Sunday, October 27, 2013
Fukushima, the flood, and feeling antsy
I'm feeling a bit antsy these last few days. The root causes are varied. There are a lot of things out there that concern me, but that I have no control over.
Take Fukushima for example. The Japanese government would like us all to forget about it and assume it's being taken care of. It is not. Evidence points to huge swaths of the Pacific Ocean being poisoned. The plant continues to spew radiation and the situation could get even worse.
It got me thinking about nuclear power in general. I've great respect for science and engineering. The minds that can conceive of nuclear power and build the systems are very clever indeed. Unfortunately, the real decisions are made by bean counters who's concern for the company's next quarter's profits exceeds concern for the planet. A long term hazard is being managed by people with short term focus. That's a recipe for disaster.
Nuclear plants have backup systems, but they aren't good enough. To be totally safe, the backups have to be totally automatic and good for as long as the nuclear fuel and byproducts are radioactive. That's many thousands of years, if you were wondering. Current backups are good for about 3 days. Fukushima didn't even get that, as for some reason they didn't properly plan for a tsunami on an ocean front location prone to earthquakes.
Something like a CME that could take out multiple plants at the same time. That would be, at minimum, a civilization ending event. At worse, it could be a species ending event.
There's not a darn thing I can do about it.
Currently I'm staying at my dad's in Florida, a state that generates about 10% of its electricity from nuclear power. In some small way I'm part of the problem. Of course, in my home state of New Hampshire, something like 40% of the electricity comes from nuclear power. That's one of the reasons I finally disconnected from the grid. It's a small drop in the bucket, but it was my drop. It is said that none of the drops of rain feel responsible for the flood. After all, they are just one drop.
On a personal level, I'm really looking forward to heading out the sailboat. It's a tiny boat on the big water, but somehow I feel much safer and more at peace out there.