Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More on Japan and Nuclear Woes

I have heard that due to the disaster in Japan, 80% of Germans polled are against nuclear energy, or at least were even before the incident.  There is one thing I feel the need to make clear: this was not due to shoddy manufacture, the reactors had the misfortune of being built to withstand a reasonably strong earthquake, instead of these once in a millenium-to-once-in-a-geologic-epoch ones; many structures in Germany are less well shored up, I suspect, as well.  Blaming this on the avarice of power companies is ill-advised, and frankly misaimed.  Nuclear power has indeed been dangerous, but what is not often pointed out is that coal is also as bad, if not worse.  I do not speak only of pollution; detectable radiation levels are generated by coal stacks, and uranium has been found in it before. 

Nuclear power stands as one of the few proven, relatively clean methods of producing energy, something desperately needed in economic times like this; I agree that safety measures have to be taken, and that in the future reactors must be given more redundancies.  Fukushima Dai-ichi had been built in the 70s, relatively new for a reactor; that it held up as well as it did to such a massive earthquake and tsunami is testament to how solid they are in the first place.  Disasters are, by definition, terrible for human beings, but they also expose our weaknesses, so that we can learn from them.  Let's not make a terrible mistake by discarding something, just as we have the opportunity to learn to  make it even safer.

-Joel de Bunchastu

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