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Take Time To Renew Your Spirit

2012/03/11

We can sum it up in one sentence: Our technical civilization has just reached its greatest level of savagery. We will have to choose, in the more or less near future, between collective suicide and the intelligent use of our scientific conquests…….Before the terrifying prospects now available to humanity, we see even more clearly that peace is the only goal worth struggling for. This is no longer a prayer but a demand to be made by all peoples to their governments — a demand to choose definitively between hell and reason.”

~Albert Camus, Combat, 8 August 1945, after a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and one day before another was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

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At 14:46 one year ago today,  a massive earthquake, 8.9 on the Richter scale, unleashed a huge tsunami which crashed through Japan’s eastern coastline, sweeping buildings, boats, cars and people miles inland. The disasters claimed more than 19,000 lives, and thousands of victims are still not accounted for. The resulting explosions and meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant exposed tens of thousands of people to potentially deadly radiation and polluted large sections of nearby farmland and ocean. The cost of cleanup is expected to amount to tens of billions of dollars, and is ongoing.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/03/11 6:35 pm

    I think you meant to say “… thousands of victims are still unaccounted for”.

  2. 2012/03/11 7:58 pm

    Thanks for reading so closely, P, and for the editing!

  3. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/03/12 6:37 am

    I am afraid I do not share your antipathy towards nuclear energy (I am more ambivalent) but, hey, let’s not fall out over it.

    Fukushima was incredibly-well designed and the only reason its defences failed is that the coastline subsided in the 20 minutes between the quake and tsunami hitting it. After that, failure of the back-up generators became inevitable if fuel supplies were interrupted.

    Tokyo will be the next place to be hit by a similarly-massive Earthquake so, I agree that the Japanes should close down the nuclear power stations there immediately. However, there is only one problem remaining – Japan does not have many other options; but could I am sure now invest heavilly (global debt crisis permitting) in tidal and wind power…

    In the meantime, and adopting a global perspective, more people die each year putting on the underwear than die from nuclear accidents. Nuclear waste and proliferation risks are problems we cannot magic into non-existence. If we had not given up on Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) 25 years ago, we would probably have them working by now – and would be able to re-process all the HLW into a much smaller volume of MLW.

    The best argument for not pursuing nuclear energy is in fact that it is high-tech and just another way of perpetuating the dependency of poor countries on Western technology. Therefore, as much as I hope that renewables can be up-scaled to provide for all our future energy needs, in the long run, I think FBR will prove unavoidable.

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