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Environmental Destruction: When Ignorance isn’t Bliss

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Global warming is slowly but surely becoming a concern to many scientists who are realizing the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters occurring around the world. Based on specific arguments presented in the essays, “The Fire Next Time” by Jeff Goodell and “Going to Extremes” by Linda Marsa, one observes through the texts that with the progression of time, natural disasters will only heighten if individuals do not recognize the need for and identify the ways to prevent such disasters from occurring. In other words, “Ignorance is not bliss.” The Government, specifically the Australian Government and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the United States, lack the knowledge required for prevention, preparation, and risk management related to natural disasters; therefore, these organizations are responsible for the extreme effects destroying the environment.

The uncertainty as to how to prevent such intensive damages caused by natural disasters is apparent with specific organizations such as the NRC and the Australian government themselves. However, perhaps these government-regulated companies are not making an effort to realize the possibilities of destruction from natural disasters as Jeff Goodell presents in his article. Goodell’s essay discusses the NRC’s lack of attention to public health and safety, in exchange for the industry’s growth. He references a comment made by Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the NRC: “Don’t worry it can’t happen here,”(Goodell 125). Goodell is successful at highlighting the ignorance that exists within the NRC by quoting the most important figure of the organization to reveal the lack of understanding and awareness of the urgency this situation involves. As environmental destruction continues to devastate the environment, Goodell exposes the reassurance that the NRC communicates to the public. To illustrate, the United States has an exact replica of Fukushima, a Japanese nuclear plant that caused an environmental destruction, brings us to question why the NRC chairman fails to take that into consideration. Furthermore, with Australia’s increasing climate change and intense natural disasters, Linda Marsa, in “Going to Extremes” explains that there are climate experts saying, “What is happening in [Australia] offers a glimpse of some of what is on the horizon for the United States as well.” Marsa also cites a former executive, Arnie Gundersen: “Consequently, we have a dozen Fukushimas waiting to happen in America,” yet nothing is being done for the safety of the population (Marsa 119). Thus, these organizations are demonstrating a lack of interest to better prepare the public.

Due to lack of knowledge to prevent such intense destructions and protecting the community, poor preparations for future destructions are bound to happen. In Australia, Marsa explains that within three weeks after a massive flood, “…Nature struck again… Cyclone Yasi, a Category 5 storm within a 300-mile front and winds gusting up to 180 miles an hour, roared in from the Coral…flattening several beachfront towns still cleaning up from the floods…”(Marsa 118). However, storms such as these can and are predicted with the advanced technology that we have today. Rather than clean up from the damage caused by floods, the Australian government should have used up the time they had in those three weeks to better prepare the public for the upcoming storm. As a result, many are left homeless or even lost their lives. Many warnings from experts around the world are being ignored such as physical geographer, Steve Turton’s statement, “‘You can’t live in this area and not realize what is happening to the land,’”(Marsa 123). Similarly, in the United States, David Lochbaum, a senior adviser at the Union of Concerned Scientists, states, “The question is not whether we will get an earthquake or a tsunami…The question is whether we are fully prepared for the unexpected events, and whether we are doing everything we can to protect the public. I don’t think we are,”(Goodell 133). Thus, the NRC should be doing more investigations, putting in more work and effort to better prepare the public for their safety in case the United States is in danger of these natural disasters. They should quickly recognize that global warming is becoming an issue to all areas around the world, which is why organizations such as the NRC and the Australian government should recognize the possibilities and not choose to take any risks and put any lives at risk.

With the absence of preparation for possible natural disasters, these companies are taking ignorant actions such as enhancing industry profits rather than spending a good amount of money in research for a well-prepared community. Not only that but with only ten days after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the NRC “extended the license of the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor”, which is an exact replica of Fukushima(Goodell 126). Instead of hiring engineers for a more modern nuclear reactor, the NRC extends a, already old, nuclear plant’s life as an escape avoid paying billions “to move the spent fuel out of the pools and into more secure containers known as dry-cask storage,”(Goodell 132). “They would rather let the public take the risk,” further explains Victor Gilinsky, a former NRC commissioner. Similarly, the Australian government has is still struggling on how to respond to strong climate change since Australia is “the world’s largest exporter of the dirtiest of all fossil fuels…and relies heavily on coal for its own electricity as well…”(Marsa123). Therefore, although they are extremely reliant on coal, an alternative needs to be introduced since coal is, in fact, one of the contributors to global warming. However, perhaps the only difference between the NRC and the Australian government is that Australia realizes the drastic climate changes and intensity of the natural disasters occurring.

Although these specific government-controlled companies are responsible for the suffering and death of many individuals, one could blame nature itself. Ultimately, nature is the only force causing destruction. In an effort to further explain this idea, Marsa states, “In Australia, these natural disasters have always been around,”(Marsa 117). Indeed, Australia is a dry land with natural disasters occurring regularly. However, “…lately the swings of wet and dry have been shockingly intense,”(Marsa 118). Furthermore, the United States is indeed in a safer zone which perhaps explains why Gregory Jaczko did not warrant any immediate changes at U.S. nuclear plants. Goodell further explains this idea stating, “Perhaps Jaczko was simply trying to prevent a full-scale panic about the dangers of U.S. nuclear plants,”(Goodell 126). However, global warming is, unfortunately, causing these uncommon natural disasters in places not prepared for them and intensifying disasters that are expected. Ultimately, it is human actions and their decisions that is causing so many to suffer.

As the articles “The Fire Next Time” by Jeff Goodell and “Going to Extremes” by Linda Marsa have clearly stated, both the NRC and the Australian Government are responsible for lives lost caused by their limited knowledge to effectively prevent a natural disaster, inability to prepare the public, increasing their industry profits while not realizing the possible risks. Although several experts have been repeatedly giving warnings, these government regulated organizations are demonstrating that they rather take the risk than protect the safety of the public. Ultimately, the NRC and the Australian government are the problems to the situation but they are also the solution. If an effort is not made to improve humanity’s current situations, it would fair to conclude that with the progression of time, more and more individuals and will suffer and die.

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