Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Fukushima made me pro-nuclear

The piece I was working on finally got into the Japan Times today.

The most interesting thing about the process was the back and forth with the editor, mostly over fact-checking and providing links to my claims.  He told me he had to be very careful because of the subject matter.

Of course that is fair enough, and appropriate for an important topic.  I felt like pointing out, however, that if anti-nuclear pieces were half as rigorously vetted I wouldn't have felt the need to write anything at all.

Here is my article.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Know More and Fear Less

Know more and fear less is extremely good advice when it comes to nuclear power, as I have found again and again over the last 16 months.

In Japan however, the motto seems to be Know Less and Fear More.

Nothing illustrates this better than the brouhaha over the last week regarding the 'public hearings' around the country designed to give people a chance to vent about nuclear power.  Crowds hostile to nuclear power have been incensed that people more open-minded have been allowed to speak.  At the Nagoya hearing on Monday one of the speakers (who are chosen by lottery) turned out to be an employee of Chiba Electric Power Company. When he expressed the opinion that the dangers of radiation have been exaggerated and reminded the audience that nobody died in the Fukushima accident, the enraged mob stormed the stage and tore him limb from limb with their bare hands.

Okay that last part wasn't true, but what did happen is that organizers of the meeting received 480 complaints about the speaker's remarks, with widespread criticism of the fact a power company worker had even been given permission to speak.

480 complaints.  That's 480 people who were so upset at being told the truth that they wrote a letter to express their disapproval.  Disaster minister Goshi Hosono was forced to step in and promise that the anti-nuclear sentiment of the crowd would never be threatened by an alternate viewpoint again, saying 'If a power company employee is chosen as speaker, he or she will be replaced by someone else."

Way to go on the stifling of dissent, guys!  These hearing are fast becoming kangaroo courts, where large numbers of ill-informed people express their unfocused rage at things they don't and are unwilling to understand, and where an intense groupthink phenomenon will quite possibly result in the worst possible outcome for Japan as a whole.

I prefer to find out about the science myself.  I must be weird or something.