sat 12 nov 2011 08:21:14 witte de withstraat
nuclear power sucks, just like it sucked in 1978
[a note i posted on facebook yesterday]
i was watching on the internet a bbc docu in which one of my favorite science stars, jim al khalili, tries to make a fair and balanced assessment of nuclear power in the modern world. is it safe or not.
i think a lot of people miss the point about nuclear (fission) power industry.
let's say you can make nuclear power reasonably safe within the framework of this civilization. even the storage of its byproducts. and assume nobody makes any stupid mistakes or tries to cut costs in manufacturing. and that regulation is 100% effective.
then take away that civilization.
then, the byproducts of nuclear power are just out there somewhere. maybe you managed to store the radioactive waste securely away before the civilization lapsed. how securely did you store them? really? promise?
my contention is that anything you do whose impact outlasts the civilization you do it in, should be intrinsically harmless. leave behind the rosetta stone, that's cool, the worst that can happen is i'll drop it on my foot. but don't leave me a bunch of nuclear poison lying around under the ground somewhere. that's just impolite. even if you put a big sign over it saying 'don't sink a well here,' you shouldn't assume your sign won't fall off in the wind someday, or that i will be able to read it in your by-then ancient language.
this point was made clear in 1978, when all those people went to jail at seabrook. and before that too. so i'm a little frustrated that some people today -- even some of my favorite people -- don't seem to get it. it's the apogee of hubris to assume that climax civilization will always be intact as it is now. it's not about how safe nukes are today. it's about how safe they'll be after all the reactors have shut down and you and your great great great grandchildren are forgotten.