The Nuclear Debate

Published on: 08:43AM Mar 21, 2011

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of "John's World" from the March 19-20, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report, followed by viewer comments...

*John's World Commentary:  As a former nuclear engineer, I have watched the valiant efforts by the Japanese to contain the damage and recover from one of the worst earthquakes in history.  While there is no upside to this tragedy, it looks at this moment like progress is being made, and this farmer is rooting for them.  One instantaneous reaction is to declare nuclear power obviously too dangerous to consider any more.  But this would be a mistake, I think, and if safe conditions are, as I expect, re-established, better conclusions could be made later.  The Japan disaster is being gauged as worse than Three-Mile Island, but not as bad as Chernobyl.  That alone says much.  We now have three unfortunate examples of nuclear accidents and have some data to turn the unthinkable into a thinkable.  We know, for instance, that despite horrific predictions no evidence of long term health effects have appeared from Three-Mile Island.  We also know how much terriotry can be contaminated for how long from Chernobyl.  Months from now we will have even more information about design, location and failures that can make new plants much safer.I hope we also learn over the next few years the same thing we did from the previous accidents:  while enormously tragic, expensive and worrisome, none lived up to the apocalyptic fears we often link to nuclear power. I could  yet be proven wrong in this case.  But my bet is we recover enormous new knowledge about this technology as a sad consolation. 

Viewer Feedback #1:  I want to comment on the nuclear issue. You said that you think it is a good for us to continue to advance our nuclear energy programs. I think they are too costly, and we should be looking to cleaner forms of energy. We should look to the wisdom of our forefathers in farming, they used wind and made the most of sunshine. I think in our future, a cleaner way will be better for us. It will be also good for our economy.  Thank you, Dale Williams - Grand Junction, CO 

Viewer Feedback #2:  To the gentleman who spoke about nuclear energy on the early Sunday morning show. I have come to like to watch the farm report because of its broad reporting.  Shame on you for your ignorant comments on nuclear energy.  Are you out of your mind?  This is the most costly, deadly form of energy there is.  How many accidents are necessary to educate you?  I say none, but this is impossibility because this is a dangerous industry, with no solution for nuclear waste.  Do you live in a bubble, with no loved ones or future generations to worry about?  Are you a shill for corporations, unable to speak for yourself?  Do your private thoughts match what you say on the air?   A mix of energy sources is needed going forward, but not nuclear.  Japanese spinach and milk is contaminated with radioactivity.  Radiation times five to seven times higher than normal.  It’s in Japan’s air, ground, water and food chain.  It’s in the ocean, the fish, mollusks, plankton, sea life.  It’s on the birds.  It’s on people and animals and every living thing. And it is in the USA.  Don’t know where you get your information or just make it up off the top of your head, but since you are on the air you would do well to better educate yourself before speaking.  Watching you with horror.  Georgianne Cox

Viewer Feedback #3:  John, there is a nuclear power system called the pebble system, which can NOT melt down.  It was developed by a Russian scientist, and will not go critical, and will not go above 900 degrees without water at all. Why the industry will not turn to this technology, is a issue ? GE is resistant, for proprietary reasons, and the like as they don't own the technology outright. So we can have a Japan type issue, because they do not want to pay to obtain the science ? Who knows, but along with wind and solar, this is a true viable nuclear option.  If only they would not let pride and greed stand in the way. Thanks...J.L. Meiers, North Dakota