America’s Energy Dilemma, or Just an Anagram? Nuclear? Unclear.


Downtown Fresno and San Joaquin Valley at Sunset

The ongoing events in Northern Japan pretty much have the entire world wondering, after a lot of second-guessing, whether nuclear power is a good low-polluting source of energy. In the 1950s it was a no-brainer, a godsend. Then came Three Mile Island. Then Chernobyl.

            The former was dismissed as a result of human error that could be corrected in other nuclear plants. The latter, well, those Soviets were corner-cutting jerks. But Fukushima Daiichi showed us that all the experience-based science had more holes in it than the Arctic ice cap.

            So, all we have to do is build plants far away from fault zones and oceans. California, for example can add to its two nuclear plants by building one, say, in the San Joaquin Valley. After all, there are no major faults in most of the huge valley and definitely no ocean nearby. We’re sure the half-million folks who live in Fresno would be thrilled. As would the farmers, both family and corporate, who make the Central Valley the world’s most agriculturally prolific region.

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant on Pacific Ocean, near San Luis Obispo

            What if today’s geological science has a fault of its own? What if there is a fault in the Earth’s crust that lies undetected deep beneath the surface? And how do you cool a nuclear plant if there is not an abundant source of water? California is in a perilous situation today. There is an inadequate supply of fresh water in the state, and the Sacramento River Delta – the source of much of the states liquid sustenance and fish supplies – and its system of dams and levees, are in desperate need of repair that the state cannot afford to maintain.

            Similar issues exist for nuclear energy in much of the United States and the world. The demand for energy has two main causes. First, the Earth is swarming with humans. Second, by fits and starts the planet’s middle classes are growing. TVs, cars, refrigerators, air conditioning, computers, yada yada yada, are in ever-increasing demand. What to do? What to do?

            We need to cut down on population. There is only one species screwing up this planet. Just one. We have exceeded our space’s maximum allowable occupancy level. So what is the solution? Don’t ask the House of Representatives majority. They want to cut back funding for family planning.

            And while they’re at it, President Obama is thinking about compromising with them and allowing cutbacks in the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory powers.

            There was a time when cigarettes were called another nail in a smoker’s coffin. Now that Americans’ use of cigarettes has waned precipitously, the metaphor has fallen pretty much out of usage. We think that an analogous use would be, “Each baby is another nail in our ecosystem’s coffin.”

            The only way we are going to stop – or, at least, slow down – the destruction of our planet’s surface’s health, is to slam our population into reverse. There are Enough of Us.

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