Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan goes nuclear

I have always been personally opposed to nuclear power, which can be more dangerous and polluting than oil or coal. Nuclear disasters can harm very large numbers of people with the release of radiation, including people who may be far away from the disasters. I learned at a young age how nuclear energy can be one of the dirtiest and most polluting methods of producing energy, even more so than coal, since radioactive pollution lasts so much longer than any other kind. The damage Japan has suffered from last week's earthquake and tsunami was awful enough in of itself, however the country's escalating nuclear disaster is becoming one of the worst ones of all time (second only to Chernobyl). It has reopened to debate over the safety of nuclear power here in the United States, especially in earthquake prone areas.

Yet some politicians don't see this as a reason to stop pushing for nuclear power and they view it as "clean, alternative energy." I was appalled when I saw on the news that Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said we shouldn't stop using nuclear power because of one disaster because we don't stop flying planes after one crash. That is an absolutely ridiculous analogy because the damage from a plane crash is nowhere near as great as the damage from a nuclear disaster. It also turns out that nuclear power has bipartisan support. President Obama endorsed nuclear power as alternative energy in his most recent State of the Union Address, but what really put me in disbelief was when Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was on the news stating how he was still supportive of nuclear energy. Politicians ought to know better considering the severity of what is happening in Japan. On a related note, what is even more ridiculous is the willingness of House Republicans to make cuts to life-saving tsunami warning systems, even after the devastation the tsunami that hit Japan caused.

What really worries me is the danger nuclear power and radioactive pollution pose to the West Coast of the United States. There have already been reports that radiation leaked from Japan could reach the West Coast, but the most troubling thing of all is how unprepared this region of the country is, not only because of how seismically active it is, but also because a system is lacking to get people within large population areas to safety. Considering the damage that has been done in one of the best prepared countries in the world, we really should rethink the use of nuclear power here in the U.S.

1 comment:

  1. A thoughtful reflection on the dangers of nuclear power.