Monday, October 27, 2014

Nuclear Waste and the Four Laws of Ecology

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 21, 2014

Why are a lot of people biased when it comes to nuclear energy?  The reason is simple… “Nuclear energy has proven to be an unstable source of power which even advanced countries failed to make safe.  The nuclear accidents in the United States, U.S.S.R. and Japan [Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011) respectively] gave reasons for the world to take a second suspicious and prejudicial look at the safety and sustainability of nuclear energy.” (Antonio, 2014 -

Barry Commoner (May 28, 1917 – September 30, 2012) was an American biologist, professor, and ecologist who was among the founders of the modern environmental movement.  One of Commoner’s lasting legacies to humanity is his Four Laws of Ecology, which are:

One:  EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE.  There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.  Mishandled, nuclear energy waste can affect all living things (flora and fauna) on Earth in an extremely negative way.

Two:  EVERYTHING MUST GO SOMEWHERE.  There is “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.  Even if we designated planet Mars as our dumpsite for man’s toxic and radioactive wastes, these unhealthy by-products of nuclear energy will still have to go somewhere.  Nuclear energy, even if it the cheapest and cost effective form of energy, will eventually be more expensive if we have to dispose of its by-products far enough not to affect humans.

Three: NATURE KNOWS BEST.  Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is likely to be detrimental to that system.  Nature and the environment are not broke; therefore, no need to fix them.

Four:  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.  Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless form.  Whatever we do, there will always be a relative cost we have to pay… proportional or disproportional.  The problems nuclear energy can create, no matter relatively cheap it is in comparison to other energy sources, may prove to be more expensive to mitigate.

There are still those who argue that nuclear energy is our best shot for a progressive future.  They still could be right in their argument.  To make nuclear energy more palatable, my simple wish is for them to justify the merits of nuclear energy and marry nuclear waste and the four Laws of Ecology.

Just my little thoughts…

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