty clear that assessing the actual damage from Chernobyl is an utter mess. You cannot really put that much faith in any of the numbers.

The errors bar will be very large for nuclear power because you have a few massive accidents which are very hard to determine the full outcome of.

When a few people die from say solar power installation authorities have no interest in covering it up.

When huge number of people die from a nuclear accident there is a VERY strong incentive to downplay the accident and its effects, because it reflects very badly on the government.

I agree that the perception of risk is because of the indirect effects you mention.

There's a strong similarity between climate science and low-dose radiation science. Both have huge well-coordinated UN and WHO-organized teams of experts who have reached consensus (IPCC for climate, UNSCEAR for radiation). Both have passionate counter-advocates saying that the UN experts are in cahoots and lying (Breitbart for climate, Greenpeace for radiation). You appear to be referring to the Greenpeace side of the story (which is also who the recent Chernobyl HBO series listened to, unfortunately).

Let me direct you to the UNSCEAR side of the story: https://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/chernobyl.html

Today, we understand that low-dose radiation causes very little negative health effects over the long term. It's not the boogeyman we're lead to believe by the opponents of nuclear power. Including all the long-term deaths caused by Chernobyl, nuclear has still saved over 2 million lives simply by displacing air pollution deaths. Nuclear is definitively a life-saver.


> Nuclear accidents in contrast are very hard to assess the deaths from because a lot of people don't die straight away.

Most nuclear power deaths are ordinary industrial accidents.

When there's a nuclear disaster, it's difficult to estimate the death count. But two important points:

* The way we usually estimate it is likely very pessimistic, using a linear no-threshold model. Even so we come up with very low numbers. * The fact that people die later is a benefit: if they died immediately there would be more loss of life expectancy.

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