SAMA is determined to face the issues that our community and future generations will have to contend with head on. The environment constitutes a significant issue and one of the biggest concerns of humanity. The European Commission proposes strategies and legislation that protect natural habitats, avoid water and air pollution, make sure waste is disposed of properly, improve people’s knowledge about toxic chemicals and enhance the environmental awareness of businesses in order to approach a more sustainable economy. In particular, the Netherlands holds a considerable position in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The energy sector specifically helps the Dutch national income, exports, and employment to increase significantly.
For this reason, educational institutes and schools have included subjects to increase the environmental awareness of the students. For instance, the University of Amsterdam [UvA], which is one of the most prominent research-led universities in Europe, has focused on issues about environment, sustainability, and energy. A group of highly motivated students from UvA, called BetaBreak, organizes every third Wednesday of each month a discussion with different topics at Amsterdam Science Park. On Wednesday 17 of April, 2019, SAMA attended one of these discussion about the environment and Nuclear Energy. The main speakers were Bob van der Zwaan, who is a professor of UvA of Sustainable Energy Technology, Joris van Dorp, who represents the Ecomodernism foundation (stichting Ecomodernisme), a foundation that believes in using technology to fight climate change and Jan Haverkamp, who works as an expert of nuclear energy and energy policy for Greenpeace.
During the discussion, the speakers shared their knowledge about nuclear energy, the risks, the potential impact of nuclear energy on society and the possibility for future developments. Bob van der Zwaan and Joris van Dorp both agree that the advantages of nuclear energy outweigh the drawbacks. Working with the assumption that nuclear energy provides more than electricity and boosts international development, both men argued that one of the greatest environmental problems is not nuclear power generation but air pollution. Air pollution cuts average life expectancy per person by almost 2 years, can have lasting effects on farming and agriculture and is a major contributor to global warming. On the other side, Jan Haverkamp, the senior expert of nuclear energy and energy policy of Greenpeace addressed the issue of radioactive waste, which is still unsolved one. Furthermore, he argued that despite a generally high security standard, accidents can still happen, such as Fukushima. Additionally, during the operation of nuclear power plants, radioactive waste is produced, which can used for the production of nuclear weapons. From the beginning till the end of the discussion, the attendees had the opportunity to use an online voting platform in order to express their opinions about nuclear energy either positively or negatively.
Despite the result of the discussion, which was 50% positive to nuclear energy, it still remains a controversial subject. Although nuclear power has a number of advantages, it also presents some very serious threats and the way that a society assesses the opportunities and risks depends on its priorities.
Through the art that we create, the opportunities we provide and the discussions we have with our community, SAMA is committed to being part of the conversation around hard topics like this one. The 3rd quarter of our programming and writing will be dedicated to Antroposcene. We shall examine how street art reflects on this topic, such as moving away from spray paint by many artist, new ecological materials available, environmental activism in street art works, interviews with street artists who are focused on the issue, and much more. Stay tuned!