Trevor Brookins

*Once upon a time people walked everywhere and carried whatever they needed in their arms or on their backs. But that wasn’t good enough…

OK. No problem. Someone figured out how to make a wheel which led to a wheel barrel. At the same time someone figured out how to train animals to perform tasks on command. When combined these two developments allowed people to go farther and faster than before, and carry bigger things and more stuff. Sure we had to subdue some other species in the process. But it was all done in the name of progress. Still that wasn’t good enough…

OK. No problem. Some figured out how to use steam to power engines. With the advent of the steamboat people could go father and faster than before, and could carry bigger things and more stuff. Sure we had to sacrifice forests in the process. But it was all done in the name of progress. Unfortunately to take advantage of the steamboat you had to be near a waterway. So that wasn’t good enough…

OK. No problem. Someone else figured out how to use coal to power engines. With the emergence of railroads people could go farther and faster than before, and could carry bigger things and more stuff. Sure we had to pillage fossil fuel deposits, destroy ecosystems and pollute  the environment. But it was all done in the name of progress. Only that still wasn’t good enough…

OK. No problem. Someone figured out how to use oil to power the internal combustion engine. With the invention of cars, trucks, airplanes, and more powerful boats and trains, people could go farther and faster than before, and carry bigger things and more stuff. Sure we had to again pillage fossil fuels, destroy even more ecosystems, cause that much more harm to the environment. In addition because most of the oil was in south western Asia and northern Africa, we had to meddle in their political affairs and open up a new era of hostile diplomatic relationships with these countries. But it was all done in the name of progress. Yet that still wasn’t good enough…

OK. No problem. Someone figured out how to use nuclear energy to create electricity and power machines. And now we’re going to draw the line? Yes immediate death via a nuclear meltdown is a more imminent threat (and more concrete with the each day’s news from Japan) compared to pollution. Nevertheless we have to think of nuclear power the same way we think of all other energies: a reasonable risk in which the positives outweigh the negatives.

Unless all of a sudden folks are willing to revert back to walking everywhere.

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  You can reach him at [email protected]