Most people fear plane crashes, airplane terrorism and nuclear power accidents. However, these fears have resulted in stupid policies that increase deaths.
Planes are far safer than cars. The TSA and anti-terrorism pre-flight checks are ineffective at catching terrorism and create delays that cause people to change to driving for short and medium flights. People driving instead of flying likely causes an extra 200 deaths per month. A 2005 study places a lower conservative estimate of 300 additional deaths per year from TSA avoidance, air crash, and air terrorism fears.
The TSA in the USA costs about $8 billion per year.
All of the passengers and crew of airplanes know that they cannot allow terrorists to take control of the plane. 9-11 hijackings were already solved on the same day when the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 fought back to prevent terrorists from controlling the plane.
The main increase in safety and reduction in terrorist attacks comes from operations against countries and organizations that launch terrorist attacks.
In order to reduce traffic deaths, airplane security needs to be recreated with a focus on speed and convenience.
There also should be increased usage of the tens of thousands of smaller airports. This would allow faster loading and more direct commuter flights. Usually, large airports are poorly placed for short haul business commuters.
Nuclear Energy Already Saves 50,000 Lives Every Year From Air Pollution Avoidance and Could Be Increased to Save 400,000 Lives per Year
Similarly, nuclear energy is far safer than coal, natural gas and oil.
Nuclear power is generating 2500 Terawatt hours per year of clean energy. This displaces a mix of mainly coal and natural gas power generation. Air pollution from Natural gas causes 10 to 15 deaths per terawatt hour and air pollution from coal causes 30 to 70 deaths per terawatt hour. Existing nuclear continues to save 50,000 lives per year from air pollution avoidance.
New nuclear reactor designs that can be factory mass produced and have increased safety and efficiency would allow a rapid scaling of nuclear energy to provide 20,000 Terawatt hours per year of clean energy within two to three decades. This would save 400,000 lives per year and reduce global warming gases by about 30 to 50%.
The 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident was caused by a tsunami washing away the diesel fuel tanks to keep the reactors and nuclear fuel cooling operating. This resulted in 2202 deaths mainly from evacuating old people out of the potential radiation zone and one false claim of Fukushima related cancer. The radiation generated was not that much and if the radiation is below the level that is fatal then it takes a decade or two for high levels of radiation to cause cancer and for cancer to kill. The old people in Japan who were evacuated would have died from old age before any radiation-caused deaths if they ended up getting exposed to radiation levels far higher than what Fukushima caused.
There was a financial settlement to the family of a Fukushima worker who claimed his cancer was from the accident? The award was given because of politics and guilt and not scientific evidence.
The Chernobyl was a terrible reactor design that had no containment dome. Chernobyl caused about 200 deaths and might eventually shorten the lives of another 160 people by about 18 months.
Cutting the TSA and Jump Starting New Nuclear Power Build
If the TSA was cut then the funds could be used to effectively jump start advanced nuclear reactor power. A mix of research funding and subsidies with the $8 billion per year would enable nuclear to get rolling again.
SOURCES – Forbes, Wikipedia, Cornell University
Written By Brian Wang
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.