There has been quite a bit of hysteria among some major media outlets in the past few days regarding the potential dangers of nuclear power. Some have even suggested that the benefits of nuclear energy do not outweigh its potential dangers to human life.
The dangers of nuclear power, while serious, need to be put in perspective. To that end, here's an interesting fact you won't be hearing from the mainstream press: wind energy has killed more Americans than nuclear energy.
You read that right. According to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, there were 35 fatalities associated with wind turbines in the United States from 1970 through 2010. Nuclear energy, by contrast, did not kill a single American in that time.
The meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 did not kill or injure anyone, since the power plant's cement containment apparatus did its job - the safety measures put in place were effective. Apparently the safety measures associated with wind energy are not adequate to prevent loss of life.
Nuclear accounts for about nine percent of America's energy, according to the Energy Information Administration, and has yet to cause a single fatality here. Wind, on the other hand, provides the United States with only 0.7 percent of its energy, and has been responsible for 35 deaths in the United States alone. So if we're trying to weigh the costs and benefits of each, it seems wind fares far worse than nuclear. Yet no one seems to be discussing plans to halt production of all new wind farms until Americans' safety can be guaranteed.
Of course there are potential dangers to nuclear energy that the nation, thankfully, has not had to endure. But when assessing the dangers of a given technology, it usually helps to look at what has actually happened, not what could maybe, possibly, conceivably happen in the event of a Biblical-scale disaster.
Unfortunately, doomsday scenarios tend to get far more media play than level-headed analysis.