Monday, March 21, 2011

Where Do I Sign up for the Anti-Nuclear Movement?

What a relief! My Japanese friends have all been accounted for.  Fortunately, none of them were near the northeast coast of Japan when the triple disaster, earthquake-tsunami-nuclear reactor malfunction, struck.  But these are harrowing times for everyone in Japan as they struggle to put their lives back together.

As for me, the nuclear reactor near-meltdowns at Fukushima have me freaked.  MetropolitanTokyo has a population of 35 million, and the Fukushima nuclear plant is only 150 miles up the road.  Radiation has now been detected in the milk and spinach coming from that part of the country.
Those sleepless nights did resolve one issue.  I am joining the anti-nuclear movement.  No assurances from scientists or Obama Administration officials are going to change my mind, mainly because my biggest problem with the nuclear industry was their "hubris," and "cockiness," in the first place.   The Japanese are savvy-engineers and exceptionally safety- conscious.  They built 55 nuclear reactors, knowing that their country was one of the most seismically-active in the world, because the scientists and officials "assured" them they were safe, and their backup systems 100%  fool proof.  Of course, Japan is also a hi-tech society without oil or other vital natural resources.  Thus the population may have felt pressure to embrace the scientific jargon about safety given the fact that the country's economic growth has been dependent on relatively cheap sources of energy.

Even so, in travelling around Japan by train I've been surprised at how many homes I see, with solar panels on the roofs.   This may be because the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that 70% of all new homes would have solar power installed, and the government spent $145 million in the first quarter of 2009 to encourage home solar energy systems.

 The last time I read the bylaws of my homeowner's association here in North Texas, solar panels were banned because they were unaesthetic and therefore undermined property values. 

Since the Fukushima disaster, I've developed a personal back-up system when it comes to nuclear power and safety issues -- commonsense.  No authority figure, however degreed or self-confident, is going to negate the messages it sends my way.  And I'm going to devote time to taking a more active interest in solar energy and the anti-nuclear movement.       

RELATED POST: Why hasn't the Melt-down in the Nuclear Industry Spared More Serious Discussion about Solar Energy?