Friday, April 01, 2011
The Stanford Daily
The Stanford Daily HomeNewsrm Home » Opinions » Seeing Green: Good Nuke, Bad Nuke Seeing Green: Good Nuke, Bad Nuke Thursday, March 31st, 2011 By Holly Moeller If you’ve ever seen “sunburns” on the skin of a cancer patient after radiation therapy, you’ve seen the hazards of radioactivity. If you’ve seen a picture of a mushroom cloud, you’ve seen the dangers of nuclear weapons. And if you’ve watched the news from Japan over the last few weeks, you know how fragile human control of nuclear power can be. For those of you who haven’t, I offer this ripped-from-the-headlines summary: Earthquake. Tsunami. Failed cooling systems at a coastal nuclear power plant. (Here, reports diverge. On the one hand, Japanese news outlets and the plant’s operators may be downplaying the situation — whether to maintain calm or for self-preservation. Meanwhile, Western accounts — at some points suggesting imminent catastrophe — may be catering to the opposite extreme. The true story, when it emerges through the plumes of steam, will have its heroes and its failures, likely including some loss of life — though paling in comparison to the thousands killed outright by the tsunami.) But for those of us who have also seen — and believed — the evidence of the impact of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (climate change and ocean acidification) on our planet, there are some things more terrifying than a reactor on the loose. How many homes will be lost to sea level rise? How many livelihoods will be devastated by shifting patterns of rain and drought? How tenuous will humanity’s existence become, not just in zones of radioactive fallout, but on the entire planet? Nuclear power’s promise is its generation of electricity without the emission of a steady stream of greenhouse gases (and other, acutely toxic pollutants), thus slowing the increase of atmospheric CO2. Today, some thirteen percent of global electricity comes from nuclear power, to the carbon-savings tune of 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions each year. Still, nuclear power is nonrenewable. -------We’ve come a long way since the days when the “Firecracker Boys” of Operation Plowshare proposed the peaceful (and ludicrous!) use of nuclear weapons to blast Alaskan harbors, widen the Panama Canal or level inconvenient mountain ranges. But we should not let the pendulum of public opinion swing too far in the opposite direction without modulating its path with wisdom. One nuke, two nuke; red nuke, blue nuke. We hope this Daiichi thing’s a fluke. Send thoughts, comments and anti-nuke propaganda to Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ted Rudow III, MA says: April 1, 2011 To arguing for $180 billion to and then arguing for $180 billion to modernize the nukes–$100 billion for modernize the nukes–$100 billion for the weapons carriers, $80 billion for the weapons carriers, $80 billion for new warheads? What kind of nuclear new warheads? What kind of nuclear free world is this? He should have free world is this? He should have had the decency, when Norway made had the decency, when Norway made the mistake of giving him the Nobel the mistake of giving him the Nobel Peace Prize, of saying, “I graciously, Peace Prize, of saying, “I graciously, gratefully decline. haven’t earned it gratefully decline. I haven’t earned it yet. Let’s come back when possibly yet. Let’s come back when possibly I have earned it. He didn’t say that, and have earned it.” He didn’t say that, and dispensed with the prize money in dispensed with the prize money in a disgraceful way.