MADISON, Wis. (CAP) - As concern continues to grow over the safety of nuclear power in the United States amidst the ongoing crisis in Japan, a new landmark study by the University of Wisconsin Energy Institute finds that the level of safety inherent in an energy source is directly related to the simplicity of creating that particular energy, environmental factors notwithstanding.
"While the joule output derived from the so-called Level A sources of energy lags far behind that of nuclear power, one cannot ignore the exponential increase in safety," said Kit Verne of the University of Wisconsin's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. "What I'm saying is that nobody ever had their insides melt from rubbing two sticks together."
Although the Energy Institute's analysis focuses primarily on research culled from current case studies as they relate to coal mining, oil drilling and gasoline consumption, it draws much of its insight from the 1984 breakthrough report, The Magnifying Glass And The Role Of The Ant In A Global Energy Crisis. That was but one of many studies commissioned by President Reagan in an attempt to allay fears over the threat of nuclear war.
"During the tenure of President Bush, we had nucular power, which was safe, simple, but as we know now, also misleading," said Yale University political science professor Grayson Vaughn. "And now under Obama we have nuclear power, which is infinitely more complicated, but now our lives are at risk.
"So it certainly begs the question of whether we were better off blissfully ignorant or Democrat," added Vaughn. "I'm going to reserve judgement because Al Gore has yet to weigh in."
Meanwhile, members of the more traditional energy industries are jumping on the growing anti-nuclear sentiment to show the benefits of their own products, long the target of criticism for lack of efficiency and renewability. A new television campaign by the National Miner's Assocation features a soot-covered coal miner telling viewers, "I inhale coal dust so you don't have to ingest iodine," while a new print ad for BP shows an aerial shot of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan with the caption, "Kind of makes our little boo-boo look not quite so bad, doesn't it?"
"We have so many more options to safely fulfilling our energy needs than we gives ourselves credit for," said CAP News science consultant Bill Nye. "Like the green concept car that runs on excrement - I mean, we've barely tapped the potential of poo. And God knows we have enough of it.
"Or zombies. What about zombies?" noted Nye. "Certainly we can find a way to get them to use their powers for good."
The Energy Institute's report touches on a variety of energy options, ranging from placing small pieces of corn husk across the terminals of a battery to create a spark to an experiment conducted in the Madison suburb of DeForest's elementary school district. In that experiment, shifts of children rubbed balloons on their heads to generate enough static electricity to power a 25-watt lightbulb that heated a pet hermit crab tank.
"And then, well, spring vacation hit, and - God rest little Hermie's soul," said one school administrator.
A new report being prepared by the Energy Institute in conjunction with the United States Secretary of Energy details efforts to provide subsidies for potato farming in order to help a new generation learn the art of powering a small desk lamp just from sticking a couple wires into a Russet, because "that's what it may come down to."
- CAP News Staff