The nuclear meltdown in Japan and the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may seem unrelated, but they're not. Both catastrophes occurred because we've made three fundamental mistakes in the way we generate energy.
1) We have relied on centralized power plants that use dangerous fuels to meet energy demand. Most countries that can afford it build large power plants so they can centralize energy production. Big centralized power plants are easier to regulate than a bunch of smaller, dispersed facilities. And because they generate a lot of energy at once, big plants appear to streamline power production. But in addition to being outrageously expensive, centralized generating facilities require massive amounts of dangerous fuels to operate consistently. If that fuel is oil or coal, recovering it usually wrecks the physical environment (we saw that in spades during last year's Gulf Oil disaster); burning it causes global warming and sickening air pollution. If the fuel is uranium, using it generates radioactive nuclear waste that must be stored for thousands of years.