Nuclear energy seems like a really great option when you think about the problems and protests happening due to fracking, coal and domestic offshore oil drilling. Just the filth created by fracking and the planned dredging up of Alaska’s natural resources for petroleum could seem like plenty of reasons to look at nuclear energy. On the surface, it seems cleaner, more consistent and able to sustain whole cities for generations. This may be why studies show about 14 percent of the world’s electricity (the largest chunk of that being taken by the France, Japan and the U.S.) is now created via nuclear power. But what if what the public thinks is factual about nuclear energy is wrong?
Since President Dwight Eisenhower threw American weight behind nuclear power with the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, the military has had as much a stake in nuclear energy as supposed benevolent uses in charging up cities. In Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012), journalist Gar Smith looks at the potential dangers of nuclear accidents and the resulting environmental devastation. Other issues created, including theft of indigenous lands and what climate change could mean for reactors, are also looked over. As the former editor of Earth Island Journal, Smith seems very qualified to write on this subject.
Nuclear Roulette discusses some of history’s past nuclear calamities, such as at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), as well as the more recent destruction in Fukushima, Japan. Smith also shares a great deal of research on the potential technical, policy and environmental dangers nuclear energy poses. If you are unfamiliar with the potential damage to the air and water nuclear energy can do to a community, Smith is very ready to educate you. If you believe nuclear energy can be a major benefit to humankind, the author is very likely to sway you. Readers start to wonder if the risk is really worth it.
Smith opens the door on many issues you might not think of when you consider nuclear power, from how selling it is worded to the public and lax regulation. In all, Nuclear Roulette is a good contemporary primer on the effects of nuclear energy and its effects.