The media is hyperventilating about the nuclear plants in Japan that are being shut down due to effects from the horrible earthquake that hit a few days ago. As they keep running the same footage of white clouds puffing up from the towers, of collapsed outer walls, and just stock footage of the nuclear plants, their voiceovers transmit a panicked sense of doom.
Yet. Given the severity of the quake and the tsunami, the plants have survived remarkably well. And in spite of the ignorance of the media, these plants are not designed like the ones at Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. Note that there was no damage to human beings living near Three Mile Island even though the press doesn’t seem to know that.
If you are still worried, please check this article from the WSJ on the relative dangers of failures at Japan’s nuclear plants. Here’s a snippet from Mr. Tucker’s very helpful article:
There was a small release of radioactive steam at Three Mile Island in 1979, and there have also been a few releases at Fukushima Daiichi. These produce radiation at about the level of one dental X-ray in the immediate vicinity and quickly dissipate.
Earlier today, IFO was washing the breakfast dishes while listening to a prominent talk show host, who was noting that the world has a huge need for energy. Those folks who support alternative energy as a substitute for current energy sources of oil, coal, hydro and, yes, nuclear, need to understand that this goal is impossible for the foreseeable future. He noted what we in Europe and the U.S. take for granted: running water, electricity, food on grocery shelves, easy telecommunication from cell phones to the Internet.
As she listened to him talk, she noted that her house was warm and dry during a heavy, cold, early spring rain; her water, both hot and cold, was running freely; and she had just turned off her electric range after cooking roesti (Swiss fried potatoes), roast beef in gravy, and fried eggs. The toaster had toasted her homemade sourdough English muffins; and the cold butter, eggs and milk had just come out of the refrigerator for cooking purposes. All this from one room.
Earlier that morning, she and two friends had appeared on the local radio station praising the contributions of American agriculture to the world. We had all driven our cars to the station. Later, she made and received telephone calls from out of town.
Everything we do depends on energy. Sure IFO can feel smug that she grows much of her own food, walks to the grocery store for most of her other food, and doesn’t have a television. Big deal. She and everyone else in this country would be dead in the water without our conventional sources of energy and conventional agricultural practices. So, let’s stop pretending it can be otherwise.