If you have been watching reports coming out of Japan, or reading about the situation, it must by now have made you reach this conclusion: nuclear power is just not worth it. I have seen the talking heads go at it on television, and some babble about how “safe” nuclear power is. I feel like saying, “Tell that to the ten thousand plus dead and the stricken survivors in Japan.”
By all accounts the Japanese thought they were prepared for the big one; they had built the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant with expectations of an earthquake. What it seems they were not ready for was the tsunami that followed, which knocked out the plant’s cooling systems and caused this catastrophe. Now the world waits to hear good news each day, but all we get is more of the same grim reports and the possibility of even worse things to come, like plutonium being found in the soil outside the plant.
This inevitably gets me thinking of the other nuclear problem: weapons. The notion of anyone using nuclear weapons should by now have reached a complete zero option. For years I have heard about a “limited nuclear response” in various situations. In other words, your country hits my country with one, so I will hit you back with one. The greatest fear comes from countries like India and Pakistan which both have nuclear weapons and have at times been on the brink of hostilities.
After seeing what has happened in Japan, any rational person would realize that it is bad enough if something goes wrong with a nuclear reactor in a plant meant for generating power, but to intentionally use a weapon that will also release these harmful materials into the atmosphere should now be seen as a reprehensible and inconceivable act of barbarism. A small scale nuclear exchange could devastate this planet, causing climate change that would alter life as we know it forever.
I have heard reports of people in California taking iodine tablets for radiation they perceive may be coming across the ocean from Japan. Apparently radiation has been detected in numerous states (even as far away as here in New York). If people are worried about this situation, think how much worse it could be if two countries start lobbing nuclear weapons back and forth at each other. It would be only a matter of time after a nuclear attack, no matter how limited, that everyone on the planet would be affected adversely.
I don’t expect that nuclear power will stop anytime soon (although the process should begin to shut down all plants worldwide); however, nuclear weapons are something human beings can control, and they must realize there is no other alternative. President Obama and other world leaders should take the initiative to begin discourse about how to bring about total disarmament for all countries in the world. I know this task will be arduous and take a long time, but we have to start somewhere, so why not start right now? The nuclear disaster in Japan is a wake-up call, so we better heed the warning.
Still, even if every country with nuclear arms did neutralize its nuclear arsenal, even if every nuclear weapon on earth were rendered incapacitated, there could be the possibility of one rogue terrorist group (or rogue nation) that decided to try to make one. Even with the cooperation of all parties, the unspeakable might still happen. I don’t know how we can prevent that from occurring, but we better start thinking about the process before it is too late. We need to lose the nuclear power and nuclear weapons or we may just end up losing our planet.
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