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The evidence from Fukushima: nuclear power means nuclear catastrophe – Daniel Tanuro

March 23, 2011

Excerpts from an article by Daniel Tanuro, an eco-socialist environmentalist

What has happened is entirely predictable: yet another major nuclear “accident”. At the time of writing, it is not yet certain that it will take on the dimensions of a disaster similar to Chernobyl, but that is the direction in which things, alas, look set to evolve. But whether it develops into a major disaster or not, we are once again faced with evidence that the technology can never be 100% secure. The risks are so frightening that the conclusion is obvious: it is imperative to abandon nuclear energy, and to do so as quickly as possible. This is the first lesson of Fukushima, one which raises absolutely fundamental social and political questions, requiring a real debate throughout society about an alternative to the capitalist model of infinite growth…

…After the Chernobyl disaster, nuclear advocates have said that poor Soviet technology, poor safety standards and the bureaucratic nature of the system were the basis of the accident. If we are to believe them, nothing similar could occur to plants based on good capitalist technology, especially not in “democratic” countries where the legislature shall take all necessary security measures at all levels. Today we are seeing that these claims are not worth a damn.

Japan is a country of high technology. Fully aware of the seismic risk, the Japanese authorities have imposed strict standards for plant construction. The reactor 1 Fukushima even included a double safety device, with some generators supplied with fuel and others battery operated. Neither has done any good, because the most sophisticated technology and most stringent safety standards will never provide an absolute guarantee, given the possibility of natural disasters or possible criminal acts by insane terrorists (not to mention human error). We can reduce the risks of nuclear power, but we can not remove them entirely. If it is relatively small but the number of plants increases, as is the case now, the absolute risk may increase…

…We have to abandon nuclear energy, as completely and as quickly as possible. This is perfectly possible technically, and it should be noted in passing that the efficiency of nuclear power is very poor (two thirds of the energy is dissipated as heat). The debate is primarily a political one, a debate society must have that ultimately poses a choice of civilization. Because here is the nub of the problem: we must phase out nuclear power and, simultaneously, abandon fossil fuels, the main cause of climate change. In just two generations, renewables must become our sole energy source.

However, the transition to renewables requires huge investments in energy efficient solutions, so sources of greenhouse gas emissions become more and more supplementary…

…An alternative to this vicious system is more urgent than ever. It requires that we produce less, which means a radical reduction of working hours, and therefore a redistribution of wealth. It also involves collective ownership of energy and finance, because renewables are more expensive than other sources, and will remain so for twenty years at least. It demands planning at all levels, from local to global, in order to balance the rights of the South to development with the preservation of the ecological balance. It ultimately requires the realisation of the ecosocialist project, of a society producing for the satisfaction of real human needs, democratically determined, in accordance with the rhythms and the functioning of the ecosystem.

Without such an alternative, capitalist growth will always cause more disasters without providing for social needs. That is, ultimately, the terrible lesson of Fukushima.

Read the complete article here

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