Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nuclear Fire

Once again, nightmarish situations once seen only in science fiction break through into the real world as grim reminders that the human race can affect nature with devastating consequences.

For decades, climatologists warned a skeptical public that climate change due to excessive burning of fossil fuels could lead to (among other things) large-scale brush fires.  Sure enough, that's exactly what we're seeing in several American states:  infernos that are all too real.

Now, some of those wildfires are getting dangerously close to nuclear power plants, threatening to damage or destroy the control systems that keep the nuclear cores contained.  Some consider nuclear power to be a "safer" alternative to fossil fuels, since it does not contribute to carbon emissions.  It does however produce deadly nuclear waste which is next to impossible to get rid of.  And, let us not forget the hellish disaster of Chernobyl.  It would be bitterly ironic if the very wildfires caused by fossil fuel consumption let the nuclear demon out of its cage.

We've recently witnessed a potential nuclear disaster in the making in Japan, as the result of tsunami.  So great is the threat, that Germany today announced it was shutting down its own nuclear industry.  We should wise up and follow their example.  Better yet, we should phase out fossil fuel consumption as well, switching to truly safer alternatives such as wind, solar, hydro and natural gas, before more such disasters materialize.

In the dark fantasies of fiction, the misguided think they can control their destinies through a caged demon at their command.  They always learn the hard way that the cage isn't as strong as they think.