Forces of Nature


In my first post on this blog I discussed some of the issues that accompany developing nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Point number 3 was “The potential for nasty accidents”. Witness Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, northern Japan, March 2011.

Advocates of nuclear energy claim that nuclear reactors are safe and clean, and technology has advanced enough since Chernobyl to prevent ‘accidents’. But how does Technology stand up to Mother Nature? Earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes…our predictive ability is fairly limited when it comes to these phenomena, despite Technology apparently having our back.

So why do we do it? Why, after all the accidents, near-misses, and tense moments, do we not learn from the past? I don’t believe there is anywhere on Earth (or in Space) where we humans can claim to have taken the reins completely and unequivocally out of the hands of the forces of nature or the universe…and it would be fairly impossible to prove that we had.

But if we want to assume that we can conquer nature’s devastating capabilities, why not let a little commonsense prevail? If we must develop hazardous alternatives to the fossil fuel energy industry, then why not have controls over where they can be built? Building energy production systems based on unstable chemical reactions in an earthquake-prone area is more than a little rash…especially in a country where survivors and memories of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are an everyday reminder of the power of nuclear reaction.

The aftermath of these earthquakes is traumatic enough for those involved, as we have seen in Christchurch, NZ and Indonesia in recent years. To lose one’s home, loved ones or possessions to an act of Nature can usually be dealt with over time…to then learn that one’s health or life is at further risk from damage to a human-made system that could have been preventable is hard to fathom.

See also: Combustible Debates; Communication Breakdown; Coal-fired nothings…

© Manu Saunders 2011

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