Via Charlie Stross, a piece at The Economist looking at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis two months on. Long story short: a very nasty accident, but not the disaster it could have been, which is pretty impressive considering it was caused multiple major natural disasters far in excess of even reasonable modern design specs happening in a ludicrously tight timeframe.
And here we see the downside of the 24-hour news cycle: by the time the facts are out and the dust has settled, the media vortex has moved on, leaving a dim memory in the public mind of “the Japanese nuke plant that went Chernobyl”. And because “that Japanese nuke plant didn’t actually go Chernobyl”isn’t newsworthy enough to bubble through the latest batch of panic and FUD and gory triumphalism, that’s how it’ll be remembered; good news doesn’t sell newspapers (or attract clickthrough). End result: the gradual rehabilitation of nuclear power has been set back more than two decades.
For the record: I don’t like nuclear power, and I remain to be convinced it has anywhere near the longevity suggested by its more boosterist advocates. Thorium reactors and other variants could address both the safety issues and the Peak Uranium problem, but neither offer the ready supply of weapons-grade materials that encouraged the initial rash of investment in nuclear power. But as an alternative to coal and oil, and a stop-gap on the way to truly renewable solutions, it’s a no-brainer. I wish I had the time and resources to do a money-trail on the strongest Fukushima FUD emitters, because I fully expect some familiar names would crop up.