Dec. 5th, 2013

uncleamos: (Amos)
Cross-posted from Facebook, for a different (though overlapping) audience.

Interestingly, the argument for calm in dealing with Fukushima is: background radiation and radiation from other sources is vastly greater anyway, and you have to remember that tripling your risk of cesium-caused cancer raises it from effectively nil to...effectively nil.

Put differently, crazy shit happens on planet earth all the time and life deals.

....This is possibly also an argument against worrying that much about climate change.

But let's flip the script for a bit. This might shed some light on why your typical greenie who is desperately worried about climate change is also fiercely opposed to nuclear power - a proven, safe, efficient carbon-free source of vast amounts of electricity, that also doesn't kill birds or emit other dangerous atmospheric pollutants.

In fact, provided that fissile materials do not escape containment (as fuel or as waste) there are ZERO harms associated with nuclear power (I omit things like social inequity associated with uranium mining or whatever). To me, the lesson of Fukushima is that we need to vastly increase our investment in nuclear technology, and we need to do it yesterday. Seriously, since when do we as a species encounter a setback and go into full-blown retreat? Did Unsafe at Any Speed cause us to renounce cars, or did it cause us to buy seatbelts? Should this cause is to renounce nuclear power, or develop safer systems and make the investment needed to roll them out? What would the people who built Apollo 2 through the rest of them do?

Well, maybe we shy from these challenges since climate change nee global warming. Back to those greenies. The anti-climate change crowd and the anti-nuclear power crowd share a fundamental view: We should stop doing things that damage the environment.

Interesting. I'm not sure where this leads. The argument is refuted if we introduce....SCIENCE! The scientific consensus is that climate change is real, and bad, and the scientific consensus is that nuclear power is real, and safe. And one of these could solve the other!

More broadly, people who are committed to science need to push back against the anecdotal pseudoscience that fills our airwaves with misinformation. Media outlets need to be vastly more careful about their sources, and when they get a crazy op-ed from a Ph.D. they should denounce it as crazy, not print it under a headline saying that "A SCIENTIST SAYS THAT..."

Seriously. It's time to stop being stupid about this.

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