Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breaking Our Energy Addiction

In his State of the Union address last month, our President called for the development of “safe and clean” nuclear power, which is like asking for “pure and healthy” heroin.  Radioactive nuclear isotopes, the necessary by-product of these plants, are carcinogenic, mutagenic, and essentially indestructible, a toxic threat that lasts practically forever.

Here in Vermont, an aging nuclear facility is leaking tritium into the Connecticut River, poisoning ground water, and ready for the scrap heap as cooling towers collapse and other equipment failures multiply almost daily.  Unfortunately, the private corporation which profits from Vermont Yankee doesn’t have the money to de-commission the plant or restore the site to its former condition.  The taxpayers of the state are in real danger of inheriting a gargantuan clean-up bill, along with a Chernobyl-like industrial dead-zone that puts an ugly blot on the Green Mountain State’s carefully cultivated pristine image.

To supply the world’s energy needs, thousands of plants like Vermont Yankee—or like the new reactors receiving federal loan guarantees that Obama announced today-- would have to be built, each with a lifetime of 30-40 years, each a meltdown waiting to happen.  Or if all technical and human error could be miraculously avoided and no disasters happened, those thousands of reactors would all become perpetual gravesites: concrete encased tombs covering hundreds of square miles, testifying to our short-sighted addiction to cheap energy.

Nuclear, coal, and oil are like heroin, crack and meth.  The corporations that supply our petroleum and other short-term “fixes” are like pushers, reaping fantastic profits by keeping us dependent on their deadly products.  And American consumers are like junkies, willing to trade their long term well-being and sell their children’s futures for the rush of driving bigger cars, heating bigger homes, eating more burgers and squandering more resources than any other people on earth.

The fix America needs won’t be found in nuclear power, but in breaking the bad habit of expecting instant gratification without considering the consequences to our neighbors, our bodies, or the natural environment.

Really, isn’t it time to go clean?

1 comment:

Chip said...

Thank you, Rev. Kowalski, for 'telling it like it is'. I am heartened by your vivid depiction of the Obama error in supporting nukes, when we can do so much better with efficiency and renewables, if we only had the will.