The legislative journey has begun based on assumptions that will no doubt change with time. There was no other choice. No time to wait and see, particularly if the urgency is as great as the IPCC claims.
It seems like each technology advancement has led to concerns about potential harm to health and/or the environment as a whole. Electromagnetic energy from cell phone usage could lead to brain damage. Fluorescent light flicker might trigger seizures. Reflectors in solar-thermal power plants might fry flocks of birds, that is if they make it through the hazards of nearby wind farms.
Back in the 1970’s I heard a futurist predict that the ultimate conflict would be between technocrats and environmentalists. Environmentalists, he said, pictured the perfect world as being best represented by a young deer drinking from the pure waters of a clear pond in a forest meadow. No pollution, no noise, no worries…no humans. On the other hand, he thought the technocrats’ dream world was a giant laboratory made of white plastic and chrome with a tile floor and occupied by white coated scientists. No earth tones, no dirt, no animals…no nature.
Apparently there have been some high-fives in the parking lot of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Scientists there have worked for decades on solutions for disposal of radioactive wastes and are optimistic about seeing the fruits of their labour.
Last summer my wife and I were walking across a grocery store parking lot when we noticed a toddler trying to convince his mother to carry him. “I’m hot, mommy! I’m hot!” To this the young mother replied, ” That’s because the earth is getting hotter, Jimmy. It’s called global warming. You’ll just have to get used to it.” And she made him continue to walk as he howled.
With the crisis unfolding at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, it is too soon to draw final conclusions. But watching the struggle to bring the site under control, we cannot help but wonder: What exactly is going on, and what lessons might be learned?
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