An Energy Consumer

The horrible catastrophes in Japan are playing out like a bad Sci Fi movie of the week. If any writer had said to me, I’m writing a story about a major earthquake, followed by a lethal tsunami, followed by several nuclear plants having meltdowns, my reply would probably have been, chose one, maybe two, but you can’t have all three. It’s just way over the top.
And yet, here we are, with these very real horrors. As I watch what is happening, a visual and virtual partner via my TV and the internet, I feel almost a part of it.
In one way I am, but not in a way I’m comfortable with. After all, I can’t control Mother Nature but I can control how energy is provided, can’t I?
When I was having a self-righteous moment and condemning nuclear plants, my husband pointed out that I like my life just the way it is and would be unwilling to give it up. And the piper must be paid, he said. Nuclear energy is the piper.
I thought about it. My usual day consists of getting up in the morning, making coffee and breakfast on my stove in my all-electric kitchen, sitting down to my computer in my heated or cooled office depending on the weather, washing and drying clothes, vacuuming, getting into my car to go shopping for food, watching TV, listening to the radio, CD, or whatever, and so forth. A typical day.
I am a consumer. I am consuming vast amounts of energy just to maintain a very ordinary, humdrum life. Whether it’s oil, coal, or nuclear power that is converted into electricity, there is an ultimate price, far more than dollars and cents. We are seeing just a small part of it in Japan, a country that is the foremost leader and expert in nuclear energy, touted as the cleanest form of energy.
Solar and wind energies are but promises. Water energy is limited. Fossil fuels burn cleaner but do not burn clean, no matter what my beloved president says. We are dependent on oil from countries that sometimes love us, sometimes hate us, but always charge us top dollar for our gluttonous ways. And nothing much has changed or seems to change. Certainly not in the decades I’ve been around this planet.
Would I be willing to go back to beating clothes on a rock, reading by candlelight and living in a cave? No, for certain. But is there a compromise? And if there is, how much would I give up to ensure a brighter future for the generations to come?
Sticking to smaller cars, for sure. Using low energy light bulbs and turning them off when I leave the room, of course. Not running tap water unnecessarily. But they all seem like paltry contributions in the scheme of things, when I have a momentary overview.
So I see, in our not too bright future, nuclear energy. I don’t like it, but that’s what I see. It’s just too in your face and we are too unwilling to change our ways drastically enough to avoid it.
We will all watch this problem play out in Japan. But it’s not just their problem, it’s everyone’s problem. As a nuclear scientist said on CNN about reactors – and I’m paraphrasing but not my much – ‘When they are good, they are very, very good. But when they are bad, they go really bad and really fast.’
Whatever happens, let’s hope we learn something from this one.

4 Comments:

  1. I appreciate how you feel from your post. However, there is a much safer way to get energy and it is also less expensive. There is no reason why we can't have solar or wind energy take up the slack. Nuclear energy will not be ready to be safe for a long time. There are so many factors involved with it that no matter what you fix there is still going to be a problem. One of the biggest problems is the storage of spent fuel rods. You can see how this has become a problem in Japan. The pools need to be full all the time.

    We need to work on solar and wind energy and not fund nuclear plants at all!!! Good post, Heather.

  2. Pat, thanks for your generous words! I' scared for the path humanity has chosen to go down. We tend to make mistakes, us humans, and nuclear energy doesn't have much room for that.
    Glad you liked Liana, the whole gang, and the story. I love writing the books.
    Saw Fairly Legal, never thought of Lee once, but now that you mention it the characters have a lot in common. Of course, Lee is a bit funnier because she's got that loony family to bounce off of.
    Thanks for ranting with me, Ginger. I wonder if we humans ever 'wake up?' The hope goes on.

  3. Heather,
    A very stirring post. I've watched that tidal wave over and over again and can't even fathom what people in its path must have felt. Like you said…if an author wrote a book with all three events and asked for a review, I'm sure someone would point out the plot was just too unbelievable. The Japanese are a stoic group, and I'm impressed more every day as I see those in shelters taking things in stride. There but for the grace of God go I…and all my fellow U.S. citizens. The very same thing could happen here…earthquakes in Tennessee…yep, had one recently. I thought I escaped them when I left California. Mother Nature seems to be pissed with us, and for good reason. We litter her landscape, we abuse her trees, pollute her air, and never give a thought to what kind of world our children's children will face. Maybe this was a wake-up call.

    As for our "beloved" president and his posse…how much longer are we going to be held hostage by oil-producing countries when we have the capability to meet our own needs! Those who commute to $10.00 an hour jobs here in Tennessee cannot afford $4.00 a gallon. Hell, they might as well pray for a layoff and get unemployment. Oh, girl, you brought out the ranter in me. *lol*

  4. Hi Heather,
    Just read your 'Murder is a Family Business' and loved it. Your protagonist is a hoot and when I watch Fairly Legal on USA, I think of Kate as Liana.
    Back to serious business. Nuclear energy is the way to go; just not the way we've gone in the past. Turns out now that GE, who built those reactors in Japan, had been told by more than one of their specialists that their design was insufficient to withstand the kind of forces they just underwent. That's GE, the same US company that is now behind this new so-called green energy push by our so-called beloved president. Should we trust them now any more than the Japanese should have trusted them back then? I don't think so.
    The normal problems associated with nuclear energy can be solved when we take politics out of the equation. But we have to have total honesty and no bias-for or against-in order to do that. Here's hoping cool heads will prevail.
    Thanks for opening up a serious discussion of what has to be the number one problem world-wide.
    Pat Dale

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