George Monbiot: Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power
Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com. It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I'm not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.
If other forms of energy production caused no damage, these impacts would weigh more heavily. But energy is like medicine: if there are no side-effects, the chances are that it doesn't work.
But the energy source to which most economies will revert if they shut down their nuclear plants is not wood, water, wind or sun, but fossil fuel. On every measure (climate change, mining impact, local pollution, industrial injury and death, even radioactive discharges) coal is 100 times worse than nuclear power. Thanks to the expansion of shale gas production, the impacts of natural gas are catching up fast.
Yes, I still loathe the liars who run the nuclear industry. Yes, I would prefer to see the entire sector shut down, if there were harmless alternatives. But there are no ideal solutions. Every energy technology carries a cost; so does the absence of energy technologies. Atomic energy has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small. The crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power.
One green source to replace all of our energy use right now is not in the offing, and not even proposed. The idea that we can't do anything (which you imply) unless one green source will "meet all of our energy use right now" is a misdirection. False panic, and a rhetoric-determined demand.
Jumping to conclusions. The statement, "But the energy source to which most economies will revert if they shut down their nuclear plants is not wood, water, wind or sun, but fossil fuel" is not true. And since the rest of the page depends on that statement, it's blatantly false.
4. I generally agree with Monbiot, but not in this instance. However,
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 03:58 PM by ixion
I do see and understand his point. The flaw in his premise is that we MUST generate the equivalent to what we're generating now.
That is where I beg to differ. We need to rethink the way we consume energy all the way around, not just at the production level. We need to encourage home owners to retrofit their houses with hybrid renewable systems. We need to encourage energy-saving lifestyles and technologies.
It's not about a single point of production. It's about changing the way we live.
12. +1,ending suburban sprawl is a key,people will have to learn that a gas car is not a right, nor is
unfettered access to non-stop (or nearly so) consumption of wasteful levels of electricity.
I am afraid that the US will go into multi-variate spasms coming to grips with this fact, especially economically, culturally, and militarily. Petrol is over $9 US a gallon here, and yet we are trodding on, due to a superior public transportation system and excellent efficiency standards. Can the same be said of America? Not a good prospect.
7. Orwell once said, "Only an 'intellectual' could say something so utterly stupid."
Same industry false dichotomy: "nukes or more coal." Intentionally blind to the alternatives of renewables and conservation. These just don't enter into the false choices and framing about nuclear power that are being presented by Mobiot and similar "newly converted" propagandists for the industry.
10. Sure, some people will die from increased radiation levels, but *probably* not you
So what's the big schmeal? And, if you're that susceptible to radiation poisoning, toughen up! Geez louise, you want us to rubber-coat the planet for you, you delicate little flower? Dang, we oughta send George over to clean up the whole Fukushima plant with a bottle of Pine-Sol and a Scrunge. He'd put those nuclear plant workers to shame!
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