Why We Should Forget That Fukushima Ever Happened

Nuclear power has saved 370 times more lives than it has ended in the last four decades, says a NASA paper. Despite the horrors of Japan's ongoing nuclear disaster, we'll need to rely on nuclear power for the sake of the environment and human health.

"A new paper by two researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies calculates the damage if we hadn’t had nuclear power for the last several decades, and what damage might be caused if we don’t embrace the technology going forward," reports Ben Schiller.

"Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen estimate that 4,900 people died as a result of nuclear power between 1971 and 2009, mostly from workplace accidents and radiation fallout, but, they said, 370 times more people (1.84 million) would have died, had we generated the same power from fossil fuels."

"Aside from immediate health impacts, Kharecha and Hansen’s point is to show that we really can’t do without nuclear if we want to keep climate change within manageable boundaries," says Schiller. "They believe that renewables won’t supply the scale or dependability to replace nuclear, if we want to stay under a 1 degree C global temperature rise (above preindustrial levels)."

Full Story: Forget Fukushima, Nuclear Power Has Saved 1.8 Million Lives



I find the topic of nuclear

I find the topic of nuclear energy simultaneously baffling & frightening. As planners, it is our duty to look beyond the apparent effects of an action. Nuclear power is a perfect case in point. It is an extremely complex system that requires constant input of energy to keep it stable. As Fukushima showed us, simple events can disrupt this complex process with disastrous results.

I find it frustrating that Americans in particular want a silver bullet solution to our energy demands, one that would allow us to continue our energy-consuming way of life without any changes. Few people discuss the fact that we can certainly live with less power and thereby keep climate change from unfolding into a worldwide disaster. Would an energy diet be hard on Americans? Certainly. But the rest of the world carries on using far less, so I don't believe the American way of life would necessarily end.

What our energy experts need to think about is how to use the remaining energy (fossil-, embodied-, and otherwise) to best use to prepare us for a lower input way of life. The transition should be made as easy as possible, but that can't occur if we are justifying thousands of deaths and injuries on an energy habit we simply cannot continue.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 9 different cities.
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95