While the global impact of a disaster would be catastrophic, my first thought was more local - Japan is on extremely unstable ground. It already experiences a large number of earthquakes on a daily basis, many devastating.
If fracking can create earthquakes in relatively stable areas like Arkansas and Ohio, imagine what relieving pressure on a massive scale might do to unstable tetonic plates. There are many ways to eliminate one's energy needs, but I don't think destroying the society (thereby eliminating the need) is one of the preferred approaches.
There is reportedly 6000 time more methane hydrate deposits on the ocean floor than oil, gas and coal accessible anywhere on earth. We have gotten through 90% of the available oil 10% of the available natural gas and perhaps 20% of the coal and it has given us now > than 400ppm (0.04%) CO2 concentration in our atmoshpere. As the difference in amount between methane hydrates and other fuels is so large it is accurate enough to say that if near all of the deposits were used we would achieve a CO2 concentration of > 60%. this would lead to about a 40 degree (C) increase in average temperatures and using an unscientific methodology we could say that Arabia and Australia would have summer temperatures of around 95degC and Russia's coldest winters would be +10degC. In addition to this above 15% concentration people begin to suffocate so we wouldn't be here to see it. Now about safety measures. The deep sea drilling accident that occurred off the gulf of Mexico was a one in a million and took 87 days to fix and was a major economic disaster for the area. wind forward to a major Methane spill, probably a 1 in 100,000 chance of it happening and if it does the result will be about 20-30% of the world unliveable for maybe 1000 years and the death of about 90% of the world population of life (not just people). Add to that the certainty (yes it will happen) that all this extra CO2 will increase our CO2 levels enough for catastrophic climate change (not a bad as a spill but hardly better for those affected) So with that in mind, building more nuclear reactors and having 1 accident every ~25 years which kills up to 100 people immediately and maybe an additional 2000 over a lifetime seems like a small price to pay. To me it seems that the Japanese reckon killing 90% of world biosphere is better than the odd 1000 or so here and there. Puzzling.
With rapid deterioration of oil resource, methane pools seem like the next forte of energy source. Safety concerns are extremely important in this case though, since a gas-based blowout is really hard to control.
I listened to some of the speakers at the Fukushima Symposium held by Helen Caldicott Foundation last March. There was a lot of concern about the long-term effects and what's not being shared wth the public.
Earthquake safety is extremely important in some parts of the world. How does this process measure up?
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