Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nuclear Power Must Die

Most Scientists agree that the safest way to dispose of Canada’s nuclear waste is to bury it deep within the Canadian shield, but they admit that even the smallest crack in the concrete surrounding it could have catastrophic results.

Here is something spooky to imagine:

The year is 2030. The world is in a state of war over resources, including Canada’s water supply. Things aren’t much different than they were 25 years ago, except that now terrorists have resorted to non-conventional methods of attack, like hacking into the power-grid, or disrupting the Internet. Global warming is an undeniable reality. There never used to be earthquakes in Ontario, not until recently. You go to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. It tastes odd. By this point, it is already too late. Wildlife cannot survive off of the natural land. Agriculture is successful only in highly regulated and enclosed environments (biodomes) where genetically modified insects pollinate fruits, vegetables and nuts. Rates of cancer and unsettling birth defects start becoming a regular pattern. Human life expectancy has fallen to somewhere around 30. The reason that geologists cite for the alarming increase in illness is a new fault-line along the Canadian shield. It has been pinpointed to run across an area where, a few decades ago, several thousand tones of toxic waste were buried, leaving them to conclude that it has leaked into almost every municipal water system, the major lakes, and the ocean.

Is this the world we want to hand over to our children?

Will it be convincing enough to them that we didn’t know what could happen?

That we hoped they would find more renewable and less wasteful forms of energy to help them survive?

The truth about our lifestyle, is that we know it can’t last. One of the biggest threats to our longevity as a species, is nuclear energy.

When assessing the value of resources that are available to produce energy, engineers will prefer to use a systems approach , which is a comparison of all the possible ways of achieving energy production in terms of quantity. They would be right to conclude that nuclear energy is the most productive and efficient form of energy production.

But I ask of you: What is more important, quantity or quality? Someone who is assessing the value of all methods, taking as well the environmental, ethical, and social value of energy production, must look at things more holistically because in the case of nuclear energy, there may be a surplus of resources created, but it is a negative surplus when you average the ratio of clean energy to the amount of dirty energy in the form of hazardous production. We know that burning fossil fuels pollutes the air and uses up products that could be better used as lubricants and synthetic materials. Hydro power also has a high impact on the environment because it re-routes natural waterways, affecting wildlife, erosion, and plants. It can also lead to flooding.

So what are the alternatives?

Wind power, solar power, geothermic power, and biomass power from biodegrading plants. Energy is all around us, we just need to be inventive enough to harness and store it. There’s no reason why we couldn’t use the energy we spend from the food we eat that powers our bodies to power our cities. Why aren’t exercise bicycles at gyms set up to siphon off the energy we use in the form of friction or as a natural turbine? Why aren’t there solar powered cars on the market? Why can’t we burn methane from rotting garbage rather than creating more garbage just to heat our homes?

So far we haven’t implemented these alternative energy sources on a grand scale because critics argue that the payback value of them isn’t quick enough to cover the costs of constructing them. It would cost a lot of money to install solar panels for every home, and there would be a need to invest in energy storage units for when the sun doesn’t shine. However, what are the long term costs of nuclear power?

All over the world, countries like North Korea, and more recently Iran, have been building nuclear power plants, and they are under political pressure from the UN because nuclear power and nuclear weapons are made by the same process.

If we continue to build on our nuclear power infrastructures in our own country, how can we do so without appearing to be a giant hypocrite?

We need to start investing in our world rather than using it up. Nuclear power is by far the dirtiest and most harmful form of energy we have available. It may be efficient for the short-run, but it’s already produced more waste than all other energy generating methods combined, and over the last few decades, we’ve seen disasters like Chernobyl happen, where as a result of human imperfection, 30 people were killed immediately and radiation poisoning, cancer, and loss of limbs lingers on. We can’t afford to have disasters like this wait to happen. This is why we need to slowly and safely put an end to nuclear power and start investing in renewable power, because nuclear power is not viable source of energy, nor is it anything to be proud of.

Filed under Environment

3 Comments:

Blogger Carrie said...

you just completely freaked me out! holy shit.

9:08 AM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I got a little scared too, I must confess.

Thank you for all your nice words on my blog.

9:51 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

that and the idea that an exponential increase in generators would make towering bullseye targets.

12:51 PM  

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