Nuclear emergencies, petro-tyrannies and me

Suddenly the requests to screen my films are pouring in. While this is exciting, and means even more people will get to see, learn from, discuss and even be inspired by our upbeat films, it is with a heavy heart that I am writing this post.

I lived in Japan for two years, and covered the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl while working for a Japanese newspaper. Since that time I have not trusted nuclear energy to ever be the safe, reliable source that merits our confidence or the investment of taxpayer money. I have been a passionate critic of nuclear energy and a proponent of conservation, efficiency and renewable energy for most of my life. So for a number of reasons I am especially dismayed by what is happening today following the earthquake and tsunami-triggered nuclear emergency at Fukushima. Just as our oil dependent modern lifestyles force us to justify getting oil from “petro-tyrannies” like Saudi Arabia and Libya and the questionnable democracies in Nigeria and Venezuela, just as our need for cheap oil allows us to justify the ecological and social damage being done in Alberta’s tar sands, our appetite for power-on-demand has prevented most of us from doing a real risk analysis of nuclear energy and its many hidden costs. Well, the full costs of our energy “need” is now in full view. Who will dare to stare it in the face, then look in the mirror and say “I will not be a part of this!”

Today I ask myself, can I turn off some of the devices in my home? Can I improve the insulation of my home? Can I ride a bus or a bike a little more often? Do I need to buy new clothes for the coming summer? Will I be able to use a fan, and blinds instead of an air conditioner this summer? What can I do to be the change I wish to see in the world?

David Chernushenko