Liberals and Nuclear Power: Any Risk a Bad Risk?
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crisis means one thing to liberals: risks aren't worth taking - even reasonable risks.
The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson nicely distills the liberal mindset writing about the nuclear reactor meltdown at Fukushima. Despite Robinson acknowledging that the Japanese earthquake was a "once in a lifetime event"; that newer designed reactors wouldn't experience the breakdown of Fukushima's older reactors; or that given the high competence of Japanese engineers and management, the Fukushima crisis will likely be contained - none of that really matters.
What matters to Robinson is that that "there is no such thing as a fail-safe system. Stuff happens."
Quite a revelation from Robinson. On imperfect Planet Earth, imperfect humans can't give iron-clad assurances that their endeavors and inventions, will at times, fail. Hence, perhaps, it's best to eliminate whole categories of risk.
Now, Robinson or others of his mindset may argue that the scale of risk involved in a nuclear power plant failure is unacceptable. Undoubtedly, the scale of risk involving nuclear power is greater. The use of nuclear power means a need for enhanced safety, smart systems, and plenty of redundancies. Of course, even at state-of-the-art nuclear power facilities, no exec should make a Titanic-like declaration that the power plant is infallible.
On the other hand, nuclear power's track record is excellent in providing safe, clean, reliable energy. Chernobyl was the result of gross Russian incompetence. The Three Mile Island disaster resulted in no injuries or deaths, thanks to American know-how.
But if Americans are to eliminate nuclear power due to its risks, then what does the nation do to make up the energy it provides - or the energy it can provide as the nation grows?
Pie-in-the-sky alternative energies aren't solutions in the near- or mid-term. America has an abundance of coal and natural gas. The nation could commit itself to fully developing coal and gas - but, wait, liberals are against doing so. Why? Risks to the environment.
Here on Planet Earth, there seems to be a plague of risk. Just what gives?
The last words go to Eugene Robinson, who perfectly voices the nagging angst of liberaldom:
The best-case scenario is that Japanese engineers will eventually get the plant under control. Then, I suppose, it will be possible to conclude that ultimately the system worked. As President Obama and Congress move forward with a new generation of nuclear plants, designs will be vetted and perhaps altered. We will be confident that we have taken the lessons of Fukushima into account.
And we will be fooling ourselves, because the one inescapable lesson of Fukushima is that improbable does not mean impossible. Unlikely failures can combine to bring any nuclear fission reactor to the brink of disaster. It can happen here.