Saturday, April 11, 2009

Uneasy Sentinels

People just don't have a clear understanding of nuclear energy and how it works. It's not something you see every day or talk about every day.
Rita Sipe

A few weeks ago on a trip with friends we went the wrong way and suddenly thrusting up from the valley grass lands were a couple of eerie towers. Right away I thought nuclear power plant, my friends weren't sure. So I researched them knowing I would be heading that way. Sure enough, it was the cooling towers from the decommissioned Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station. As I went to a photo shoot that didn't work out (that's another horror story) nearby, I decided to visit it again as there is a County Park at it's edge now.

I am a child of the nuclear era, i.e. very much educated over the risks and horrors of what nuclear energy/weapons can engender. Today there seems to be a much more blase attitude about it. This week nuclear issues were in the news. Out of curiosity I asked some younger twenty somethings that I ended up with today what they knew about Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and so on. It was scary how many of them didn't have a clue as to what had happened or even what a nuclear accident could mean. They perceived me as some sort of alarmist, i.e. that I questioned the use of nuclear energy. Further several said that they trusted the government to take of the issues with it and thought it really quite safe. It was worrisome to me. I really hope they are not representative of their generation.

The Rancho Seco cooling towers stand over a green rich land. They are uneasy sentinels, a reminder of a past attempt that failed. I hope some of the individuals I talked to, went home and looked up some history and will begin to understand what it means to their future. My father taught me to be a steward of the earth and so I will continue to question how we can met our present needs without sacrificing the next generation's legacy.

Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Keb'Mo' and Ben Harper, "For What It's Worth":

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