Every time I mention nuclear, someone is screaming ‘NIMBY’ — Not In My Back Yard. Well folks,
everything is radioactive and radiating us with alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and x-rays. Bananas, rocks, concrete, lightning, the sun, the cosmos, your dog, your spouse, your friends, the trees, and the air all have radioactive components to them.
Your own body and eyeballs are emitting radiation — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for as long as the planet has existed and for as long as it will exist.
So, is nature radioactive? You betcha. And so are the big scary toxic nuclear waste pits (Hanford, Washington … ahem) and nuclear power plants (451 and counting). And modern medicine is full of radioactive tools for imaging, testing, cancer treatment, etc.
The more that we learn about radioactivity, the more we come to understand that life would be drastically different without it. Technically, life wouldn’t exist without the Sun releasing torrential amounts of ionizing radiation, heat and light at us every day.
Modern medicine was revolutionized by the discovery of X-rays. Nuclear medicine is revolutionizing other critical medical imaging procedures. Gamma rays are being used to sterilize food and medical equipment and also used to destroy cancer tumors.
Romaine lettuce and other fruits and vegetables would be safe, if they would just irradiate it before distribution.
But wait — I thought radiation was bad! Radiation in its most basic form is the movement of energy in the form of waves, rays or particles. Radiation is measured in time, distance and shielding. If you were accidentally exposed to a high dose of radiation for a short period of time, up close, without any cover, you would get very sick and may die.
That kind of acute radiation is very unlikely to happen with all the precautions that are taken.
Acute radiation is what can kill. There was no acute radiation released at Fukushima (2011) and there was no acute radiation released at WIPP (2014) and no one died. The world has been managing high level radiation safely since the beginning of the nuclear energy age.
So, where is this fear of nuclear coming from?