This is an excellent article on why we have had the disaster in Japan.
How Much Are You Willing to Pay to be Nuke-Free?
Posted by Robert Rapier on Thursday, March 17, 2011
A Plan to Phase Out “Dirty” Energy
After the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, someone said to me “We have to stop all offshore drilling.” My response was that I could get behind that idea, but I wanted to know what sacrifices the person was willing to make. That turned out to be the end of the conversation, because usually the people campaigning against these sorts of things believe that the consequences will be all good (no more oil spills) with no real downside (like less energy available). I can tell you with absolute certainty that we can live with no offshore drilling, but I can also tell you that the price of your fuel would be greater — and probably far greater — than it is today.
I believe that the reason we have so much “dirty” energy is that we demand cheap energy. I spoke to a reporter in Japan this week about the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and he said he couldn’t help but notice that despite some rolling blackouts now, Japan remains very much a country with all of the lights on.
Root Cause: Consumers Demand Cheap, Abundant Energy
This gets right to the heart of why we have nuclear power: We demand cheap energy; energy so cheap that we can afford to leave all of the lights in the house on all day long. Both coal and nuclear-generated electricity are viewed as cheap relative to many other options — admittedly debatable given charges of government subsidies and the occasional environmental calamity — as well as reliable (again, environmental calamities notwithstanding).
My response to the reporter was that I love lobster, but I rarely eat it because it is so expensive. If they served $2 lobster at McDonalds, we would all consume much more lobster and of course the supply of lobsters would be under pressure. If we all demanded cheap lobster and got angry when our lobsters became more expensive, politicians would work to give us what we want lest they be voted out of office. We would see all sorts of lobster-related subsidies designed to bring us all cheap lobsters (which have to be paid through taxes and/or deficit spending). Consequences of our cheap lobster demands — higher deficits and possibly no more lobsters — would be pushed onto another generation.
What he does not say is why we were sold cheap energy. That is sold on the idea instead of sustainability. It’s because resources are seen as free. Buy them, dig them up and sell them. More next week.