A very scary night

NYTimes.com’s lead headline right now is about as horrifying as it gets: “Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise.” The lede:

Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared immiment, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

Note the wording: the “likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident.”

I’ve been watching NHK’s English-language service at CNN.com. It is not reassuring, despite the cool élan of the on-air folks.

9 thoughts on “A very scary night

  1. Stephen Stein

    Yes, very scary. But in the midst of all this, I think this thought from Josh Marshall bears consideration:

    If we imagine a hundred years into the future of fossil fuels and a hundred of nuclear power, at the end of a century, how much damage do we imagine each will have caused? I suspect that if it’s really an either/or, the nuclear route is likely much safer.

  2. L.K. Collins

    Has been for years.

    But the nuclear power haters have been able to make construction of plants prohibitively expensive.

  3. Mike Benedict

    What this all screams for is greater government investment (via basic research and subsidies) into solar power.

    But it won’t happen because the cons can’t live without their precious agriculture and oil subsidies.

  4. Stephen Stein

    Hey, LK, do you want to weigh in on the NH police officer situation in Dan’s previous post? I’d be interested in your view there.

  5. L.K. Collins

    Photovoltaic cells are one element of the energy equation. The technology is, however, suffering from an inability to be scaled to commercially viable levels in a cost effective way.

    Commercial solar may well also be restricted by NIMBY-type regulation delays that further reduce commercial potential.

    Government’s role should be in assisting in the research needed to turn the technology from promising theoretical to practical solution and to keep the regulatory/licensing nightmares from halting projects for decades.

  6. Mike Rice

    …and haven’t all those precious agricultural and oil subsidies turned out just swell for “we the people?”

    Here, take all my money. There, happy now?

  7. Mike Benedict

    LK, the truth is, PV cells are used everywhere. It’s nonsense that they are not commercially viable today. Take a walk down the lighting aisle at Home Depot is you don’t believe me. It’s completely practical and efficient; not to mention cost-effective (no electrician needed).

    Now, perhaps by commercially viable, you mean, “on an industrial scale.” It’s true: that’s where the equation falls down.

    For now.

    But where would the oil industry be without billions in government subsidies? Let’s put those dollars to work toward an industry could and will offer high-paying technology jobs and enhance our environment and security (by lowering our dependence on oil).

  8. L.K. Collins

    It is not a question of them being commercially available, it is a question of being available on in a scalable configuration that that makes economic and environmental sense to be used as a significant supplier of electricity.

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