Nuclear Crisis Ethics

Meltdown! Radiation! Mutations! Well, I guess that's all we have to know.

I just heard, for the twelfth time, Sen. Joe Lieberman telling “Face the Nation” that the United States should put the brakes on nuclear energy plant construction “right now until we understand the ramifications of what’s happening in Japan.” Meanwhile, the anti-nukes crowd is out in full force, seeing Japan’s crisis as their opportunity to scare the bejesus out of the public, which is nervous about nuclear energy anyway since they know nothing about it, other than that something bad happened at Three-Mile Island, the Russians had a catastrophe at Chernobyl,  Jane Fonda made that scary movie, “The China Syndrome,” where they shot Jack Lemmon— “And don’t they make bombs with that nuclear stuff?”—and the fact that Homer Simpson works for a nuclear plant that creates three-eyed fish and is run by that evil old Montgomery Burns. Continue reading

Ethics Audit: the Deep-Water Oil-Drilling Ban Saga

President Obama’s ban on deep-water oil drilling in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil disaster pits important ethical values against each other: fairness vs. responsibility. On both sides of the equation is prudence. New Orleans federal judge Martin Feldman over-ruled the ban and issued an injunction against it, saying in effect that there was no contest: the ban isn’t fair, prudent, or responsible.

The Obama Administration’s ethical argument supporting the ban goes something like this: Continue reading