Progress is not achieved by abandoning development
Imagine if the Wright Brothers had abandoned flight after the first mishap, only listening to the voices of fear that heavy objects have no place in the air and that it isn’t possible to eliminate accidents? Imagine if society had abandoned the automobile after the first deadly accident? Imagine if early doctors had been prevented from attempting surgery on a seriously ill person. Of course, if humans had given up after every failure, we’d still be in the Stone Ages – if not extinct.
Japan’s disaster will provide valuable lessons learned
I believe the disaster in Japan will act as a blessing is disguise. I say this because many lessons will be learned from this incident. This is not to say we are pleased about any injury or death resulting there – that’s tragic. I’m saying we have the chance to learn from it. It’s already quite impressive that the Fukushima facility survived the 9.0 mega-earthquake and was done in only by the ensuing mega-tsunami. Fukushima was subjected to an extreme natural event and the results will lead to many valuable findings. It’s up to us if they will be applied to future power plants. It’s a chance to improve our lives.
China and applying lessons learned
China has announced it will put its plans to build new nuclear facilities on hold for now. This in no way means China is abandoning its ambitious plan to build nuclear power plants. Indeed it is going to pause and take a look at what went wrong at Fukushima, and then apply the lessons learned to its own plants, making them more sound, and equipped with better and even more reliable redundant safety systems. The result: China’s nuclear power plants of the future will be even safer, more modern and thus will end up saving many lives with the reliable supply of electricity they will provide.
China’s bold electrical energy plan: 200 reactors
Along with 2000 coal-fired power plants, with each one getting more modern, China will also add a huge number of nuclear reactors to its energy supply infrastructure over the next 2 decades. Already China is currently constructing 27 reactors, another 50 have been approved and funded, and a whopping 110 additional reactors are proposed. China today is already the number 2 economy globally. With addition of hundreds of power plants, China will surely be the powerhouse of the future. That does not come from being chicken with small risks, but from boldness and belief in huge technological progress.
Some western countries are abandoning development
Many western countries, on the other hand are taking the opposite approach. Instead applying lessons learned, they are moving back to the Dark Ages, when energy was harnessed from the wind or direct sunlight, where the energy yield per square meter is in the range of watts, and not kilowatts or megawatts. Oil is being abandoned, so is coal – and now nuclear.
The west reacts with fear and hysteria
The accident in Japan did not lead Germany to examine what went wrong and to attempt applying lessons learned to improve safety and reliability at its own reactors, rather it has decided, in a fit panic and hysteria, to abandon the technology altogether and relinquish it to other competing countries. No othe rcountry has reacted so rashly. Physicist Dr. Peter Heller at Science Skeptical explains why:
There were times in history when ignorance and cowardice overshadowed human life. It was a time when our ancestors were forced to lead a life filled with superstition and fear because they were forbidden to use their creativity and fantasy. Religious dogma, like the earth being the centre of the unverse, or creationism, forbade people to question. The forbiddance of opening a human body and examining it prevented questions from being answered. Today these Medieval rules appear to us as backwards and close-minded. We simply cannot imagine this way of thinking having any acceptance.
Unfortunately today, they do. It is well-documented in nuclear and climate science.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response to Fuskushima? She blinked, panicked and immediately shut down 7 of Germany’s nuclear reactors, and then announced an accelerated shut down of nuclear energy in Germany overall. I’m not aware of earthquake-prone Japan even shutting down its other nuclear reactors. Such actions are undertaken only by hysterical minds.
Superstition and prophesies of disaster pervade
Today in modern Germany, and in many western countries, phony catastrophe scenarios, both in nuclear science and climate science, are being served up as science when in fact they are pure dogma – i.e. gross departures of science – and are solely intended to spread fear. We are discouraged from asking questions; we are told to believe the “experts”. Do not dare to ask questions.
Religion in technology
The media and anti-nuclear technology activists are now applying religious terms to describe the Fukushima disaster: Armegeddon, mega-disaster, catastrophe, etc. Some have even attempted to connect the earthquake and tsunami to climate change, caused by man’s activity, without producing an iota of data to support this. Like God’s wrath on man in the Bible, it’s Nature’s wrath on man. Nuclear power has been branded as evil, although it has a very high level of safety in almost every country where it is used.
Sure there will be accidents and mishaps, but they will become rarer and smaller, and the benefits will far outweigh them. Just like all other technical products and systems.
Heller ends his essay:
I am a physicist. I’d like to live in a world that is willing to learn and to improve whatever is good. I would only like to live in a world where great strides in physics are viewed with fascination, pride and hope because they show us the way to a better future. I would only like to live in a world that has the courage for a better world. Any other world for me is unacceptable. Never. That’s why I am going to fight for this world, without ever relenting.
I agree with Dr. Heller and he has plenty of company. There are many out there who share his view. As dogma, fear, superstition take hold and western society slips backwards into dark times, more and more on Heller’s side will make their voices heard.