Nuclear Nightmares

SUBHEAD: The near-term consequences of nuclear catastrophe likely to result from collapse of the world’s industrial economy are unthinkable.  

By Guy McPherson on 14 March 2011 in Transition Voice

Image above: Children being checked for radiation exposure after reactor explosion in Fukushima. From (

Ongoing events in Japan should remind us how fragile our entire set of living arrangements has become.

We understate risks and plow ahead with dangerously complex and transient nuclear projects because we believe we need electricity to survive. Gee, I wonder how they ever got along for the first two million years of the human experience?

The “clean” nuclear threat

Since I first learned about global peak oil and its economic consequences, nuclear catastrophe has been my constant nightmare. Can you blame me?

Japan is a harbinger of far worse events ahead.

Until last year, Japan had the second-largest industrial economy in the world. It’s a country so deeply terrified of nuclear disaster that it’s taken the strongest steps to insure against natural disasters of all kinds. Yet all 13 backup diesel generators failed in the Fukushima one nuclear plant. Huh. How about that?

Imagine the horrors when the diesel stops flowing to the world’s 442 nuclear power plants, many of which are found in countries with infrastructure and safety records far worse than we find in Japan. This is truly the stuff of nightmares.

Absence of leadership

I’d hope world leaders would act appropriately about this, but I’ve lived long enough to expect otherwise.

If I were king of the world for a day, I would immediately order a planned methodical shutdown and then closure of all nuclear power plants.

The alternative is emergency shutdowns in myriad ways, all of them hasty and unplanned, as the world’s industrial economy continues its ongoing demise while the effects of climate change wreak daily havoc hither and yon. The results of decline and disaster are completely predictable and unimaginably horrific, and they include numerous core meltdowns and huge releases of radiation.

Equal inheritance

The consequences of huge unplanned releases of radiation into Earth’s atmosphere include death to most, and perhaps all, land-dwelling species on the planet. Considering the interdependencies between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the extinction of many aquatic species would follow on the heels of extinction of terrestrial species.

Radiation is impartial. Radiation doesn’t discriminate.

In short, the near-term consequences of nuclear catastrophe likely to result from collapse of the world’s industrial economy are unthinkable.

So let’s put our hearts and minds together to think of something else. Something better. Unless gas masks and peeling skin are really your thing.

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