• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

From the History Books

Air Date: Week of

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster forced 47,000 people to evacuate their homes. (Photo: Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Living on Earth Contributor Peter Dykstra shares a couple of notable items from this week in history with Host Aynsley O’Neill, including the 1971 startup of the first nuclear reactor at Fukushima Daiichi and the 1970 release of environmental classic “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.


O'NEILL: With me on the line now is Peter Dykstra, our Living on Earth contributor in Atlanta, Georgia. He's gonna give us a couple of stories about this week in history. Hi, Peter. What do you have for us from the history books?

DYKSTRA: Hi Aynsley. On March 26, going back to 1971, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, better known as TEPCO, opened the first of its six reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. And 40 years after that in 2011, what had grown into that six-reactor complex is swamped by a tsunami caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Fukushima then joined Chernobyl as a symbol of concern about the risks of nuclear power generation.

O'NEILL: And 53 years after that first reactor came online, it's still a big argument about whether the contaminated water from the 2011 near meltdown makes nuclear power an unacceptable environmental risk.

DYKSTRA: And 13 years after the near meltdown, there's still a debate whether nuclear power should play a role in rolling back greenhouse gases.

O'NEILL: And Peter, I believe your next history segment is from the previous year.

DYKSTRA: In April of 1970, the famous Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell released her song Big Yellow Taxi, which decries abuse of the environment with lines like "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot," and you can thank me for not singing it.

O'NEILL: I think that Big Yellow Taxi can really be agreed upon as probably the greatest song of the environmental movement.

DYKSTRA: Well, other than Big Yellow Taxi, do you have another favorite?

O'NEILL: Oh, one that I like is "Feels Like Summer" by the artist Childish Gambino. But Peter, I don't mean to always play the generation card on you, but I do want to know, do you happen to have a favorite from this century?

DYKSTRA: Ouch, playing the generation card. But here you go with a 21st century favorite. Let's try "SOS (Mother Nature)" by Will.i.am.

O'NEILL: All right. Well, we'll have to tune in. Thanks for bringing us these stories and these songs, Peter. Peter Dykstra is a Living on Earth contributor, and we'll talk to you again soon.

DYKSTRA: All right, talk to you soon, young person. Thanks very much.

O’NEILL: And there’s more on these stories on our website, loe,org. And here’s Joni Mitchell.



Read more about the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Listen to more Joni Mitchell music


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth