Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it - Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Nuclear Option

Here’s a question.  Reports have been going back and forth about whether Japan’s Fukushima nuclear facility is having a meltdown or not (latest report says: outlook hazy, try again). Meltdown or no, this is probably going to end up as the second worst nuclear accident in history. Of course, the difference between what’s likely to happen at Fukushima and what happened in Chernobyl is about as big as the pacific ocean.

Does this make the case against nuclear power?  To me, there’s no way it does.  The combination of earthquake and tsunami was a once-in-a-millennium event hitting a 40-year old system.  And it’s still possible that the number of fatalities from this will be very low, possibly zero.  Chernobyl, as awful it was, was a result of an equally once in a millennium catastrophe called communism.  That’s one big disaster and a few little ones in half a century.

Even if some people do die as a result of this, we have to remember that other sources of power do not come without risks.  Oil comes with risks of spills and explosions, as BP reminded us last year.  Coal comes with risks to miners, as the Chileans reminded us.  All fossil fuels produce pollutants which can harm people’s health.  And then there’s global warming, if you’re worried about that.  As for solar and wind ... well, I’m not convinced they are ready for prime time.  Even now, the produce about 1% of worldwide energy use.  They haven’t gone large scale enough for us to really assess what, if any, dangers they could present.

Like it or not, nuclear is currently the least worst option we have.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/12/11 at 05:19 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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