No nukes in Japan

Japan has taken its last nuclear reactor offline. What will replace it?

Is the world’s infatuation with nuclear power finally over?

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima… We get the message over and over again that everything comes at a high cost, but it takes a while for the message to sink in.

Maybe because the alternatives are not that great. Gas, oil, coal.

Even the natural alternatives get certain segments of the population riled up – wind farms with their huge generators, hydro-electric dams that change the nature of our rivers.

But, we’ll never have the incentive to explore other alternatives as long as we have unlimited (we think) sources of fuel to power our cars, trucks, air conditioners, plasma TVs, our cities, etc.

What do you do when the power goes out in the middle of the day? No computers, no kitchen appliances, no television, no radio. Do you go for a drive? What if the only vehicle was a bicycle? Or a horse? What a difference it makes in our lives.

I’ll be the first to admit that I get a little anxious when I’m unexpectedly disconnected from my computer and the internet. Not as bad as I used to be, but yeah, I need to get a life.

Japan shut down its last remaining nuclear reactor last week. Since the earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, they’ve been taking them ofline for maintenance – the ones that weren’t immediately damaged in the catastrophe – and leaving them off. Before this all happened, Japan relied on nuclear energy for a third of its electricity.

Their government is expecting rising carbon emissions as Japan is forced to turn to oil and gas for energy, but there is no word of that yet.

The Japanese are smart, industrious people and I’m betting that it won’t be long before they come up with cleaner, more efficient energy sources.

Up until now, alternative energy hasn’t really been taken seriously. It’s at a pretty rough stage as underfinanced fringe companies are the only ones offering it. But this might be the impetus that finally puts alternative energy on the mass market.

Wendy Coomber is the editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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