Quake & Nuclear Disaster in Japan: What I Wrote Aug. 6, 2008. Do We Really Want Nuclear Power?

My knowledge of “nuculer” power is ordinary. Nuclear is dangerous; many accidents have occurred in our day. Ask the people who have to live near its waste products: “NIMBY” (“Not in my back yard!”) Transporting it to a site is equally dangerous for everyone living along the way. The advocates (politicians) so easily mention it as an alternative that now is getting prominent attention in the campaigns. Easy to spring to the lips of demagogues who are saying what people want to hear, but beware! BEWARE! ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS!

Nuclear waste may have a half-life of 30,000 (give or take) years (depending on the type of waste). That means its killing and/or tissue-damaging effect will remain potent for that long. It piles up in great amounts in different forms that have to be buried in the ground far away from any living beings. Warning signs and barriers must be installed at safe distances. Signs must be maintained in both materials and language that can withstand the ravages of time by both weather, linguistic-symbolic evolution, and natural catastrophic events. We know that language changes over time.

A new symbology has to be developed to last an aeon of time. Think how the English language sounded in the time of Shakespeare, Elizabethan England, and that by geologic-time was only yesterday; everyone at some time has fumbled around with reading one of his plays in the English language of that time only 400 or so years ago. What will this territory be like in even 10,000 years, let alone 20- or 30,000 years, while the deadly effects of that waste material continue to have lethal consequences. The land we know will be torn apart in the many, many ways of natural and man-made disasters over just the next 500 years, upheavals like that in the present catastrophe in Japan. Maintaining such salt-mine graveyards of waste and adding territory to its ever enlarging boundaries, along with providing life guards over 30,000 years — what a waste! Those plans have not been made or thought out. Have you ever seen a print out of any assurances?! Will it be worth that cost? Will the citizens of the future let down their vigil? Forgetful of what was put there 10-20,000 years ago? How much territory will have to be added to the graveyard over 30,000 years?

Few people seem to be significantly concerned about a future longer than the next election, the next news deadline, the next graduation, next Xmas, the next vacation, the next skiing season, the next tournament, the next exam or party, the next episode of that favorite show, and so on and on — our pogo-sticking into our future — when people are required by the nature of atomic disasters, currently on-going in Japan, disasters that could happen here, to be thinking ahead about the lifetime of deadly materials extending for millennia, about 30.

What we do now has those very long-term consequences. Many will laugh that off as of “no concern to me!” Concern is probably not there for the long-term future of our economic and political policies and how they should be enacted and how they will affect the individual’s future. Or her children’s. Or children’s children, or ad infinitum.

Prescience is a rare characteristic in the makeup of the majority of human beings. Perhaps, to our own detriment, this world is too much with us. Do we owe them, those future folks, anything? Does it matter to us if they say we were living in a nuclear dark age? How much of our lineage, how many “greats” of grandfathers or grandmothers, who will be traceable back to you, will be living then? Can the “gene pool” be damaged enough to make the human race obsolescent on Earth? Those are my questions, and that’s only the beginning of what “nuclear power” is saying to me.

We have seen the news of one child who fell into an abandoned well-pipe. There followed a great rescue effort dramatised in the national headline news. Nuclear waste dumps are the abandoned well-pipes of the future.

I have heard there may be a fourth generation of nuclear fuel that burns nearly all of it, leaving little waste. That would be our philosopher’s stone, eh? But be warned. Be careful.

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Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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