Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Leaky Drums And Other Musical Instruments

I consider myself a liberal, and as such, when I tear someone a hole, it's usually a conservative. This time, I focus my guns to my left:
KASHIWAZAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Officials at the world's biggest nuclear power plant said on Tuesday there had been more minor radiation leaks after an earthquake in Japan that killed nine people and forced thousands from their homes.

The latest admissions by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have reignited fears about nuclear safety in a country that relies on atomic power for one-third of its electricity but has faced repeated cover-ups of past accidents by atomic power utilities.
Now, you know damned well this is going to spark some idiotic backlash here, as well.

Trouble is, nuclear power is a technology we could (and obviously should) have spent the last fifty years developing safely, that would be clean, efficient, and more important, would have minimal impact on global warming.

I don't mean to minimize the glaring errors that were made early on in nuclear development. There was a distinct air of hubris once we harnessed (and then unleashed) the power of the atom, making America feel godlike, and we were fortunate in how little damage was really done. That, make no mistake, is a testimony to the "No Nukes" movement.

But as with all good things and all "causes", it was done to excess. The strident and vociferous protests against anything nuke created an environment, pun intended, which forced us to remain thoroughly dependent on fossil fuels, to the ultimate detriment of not only Americans but the world.

One wonders how many people have died because we turned 180 degrees on nuclear power, and how many would have died if we had gone back to the labs and worked harder on the admittedly serious problems involved in nuclear power generation, developing safe ways of use and disposal of nuclear material? How many have died from complications of acid rain, or asthma, or name any number of fossil-fuel related issues?

My suspicion is that, on the whole, more people have died in this timeline than would have died with a careful roll out of nuclear power. Call it a gut feeling, I guess. Call it the dreams of someone who believes in science, but science done carefully, without agenda, research for research purposes.

We have a long way to get back to even with global warming, and things are going to get worse before they get markedly better. For all our handwringing on the left about dependence on fossil fuels, and with the admission that we could (and should) have been developing alternative renewable sources of energy as well, we have to, I think, grudgingly admit this is one area we screwed up.