Given the reality of climate change (for which the science is as clear as say, vaccines), the possibility of a return to nuclear power is pretty strong. It's not a terrible idea -- I grew up near the Cook County nuclear power plant, and still have a coffee mug from their gift shop. The fact that both my parents died of cancer is coincidental, I'm sure. I hope.
So a recent study of mutations around nuclear power plants was a bit sobering:
Conventional wisdom holds that nuclear power stations don't leak enough radiation to create malformed organisms. But in some locations, Hesse-Honegger discovered mutations — curtailed feelers, misshapen legs, asymmetrical wings — in as many as 30 percent of the bugs she gathered. That's 10 times the overall rate of about 3 percent for insects found in the wild.As pressure mounts to build new nuclear power plants, perhaps we can all agree not to be stupid (or incredibly stupid) about how we build them. Apparently what we're doing now simply isn't good enough.
It wasn't long ago that we detonated nuclear explosions in the upper atmosphere -- just to see what happens. Giant (and thankfully temporary) belts of radioactive energy encircling the entire planet...
The kind of responsibility that nuclear power demands is massive. Finland has a 100,000-year plan for storing nuclear waste. It's going to take 20 years and several billion dollars to build. A country that can't get it's act together on the most basic legislation seems unlikely to be able to come up with a realistic plan for building nuclear plants and storing waste. We seem more interested in pork, regardless of, well, basic geology.
Hesse-Honegger is also a incredibly talented botanical illustrator, by the way; that's her painting at the top of this morning's post.