The Risks of Power
Everyone knows that great power demands great responsibility. Nothing demonstrates the truth of that saying more than the enormous risks behind nuclear energy. Consider that even less than a century ago it would have seemed like pure fantasy for mere humans to manipulate matter at the atomic level, much less release the awesome power of those nuclear bonds.
It’s no wonder then that the exact nature of this science would still baffle even the most tech-savvy among us. Even less surprising that it seems like a frightening and destructive threat to anyone who is unable (or perhaps just unwilling) to see past the complexities that surrounds nuclear science. For those with an anti-nuclear agenda to advance, therein lies the great power to confound and deceive, rather then grow and develop. It’s the manipulative fear that remains the greatest point of leverage in the nuclear debate.
Of course, the public image of nuclear energy has been forever tainted by one of it’s most infamous applications. As the terrible force behind the most devastating weapons ever devised by Mankind, nuclear power has to live down its military upbringing through an uphill PR battle to present safe, civilian nuclear energy. A source of power that offers a clean alternative to the toxic destruction of fossil-fueled energy that goes on all around us every moment of every day…Seemingly with a full and acceptable sanction of both the Press and the Public as somehow less dangerous than the potential risks and imagined dangers of nuclear energy.
Atoms for Peace
Luckily for life as we know it, the enormous destructive potential of atomic energy has been turned to largely peaceful pursuits, and even the threat of nuclear annihilation served to keep us all out of another global conflict during the “Cold War”. The phenomenal risks of nuclear power also demand a level of built-in safety and security that virtually assures that it will always be managed with a degree of responsibility that’s not even close to being matched in any other human endeavor.
There are no sloppy piles of toxic coal ash leaching into watertables, or waiting to slide into open waterways. There are certainly no super-tankers to spill into death into oceans, much less countless smokestacks belching noxious by-products of energy production into the atmosphere at zero immediate cost to the producers, who have successfully offloaded the negative effects on the world around them, and for generations to come.
As things stand, the rest of the planet is left to absorb the waste and destruction of a world still powered primarily by coal and oil…well into the foreseeable future. The ignore question remains, why is this ongoing destruction perceived to be acceptable by all those who would deny and discredit even a rationale discussion of nuclear energy? Even as they sontinue to heat and cool their homes and offices, and move themselves around with a source of energy that is most certainly destroying the world around them?
Safety by any other name…
Could you imagine how safe the oil industry would be with even a tiny fraction of the safeguards and waste containment structures required by nuclear power? Instead we live in a world that’s clearly still ruled by PetroChemical Giants.
Our skies and oceans are living laboratories that demonstrate which source of power has been better regulated, and which risks were actually better managed. Rather than simply being free to emit as freely wasted exhaust, and immeasurable amounts of poisonous pollutants that are ruining the life-giving chemistry of our oceans, and radically altering the our complex protective atmosphere.
If we look at the ongoing damages being inflicted to our skies, oceans, and water tables, to the mitigated risks of centralised nuclear waste storage sites, can we still compare to these energy sources on a realistic level? Can we still fall back on myths like exploding nuclear reactors, or base our future on what has happned only 3 times in the very worst case-scenarios.
Especially now, when we know that there have been new safer design options on the tables for many years now, just waiting for the political will to move ahead and develop. Designs that can consume the Uranium based waste that zealots point to as an excuse for their fear of an otherwise healthy nuclear industry?
Perhaps we can at least put aside fears long enough to cut through rhetoric on both sides of this debate, and actually advance the subject based on logic and reason. Perhaps even considering the very real and factual reasons why a nuclear renaissance could be the most viable solution to moving out of the fossil-fuel age, and as a sustainable stop gap to truly viable renewable energy sources.
We would likely have to ponder what forces have prohibited this version of the Future from materializing already…