The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
More than a month has passed since the one-two punch of an earthquake and tsunami added a third dimension to the tragedy in Japan: a major nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The situation remains serious, and radioactivity continues to be released.
As the situation at Fukushima is becoming less unpredictable, though not yet completely stabilized, and there is more information available, I will stop my daily writings on the nuclear power plant. Thank you very much for your encouragement and warm support.
The multiple and ongoing accidents at the Fukushima reactors come as a reminder of the hazards associated with nuclear power. As with the earlier severe accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, it will take a long time before the full extent of what happened at Fukushima becomes clear. Even now, though, Fukushima sheds light on the troublesome and important question of whether nuclear reactors can ever be operated safely.
A probabilistic approach to risk leaves us unprepared for "infrequent catastrophes." Nuclear plants require a "possibilistic" approach that allows us to design safeguards against the worst-case scenario.
We continue to populate our planet with technologies that have catastrophic potential. We have vulnerable concentrations of humans, economic power, and hazardous materials. The most fearful concentrations of hazardous materials are in nuclear power plants. A serious accident there could kill hundreds or even thousands of people, and contaminate large areas of land for as long as a century.