The Nuclear Power Genie
On this Hallowed Evening I am going to write a few words that some people are going to find very, very scary. I am going to make the case for Nuclear Power. Madness, you say? Not quite say I. Nuclear power done poorly, now that is madness. But, of course that is not what I advocate. Nuclear power has the potential to rescue us from what I see as a far greater danger, Climate Change. As in all technologies, how the technology is handled and used, is where the danger lies. So let’s look at the danger and compare it to what we have going against us now.
Firstly, let me state that all technologies, once implemented have risks associated with them. The automobile is a glorious example of that fact. Each year millions around the world succumb to automobile collisions, not to mention the environmental and atmospheric degradation and climate change associated with its manufacture and effluent. That’s tens of thousands each and every day who die because of the car. Yet there are no marches to get rid of this blight upon the face of the Earth. Its considered a necessary evil and the million who are its victims are treated a collateral damage.
So, how do I make the case for Nuclear Power? Let me start by separating the nuclear bomb from nuclear electricity. Tying the two together makes no more sense than tying a war tank to a Honda Civic. That being said, let’s turn the risk pyramid upside down and examine nuclear power generation at its worst. By far the worst accident in the entire half century of nuclear power generation was Chernobyl. Bad design, bad motives and bad government made it inevitable that this disaster would happen. The worst scientific estimates for the loss of life so far, some two decades after the reactor fire, sets the toll at under a hundred. In addition to the direct deaths during the accident, there has been the rise in cancer rates and other associated illnesses, which scientists put at under ten thousand. Then there is the Exclusion Zone, where due to the fallout people are excluded from living. Almost the entire area is now safe to live in, though some of the region is still off limits.
In all the total cost of Chernobyl is dwarfed by the cost the automobile inflicts on us each and every year, in any way you choose to look at it.
The second part of small essay is that the nuclear reactors being built today are as far from the type that was used in Chernobyl as the first steam powered car is from a Toyota Prius. Safety and reliability have now exceeded just about any other technology we have. What remains now is to develop and implement a safe and reliable disposal of the waste fuel. And when you compare all the nuclear waste from all the reactors to all the coal fired plants spewing deadly climate change gases and talk about sequestering the CO2, again it is obvious that putting the nuclear genie back in the bottle is far easier, safer and reliable than continuing to burn fossil fuels.
Before you shut the nuclear door, look at the risks, the facts and real threats.
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