Saturday, February 24, 2007

Nuclear Waste

The supposed difficulty of nuclear power is what to do with all the radioactive waste. Nuts to that. The difficulty is any danger from radioactivity now. It is apparently a requirement in some circles that we must develop ways of safely disposing of nuclear waste for 10,000 years or the whole deal should be off. They think it would be irresponsible to bequeath such danger to later generations.

Does it hurt to point out that the "later generations" that will be around in 10,000 years are not our grandchildren and great grandchildren? This is posterity at a very far remove. Turn the telescope in the other direction: how much do you think your ancestors of 10,000 years ago were responsible to you, personally?

Heck, cut it by a factor of ten. The people who lived in the year 1007. How connected to them are you?

We are entering an era of rapidly improving technology. Every generation now does things thought impossible not long before. People are seriously studying how to extend our lifespans 20, 40, 100 years. The singularity is expected in a few decades. Even 100 years from now, the behavior of societies will be radically different. 200 years out - we wouldn't recognise the lives those people have. And here's the kicker - we might not like them. They may have taken a cultural turning that renders them not only incomprehensible, but repugnant to us.

Okay, give them the benefit of the doubt. They might be fine people, and despite tremendous technological advances, might still be just short of figuring out what to do with radioactive waste. But really, the call for even a thousand-year guarantee of safe disposal is just ridiculous. The variables for ten centuries are too great to make any plan remotely sensible.

Put the effort into safety now. Ignore the rest.

1 comment:

dicentra63 said...

Dispose of nuclear waste? Encase it in porcelain and drop it into the Puerto Rico Trench. Problem solved. Any radiation that leaks out will be absorbed by the water and any life forms that are affected are just tube worms, and the ocean is lousy with those.

I really ought to be paid consultant fees for this.