Should We Fear Nukes?

Does the nuclear reactor nearest your home pose any more threat today than it did before the earthquake in Japan?

Surely it doesn’t. But many people feel more afraid of nuclear disaster than they did before.

Fear by association is the tendency to feel afraid because something in our world is similar to something scary elsewhere. It’s a normal human response. But fear by association can be debilitating when people imagine dangers that are not justified by reality.

Responding to actual danger with fear and appropriate evasive action is one way we preserve our lives and our well-being. However, we have to catch ourselves when we automatically inflate our fear beyond the actual level of risk in an exaggerated response to danger.

Since the news media hold attention by showing one catastrophe after another, we see plenty of scary things happening all over the world. We have to remember to evaluate the true level of risk as it affects our own lives so that we aren’t afraid any more than we have to be.

Nuclear power has its benefits and its risks. That hasn’t changed. What happened in Japan will surely bring the discussion back into public awareness.

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