too bad the prevailing winds and currents go west to east. If the winds go west to east, China, will not be happy.
If nothing might go horrifically wrong, then nuclear power would be a great option. That is a big if. If I were a terrorist with a big bomb, or commandeering a jet airliner, I might start looking for a nuclear power plant. As we saw in Japan, natural forces can cause a nuclear catastrophe.
Although you switched from hydro-electric to coal based electric power, you are right to point out that coal based electricity can be very dirty, and in some ways worse than a properly functioning nuclear power plant. How do those pollution problems compare to nuclear fuel that cannot be cooled?
Also, the more nuclear power plants that come on line, the more spent rods need to be stored somewhere safely. Where will they all go and can we be sure they won't contaminate the ground water near by? Storage containers, tanks, etc. have a bad habit of leaking. When stuff is burried, the ground can shift perhaps foiling efforts at containment. Earthquakes more destructive than those that hit Japan are lurking in somewhere in the future. Contractors might cut corners to make an extra buck - defective steel was used on parts of the Brooklyn Bridge because of shady contractors with political connections. The problem with nuclear power is when things go wrong, more than when things go right.
The comparison isn't shark bites to car accidents. I would think a more apt comparison might be more like hundreds / thousands of years of radioactive contamination of large swaths of territory to car accidents. The former happens far less frequently than the latter, but the former has much more far reaching affect on the habitability of the planet than the latter.
Alright, maybe using 35 was a bit low of a number. Lets do it your way. Lets use the highest, most liberal estimates possible, and count every single cancer case as a death. By doing this you get a number of around 4000. This is still 2 orders of magnitude smaller than the deaths from this dam accident.
Not 4 or 5 to one. Its 50 to 1. And thats while being EXTREMELY liberal with the deaths from the Chernobyl. (Thyroid cancer has a 92% 30 year survival rate)
cancer cases source.
My point is that the danger needs to be put into perspective. Are there risks that should be minimized? Of course! But in the whole sceme of things, people should be spending their time worrying about deaths caused by hydroelectric or coal (mining accidents, significant particulate matter release, radiation from coal [much more is released into the atmosphere than from nuclear!*] ect), not nuclear. Its like spending billions of dollars to prevent shark attacks (almost never ever happen) when the money could go to things like preventing car accidents (10s of thousands die each year).
"Lies, damn lies, and statistics." The numbers are meaningless without context. More prisoners have been killed by electricity than radiation poisoning, so murderers should favor nuclear energy. Maybe so, but who cares.
Does anyone else find it ironic that the Japanese fear of nuclear radiation of WWII which spawned the Godzilla movies in the fifties abated sufficiently to allow nuclear power plants in an area subject to earthquakes and tsunamies, which has no led to leaking radiation in Japan? It is a terrible natural disaster made worse by poor decision making. Given that Japan is in the "ring of fire," this was hardly unforseeable. Nuclear energy in known earthquake zones should be carefully examined and modernized with every available precaution, or shut down if the former is not possible. No more should be built in known earthquake zones.
How long has hydro-electric power been operating vs. nuclear power? The risk caused by the failure of a dam can be tremendous, but it is at least fairly local as opposed to potentially global. Does hydro-electric create storage risks similar to those of nuclear power? Can the products of hydro-electric power production be used as a weapon if they fall into the wrong hands?
The risk of damn failure exists regardless of efforts at hydro-electric power. Ask the relatives of the victims of the Johnstown flood in PA in the late 1800s. Radiation poisoning on a mass scale seems limited to the production of nuclear energy and nuclear weaponry. The world is too small to allow the potential for it to be poisoned by accidents involved in nuclear energy production. Wind and solar energy are the way to go. Every roof in the southwest shoud have solar panels. Wind turbines should become yard features (not necessarly the windmill type, there are others).
If you're looking only at death, you might be right. So, if you're the parent of a child who has thyroid cancer, but hasn't died (yet), I guess you should just be dancing in the street, right?
Of course, that street won't be near Chernobyl, since that site won't be safe for human habitation for oh, a couple of thousand years, give or take.
The dam break was much worse in terms of fatalities than Chernobyl.
But you are including both immediate, intermediate, and long term casualities in the hydro event while only considering immediate casualities in the Chernobyl event.
The correct ratio is probably four or five to one, not tens of thousands to one.
To put things into perspective.
deaths due to the biggest Nuclear accident: 35.
Deaths due to the biggest hydroelectric accident: > 200,000. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam#Casualtieshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_due_to_the_Chernobyl_disaster