In some ways, nuclear power seems to be the energy of the future. It doesn’t give off greenhouse gases. A small amount of fuel can power it for a large amount of time. And, for the most part, its pretty safe.
But when things go really wrong at a nuclear power plant, they go REALLY wrong. See, there’s this small problem of nuclear radiation. And when a nuclear reactor really melts down a lot of radiation is given off. Something about radiation is much more scary, much more insidious than any other hazard to human health.
Its this fear of a silent death that shows in the newly formed ghost towns around Fukushima. In the face of a wildfire, perhaps some people stay behind to defend their homes. But against radiation there is no defense, and so everyone leaves.
If they do return, its only for a brief period. And they have to wear radiation suits, making what should be a normal activity look like a scene from a horror/sci-fi movie.
Looking at these images makes one wonder whether the risks associated with nuclear energy are worth the gains. Some people don’t think so.
But the thing is, if we were to shut off all nuclear power plants where would we get our energy from? Coal/natural gas/wood isn’t going to last us forever. There are only so many rivers we can dam. And do we really want to live on a planet stripped of all its resources for electricity’s sake? Its a hard question to answer. Especially in the context of disasters like Fukushima and Chernobyl.
Nonetheless, my heart goes out to those people forced from their homes. And I hope they will be able to return in the near future without the fear of radiation poisoning.
You might be interested in these other blogs about the Japan earthquake that caused this mess: