OPINION

We are all survivors of nuclear power

Stereotypes often help us through fear and worry when times get tough. In the case of earthquakes, however, the usual cliche about them being the revenge of nature on man makes no sense whatsoever, unless earthquakes are stirred by nuclear tests. The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Fukishima Prefecture in northeastern Japan on Friday, causing concern and awakening insecurities around the world, were not the result of nuclear testing. They did, however, cause a serious nuclear accident, and that in the only country in the world to have paid the ultimate price of nuclear technology with two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, in an expression of the cynicism of the power-hungry American war machine.

In Japan the last officially recognized member of the Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic attacks), Tsutomu Yamaguchi, died on January 4, 2010, at the age of 93; he spent most of his life not only battling cancer, but also nuclear weapons. As things are, however, everyone in the world is at risk of becoming a Hibakusha (to take some poetic license with the Japanese word) in regard to our survival of a string of nuclear ?accidents.? Since 1952, the world has experienced tens of ?accidents? on three continents, starting with the nuclear reactor meltdown in Ontario, Canada, in that year. The number of such ?accidents? that have happened and have not been reported must far exceed the number of nuclear tests that were conducted for our own ?good? and never reported, also for our own ?good.?

The fact that the latest incident occurred in Japan, which experienced another ?accident? at Ibaraki in 1999, tells us one thing, and it is terrifying: that even in the country where radiation first unleashed its terrible powers, there is no such thing as the safe use of nuclear energy.

Be it by ?human error,? ?structural weakness? or an earthquake, the myth of safe nuclear power has been shot down, confirming that if the survival of mankind is dependent on nuclear reactors instead of more accessible sources of energy (sun, wind, natural gas), its future will be cut short. In disaster movies (which local television stations seem to be airing in abundance during these days of mourning in a kind of sadistic form of therapy), as well as in the legends of ancient people, the chosen ones always make it to safety. Comforting fiction, however, has never defined history.