Nuclear power and judging risk

After the accident in Japan, a majority of Americans believe America needs a moratorium on nuclear power.


Most people are woefully bad at accurately judging risk.  This link has a nice graph showing deaths per watt.   See for yourself the most deadly form of energy.

How many of those worried about nuclear power have bothered to test their homes for radon? Because radon is more likely to kill you (estimated 21k deaths per year due to radon-induced lung cancer). Ultraviolet light is a form of radiation that give 1 in 5 people skin cancer and killed 11k people last year. Are you going to avoid that great big unshielded nuclear reactor in the sky? For that matter, French fries and TV’s are far more deadly, but how many people watch their diet and exercise enough?

We need to be building newer, safer nuclear power plants (and phasing out the old ones) if we’re going to maintain our standard of living. Oil is getting harder to find, and people in developing countries are starting to buy cars. When supply decreases and demand increases, the result is a rising cost of fuel.  Plus it transfers even more of our country’s wealth to countries who like to take our money, buy bullets, and shoot at us.  The way out of that trap is to start building electric cars, but we have to be able to power them first.   And nuclear is the only option that can scale up in time.  Except that we’re thinking about ditching it just when we’re about to need it most.

I suspect when people are paying $10 a gallon for gasoline in a few years, that nuclear power might seem a bit more palatable.  I just wish I didn’t have to go along for the ride while the average American reaches that epiphany.

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