Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Nobel for Valor

Watching the events in Japan as a small team of people is working on site to try to stabilize six nuclear reactors in the most difficult circumstances I can't help thinking that an international award that recognizes bravery is needed.

Britain awards the George Cross for "acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger", Frenchman could be given the Legion d'Honneur and there is an existing International Maritime Organization award for Bravery At Sea.

But the situation at the Japanese nuclear plant can be viewed as a global threat requiring a global response. The men (and, I assume, women) who are staying at the plant are trying to protect their own land as well as the lives of others in other countries. They are clearly in danger themselves from a very unstable and changing situation.

It might seem exaggerated to think that the Japanese nuclear situation is a global threat, but it's certainly a cross-border threat as we saw with the Chernobyl Accident. And thus international recognition is appropriate. It will not be sufficient for Japan alone to recognize their actions as their actions have international consequences.

Thus, I propose the creation of a Nobel Prize for Valor (or something similar perhaps to be awarded by the UN) to be awarded when necessary to those men and women who have stood between danger and humanity. We should all hope it does not need awarding frequently.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

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