I had a little blog column all planned out on the ongoing happenings in Japan and the effect it is having on the world’s nuclear policies. I ran short of time though and I never quite got around to it. Luckily for me, someone at Tufts had written the column for me (with thanks to C&E News blogger Sidechain Bob for the report).
A lot of what we do as chemists (and the same applies to a lot of science) is hard for the general public to understand. It is often hard even accross disciplines between scientists. But nuclear energy is right up there as something people not only don’t understand but fear the consequences of something going wrong. It makes it easy for media commentators and those with an anti-nuclear agenda to fan the flames when something happens at a nuclear site. The hyperbole is shocking really, as even now, as the brave and desperate Japanese engineers try and cool the reactor core, it is still not as bad a disaster as that in Three Mile Island, never mind the much, much worse one in Chernobyl.
But you would not think so from watching much of the news.
Never mind that even the Japanese reactor is quite old and that many advances have been made. We should be looking to build those in this country rather than stopping it, looking to modernize our infrastructure and the network providing power to everyone. We should not let the single largest earthquake in Japan’s history (which as yet has failed to break even this older reactor) from making things better and moving away from our oil dependent state.