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Cleaning Up Our Protocol

April 15, 2013


The New York Times recently published an article explaining that the American government is rethinking how they should address potential nuclear disaster. The article states the incidents at the Fukushima reactor as a big reason for the possible changes of protocol, but Fukushima was two years ago. In much more recent nuclear news, North Korea has made statements denouncing the United States.

I’ve been following the North Korea nuclear debacle for the past couple weeks because I enjoy reading world news while I am at work. It seems strange to me that the U.S. would suddenly be worried about a reactor accident, and much more likely that they would be preparing for a “dirty bomb” attack. Whatever caused the sudden interest in radiation fallout, I think this is a very interesting study to undertake and Fukushima makes for an interesting case study. Such studies are often what push science forwards. Often they can be tragic incidents, as Fukushima was, but paying attention to past events allows us to alter our futures and hopefully protect citizens against further harm.

The purpose of this study was to determine protocol for long term clean up of nuclear radiation. This part seems tricky to me. Radiation limits have already been determined for healthy living, and the E.P.A document should not change these limits; but we also know that half lives of many chemicals used in nuclear warfare are very large, and even with clean up I question how realistic living in a “Chernobyl” society would be.

It is amazing to me that science has both caused the problem (nuclear weaponry) and is being used to calculate the solution (clean up). I can’t imagine the math and calculations that such a report would entail, or the pressure that would be placed on the reporter.

Truth be told, I don’t have answers to this problem; I doubt anyone does. I have been following these headlines because I am slightly afraid of WWIII. Even if North Korea doesn’t have the nuclear capacity to directly attack the U.S., I am afraid that an attack anywhere would lead to allies. There are many memes and jokes floating around on the internet, the articles that I’ve read say there isn’t much to be worried about yet. But, I still read the articles because I am not sure if we’ve had enough time to research nuclear disaster, or if anyone knows how afraid we should be.

Albert Einstein said, “I don’t know what WWIII will be fought with, but I do know WWIV and WWV will be fought with sticks and stones.” This quote is very insightful to me, and I can’t help but agree. No matter what we do to try to clean up the radiation I just don’t believe that a world after nuclear devastation could return to a functioning society for many hundreds of years. Clean up will be useful for one or two attacks, but a full fledged war could destroy us.

*No offense is meant by the meme shown above, it was one of the first things to come up when I googled North Korea meme. Credit is given below.

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