Japan risks nuclear disaster for consumer convenience
The crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant must prompt the Japanese to ask themselves whether their appetite for convenience is worth the catastrophic risks of relying on nuclear power stations situated on seismic fault lines.
(Page 2 of 2)
Certainly nuclear is the worst choice by any standard. But even exploring alternative energy sources like thermal can only go so far. The so-called “advanced countries,” including Japan, need to examine their extravagant energy usage.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In night satellite photos of Earth, Japan is brilliantly lit up. Doors to buildings open automatically. People throng towards the escalators and elevators rather than the stairs. Even in summer, thanks to air conditioning, they work in long-sleeve suits. Vegetables and fruit, requiring abundant energy, are grown year-round and sit on dinner tables regardless of the season.
The price of indulgence
Due to the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, produce from Fukushima and surrounding areas has been contaminated. Nobody wants to eat radioactive food, myself included. However, if we refuse to eat the affected food, the area’s agricultural and fishing industries will collapse.
We thought our affluence gave us license to indulge in abundant energy production. Nuclear energy is a symbol of that trend. In reality it has led to a decline in agriculture and fishing. If, faced with this nuclear accident, we allow agriculture and fishing to go by the board, it will mean that we have not learned anything from this tragedy.
Given the false propaganda by the government and energy companies, it’s understandable that the general public was deceived that nuclear energy was safe. That is not to say that the deceived person bears no responsibility for being taken in. Children, however, must be deemed blameless. Being particularly sensitive to the effects of radiation, they should be protected from exposure accordingly. After all information is made public, contaminated food should be consumed only by adults.
We must conserve
The ultimate solution to relying on foolish technology is to rein in our energy consumption. Regrettably, humans appear to be foolish and greedy beings. However, if we are to hand our living Earth over to our children and grandchildren, we have to know when “enough is enough.” There is no doubt it would require an arduous discipline to let go of our luxurious lifestyle and change the spendthrift habits of our society. However, if that is the only way to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future, then we as a species must acquire a bit of wisdom. Let us pause and seriously ask ourselves how much energy we really need in our day-to-day lives, and work immediately on reforming our energy-wasting world.
The best course for Japan is to abolish all nuclear power stations at once. It is a mystery to me how people don’t realize this after witnessing the tragedy of the Fukushima accident.
Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University, has become a leading anti-nuclear voice in Japan. This article is adapted from his talk “The End is Coming for Nuclear Power,” given on April 29 at Meiji University in Tokyo. He is author of “Hidden Truth of Nuclear Power.” Translated from Japanese by Shun Daichi.