Weighing The Risks Of Green

Green energy symbol
I noticed an odd advertisement in this morning's paper: 'Areva' (us.ariva.com). They were advertising energy 'alternatives' that they were offering to the public, only one 'alternative' was mentioned: nuclear energy. This wasn't particularly notable; what caught my eye was that the ad specifically referred to nuclear energy as 'green'. According to those in the know, 'green' energy is derived from sources that are enviro it was from an energy company callednmentally friendly, renewable and sustainable. Evidently, nuclear-generated energy does not fit into that definition. On one hand, there's the issue of the energy used to mine and process the fissionable material and, on the other hand, there's the issue of what to do with the non-disposable nuclear waste.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not opposed to nuclearGreen energy energy in principle - it's only in practice that take issue with it. In our attempt to solve one set of problems (greenhouse gasses), we're creating others. Once again, we have people in our society who are proposing short-term solutions to produce immediate financial gain. Instead of taking a long-term view using careful planning and in-depth risk assessment, they're using ad-hoc problem-solving. Calling nuclear energy 'green' seems to me to be a perfect example of George Orwell's famous 'double-think'. Here's how George Orwell himself described the concept:

"The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them . . . . To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. [Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd, London, pp 35, 176-177]"

Under the doublethink approach to 'green energy', soft coal would have been 'green' two or three centuries ago. After all, at that time, coal reserves seemed inexhaustible (at least for the foreseeable future). The environmental impact was minor (a little reduction in local air quality, a little scarcely-noticeable soot, few people complaining). The industrial revolution and its economic impact was far too critical to pay much attention to such 'collateral damage.' Perhaps, they reasoned, sometime in the future, people would have to deal with some issues, but, by that time, enough progress would have been made that those issues would easily be solved. . . . Or not.

Whether you want to look at the situation as a citizen of the world or of this country, as an entrepreneur or as a member of a family, the decisions that face you on a daily basis all have the same basic structure: you always have a choice between immediate gain and long-term benefit. If you choose immediate gain, you must also choose not to perform a serious assessment of the risks facing you. Aren't you also indulging in doublethink? Aren't you embracing the immediate lie (it'll be good for me right now; I'll be able to handle the consequences later) while leaving the truth (there are inescapable consequences for every choice we make) behind you in the dust? And, when those consequences finally confront you, how will you feel then: will you accept those consequences as the natural price for your self-indulgence, or will you become angry and petulant, complaining how unfairlygreen energy you're being treated?

Remember your answer when your standard of living plummets because of soaring energy costs, when property values drop, when taxes skyrocket to attempt to maintain a crumbling infrastructure, when health care is hard to come by, our planetary environment becomes increasingly hostile and 'retirement' is an obsolete concept. Every choice you - and we, your compatriots - face will pave the road ahead that we all must travel.

H. Les Brown, MA, CFCC
ProActivation® Coaching
Website: http://www.ProActivation.com
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