My parents were very sceptical of nuclear power. I vividly remember watching the burning Chernobyl reactor on TV thinking that tens of thousands of people would die. I saw a firefighter running past a broken graphite block with a large hole drilled through it and realized with horror that a fuel assembly used to be inside that hole.
I studied various natural sciences, and discovered that radiation is less dangerous than most people think. I also realized that nuclear plants, even though many of them are very old and unsafe by modern standards, only extremely rarely blow up, and that the Chernobyl reactor was a very peculiar and dangerous design that no one but the Russians would dream of building.
In 2005 I learned that very few people actually died from the Chernobyl disaster even though the whole reactor core had blown apart and done a very good job of distributing itself across the landscape and into the air. Only thyroid cancer has had a detectable increase, and that could have been avoided by distributing iodine tablets immediately. This study was conducted by the IAEA, the UN and WHO. You can't find much more respectable institutions than those.
I discovered to what extent the negative aspects of nuclear power are exaggerated when I read The nuclear energy option by Bernard L. Cohen.
At the same time, global warming has become steadily worse, and renewables, despite intense effort, has not really helped much at all so far. The only zero emission energy that can even be seen on a pie chart is nuclear and hydro. Look at the charts in this article. We just don't have any more time to waste. A steady stream of previously anti-nuclear environmentalists are coming to the same conclusion.
The last couple of weeks I have been reading up on fast reactors and the IFR, which seem to have a realistic chance of providing us with safe, inexpensive energy that will never run out.
Nuclear energy at least deserves its own thread at TMC