Nuclear Meltdown in Japan: Further Proof the Future is Renewable Energy

Reports are now flooding in that malfunctions have occurred in two different nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power plant following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. The AP has reported that Japanese officials are assuming at least one of the reactors has seen a partial meltdown.

Now, it’s still very difficult to gauge how dangerous this could be — if the containment structure around the reactor cores don’t fail, a nuclear disaster in the most vivid sense of the word could be avoided. In other words, Fukushima could be a Three Mile Island instead of Chernobyl. (For continuous updates on the situation, Mother Jones’ Kate Shepperd’s coverage is among the best and most comprehensive) But even if the containment barriers are kept intact, and the worst is eluded, the event will still make for a powerful reminder of the vast dangers posed by nuclear power. If those barriers fail, we’ll likely see a global call to arms for more safe, renewable energy.

And rightfully so. The events at Fukushima reveal that as careful as we are with nuclear power, there’s always inherent risk. The plant was designed to be able to withstand a 7.9 earthquake — as you’re likely aware, the one that triggered the tsunami was a staggering 9.0. Bad luck that the quake hit so close, sure — but that’s the point: mother nature has a way of stymieing the best-laid plans. Ornery fault lines, bumbling human error, and so on; these factors continue to pose a real threat, however small-seeming, to the safe operation of nuclear power plants. And that’s why the safest, most reliable energy sources we’ve yet uncovered are renewable ones: primarily solar and wind.

In the midst of the BP spill, a funny web meme spread across the web: a satirical headline read “BREAKING: Large Air Spill at Wind Farm — No threats reported. Some claim to enjoy the breeze” along with the image featured above. And the gist of that message is true regarding the events of today, too — there’s never a threat of meltdown with a solar array.

But that’s all pie-in-the-sky, the conventional counter-argument goes: it’s not feasible. Sure, we’d all love to live in a world powered by renewable energy, but solar is too expensive. Or we could never build enough wind turbines. Well, it’s true that it would be a monumental effort to deploy enough renewable energy to replace the dirty, dangerous kind (coal power has to go too, of course) — but we could do it. In fact, two researchers at Stanford put together an outline for how the world could run on 100% renewable energy by 2030, using technologies that exist today. It’s more a matter of finding the political will to ramp up renewables on a large scale than anything.

Solar and wind still have their problems — solar panels are still relatively inefficient to produce, and there are, for instance, questions regarding wind farms’ impacts on migratory birds. But these are such colossally minor detriments compared with energy sources like coal and nuclear that are, respectively, the primary contributor to global climate change and a persistent risk of meltdown from a natural curve balls like massive earthquakes.

And that’s why it’s clearer now than ever that the energy of the future for the safer, more prudent society, will come from renewable energy. It’s not worth the risks — not to the communities downwind of nuclear reactors, not to the global climate system — to bank on the status quo.

Follow the Utopianist on Twitter and Facebook.

Image: An explosion occurs at the Fukushima nuclear power plant

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant is a founding editor of the Utopianist.. When he's not helming the Utopianist, he is TreeHugger's politics writer, contributes the Getting Samy Out of Burma column to GOOD.is, and freelances for the likes of Salon and Paste. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

47 thoughts on “Nuclear Meltdown in Japan: Further Proof the Future is Renewable Energy

  1. I’m all for clean, renewable energy, but how about much cheaper, and potentially much safer nuclear power as part of the mix?


    They have a Q&A up right now on their front page about the implications of the Japanese disaster on the power plant.

    To be clear, I’m not arguing against renewables, just pointing out that there are much better, safer and cheaper ways of doing nuclear.

  2. I am doing a research paper on Nuclear Energy and if it is a safe and reliable energy. I would like to know your credentials and/or how you got your evidence.
    Thank You

  3. 527813 804752I just couldnt depart your internet site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the normal data an individual give for your visitors? Is gonna be back regularly as a way to inspect new posts 391375

  4. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it?s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  5. 320217 483680Oh my goodness! an incredible write-up dude. Numerous thanks Even so My business is experiencing trouble with ur rss . Do not know why Struggle to sign up to it. Can there be everyone obtaining identical rss dilemma? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx 822888

  6. 246833 331642What a excellent viewpoint, nonetheless is just not produce every sence by any means discussing this mather. Just about any technique thanks and also i had try and discuss your post directly into delicius but it surely appears to be an issue in your blogging is it possible you should recheck this. thank you just as before. 943498

  7. 534935 507477Im not positive why but this weblog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a difficulty on my finish? Ill check back later and see if the difficulty nonetheless exists. 919961

  8. 475061 641762Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone! 128321

  9. 36435 755647What a outstanding viewpoint, nonetheless is just not produce every sence by any means discussing this mather. Just about any technique thanks and also i had try and discuss your post directly into delicius but it surely appears to be an problem inside your blogging is it possible you need to recheck this. thank you just as before. 656724

  10. 864065 134826For anybody who is considering about external complications, sometimes be tough amaze those to realize to produce just a single weed in this really flowing typically requires eleven liters concerning gasoline to. dc free of charge mommy weblog giveaways family trip home gardening residence power wash baby laundry detergent 570658

  11. 777197 923924Hi. Cool article. There is a problem with the web site in firefox, and you might want to test this The browser is the marketplace leader and a huge portion of folks will miss your excellent writing due to this problem. 296852

  12. Greetings I am so happy I found your blog page,
    I really found you by error, while I was looking on Digg
    for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a incredible post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
    will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the
    great work.

  13. Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re
    using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future
    but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *