Great changes in the Earth’s history are marked in geological Ages, with great changes caused by events such as volcanoes, meteorite impacts, climate change and the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, and occurring over millions of years. Now geologists are seeing changes in the Earth that are occurring over merely one hundred years.
These changes are caused by the activities of one species – human beings. They usher in a new Age – the Anthropocene (or human-caused ) Epoch.
The changes in the Anthropocene Age are already profound:
- Landscape – Deforestation, desertification, mountains carved by mining, rivers dammed and rerouted, islands sinking under sea level rise.
- Ecology – massive extinctions of species – loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity
- Climate change – rise in greenhouse gases in atmosphere, heating of air and oceans, acidification of oceans, glaciers melting, sea level rise
- Water - shortage of clean drinking water, pollution of groundwater and surface waters.
Those are just a few “headlines” for the changes that we have already wrought on the only liveable planet.
THE NUCLEAR CONTRIBUTION to the Anthropocene Epoch has already been great – with the landscape scarring effect of thousands of atmospheric and underground atomic bomb tests.
Radioactive pollution – from atomic bomb making, and testing, and from several parts of the nuclear power chain has affected soil, groundwater and air.
The nuclear lobby loves to talk about “background radiation” as if it’s all naturally caused and benign. However it includes radionuclides that never before existed on Earth – plutonium, strontium, cesium, carbon-14, and radioactive iodine from atomic bomb testing and other nuclear activities.
The nuclear industry is the epitome of the whole process of human society destroying its own essential environment. While so-called “primitive” societies function on a culture of spirituality, and respect for the land, unfortunately the “developed” society has the upper hand in this sad world, and seems bent on mindless destruction.
I do single out nuclear power and nuclear weaponry, because this toxic industry has special features that do not apply in anything like the same degree, to our other toxic industries. These features are: secrecy, deception, false propaganda, invisible cancer-causing radiation, dangerous wastes lasting for thousands of years, weaponry that could quickly annihilate millions, astronomic costs to be paid by present and future generations.
This nuclear nastiness is symptomatic of the malaise affecting the world. The dominant culture of endless growth and endless consumption has now brought about global warming, and frightening climate change with extreme weather, sea level rise, and acidification of the oceans. The focus is now on climate change – but it is not the only disaster befalling our planet.
And all these disasters are related to each other – and to the race for to grow, consume, and sell. Where to start? – over-population, chemical pollution, deforestation, over-fishing, scarcity of clean water , destruction of habitats – loss of biodiversity, loss of arable soil, – just a few aspects of our truly disastrous world culture.
An alien space traveller might be bemused – observing how the world’s technocrats come up with “solutions”. Things like geo-engineering – an example of yet again trying out grand chemical fixes, which would make an awful lot of money for a few, and an awful lot of misery for many.
The trashing of our world is the background to the distrust between ethnic and religious groups, and to violent and criminal clashes. That in turn, feeds the greedy weapons industry, which, while making a few people rich, sets the scene for military destruction of the world environment.
My favourite silly solution is the push to set up a colony on Mars. Never mind that Mars average temperature is 51F, but can reach – 184F on cold nights, that there’s not enough oxygen, that there’s no magnetic field to protect us from cosmic radiation, there’s intolerably low atmospheric pressure …..etc. Never mind that the astronauts would probably die on the way there anyway.
There IS NO PLANET B.
The promoters of the Integral Fast Reactors’ (IFRs), Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor ( LFTR), and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) like to pretend that these geewhiz new schemes are quite different from the well known dirty, dangerous, and expensive nuclear power plants.
Note the way that they carefully leave out the word “nuclear” from the titles.
First of all – they depend on the whole vulnerable nuclear chain for their existence, anyway.
For now, I’ll leave aside those matters of Cost, Environment, Radioactive Wastes – and just look at the much touted Safety of these supposedly different new electricity producers.
PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Modular) latest manifestation of much-hyped but non-existent IFRs: It would require converting plutonium oxide powder into a metal alloy, with uranium and zirconium. This would be a large-scale industrial activity on its own that would create large amount of plutonium contaminated salt waste. This plutonium metal would be even more vulnerable to theft for making bombs than the plutonium oxide.
Smaller versions of present-day pressurized water reactors, planned to be built underground, will be hard to get to, in an emergency situation. Pebble-bed reactors- high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) run risk of cracking of their tiny fuel kernels, and of temperature rise, resulting in Chernobyl-type graphite fire.
Thorium The risks inherent in nuclear reactors are due to the massive concentrations of radioactive materials and the huge amount of heat they produce . No matter if the fuel is based on uranium or thorium, if it’s solid or liquid. Thorium itself can’t be used as weapons fuel – but to be used in a nuclear reactor it has to be transmuted into the fissile uranium isotope, U-233, which can be used for nuclear weapons.
While the entire chain leading to these new, and non-existent reactors carries terrorism risks, the end result is just as vulnerable or more so . In the case of Small Modular Reactors this means not just a few targets for terrorism, but multiple targets. That means more safety regulations, more security guarding – and then of course – more costs too. It is a particularly vicious cycle!
We know what a suicide plane crash can do to buildings. We know what missiles can do to planes. But what about the radioactive devastation that terrorist missiles, bombs, computer hacking could do to nuclear facilities?
While the nuclear nations ramp up their nuclear weapons – supposedly for “security” “defense” – they are in fact increasing their vulnerability – setting up targets for terrorists.
Nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel pools, nuclear waste containers, nuclear transports – these are indeed the perfect targets for terrorist attack. Meanwhile the nuclear lobby spins out its guff about “energy security” blah blah. Governments worry about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis – and well they should.
The “twin towers” attack of September 2011, the missile attack on a civilian plane over Ukraine – surely these are indications of why it is time to get rid of those even more terrible targets – the world’s nuclear facilities.
US nuclear waste dilemma
Nuclear power, guns & global warming Dr. Helen Caldicott
But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power” projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.
When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)
COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion. Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.
Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The world faces a dangerous and ever more pressing problem – nuclear wastes.
The logical steps to deal with nuclear wastes are:
1. Stop making the stuff. Close down the commercial and military nuclear reactors that produce plutonium and other long-lived radioactive materials
2. Choose the “least worst” option to dispose of the existing nuclear wastes - (a) Interim storage of radioactive wastes into above ground containers (b) Deep burial underground permanent repositories.
The nuclear lobby, desperate to stave off the death of its industry, comes up with grand promises of new Generation IV systems, reactors that will reprocess, “recycle” plutonium wastes into Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) to fuel for other Gen IV reactors. At the end, highly toxic radioactive wastes are still produced.
And all this – despite the enormous costs, the very dangerous transport of plutonium, the risks of terrorism, the increased risks of weapons proliferation.
The nuclear lobby’s cries for Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTR)s, Super Critical Water Reactors (SCWR)s, Molten Salt Reactors (MSR)s, Gas Cooled Fast rectors (GCFR)s, Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors (SCFR)s, Lead Cooled Fast Reactors (LCFR)s – all desperate and conflicting cries for their own salvation, rather than any solution to wastes, costs, climate change, energy needs.
The worry is that the nuclear lobby might win, by manipulating governments and populations into buying their expensive and dangerous new toys – because nobody really wants a nuclear waste tomb in their area.
The trouble is – nuclear cemeteries, however unappealing, are still the least worst option.
The nuclear lobby is determined to keep both their thriving nuclear weapons industry and their failing commercial nuclear industry going.
A major impediment for them is the ever- growing piles of toxic radioactive trash, including the dead reactors themselves. So, amongst the many nuclear lies (about radiation being OK for health, about solving climate change, about cheap costs, about helping under-developed nations) – amongst these lies – the top ones today are the:
LIES ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTES
1. THE LIE about new nuclear reactors turning nuclear wastes now into valuable resources. “The new nuclear reactors will consume the former ‘wastes’,that we now call ‘valuable fuel resources’ ” .
This is supposed to happen through Mixed Oxide Fuel reactors (MOX) or through pyroprocessing as in Molten Salt fuelled Reactors(MSRs) such as Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) But all in fact greatly increase the volume of radioactive waste.
2. THE LIE that new gee-whiz Thorium Nuclear Reactors do not produce wastes. They do, some lasting the mere 3 centuries, some lasting for many thousands of years
The Thorium lie is often linked to promotion of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) . They sound sweet and harmless, but require plutonium and/or enriched uranium to function. That means that the conventional nuclear industry must keep going- to supply them – and hey presto! they will solve the waste problem!. Wrong! As they themselves produce and indeed become – radioactive trash.
Thorium reactors and SMRs are unlikely to ever happen, due to their exorbitant cost, technical problems, and public resistance.
BUT because communities are unwilling to host radioactive trash dumps, thorium promotes are touting their wares to governments – a cowardly escape from the hard decisions that are needed.
The hard decisions needed are:
1. Stop nuclear power in all its forms – stop making the stuff
2. Confront and deal with the necessary task of deep burial of the existing radioactive trash, with equitable and full community participation and understanding
Decisions on nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear wastes are almost exclusively made by men.Yet the brunt of nuclear-caused cancer is suffered by women and children, as is the brunt of nuclear war, and of depleted uranium spread.
Opinion polls over many years, and in many countries, consistently show that women are opposed to nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
More women than men are concerned about health and environmental effects of the nuclear industry.
Yet they are consistently reassured by narrowly educated nuclear physicists, and other technocrats, that nuclear power is safe, and that they have nothing to worry about in regard to ionising radiation.
Decisions on nuclear power and ionising radiation. The nuclear power heirarchy is almost uniformly male, though the nuclear lobby tries hard to pretend that they have equal rights credentials by getting a few token women to show off. And, a favourite male trick, – put a woman in an untenable position .
A good example would be Maria Korsnick, who was made Chief Nuclear Officer, by Exelon Nuclear – the poisoned chalice given to a woman in these troubled times for the industry?
As the nuclear lobby is busy persuading the world that ionising radiation is OK really, the facts are different. The most recent National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation ( BEIR VII) in studying the cancer risk, supplied tables that showed the clear difference between radiation effects on males and females.
This lifespan graph (By Ian Goddard, deriving data from those tables) shows increased cancer risk by exposure to a given amount of radiation. Note the high risk for infant and little girls.
The pink line shows the risk for girls, the blue line for boys. Look at left hand part of the graph. It covers from zero to 5 years, and includes pre birth. We see a striking difference between the blue line and the pink line. The nuclear regulators assume that the risk shown here at age 30– in the blue line- is the same for every individual regardless of age or gender, – this is marked by the green circle. Yet, even at ages 40 – 60 the cancer risk from radiation is significantly more for women, than for men. - Mary Olson
That’s just looking at cancer risk. Not even considering risks to reproductive system pregnancy, and genetic effects.
Nuclear power and sea level rise – All reactors on sea coasts endangered by sea level rise Over the next hundred years there will be significant sea rises, one meter or more, and many closed nuclear reactor sites could be flooded, including the stored nuclear waste. That could contaminate much of the coast lines for decades.
Nuclear power and water shortage – Climate Change is already bringing droughts and changed rainfall patterns. Even if the vloume of rain might be the same, or greater, with the warming planet – it’s not much help if it falls in the oceans, or if it falls intermittently – in flooding torrents.
As water becomes scarcer, and more expensive, nuclear power becomes a very uneconomic way to use it.
As temperatures rise, nuclear reactors will more and more often be forced to shut down – adding to the already well known diseconomics of nuclear power
I felt that I must go back to a “theme” for this month, because this one is such an important one.
The nuclear industry has put it over the world with a number of lies. Yet one by one, each nuclear lie has been exposed.
Nuclear power is not clean. It’s not cheap. It’s not safe. It’s not necessary.
Today – those nuclear promoters who in the past denied that global warming was happening – are now changing their tune.
The only seemingly valid argument for nuclear power is that it will “combat global warming” because nuclear is “emissions free. It is “low carbon”
But that’s just another lie.
Fukushima still out of control February-2014 The World is at a critical crossroads. The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation.
The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami:
“This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.”
Nuclear radiation –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern. While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz1j4IHcsP4
The nuclear power lobby and the fossil fuel lobby spend $billions in publicising their industries and in combatting established information on nuclear dangers and on global warming. This is done through “front groups” such as (for pro nuclear) the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition., (for climate denial) American Enterprise Institute.
It’s getting more difficult to spot these propagandists, because increasingly, they are using sophisticated Internet techniques. These have been beautifully explained in How to spot an astroturfer or an online fake -some of the organisations and techniques are summarised in the sidebar at right.
However, the words alone can help you to spot a fake. Look out for these two types of language:
BIG WORDS – in long complicated sentences – guaranteed to confuse the ordinary reader. The aim is to make you think that the writer is much smarter than you, and his opinion must be right. Amongst the big words, some quack science ones – like hormesis, adaptive radiation, and radiophobia Also,you are referred, by links, to obscure articles in even more complicated language.
SMALL WORDS and CLICHES – short positive ones, with no backup information, e.g. “clean -green-safe-cheap nuclear power”. Or negative cliches e.g. “hysterical- paranoid- emotional – irrational – delusional – extremists -alarmist – scare mongerer” applied to anti nuclear people, or those who want action on climate change.
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
- climate change
- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
- MIDDLE EAST
- NORTH AMERICA
- SOUTH AMERICA
- Christina's notes
- Christina's themes
- rare earths
- resources – print
- Resources -audiovicual