Teaser 378: Clean Energy

With all of this swirling around me, much of the concern of the human population was how we could meet the constantly growing energy needs of the entire species. There were some smaller-scale nuclear power plants started over the years I had burst upon the scene, scattered all over the world and seemingly constructed in a manner superior to those of an earlier generation. With it there was a more persistent call for nuclear energy, and I, as a proponent of wind, solar and geothermal energy, was considered by many of the nuclear supporters as an enemy of nuclear energy. I have never been an enemy of nuclear energy production. What I have been, as an enemy, is opposed to the contention nuclear energy is somehow as clean as the three energy means I listed. It is not and never will be.

My name had been thrown about carelessly for years in this debate and many of those in my corner had been constantly pushing me. “If you don't definitively state your position, Al, they will eviscerate you and there isn't a damn thing you can do to stop it.” I called a producer at one of the major networks and told the producer to arrange a debate between myself and one of the proponents of nuclear energy production. I added at the end, “I want you to assure the other side I am not against nuclear energy production, but nuclear energy production, by itself, requires an understanding and a commitment once the items of nuclear production are spent which can be catastrophic for all beings if not recognized and followed religiously.” I paused for a moment. I think the producer realized what I was after. “I will listen for certain phrases from the opposition and should I hear any of them I will skewer them and make them look and sound like the fools they are. Bring it!”

I had only one phrase to which I paid heavy attention, “clean energy.” It was quite a while into this one hour debate, on a national network through one of their hourly news magazines, when the woman—I think the opposition chose her because of her gender—stated nuclear energy was a “clean energy.” She said it several times in her latest diatribe and I let her say it. When she was through, when she had completed her diatribe and I confirmed it by asking her specifically, I never addressed her convincing arguments.

“I counted it, my dear. You stated nuclear energy as a 'clean energy' four times in your last argument since I have said nothing. Four times! I'm not going to argue with you about whether nuclear energy is clean or not. Instead, I'm going to concede that it is a clean energy, so clean we're all going to dispose our spent rods by placing them in a hole we're going to dig in your back yard, for which we will pay you handsomely, so you can live with the potential, but essentially harmless, radiation for the rest of your natural life, however long or short it may be, and, should you move and sell your house with all those spent rods buried in your back yard, you will have to honestly describe this fact for all future buyers of your house, but I'm sure it will have no effect on the purchase price since nuclear energy is a 'clean energy,' as you yourself have claimed four times already.” You can imagine she was far more conciliatory and cooperative after my contention, conceding instantly disposal of spent nuclear fuel will always be a major risk with nuclear energy power plants, and this fact alone will never render nuclear energy as a “clean energy.” I won.

- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-Nine Happy Face” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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