Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is a more thorough investigation into the subject I wrote about in this space last week: The absence of the anti-nuke movement in the Japanese media. The strong feelings on both sides of the nuclear energy controversy have seemingly rendered the controversy off-limits if for no other reason than that the media isn’t comfortable with such heated debates in the first place. Add to that the fact that the government has declared nuclear energy a national policy and the major power companies are huge advertisers (even though they don’t really have to be since they are essentially monopolies) and there’s nothing to discuss. However, as I found out, the anti-nuke faction is fairly dogmatic, which is why the pro-nuke faction refuses to talk to them about safety matters. This intransigence has, in turn, led to the perverse defensiveness that brought about the current disaster in Fukushima.
Despite the seriousness of the catastrophe, the divide seems to be widening. The debate now encompasses questions about “sensationalism.” One side says the media overplays the dangers of the reactor disaster, while the other side doesn’t trust the authorities to tell them the truth and thus feels the media isn’t reporting the hazards sufficiently. Those of us who occupy some sort of middle ground just hope that it isn’t as bad as the one side says it is, but nevertheless hardly think that Tepco and its enablers can be trusted with anything like an objective opinion. It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with feeling royally betrayed. Moreover, it isn’t a question of whether nuclear power is safe or the only “clean” energy that’s practical, even if I believe it isn’t. It has to do with the realization that the people in charge of Japan’s nuclear power industry have proved they aren’t up to the task.
You are wrong: you *never* want to hear what the crackpot has to say, even if he tells you what you want to hear. Spreading crackpottery solves nothing. Ever. You want to hear what the level-headed guys on both sides of the issue have to say.
I don’t see that the anti-nuclear side is impotent in Japan. I haven’t heard TEPCO announcing that they will build new power plants as of yet. I’m pretty sure they will have a tough sell. If you mean people who just want to stop everything that has the word nuclear in it, what is their solution to replace the 30% power generation? I only hear complaints, never solutions. If people want to get rid of nuclear power, they will have to reduce their power usage, but they don’t even want to buy more efficient light bulbs “because they look funny.” Maybe in Japan they are more willing to switch them, but people in Europe and the US are so upset at the recent ban on incandescent light bulbs. It’s completely irrational.
And I have never heard nuclear power being labeled renewable. It is not renewable. Part of the spent fuel may be recyclable, but that is not the same as renewable.
Nuclear fuel would not survive via the free market. The liability potential would be too great, and despite all the hype the alternatives remain cheaper.
Yet the government continues to pursue the nuclear power with zeal. People are getting short changed, local towns get the short end of the stick, and safety is joke.
It’s not a matter of being for or against nuclear power. We all wants safety and our money’s worths worth when it comes to energy. We get neither as the bureaucrats pursue a policy they see as good for us all.
Surely as radiation leaks continue for months — as Edano predicts — people’s attitudes here will harden.