By scanning several newspapers and television news channels from a number of countries, one realizes how different countries are.
There was a blip in interest in all countries about the dangers of nuclear energy following the tsunami in Japan. That story has been pushed aside by other issues, depending upon the country...except in Germany.
Although nuclear energy makes up only 24% of the country's energy consumption, there is a major push to reduce that to zero as soon as practical. This is the lead story of most newscasts and front pages of newspapers. Pressure is being exerted by the increasingly popular Green party, and the weakening Social Democrats are jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to revitalizing flagging voter interest. The right-leaning government feels itself forced to play along with popular fear of nuclear reactors. The population seems to be resigned to paying higher energy fees in the future, but accept the need to reduce the number of nuclear reactors.
No other country gives this topic such prominence in their news. Of course, the US is not interested in anything that will hurt industries. Major energy suppliers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to discredit science behind global warming and promote use of fossil fuels or nuclear energy. France is too dependent on nuclear fuel to be able to move away. The UK government is too weak to make any decisions. Other countries seem to have their heads in the sand.
The nuclear catastrophe in Japan has re-ignited the debate in Germany about use of nuclear energy. The Green Party is having a field day.
During the dark days of socialist/green government, about ten years ago, they passed laws to drop this energy source in the future. Few could explain how to power the German industrial machine in a better manner, but rational argument rarely matters in politics. Once the conservatives regained power, they immediately reversed the decision.
Unfortunately for politicians, Nature has a way of entering the fray and not listening to politicians' "reasoning". After Fukishima, even the Conservative Party recognized the need react to the news and announced the premature closing of a few older nuclear reactors (which were already planned to be decommissioned). In politics, chemistry, and nuclear physics, every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. The government may have appeased voters, but failed to reckon with the energy companies: they sued, claiming that the decision to close the aging nuclear plants had "no legal basis".
I wonder if the tectonic plates had a "legal basis" for or sought a "legal opinion" before moving underneath Japan. I doubt it. Of course, lawyers somewhere are probably considering the case against Nature...while others will surely be willing to defend the earthquake and tsumani. Fees could be massive...
Some people warn that humans are destroying the planet. One culprit is the burning of fossil fuels.
In an attempt to reduce this dependence, man has invested heavily in nuclear energy. This subject is a constant theme of conflict in Germany; other major industrial countries seem to have accepted its dual-edged-sword aspects.
Events in Japan raise old and new questions about safety and sustainability of atomic energy. Opponents have been having a field day, smugly touting their "rightness". To my simple mind: that's not the issue. No one seems to be credibly addressing the question of how to provide energy to a hungry, growing human population. Few want to walk, use candles, and freeze in winter. There is no simple solution available.
For the moment, the only quick solution to lowered reliance on nuclear energy is increased burning of carbon...
...which will aggravate changes in the earth's atmosphere and alter conditions on the surface for humans. It will not destroy the planet, but it will affect human survival.
So, here's the point of the post headline: Does that mean that the planet--in the form of a humungous earthquake, which changes human behavior--is changing the planet? Now, that would be ironic.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.