Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Information Exploitation

It's too soon. We can't talk about it. No, it's still too soon. We can't talk about it. No, no. Come back to me in a little while. Yes, later. Much later. When you've calmed down a bit. I'm sorry, what were we talking about?

Jonah Goldberg seems to think that we shouldn't be referring to the recent and still unfolding nuclear disaster(s) in Japan as reasons why nuclear power may not be such a great idea. It's a tragedy. (Can't argue with that.) But it's still happening right now so we shouldn't "exploit" it for some sneaky awful political agenda. Like saving lives.

This happens all the time. Something awful happens, usually because of something the energy industry did. Some of us meekly raise our hands and say, "Um, excuse me, but doesn't this prove what we've been saying all along? That what we're doing here is inherently dangerous and harmful to the environment?" Then the captains of industry come rushing in to say, "No no, it's perfectly safe.*" *"As long as there are never any natural disasters or the hint of human error. Or terrorism."

And people like Jonah Goldberg are right there to back them up by claiming that anyone merely pointing out the fact of the disaster is using it for their own political agenda and therefore disrespecting the thousands/millions affected by said disaster. I guess if our agenda is something like "Nuclear power is bad because terrible shit happens so we maybe shouldn't use it so much" then it's considered tacky to say so when terrible shit actually happens.

But wait, Jonah says. You said yourself that shit happens. Shit happens! We can't stop doing everything because something bad might happen, right? So a few hundred people get their faces melted off. Hey, it could have been a few thousand. The system works! (Jonah actually makes this point, if a bit less in extremis. It's in the third-to-last paragraph.) Let's congratulate ourselves and build a few more nuclear plants. We're going to need them now that those other ones have melted down. But we'll need to build them somewhere else. Too much radiation already in that place.

Sorry, Jonah. But when we have preventable catastrophes like this it is the perfect time to bring up the folly of raping the earth for short-term gain. The truth does not take a vacation because it's inconvenient for you to look at it. We are not "thirst[y] to confirm...[our]...preferred policies". We are pained that we have to go through this again and again and again while people like you refuse to listen as more and more people die.

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