Just how much social responsibility is enough? Maybe train ourselves to close the tap while brushing the teeth? Or maybe a hybrid car will do? Or maybe even eco-terrorism can be justified from a certain point of view? How far into the future do we think when we talk about environment?
I watched a documentary on the nuclear waste disposal about an year ago and could not just put it out of my mind since then. It’s called “Into Eternity. A Film for the Future”, by Michael Madsen. Apparently a spent nuclear fuel repository is being constructed in a place called Onkalo, in Finland. Once finished in 2020 all the nuclear waste from all over the world for another 100 years (up to 2120) will be deposited there and sealed for 100 000 years. This is how long the waist remains toxic.
The questions pressed in the film remained mainly unanswered. And here’s why: Mankind is 50 000 years old, Egyptian Pyramids are 5 thousand years old. Jesus was born 2000 years ago. Just to show how long is 100 000 years – very long. If life on earth comes to an end tomorrow, in 100 000 years there might be new life forms on this planet. If we are still around by then, we will be definitely different from today. And which path a mankind is going to choose, path of development or path of self destruction is a another question.
The author pushes the scientists to prove to him that the whole idea of tucking away the deadly waste is going to be safe for all 100 000 years. How will people know not to open the door of death to the repository, let’s say in 50 000 years from now? The scientists shrug their shoulders and seem to be giving an answer because they are expected to say something – “We will have signs in all UN languages” (about 30 of them). Besides there will be certain authorities that will make it their duty to pass the responsibility from generation to generation. What, for 100 000 years? I don’t think so. So many civilizations have died throughout the history that is known to us. Only 5000 years later we do not understand the language of the builders of pyramids and still in the process of decoding it. Scientists and linguists can’t agree of exact meaning of the words in the language of Jesus. So who can insist that by the time the waste is not toxic anymore we will be speaking any of the UN languages?
What if our civilization dies and a new springs up in its place, new and powerful, developed and advanced. Can anyone insist that scientific advancement is impossible without using nuclear power? What if this new civilization achieved much higher levels of development without knowing what nuclear power is? And then, being same curious creatures as we are, they will need to know what is so precious buried in the solid rocks of Onkalo, that is so elaborately hidden?
Too far into the future to think or worry about it? Probably, but I can’t get rid of this “What If?”.
What bothered me personally is that one company which is supervising the construction will operate it…. until forever. That should be some company if they are making plans 100 000 years in advance.