Streetwise Professor

March 15, 2011

Puddin’ Head Wilson’s Cat & Japanese Nukes

Filed under: Climate Change,Energy,Politics — The Professor @ 10:45 am

With the catastrophe at the Fukushima reactors in Japan has led to additional scrutiny of nuclear power plant construction projects around the world.  This is indeed prudent, but we should hope that the reviews are done soberly and carefully, rather than in a Chicken Little fashion.

For instance, the “no nukes of any kind anywhere” position advanced by people like Rep. Ed Markey from Massachusetts is a premature over-reaction.  “No boiling water nukes on seismically active coastlines vulnerable to tsunamis that could destroy emergency generators needed to operate cooling pumps” is sensible.  Just where between those extremes the line should be drawn depends on myriad factors, not least of which is the nature of new nuclear power technologies.  (Spare me the Chernobyl references: even Fukushima analogies are inapt when discussing more modern reactor designs.)

We should, in brief, keep in mind what Puddin’ Head Wilson said:

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there — lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more. [Emphasis added.]

In other words, when evaluating the future of nuclear power, we should not be like Wilson’s cat.

And another Twain phrase also comes to mind while following these events:

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

And that goes double for the internet.  (Present company excluded, of course.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. One would think that having *possibly* 100s dead from radiation is the least of one’s problems when you have 10,000 dead and whole towns washed away by the tsunami.

    Comment by So? — March 15, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  2. Yes, So?, one would think. But one would be wrong, unfortunately. Part of it is, I think, the emotional resonance of anything “nuclear.” Part of it is that something like a tsunami is far more comprehensible to people than nuclear power. Part of it is that the tsunami is something completely out of our control, whereas the development of nuclear power is potentially controllable via political processes. And part of it is that this tsunami is history, whereas the nuclear drama is ongoing.

    Put all of it together and you have a recipe for muddled thinking and emotional hysteria.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 16, 2011 @ 2:55 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress