As Japans nuclear nightmare continues to unfold, the global repercussions still being largely unknown and localised ones being both horrific and long-term, it makes sense to ponder the viability of nuclear power as a form of electricity generation when there are so many other, much safer, options. Here at home, in Pakistan, for instance, where approximately 2.4 percent of our power is generated by commercial nuclear power plants, 65.2 percent from fossil fuels, and 33.9 percent from hydroelectricity schemes, does it really make sense to continue, as we are currently in the process of doing - expanding nuclear power capabilities over, for example, increasing hydroelectricity generation which offers other benefits, including flood control and water storage? Supporters of nuclear power claim that this offers environmentally clean power at, once the massive initial outlay has been recovered of course, a reasonable cost, pushing, at every opportunity, that nuclear power does not contribute to global warming during its generation stage - although how people use that resultant power to pollute the atmosphere is a moot point indeed. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), is solely responsible for operating the three licensed commercial nuclear power plants currently in operation: These being the now outdated and basically 'expired Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP-I) at Paradise Point on the coast just outside the city, which entered commercial operation in December 1972; CHASNUPP-I at Chasma in Punjab, which entered commercial operation in September 2000; and CHASNUPP-II, also at Chasma in Punjab, which is due to commence commercial operation in August this year. KANUPP is a relatively small 125 MWe CANDU Canadian pressurised water reactor whilst both CHASNUPP-I and CHASNUPP-II at 300 MWe are of Chinese origin. CHASNUPP-III and CHASNUPP-IV, with the same brotherly Chinese help and of 340 MWe, are on the cards and understood to be under construction. In addition, KANUPP-II at 1,000 MWe was started, but then put on hold in 2009 and KANUPP-III at 1,000 MWe has not yet got off the drawing board. The goal, according to PAEC, is to produce 8,800 MW of nuclear electricity by 2030. Plans for another 11 nuclear power plants are currently being kicked around and these are completely aside from the existing and proposed nuclear reprocessing plants and nuclear facilities for non-civilian use. Grandiose as these nuclear expansion programmes are and, to the generally informed public a welcome promise of relief from the ever-increasing loadshedding, the downside is certainly far from ideal. It is a little publicised fact that only 3 percent of Japans electricity came from nuclear power prior to the Fukushima incident and that nuclear power currently contributes approximately 6 percent to global energy production and that 75 percent of this electricity is produced in America, France, Japan, Germany, Russia and South Korea with another 24 countries, Pakistan included bringing the tally of nuclear electricity producers to 30 countries in all. Assuming that The International Energy Agency (IEA) is correct and that worldwide demand for power increases by 47 percent over the next 24 years then, if the nuclear lobbyists win the game, massive expansion of the nuclear sector will be required and could, potentially, result in the end of not just the human race but of the planet itself. Applying stringent new rules and regulations will not negate the potentially catastrophic effects of natural forces such as earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Or, lets face it, a 'hit from outer space which, before you think Ive completely lost my marbles, has happened when huge meteorites have slammed into the earth in the past. There have now been three massive nuclear accidents in recent decades: Three Mile Island in America, Russias Chernobyl and now Fukushima in Japan, the latest still having the potential to, quite literally, explode and create a previously unimaginable horror with far-reaching and long-lasting global effects but, even if the Japanese manage to nail the radioactive lid firmly down, an incredible amount of damage has already been done, including lethally poisoning the earth and the sea. Thus, serving to prove that nuclear power is the dirtiest and most dangerous form of electricity around. Amongst the lessons to be learnt from this latest nuclear catastrophe are, and these should be at the very top of the list, burning fossil fuels, constructing dams for hydroelectricity and promoting both solar and wind power are each steps for a sensible government to take. The writer is a Murree-based freelance columnist.