|Peony Pink - Image c 2011 Lynda Lehmann|
If more funding went into R & D, even a fragment of what has gone into designing and building weapons systems, we could find alternatives. And since we in the USA use 25% of the world's energy, we need to learn to cut our use. If everyone conserved, including corporations, we could make a big dent in our usage. For example, we recently drove down a major Long Island road that is lined with the gorgeous buildings of corporate headquarters. I'm talking HUGE modern buildings with too many offices to count. In most of these buildings, the lights were left on for the overnight hours. If the cleaning staff needed to clean, they didn't need every floor and cubby illuminated bright as day, at ten at night. It's just a small example--but it's my guess that the power those buildings consumed over one night, could power a small city for basic needs during the same period of time.
Japan has long had Mag-Lev trains; we do not. Our mass transit systems are in disarray and our roads are a mess in many places. There are SO many things we can do to make travel easier and more fuel efficient. But we are spoiled and no one really wants to feel any pain at all, to facilitate change that will help us survive in the long run. As for nuclear, it's my opinion that no amount of physical/mechanical safeguards will make the technology failsafe, until we learn how to neutralize spent fuel, etc.
There will always be the occasional natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. As advanced and organized as Japan society is, they did not give credence to the idea that the flooding of the shoreline plants could threaten their population, and maybe the larger human family. If plutonium becomes airborne because of an explosion, those particles will land and emit radiation willy-nilly for 25,000 years.
So how does that advance the cause of human life, world peace, and the pursuit of happiness? Experts with a wider perspective on nuclear technologies are few and far between and of course, they are not willing to create a panic now by laying out worst-case scenarios. I don't know what we're going to do, but I know that nuclear weapons and nuclear power have the potential to put an end to life on earth. No one even talks about its mutagenic qualities, and ill-advised news-persons sometimes suggest that we can "wash it off" or take potassium iodide. They don't take into account or articulate the differences between alpha, beta and gamma particles, and how they move into the body and the permanent damage they can do. To me, getting rid of nuclear materials--except for medical applications--seems like a survival imperative for our species.
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