There is an unspeakable tragedy going on in Japan right now. It will continue to unfold before our eyes in the days, weeks, months, years, and even decades ahead. It will reach the coast of America. This may sound alarmist, but it isn’t. As the New York Times reported this morning:
“The fast-moving developments at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo, catapulted the 4-day-old nuclear crisis to an entirely new level, threatening to overshadow even the massive damage and loss of life spawned by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.”
Now nor ever is the right time for panic. The multiple stricken reactors might not melt down. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to emit health-threatening levels of radiation. If the wind shifts, and that radiation heads inland, people will be migrating from their homes, villages, maybe even cities. To where?
What are we to do? What can we do?
First, of course, we have to do whatever we can to help Japan. It’s the third richest economy in the world, but every dollar, every package, every plane or ship that lands with relief supplies will be welcome, not just for the physical support, but for the moral support. If they want to send over exchange students, we should take them. If Japanese businesses need help, their competitors here in the United States should help. If you’re a person of faith, pray.
And here in America? The current nuclear disaster is in Japan, but we have our own problems. Would you light a lump of coal and put it on your kitchen table while your family was in the house? Why is there more air pollution in the Powder River Basin of Idaho than there is in Los Angeles? What are we going to do if hydraulic fracking many hundreds of feet underground releases gas and toxic chemicals that contaminate one of our rivers?
Coal and natural gas are no healthier than nuclear power. At the end of the day, across the planet and across what will be the couple centuries of world history of burning massive amounts of fossil fuels for power, fossil fuels will end up impacting far more people than nuclear power.
America needs to do what it has always, until recently, done best – lead. We need to get out of the dirty, dangerous, unhealthy fuels of the past and lead the way into a clean, healthy and prosperous new energy future. We need to support the people, the politicians, the companies and the organizations that are trying to get us there.