War and Nuclear Plants – a Teachable Moment

Forgive my moment of  “duh!”

I thought for sure that had I not grasped the obvious previously, someone surely had. But, alas, I can’t seem to find it anywhere.  So, perhaps this might be of some interest.

I was looking at the map of US reactors (and you might find the NRC report from which I took this illustration  interesting):

Currently licensed U.S. nuclear power plants

And then I thought of the European nuclear power plants:

European nuclear plants

And I thought of the Japanese nuclear power plants:

via the Christian Science Monitor

And, then I thought about all the nuclear plants in Asia:

via Agence Presse France (AFP)

And then I thought about the bombing that started yesterday in Libya, and the obligatory “strike” maps:

(AFP) via Yahoo News

And this from today:

via the Daily Mail (UK)

Notice anything about those maps?

Perhaps you might notice this: if there were a conventional war in ANY of the countries mapped, each and every one of those nuclear reactors would become an indefensible military target.

Think about that.

Oh, I know, nobody “sane” or “rational” would target nuclear power plants, but since when have sanity and rationality been the hallmarks of warfare? Or, put it this way: nobody starts a domestic violence dispute with a shotgun. But, all too often, they END with one.

And, who, in their hubris, can possibly guarantee fifty years without a war?

From the killing fields of Cambodia

Because, until we do, nuclear power remains a choice with a minor upside (carbon reduction) and a nightmare downside (nuclear wasteland, hundreds of years of isolation of the plant itself).

Now: I keep hearing how ‘dangerous’ coal is, compared with nuclear. It’s the old comparative benefits argument, and “rational” apologists for nukes have been on the air each and every day making it.

Except: not ONE of them ever notes that if a mine collapses or a coal-fired plant blows up (or is blown up) you DON’T get a thousand years of radiation.

This is ridiculous. To equate coal mining and burning with nuclear accidents is specious and insane and anyone who makes this argument ougtht to be sent in for psychiatric evaluation. It is an argument virtually indistinguishable from the proposition:

  • Your grandmother got a parking ticket (and is, therefore, an “outlaw”)
  • Charlie Manson killed a lot of people. (and is, clearly, an “outlaw”)
  • THEREFORE, your grandmother = Charlie Manson

Bad as this argument is, it gets worse, because …

NO ONE EVER discusses the possibility of warfare!

(Not nuclear warfare: just plain old garden variety guns and tanks warfare.)

Are you kidding me?

all it takes is one bomb or missile

Name me ONE civilization in the history of mankind who could guarantee (leaving aside the nightmare of nuclear waste after the reactor is done with the fuel, and the relative scarcity of uranium, nor the necessary production of plutonium in “breeder” reactors needed to plug the shortfall) who can guarantee world peace for fifty or a hundred years?


And when I realized it, I went “DUH!” and slapped my forehead very hard*, and felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner.

[* Leaving an angry red weal.]

The “utopia” of nuclear energy, or merely the “stopgap” of nuclear energy carries with it costs that NO ONE in their right mind ought to be willing to bear, IF the very real scenario of a war, somewhere, in the next 50 years is added to the mix.

Sorry, Charlie. Starkist® doesn’t want tuna with good taste. They want tuna that DOESN’T GLOW IN THE DARK AND EMIT GAMMA RAYS!!

dig those crazy gamma rays


If you cannot guarantee that there will be no warfare, nuclear power plants are an unconscionable risk, no matter how “safe” they are touted to be — quite apart from any other considerations, whatsoever.


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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