Whatever energy sources we use, there are costs, waste, risks, spills, etc. I don’t expect us to stop using nuclear power. I would like to see long term storage plans for the waste and I do think it is immoral to keep making waste with no better plan than to keep it in pools at every nuclear power plant, which is the current U.S. policy.
I hit a few highlights, skipped Chernobyl because it was well known, didn’t talk about the reactors and other waste that has already been dumped in the oceans. One closing thought. North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Iran. Does anyone think they will do better at managing the waste from their weapons programs than we did?
None of this is a serious threat to all life. It’s a very serious threat to individuals that are unfortunate enough to be exposed to enough of it. At the lower end of exposure the effects are hard to measure. Picking out a small rise in cancer risk can be impossible. Studying the effects on life expectancy takes decades and still might be inconclusive.
We are deliberately exposed to sources of radiation all the time. We get x-rays for broken bones, CT scans for diagnosis, searched by the TSA before boarding an airplane. Even standing and watching your food microwave through the glass is an exposure. Spending a day on a sunny beach is a big exposure. You can be painfully burned by the radiation you receive.
How would it be possible to say what, if any, effects we each have from our exposure to bomb test fallout and radiation leaks from nuclear power? Like my first analogy, poo spreads and we all have some of it on us. We live with it.
The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.
–Robert A. Heinlein