Word from the President
Dear Members of the European Nuclear Society,
To be elected President of the largest society representing the interests of Europe’s nuclear science community is indeed a great honour. To be the first elected since Fukushima is especially challenging. The inhomogeneous and polarised opinions about nuclear power that have been expressed following the catastrophe have engendered the complex and uncertain situation that we face today.
However, a look back at the history of ENS, and a reminder of its founding values, make me confident that our community will meet whatever challenges lie ahead. ENS was founded in 1975, in Berne, Switzerland, “to promote and contribute to the advancement of science and engineering in the field of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by all suitable means.” As a German citizen who has been working in Switzerland for twenty years now it is a special honour for me to be the second “Swiss” President of ENS, after Alain Colomb, the Society’s very first one. All his successors, up to and including Vladimir Slugen, have worked tirelessly to make ENS what it is today - a pan-European organisation with unparalleled expertise and competence in the field of nuclear science and technology. The ethos of ENS is the appliance of science.
I am proud to follow in the footsteps of my distinguished predecessors and intend to follow their example. I am committed, together with my colleagues on the ENS Board and the members of the High Scientific Council (HSC), to doing all in my power to further advance the aims of the Society. My main goals over the next two years are to strengthen the Society’s networking capability, to raise the profile of the work of the Young Generation, to highlight the important contribution made by committees like the HSC and, last but not least, to make being a member of ENS a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Regardless of the decisions taken by politicians in the wake of Fukushima, many of the challenges facing the nuclear science community today remain the same as before. These include the need to raise awareness of the multiple applications of nuclear science, to increase public and political acceptance of nuclear technology and to inspire young people to invest in a career in the nuclear industry.
There are also certain what I call “base-load issues” that we need to address and communicate about more successfully – issues that have become even more pivotal in the post-Fukushima era. One of these is convincing the public that nuclear power plants and the technology that drives them are fundamentally safe. Another is persuading people that safe and effective solutions for the management of radioactive waste already exist. At the same time, I believe that we also need to focus more on the many significant success stories of nuclear science, achievements that our opponents have conveniently chosen to distance from the “centre ground” of the nuclear debate. Among these are the various medical, industrial and agricultural applications of nuclear energy that have helped to improve human health and quality of life. They have contributed directly to the well-being of mankind – and will continue to do so. Such a holistic approach to promoting nuclear science will require a lot of time and energy. But the nuclear science community is strong, with a reservoir of over 200,000 experts across Europe. That rich vein of knowledge, expertise and commitment should help us to progress from a position of passively defending the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology to one of actively promoting them. Together, we can achieve this goal.
President of ENS