Living with Chernobyl-The future of nuclear power: Summary

Living with Chernobyl-the future of nuclear power as its name suggests is a documentary exploring the effects of the April 26th 1986 Chernobyl power plant disaster.

An explosion in number four reactor at the plant resulted in the greatest nuclear accident killing many instantly coupled with many others that died later with time. In the same year predictions on the effects of the radioactive fallout (radioactive particles that settle to the ground after a nuclear explosion) were made. The predictions underscored the health effects to those exposed to the radiation emitted after the explosion. In the documentary, journalist Cliff Orloff and Olga Shalygin made the journey to the affected zone with the aim of establishing the truth of the predictions made. They take the audience through the interviews and personal accounts of people who were affected by the accident. Further, in an effort to unravel the myths and misconceptions and state the facts, they go through a report compiled by the Chernobyl forum (experts assembled by the United Nation) that incorporates 20 years of historical records. There is a mention of the high rate of thyroid cancer in the population though the documentary does not go to the extent of giving figures on the fatalities.

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Apart from focusing on the accident itself and the consequences of the radioactive fallout, this documentary also explores the advantages of nuclear power as a green source of energy. It also explores the effects that the Chernobyl disaster had on the nuclear policy in the United States. It examines the effects in the light of modern day concerted efforts made to ensure government policies enable countries to cut down on carbon emission to reduce global warming. Global warming has led to the weakening of the environmental movement against nuclear energy. This is illustrated by the exodus of environmental leaders who are turning from rejecting nuclear power to firmly endorsing it.

Nuclear energy is a large-scale source of energy, which is carbon free, a big advantage of nuclear power that has not escaped the minds of the makers of this documentary. The documentary therefore advocates for nuclear energy as a way of dealing with global warming. I think that the documentary does not really focus on the effects of nuclear power especially from the Chernobyl accident. By leaving out solid figures like how many people were infected with thyroid cancer, it plays down the long term effects of the disaster. It fails to give enough information on the accident and dwells on the advantages that nuclear power has over conventional means, which greatly contribute to global warming. I do give credit to those who prepared the film for presenting the issue of nuclear power use, which is a touchy subject.

However, I do not agree with the view that nuclear energy should be embraced as a source of energy. Its dangers are obvious and the effect of such disasters cover vast areas and last for a long period. Given the nuclear disasters including the recent one in Japan which shows how unprepared we are for such disasters (by the way it is being handled) and the use of nuclear energy in making of bomb-agents of destruction; it is imperative to implement policies that would regulate taping and usage of nuclear energy in place of conventional energy sources. Nonetheless, the documentary is worth watching for anyone interested in going green through nuclear energy.


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