Nuclear power is just like social media

nuclearI was munching on my lunch while reading this io9.com article – “Nuclear power will kill fewer people than natural gas“. Basically, NASA scientists Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen say that nuclear energy leads to fewer pollution-related deaths and greenhouse gas emissions compared with fossil-fuel sources.

The argument is simple: the ongoing pollution caused by burning fossil fuels is much more dangerous than the problems caused by nuclear power, objectively speaking.  Using nuclear power prevents more fossil fuel-related deaths than fossil fuel pollution causes.

Here’s another good article about this: Fossil fuels: Deadlier than nuclear radiation. Look at the death figures for the coal industry.

WAIT! This article is not about whether this is true.

This article is about how nuclear power is like social media. Both hold great promises for their proponents and users. Both promise to generate tremendous results. Fossil fuels are like traditional marketing – you can generate results too and you can’t live without them, but the cost is high and there’s a lot of wastage.

Nuclear power has its inherent risks – that core meltdown that one hopes never happens. Social media crises are often also described with the same term, a meltdown. It seems the promise of quick wins also holds the risk of a major crisis.

In theory, if handled properly, such a meltdown is very rare. The benefits of social media are worth it in the long term. Nuclear power advocates say the same thing. The argument in the above article is that fossil fuel pollution is far worse – in part because the damage is guaranteed and sustained.

Societies use fossil fuels because it is an old habit. Same with traditional marketing. Nuclear power is used by those who are maybe considered more risk-averse, forward-thinking, or plain desperate for energy – but viewed by others as risky. Social media? Same – companies that use social media are often considered more forward-thinking, more willing to experiment, or they simply must have the attention.

You can stick with fossil fuels, but the long-term future is catastrophic for the environment. Traditional marketing too – you can continue to use it, and it will still be helpful to your bottom line, but it is arguably less competitive compared to social media marketing.

So which makes more sense? A powerful modern solution with a rare chance of disaster, or a costly solution that is tried-and-tested but cost-inefficient?

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