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Quite the World, Isn't It?

Op-ed: We're asking the wrong question

The Sacramento Bee today carries an op-ed I wrote about the policy implications of the Japanese nuclear catastrophe, and looking at the assurances we are given that nuclear energy is safe - a response to the natural question embedded in the plume of dispersed radiation predicted to waft over Southern California today.

But we're asking the wrong question. We shouldn't be wondering whether it is safe; we should be wondering whether the risk is worth the benefit. I say, no. From the article:
Most of California is blessed with an enviable climate that promises intense, harnessable, sunshine nearly every day of the year. There is no environmental risk to capturing solar energy, and it is indefensible that the state does not require all new buildings include solar panels on the roofs. (The state already is making strides toward tapping wind power, though more could be done). ... sometimes the solution to problems moves beyond dollars and has to be weighed against risk. Requiring solar panels to all new construction, including building additions, would add relative pennies to the cost of buildings that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is something state energy policy officials should be pursuing with vigor, while the rest of us begin to shake loose of our assumptions of what is safe, and what is sustainable.

We need to start asking ourselves the right questions.
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