Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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In Defense of Nuclear Power

What is going on with the Japanese nuclear reactors is, without question, a terrible event that can possibly add more hardship onto an already unspeakable tragedy. The explosions and the threat of a radiation leak are troubling, and Japanese engineers and scientists are doing everything humanly possible to contain the situation. Yes, there is a threat of a nuclear meltdown-- but there is also a chance that an asteroid will slam into the Earth on December 12, 2012, or that the next time you cross the street a semi will hit you. Opponents of nuclear energy in the United States ought not to politicize this horrible tragedy in their attempts to stop the spread of the cleanest and most efficient, environmentally-friendly source of energy that we have.

The media is comparing the threat to Chernobyl and some politicians are calling for a complete moratorium on the spread of nuclear energy. This is nothing more than sensationalist fearmongering. The Chernobyl disaster was caused by the absurd inefficiencies of the Soviets and massive flaws in the power plant's design. The primary problematic power plant in Japan has safeguard after safeguard installed, including a special container around the reactor built specifically for this kind of disaster situation. Should the container be breached, the Japanese government already has things in place to pour concrete over it as was done to contain Chernobyl.

It is worth noting that the facility itself was fairly aged--forty years, I read in one article--and that newer designs have even more safeguards and redundancies to prevent this type of thing. It is also worth noting that this facility withstood one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history, and a subsequent tsunami-- and yet, despite this, the disaster is unfolding very, very slowly, meaning that the safeguards were mostly doing their job and that the Japanese are doing a good job at attempting to avert this disaster. These types of disasters do not happen frequently; seeking a nuclear moratorium because of this event is no different than refusing to step on a plane because they crash or get taken over occasionally. 

Disasters happen, and we are usually well-prepared for them. Some are more severe than we can possibly imagine, and they test and endanger us. Rather than living in fear that such disasters will happen all the time, we should focus on--once this crisis is over--learning about what went wrong and what went right with these reactors in Japan, and working to address or implement whatever is discovered. We need to take this opportunity to make nuclear power better, more efficient, and more safe than it already is for these once-in-a-lifetime natural disasters. And this problem is just that: one caused by a severe natural disaster, not the incompetence of engineers or operators. As our country continues the debate over nuclear power, we should keep that fact in mind; it's a problem, yeah, but it is a rare one-- and one that we are getting much better at preparing for and addressing. There are real fears and concerns over nuclear energy, and what Japan is facing right now is a horrible situation on top of a heartbreaking tragedy that I hope they can overcome, but we should take the opportunity to learn how to make this clean and efficient power better and safer for our use-- not retreat into sensationalism and ban even the thought of pursuing nuclear energy.
Categories > Environment

Discussions - 13 Comments

Best article I've seen on this. Lots of numbers concerning the Chernobyl meltdown.

Delingpole, a young British version of Beck/Limbaugh/Coulter ?

He wrote the "book" "365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy."

That seems to be a prime directive of conservatives these days. Deep stuff.

Liberals want us (not them, i.e. Al Gore) to live in tents and walk to work every day. They use Alinsky's Rules for Radicals and use temper tantrums and meltdowns (i.e. Wisconsin) to get their "way". They stupidly back things like wind power and solar power even though they know that these options will never work. Cities like Cape Cod, MA and Berkeley, CA have fought against solar panel farms and wind turbines to be built near them. The liberals who live along So Cal beaches will not allow wind turbines to be built because it blocks their view. To use solar power for the City of Los Angeles, one would have to build a solar panel farm that would be as large as the state of Arizona. Drilling for oil, mining for coal and natural gas as well as nuclear power allow all Americans to have wealth. Liberals don't want that - they want the power and control for themselves.

Cowgirl is correct -- the primary goal of progressive/liberal politics is to wrest control from the people who actually do the producing and directing. They are, in general, despicable parasites who could destroy our civilization within a generation (and have damned near succeeded already). Like obnoxious backseat drivers, they always KNOW what's best for us or how BEST to do this or that, but in practice they are clueless buffoons.

The only lesson I draw from the current situation in Japan is the unwisdom of building nuclear plants in earthquake zones. Japan needs to rethink its energy regime -- those islands are just about the worst place on Earth to build nuclear power plants. Their experiments with meth hydrates extracted from the continental shelf seem far more sensible in the long run. There was a reason they traditionally built their homes from light wood and paper!

Driving liberals crazy is not a hard thing to do, given the fact that most of them are crazy already:

Michael Moore
Chris Mathews
Rachael Maddow
Bill Ayers
Charlie Rangel
Jessie Jackson
Al Sharpton
Most of Hollywood
Jane Fonda
Margaret Sanger
Harry Reid
Nancy Pelosi...

Gotta go - the list is long and distinguished though.

No response to the facts he presents via expert on nuclear power. Even deeper post.

R.O.B. - Are you familiar with the "Too soon?" meme? While there's an aspect of it that revolves around the notion of respect for those experiencing hardship, there's also a cautionary aspect, i.e., wait and see to avoid looking foolish. I've got a bad feeling that posts like yours here (and you're surely not alone) may just end up looking as bad as Steve Hayward's declaration 4 days before the Deepwater Horizon disaster that oil spills were likely a thing of the past.

Right, because when I called what is happening in Japan a "terrible event that can possibly add more hardship onto an already unspeakable tragedy" and said that "there are real fears and concerns over nuclear energy, and what Japan is facing right now is a horrible situation on top of a heartbreaking tragedy that I hope they can overcome", I was saying that we shouldn't be worried about what is going on in Japan and that everything is going to be okay.

The point is that a nuclear reactor problem caused by one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history is not grounds for halting the spread of nuclear energy. If this nuclear problem was the fault of incompetence in operation or design, then I'd say fine with criticizing it and welcome the debate. However, this disaster was a severe act of nature; sometimes nothing we do can prepare for that. One might as well say let's not build skyscrapers because massive earthquakes can knock them down (for surely even the most steadfast towers of Los Angeles, able to with stand most conceivable quakes, would still buckle at some point), or not populate coasts because tsunamis can hit them.

"If this nuclear problem was the fault of incompetence in operation or design, then I'd say fine with criticizing it and welcome the debate. However, this disaster was a severe act of nature..."

Well, if the reactors' construction design-basis standards are set low enough, then any design can be approved, built and operated. When dealing with a potential nuclear catastrophe, standards need to be set extremely high:

Well, I've heard those plants produced clean, reliable electricity for central Japan for 40 years! And it took an 8.9 earthquake, the 5th worst on record, and a tsunami to cause them to fail. The anti-nuclear liberals came out of the woodwork almost immediately on this, but credit should be given were it is due. This industry has been remarkably successful and has had exceedingly few industrial accidents.

I don't get it - this article is simply defending what happened in these two situations. It does not promote nuclear power nor gives any reasoning for benefits other than its clean. Aren't alternative energy sources which are renewable much more efficient and cost effective, rather than nuclear reactors? Sure, it is CLEAN - but... compared to WHAT? What are the alternatives?

A very very weak paper that only has defense not aggressive thought provoking solutions.

Of course, everything's just going... um... swimmingly in Japan now.

"Reactor 2 radiation too high for access
73 sieverts laid to low water; level will even cripple robots

Staff writer

Radiation inside the reactor 2 containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has reached a lethal 73 sieverts per hour and any attempt to send robots in to accurately gauge the situation will require them to have greater resistance than currently available, experts said Wednesday.

Exposure to 73 sieverts for a minute would cause nausea and seven minutes would cause death within a month, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The experts said the high radiation level is due to the shallow level of coolant water — 60 cm — in the containment vessel, which Tepco said in January was believed to be 4 meters deep. Tepco has only peeked inside the reactor 2 containment vessel. It has few clues as to the status of reactors 1 and 3, which also suffered meltdowns, because there is no access to their insides.

The utility said the radiation level in the reactor 2 containment vessel is too high for robots, endoscopes and other devices to function properly.

Spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said it will be necessary to develop devices resistant to high radiation.

High radiation can damage the circuitry of computer chips and degrade camera-captured images.


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