During the introductory session, the environmentalist and human rights activist Alexander Nikitin will talk about what duty and responsibility in the face of environmental threats really mean. In examples from his own experience, he will discuss what it means to make decisions that have ethical implications that go beyond local geopolitical interests.
If the nuclear power industry did not produce any hazardous waste, then it would truly provide humankind with a virtually ideal, inexhaustible source of energy. However, over the past 70 years, it has become clear that taming energy was the pleasant part of the process. The work of nuclear reactors leads to the accumulation of nuclear waste and the threat of nuclear bombs, radiation leaks, and other manmade disasters.
Society—and especially the environmental community—has an ambiguous, somewhat cautious attitude towards nuclear power. The problem of radioactive waste is not limited to a single country. It is transnational and arises everywhere nuclear technologies are used, no matter in what field: electric power, the military, space, medicine, science, everyday life. All the approaches to solving this problem look for ways of isolating waste in a safe, reliable, and long-term manner.
Humankind must decide what price it is willing to pay for heat and electric power. An individual’s personal stance on environmental issues has more to do with the ethical and moral domain than with professional matters. For this reason, one should begin by creating a system of public ethical consensus on radioactive waste management before trying to solve the everyday problems of the industry. Today, virtually all radioactive waste facilities in the north of Russia are located in such a way that they do not pose a threat to people or the environment. However, it took activists five years of court proceedings and prison sentences to achieve this.