Nuclear power is our safest choice
Contrary to the impression created by the media, every scientific study - more than 25 of them - has found that coal burning, now the source of most of our electricity, is many times more harmful to our health than nuclear power.
These include studies sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, governments of various countries and states, and even one by the principal anti-nuclear organization, the Union of Concerned Scientists.
They take into account reactor meltdowns, radioactivity releases, transport accidents, waste disposal, and other nuclear hazards. Not a single study concludes that nuclear power is more harmful than coal.
Typical estimates are that air pollution from coal burning reduces our life expectancy by 13 days -- while nuclear dangers reduce it by only 0.02 days. Energy conservation practices are more dangerous yet: driving smaller cars costs an estimated 50 days, reducing air leaking in homes (which increases indoor pollution), 25 days.
By comparison, one's life expectancy is reduced by two years from being 25 pounds overweight, by four years from being poor, and by six years from smoking cigarettes.
Thus, the risk of nuclear power is equivalent to that of an overweight person gaining 0.02 ounces, of a regular smoker consuming on extra cigarette every 10 years, or of raising our national speed limit from 55 MPH to 55.02 MPH.
None of this information is controversial among scientists. It is not familiar to the public only because the media have not transmitted the message from the scientific community.
Instead, the media have driven the public "insane" with fear -- fear of radiation from minor nuclear mishaps, through it would usually be less than we get from natural sources every day; fear of reactor meltdowns, though one every two weeks would be required to match the current death toll from air pollution due to coal; and fear of radioactive waste, though it is thousands of times less harmful than the cancer-causing chemicals or the radioactive wastes released in coal burning.