Posts tagged fukushima
There’s no way to sugercoat it — Japan’s nuclear nightmare is depressing as hell.
While the media gives most of its attention to bombing campaigns in Libya, Fukushima plays out like a train wreck in slow motion.
The news regarding the nuclear plant from the past few weeks since Japan’s terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami cuts like a knife with each revelation — cooling system failures, hydrogen explosions, possibly exposed uranium rods, radiation leaks, evacuations, fire hoses and helicopter water dumps, the brave and selfless Fukushima 50, radiated vegetables, babies unable to drink tap water in Tokyo, radiated ocean water, paper and sawdust dumps…
And then the news that I already suspected weeks ago — Japan raised the level of the disaster to 7, equal to Chernobyl this past Monday. And we aren’t out of the woods yet.
Where do we go from here?
First, my thoughts and prayers go to the Japanese people during this terrible time. I encourage everyone to help any way they can.
Second, let us hope that the plant operators at Fukushima with help from the Japanese government and outside experts can somehow contain this monster in the very near future.
Third, despite what I believe are the best attempts by the plant’s operators to down-play this disaster, it’s obvious to me from the desperate solutions being tried that we are in unchartered territory here and a much worse situation, God forbid, could still be around the corner.
Fourth, it’s not too early to start a global discussion on what we can and should learn from Fukushima.
One of my first reactions was this: if the only nation on Earth to ever experience the horrors of nuclear weaponry and that also boasts some of the best technological minds in the world can’t handle nuclear power safely, what does that say about the future of the nuclear industry?
I’ve read the rationales that they built Fukushima wrong, or that the latest nuclear technologies are exponentially safer. But the problem with nuclear is Murphy’s law: what can go wrong will go wrong at some point in time. And nuclear power’s worst-case scenarios can be really bad, with the ability to poison vast swaths of land and sea and humanity for generations.
That’s a huge downside that alternative energy industries such as solar and wind just don’t have. And while coal and oil extraction have their environmental risks (exhibit A: the BP Gulf spill), they can’t conceivably rise to the long-term environmental destruction a malfunctioning nuclear plant can cause.
If somehow the nuclear industry survives this monumental public relations disaster, Fukushima may make nuclear power economically unfeasible due to new safety requirements that will inevitably be enacted for any plants slated for construction.
If there’s any positive news it’s that the renewable energy industry is now front and center in the eyes of investors as the only viable alternative to the fossil fuel industry and nuclear power. It’s an extremely tall order but encouraging signs continue that we are on the path to an era of clean, safe energy.