The Park Record editorial, March 16-18, 2011 |

The Park Record editorial, March 16-18, 2011

The globe is getting smaller

The unimaginable confluence of catastrophes in Japan is a stark reminder of how intertwined our nation’s fate has become with those around the world. In addition to our shared grief, the disasters have the potential to generate widespread environmental and economic calamities.

Unfortunately, it seems, global tragedies have become more intense and more frequent. But that perception may be skewed by increasingly sophisticated communications technologies that deliver vivid coverage of the events in real time. Nevertheless, in each case, Park City and Summit County residents have come forward to lend a helping hand.

That support is needed now, perhaps more than ever before.

Currently several accredited charities are accepting donations to assist the more than 500,000 people who have been displaced and to help fund the recovery and eventual rebuilding efforts. Some of those organizations include: Doctors Without Borders, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), The Salvation Army in Japan, Save The Children and ShelterBox.

The continuing crisis surrounding Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors is also being closely watched in Park City where community members have been grappling with how to reduce energy consumption and shift to more sustainable energy-producing sources.

In recent history, many scientists, businessmen and politicians in the United States have looked to Japan as an example of how nuclear energy can be used successfully and safely. But the frightening potential of a catastrophic failure of one of Japan’s reactors has raised new concerns about that route.

Several Utah groups have consistently voiced their skepticism about nuclear energy and the radioactive waste it generates. Organizations like Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) have fought against proposals to store radioactive waste in the state based in large part on concerns about leakage in the event of a natural disaster. We appreciate their vigilance, especially in the wake of this terrible incident.

In fact, nuclear energy will likely be one alternative among many that will be considered as coal, gas and oil become both more expensive and more scarce. But the tragedy unfolding in Japan is a grave reminder of the risks associated with nuclear energy and will provide additional impetus to explore less volatile sources like wind, solar and hydro energy.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that we are all in this crisis together. The devastation in Japan will inevitably reach our own shores in one way or another and the sooner we pitch in to help, the sooner we will overcome these challenges together.