[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Update: New explosion. Read about it here.
I will say bluntly that I have not been able to keep up with events after a busy weekend, but we have had at least two explosions, and we have three meltdowns in those Japanese reactors, according to New York Magazine and the Daily Mail. And it is correct to say that this is not another Chernobyl.
But as a lay person—and perhaps I am simply uninformed—I find it disturbing that we are relying on last ditch efforts. Hopefully they will work, but I wonder if it should have gotten this far. Shouldn’t they have had enough redundancies in these systems that they would not be facing meltdown? That is not a rhetorical question where I think I know the answer already. I am actually asking. They seemed to assume that they would never have a catastrophic disaster that destroyed much of the infrastructure designed to help in this situation. With hindsight being 20/20, that strikes me as a questionable assumption.
There will be people who will use this occasion to attack nuclear power generally. And it is incorrect to assume that Japan has the same geological or regulatory climate. I mean the latter was one of the critical differences in Chernobyl—their idiot decision to cool their reactor with graphite being the kind of stupid thing that communist governments do. But it is equally incorrect to think that every person wondering about nuclear power is just driving a pre-determined agenda.
I recognize we have to move away from oil, if only because it comes from a lot of countries chock full of people who hate us. And since 1776 or so we have recognized that independence is essential to our freedom. Before the invention of things like automobiles and other items that ran on petroleum products, we literally could literally survive on a daily basis with no help from the rest of the world. Sure, we might get luxuries from other countries, but when it came down to it, we could cut off all trade and be just fine. I firmly believe the prosperity we enjoyed as a country was because of that reality. Nuclear power opened up the possibility of getting our electricity without having to rely on fossil fuels and that was a good thing.
But there are good, reasonable people who are disturbed by what they saw in Japan. Some might be stampeded in one direction without any rationality. But I do believe in the reason of the common people. They are capable of being appealed to by reason. So let’s address the reasonable concerns, if we can, and try to decide whether nuclear power is the correct answer for this nation as it compares to other sources of energy.
Finally, I would like to end on a positive note. I have said many times that while all men/persons are created equal, not all cultures are created equal. It would logically incorrect to judge the whole of Japanese culture by one incident, but this certainly speaks well of them that there has been very little looting during all of this. They have been through a lot, but they have not lost their inner sense of civilization, and for that they deserved to be congratulated.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]