You know what happened yesterday. I won't belabor it. Two points.
First: If you want to donate, do it to the Red Cross.
Second: It looks like the Fukushima power plant—the one whose cooling was affected by the earthquake—suffered an explosion. According to CBS, it was not a meltdown, and unlikely to become a meltdown. There IS radiation and people are being evacuated. Thankfully, though, it's no Chernobyl or Three Mile Island.
But it's still bad. VERY bad. Not only because the Japanese are just about the last people on earth who should endure a nuclear disaster, but because this could send the entire energy industry spinning off into crisis. Nuclear power had been barely rehabilitated in the public's eye, and this is going to make people distrustful of it all over again. Americans, certainly, ain't going to want no new nukes near them anytime soon.
Perhaps they're justified. This should NOT have happened, considering the Japanese's knowledge of nuclear power, attention to safety, and earthquake-consciousness. I know that I'm going to be a bit less receptive to the nuclear industry's claims.
But the one thing that nuclear power isn't is carbon-intensive. A wholesale switch from nuclear to oil, natural gas, or coal could exchange the possible environmental effects of a nuclear accident for the certain environmental devastation of climate change.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who pooh-poohs conservation and renewable energy in the name of putting nukes everywhere. Those people are short-sighted idiots. But I do think that nuclear power has its place, and in a world where the bought-and-paid-for "denialists" are getting more and more coverage and sympathy from the bought-and-paid-for "newsmedia", anything that could be used to justify tossing more carbon into our atmosphere is a bad thing on principle.
(Even if it we weren't talking about an explosion at a nuclear generator.)
I hope the optimists are right. I hope that the current situation is the end of it. And I hope that nuclear plant engineers and designers learn from the mistakes that have been revealed over the last few days. Our planet needs it, in more ways than one.