Yes, it is the day that everyone has been waiting for. Today is fire day. Ok, probably no one has been waiting for fire day. But today is the day I've dedicated to blogging about fire.
But what exactly does it mean to blog about fire. It is not just powerful exothermic chemical reaction. It is more accurate to say that this is a day to blog about what fire symbolizes. Fire has always been one of our most important tools. It provides light, heat, protection and has enabled us to make yet more tools. Pottery, copper, bronze, plastics and chocolate cheesecake; none of these would exist without fire.
On the television show survivor fire is supposed to symbolize life. Fire is supposed to have been stolen from the gods by Prometheus, and given to man (Zeus was displeased by this and ended up flipping the bird at him). Fire is incredibly destructive, but is a force which we have learned to control and manipulate. Fire is power, and it is something that we have always quested after.
I will focus on the energy and power aspect of fire. Power in all its forms from political to technology. It truly set us apart from the other animals, in that we alone knew how to control it. It beat back the dark, and gave us protection from the beasts that prowled the night. Now the fire most us use is electrical. Yet there is just something about a campfire that captivates us.
The camp fire is the original hearth. Since we first migrated out of Africa along the south Asian coast, it was no doubt fueled by drift wood which would give it a sparkly quality. It was the central aspect of the camp. It beat back the dark, and no doubt much as we have always done we told stories around it. It let us talk about the events of the day, and plan for the next. It was the original school, where children were taught the culture of the clan.
It was also where children learned both about the benefit and the dangers of fire. Imagine how dangerous a campfire is, with children of all ages grouped around it. They have to learn the rules of fire. Children have to learn that fire can be used for good or for ill. It is important to respect fire, yet not to be fearful of it.
Today we are running out of fuel for one of the major fires. There is a limited amount of oil that can be pumped and processed right now. Yet we have at our fingertips the knowledge of how to use nuclear fire. Fire which can give us the hydrogen we need to fuel our vehicles. Unfortunately too many people are fearful of it.
Yes nuclear power can be dangerous, and of magnitude that is thousands of times greater then the old camp fire. Yet we have also developed mechanisims that make it safe. It needs to be respected and not feared. Where would we be if we decided to give up fire just because someone was accidently burned. Chernobyl was a disaster, yet we must draw lessons from it and not fear.
All forms of power have their downsides. However there are too many of us to go back to the campfire, or give it up all together. Nuclear offers are best bet. Pebble-bed technology seems to be the best option right now. It is time to start talking about nuclear from a standpoint of respect and not one of fear. Two or three stage disposal methods, pebble bed, safe construction methods and transportation methods. All of these need to be solved, but we need to leave our hysteria behind.