Friday, December 14, 2012

Nuclear Energy - Justified

A letter from Martha Gordon of Monmouth Oregon to the Statesman-Journal of Salem (Ore.), re-rendered as a poem:

As one survivor
of the Dust Bowl who
experienced the failure of one mistaken idea,
I am vitally afraid
of earth-shaking experiments.

Our experience with nukes,
you would think,
would rival that of
a child learning about fire
by getting burned.

Our wind power,
while not so fruitful
in this water-lush year,
is a “money in the bank” recourse
for the dry years predicted to come.

How can we justify more nukes
on our beautiful Columbia?

I was struck by Ms. Gordon’s (who must be well into her eighties if she remembers the dust bowl) artful arrangement of words in making her lyrical and somewhat mysterious statement about the vagaries of energy.

So it’s not pro-nuclear – or is it?  Or is that even the point? Wind, nuclear, natural gas – she alludes to their power generating potential and, like the first person confronted with fire, finds them fearful, potentially hurtful or incomprehensible (“not so fruitful”). Her letter seems less an anti-nuclear, pro-wind piece than a warning against accepting the promethean gift of energy hastily.

And she’s right in the particular case: if there are to be more nukes on the Columbia, they must be justified. I think it could be done – and it might be worth doing, worth justifying, though I haven’t heard of plans for nuclear build in Oregon (the Trojan plant there closed awhile ago). Regardless, Ms. Gordon’s words are wise and bracingly counterintuitive.

3 comments:

Atomikrabbit said...

"I am vitally afraid
of earth-shaking experiments"

I'm glad she wasn't the functionary needed to approve activities at Stagg Field in December 1942.

I'm also glad she wasn't the prehistoric woman deciding whether to flee or harness a lightning-bred fire a few eons ago.

In either case she would have undoubtedly chosen unreasoning fear over scientific evaluation. We need less, not more, of her type, and her words are a paean of fear, not worthy of elevating to poetry.

donb said...

There are some who say our Columbia River would be more beautiful running free instead of being restrained by dams. They would like to see the dams removed. Leaving aside the issue of river navigation, I could support their position if the dams were replaced by nuclear power plants.

Dogmudgeon said...

The Vogons were anti nuke?

Who knew?