Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No Nukes is...more coal, and more deaths in Colombia

Colombian coal country. A legacy of Japan's disaster?
In the wake of Japan's ongoing nuclear disaster, many nations are putting the brakes on new nuclear power. But nuclear's gotten bad P.R. Besides three notorious disasters: Three Mile Island, which killed nobody, Chernobyl, which is still killing people, but was a badly-designed reactor whose accident was handled terribly, and now the Japan disaster, whose impact hopefully will be limited - nuclear has produced lots of power with relatively little impact. 

In the U.S., more than 100 nuclear reactors provide 20 percent of the country's electricity, without causing deforestation, mining disasters air pollution, global warming or any of the long train of natural disasters and human tragedies which fossil fuels have brought us.

Nukes didn't kill these guys.
(Photo: America Economia)
Here's a sampling of what a single Google search about coal turned up:

Colombia coal mine blast kills 20 - 17 Jun 2010
Colombian Coal Mine Blast Kills at Least 18 - NYTimes.com - 26 Jan 2011
Colombian Coal mine blast kill at least 5  - 24 Nov 2010
21 workers killed in Colombian mine blast - Nearly 100 coal miners were killed in work-related accidents across Colombia in 2010, 

And that's just in Colombia, and only the disasters which made the international news. I bet that right now someone's dying in a Colombian coal mine, and others are dying of coal dust-related diseases. And, all over the world, people are dying of coal pollution - 30,000 per year in the U.S. alone, according to one study. And, less nuclear energy will mean more deaths from coal: you can bet your life, and death, on that!

And that's without mentioning the coming impacts from global warming. 

But the tragedies caused by fossil fuels are so numerous and frequent that we barely notice them anymore. 

The Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 men and injured 17 others, as well as devastating the Gulf and innumerable other lives. The Japanese nuclear disaster hasn't killed anybody...but I don't hear many people calling for an end to oil production.

Well-meaning dreamers talk about large-scale wind, solar and wave-power projects. All of those would be wonderful, but they aren't coming soon enough to head of serious climate change. Nuclear power is the only source of proven, carbon-free power we have, and we'd better keep using it, or we'll regret it. 

Nuclear power makes little sense for Colombia, which has plentiful hydroelectric power and also a terrorism problem. But Colombia is paying the price for the rest of the world's reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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