November 2011

Note: This is the closest I've ever come to a controversial topic in these articles; it was born, to a certain extent, out of frustration. While I went to considerable effort to keep this piece as polite and apolitical as possible, I think my true opinions on the subject probably do show through.

There's been a lot of concern lately about nuclear power. And there's also been a lot of fear about radiation, not just here in Fukushima, but all over Japan and even in other countries.

I've read a lot about the trouble people from Fukushima have experienced when visiting other parts of Japan. Sometimes they've experienced suspicion, fear, or harassment. I wonder if the same thing will happen to me when I travel. But I accept that risk.

When I came to Kawamata, I became part of the community. That means sharing in the lives of the people here and throughout Fukushima. I've enjoyed the many wonderful things about life in Fukushima, so I don't regret sharing in the difficulties as well. In fact, I hope it will be an opportunity for me to act as an ambassador for Fukushima when I leave Japan. I'm not just a visitor here. I'm now "a person from Fukushima" like everyone else. And I'm proud of that. The earthquake, the nuclear accident, and all the other troubles that we have lived through have tied us all together forever.

Nowadays, many people, both in Japan and around the world, are starting to wonder if nuclear power is worth the risk. I won't try to answer that question. Every country and every community is going to have to decide that on their own. But in order to switch away from nuclear power, people have to understand what they're going to use instead.

In Germany, the government recently decided to stop using nuclear power. But they have no plan to replace that power with something else. That means that Germany will have to buy more power from France. And France uses nuclear power. So, in the end, Germany will still be using nuclear power. The nuclear reactors will just be located in France instead.

Some other countries that want to use less nuclear power are planning to build more coal or gas power stations instead. Unfortunately, coal and gas both contribute to global warming, which might be even more dangerous than nuclear power.

I'm afraid I don't have any answers to these problems. In Canada, we use a lot of hydro-electric power. But Japan doesn't have room for a lot of hydro plants. For Japan, maybe the answer will be geo-thermal power. There is a lot of promising research on using heat from underground to generate eco-friendly electricity. I think Japan has the opportunity to become a leader in this kind of new technology.

We are living in interesting times...

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