We just read a very solid article from Judi Greenwald, the Vice President for Innovative Solutions at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. She gives a “wide angle lens” view on our energy choices. She notes that when you look out over the last year almost each major energy type had serious and major accidents:
…from the Gulf oil spill, to the natural gas explosion in California, to the accidents in coal mines in Chile and West Virginia, and now to the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor. We have been reminded that harnessing energy to meet human needs is essential, but that it entails risks. The risks of different energy sources differ in size and kind, but none of them are risk-free.
Given that fact, every culture including ours is all about choices, and balance and how to mitigate the risk of each energy source:
We set safety standards, rules and regulations for nuclear power plants, oil platforms and natural gas pipelines. We create regulatory agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, to ensure that workers and the public are protected…. Our energy supply choices involve balancing many factors.
We need rules and regulators to make each and every energy source as safe as possible. With the right rules in place to address societal costs like climate change, air pollution, and nuclear accidents, we can then allow markets to judge which option has the lowest private costs. We must use the options we have as best we can and make public and private investments in new energy sources that will give us better choices (with lower social and private costs) in the future.
An excellent commentary, we recommend you go check out the entire article.