This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
For those of you who weren’t born yet, the Chernobyl disaster marked the day when the world was forced to make an uncomfortable admission: Nuclear power is NOT safe.
Actually, let me rephrase that.
It’s not so much that nuclear power is unsafe. A disaster such as the one that happened in Chernobyl 30 years ago wasn’t caused by the splitting of isotopes. It was caused by a very dangerous combination of lax policies, sub-par safety procedures, poor logistical planning, and human error.
You see, I don’t distrust nuclear physics. It’s people that I don’t trust. Especially those who tend to make the types of decisions that affect public safety. And to understand my skepticism, you needn’t look any further than Chernobyl, Fukushima, or the more than half of the nuclear power plants in the U.S. that fall below acceptable safety standards.
Of course, there are plenty of folks who will look at those disasters and just write them off as isolated incidents. And perhaps that’s true. But those “isolated incidents” affect the health and well-being of millions of people.
Just 24,000 Years to Go
In an effort to defend the industry, nuclear power advocates often point to the advantages of high capacity factors and carbon neutrality. And it is true that high capacity factors and carbon neutrality are benefits of nuclear power. Although technically nuclear isn’t really carbon neutral as the mining of uranium can be a carbon-intensive process.
But despite the pleasant picture the industry tries to paint, there’s simply no way around the fact that by relying on nuclear power, we put the global community at great risk.
Hell, here we are today, 30 years since the Chernobyl accident, and health problems throughout that region persist – even for folks who weren’t even born when the fallout from Chernobyl drifted across the former Soviet Union and Europe from 1986 to 2000.
According to a recent piece in USA Today, there are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident.
Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.
Today, Chernobyl remains a radioactive ghost town. And some scientists believe it’ll take another 24,000 years before it’s radioactive-free.
Of course, this is irrelevant to the hundreds of thousands of people who now have to watch their children suffer from the mistakes made by a previous generation.
But that was just an isolated incident, right?
This, dear reader, is why I invest in solar, wind, geothermal, and energy conservation and efficiency measures.
While I know my opinion cannot stop the continued proliferation of nuclear power plants across the globe, I also know that by investing in REAL clean energy technologies, I can help facilitate the rapid transition to a new energy economy that will one day have no need for nuclear power. In fact, the architects of our future energy economy will one day look back at nuclear power for what it really is: An expensive, heavily-subsidized time bomb that never lived up to its promise of cheap, clean energy.
If you’re looking for some solid, long-term plays in the REAL clean energy space, consider some of the following:
- SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR)
- SolarEdge (NASDAQ: SEDG)
- First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR)
- U.S. Geothermal (NYSE: HTM)
- Vestas Wind Systems (OTCBB: VWDRY)