The thought is so unpleasant, so confronting, that most of the time, we all avoid that thought.
That avoidance is a mistake. Now there’s an opportunity to learn the facts – not only on what a nuclear catastrophe, a nuclear war would be like, but also about what positive steps the people of world can take to prevent those global horrors, and remove those threats.
Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction – February 28-March 1, 2015 at The New York Academy of Medicine
A unique, two-day symposium at which an international panel of leading experts in disarmament, political science, existential risk, artificial intelligence, anthropology, medicine, nuclear weapons and other nuclear issues will be held at The New York Academy of Medicine on Feb 28- March 1, 2015. The public is welcome.
A project of The Helen Caldicott Foundation Venue: The New York Academy of Medicine. 1216 Fifth Ave @ 103rd St. NY, NY 10029
The symposium will be live streamed around the world and the Proceedings will be published in a book by the New Press
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.
Look out for those weasel words “Low Carbon” . They are now used to replace the words “renewable energy” – a sneaky little ploy to get nuclear power included in climate action projects.
2015 is a critical year for the world. The Paris conference on Climate Change – might, just might – come up with a planet-saving plan to really cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The nuclear lobby sees this climate crisis as their last opportunity to push a lie that will convince the world that nuclear power should go ahead. All their previous lies have been exposed.
The world cannot be cheated yet again by the nuclear industry, and its subservient governments.
This year and for the next three years, the world will remember World War 1. There will be significant commemorations in many countries, honouring those who died. There will also be the opportunity for militarism to flourish, and people can readily become confused between respect for those young lives, ended so tragically, and the militaristic ideals of ‘glory’ associated with war. Those who invest in weapons will be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the profits from the next war.
But many, many, people will respect and make use of this commemorative period to advance the world movements for peace, and against war. These movements have a long and honourable history, going back well before world war one.
Very often, it has been organisations of women, who have most strongly resisted and opposed war. “Some of the many groups that protested against the war, as well as the traditional peace churches, were the Woman’s Peace Party (which was organized in 1915 and led by noted reformer Jane Addams), the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP) (also organized in 1915), the American Union Against Militarism, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the American Friends Service Committee. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, was another fierce advocate of pacifism, the only person to vote no to America’s entrance into both WorldWars.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_movement
Today, the peace movement is active, across the world, with organisations too many to name here. We know that we are up against those who profit from war – the companies that make weapons, especially nuclear weapons. We are up against the nuclear power industry, with its pretense that it has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. We are up against the militarists in every country – who will be glorifying World War 1. We are up against the strange so-called ‘religious’ ideas, of those who would kill unbelievers.
Today’s world threats, especially the chaotic conditions resulting from climate change, are being met by a world reasonable movement for co-operative action to deal with global problems, and by the growing understanding of the need for conflict resolution methods, and diplomacy, to deal with our differences
A nuclear weapons convention is a proposed international treaty that would prohibit the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as provide for their elimination. It would be similar in form to existing conventions outlawing other categories of weapons, such as biological weapons, chemical weaponsand anti-personnel mines.
The model convention would require countries with nuclear weapons to destroy them in stages, including taking them off high alert status, removing them from deployment, removing thewarheads from their delivery vehicles, disabling the warheads by removing the explosive “pits“, and placing the fissile material under UN control. As well as outlawing nuclear weapons, the convention would prohibit the production of fissile materials suitable for making them, namely highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium.
It would establish an agency to ensure that countries comply with the terms of the treaty. This body would receive progress reports from nuclear-armed states, conduct inspections of weapons facilities, acquire intelligence through satellite photography and remote sensors, and monitor the production and transfer of materials suitable for making nuclear weapons.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons campaigns for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. High profile supporters include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, Nobel laureate Jody Williams, mayor of Hiroshima Tadatoshi Akiba, former World Court judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Australian prime ministerMalcolm Fraser, and former UN under-secretary-general for disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala, from Wikipedia
The G20 Summit has come and gone watched by up to 3,000 domestic and international media representatives. Amnog the 4,000 delegates were US President Barack Obama, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minster David Cameron
The purpose of this summit ? to foster economic growth. Yes – a bigger world population, greater production of ‘goods’, greater consumption of ‘goods’ and energy. Supposedly all this is good for business. Climate change wasn’t meant to be on the agenda – Australian P.M. Tony Abbott saw to that.
And yet, and yet. TV viewers saw the rapturous reception given by university students to President Obama, as he urged them to promote action on climate change. Obama moved freely and relaxedly amongst the students.
It is ironic that Australia should be hosting this international growthfest, under the leadership of Prime Minster Tony Abbott who has absolutely no idea of environment, nor of sustainable economics.
The nuclear connection is an underlying one. The nuclear industry, as shown by its advertisement film “Pandora’s Promise” . depends on the world accepting the need for endless growth and consumption, with ever increasing energy use – supplied by nuclear power. And – make no mistake, governments have been bought by the polluting industries.
There is a new philosophy emerging – but not from these so-called leaders, – the philosophy of the Conserver Society, as against the Consumer Society . This is well expressed by Frank Rotering in his concept of “Contractionism”
we cannot go on as a species plagueing the planet, trashing it, and thinking that somehow humans can start it all over again on another planet. There must be a radical change in economic thinking, and as Frank Rotering suggests, this could well be led by business – by real leaders, who see that it makes financial sense to be truly conservative -
To the nuclear industry the concept of ENOUGH is anathema. If you saw their slick advertising film “Pandora’s Promise” you would note that their major theme is endless GROWTH that will perpetually require ENDLESS ENERGY.
The nuclear industry’s shills, and there are many of them, love to portray the anti-nuclear movement as wanting to send people back to living in a “dark ages” style. Nothing could be further from the truth. Genuine environmentalists (as against nuclear lobby shills like Patrick Moore) want all people to have a life of more light, of reasonable comfort and leisure time, of enough of the good things of this world, rather than of too much.
World leaders met in Brisbane, Australia for a fairly pointles summit, devoted to “economic growth”. While the host country ruled by a scientifically illiterate Prime Minister Tony Abbott, insisted “no talk of climate change”, those words were indeed heard, around the traps. While the formal agenda of the G20 was pretty meaningless, as will be its formulaic communique, – perhaps the personal talks in the sidelines might reflect the reality that the global economy just cannot sustain this mindless growth
It’s time that governments, bankers, industry leaders woke up to the reality that the world economy is threatened by growth, threatened by the accelerating destruction of this planet’s air, water, land, and biodiversity. The destroyer is the growing human population and its growing consumption of ever more unnecessary products and unnecessary energy use.
It’s time that people stepped away from endless individualistic consumption, and towards a reasonable life of more cooperation, of working less hours. It’s time to move from our suicidal consumer culture, to a conserver culture.
I would like to say that in 2014 progress has really been made – world-wide. But I’m not sure that this is true.
One area of progress is, without doubt, the rapid growth of renewable energy, both in large scale projects, and in small-scale diversified solar and wind energy. China is leading the way in renewable energy, but there are remarkable achievements in Europe, especially Germany, and also in some States of USA.
Another area – hard to pin down – a degree of public awakening to climate and nuclear issues – as exemplified in the global response to the People’s Climate Marches on September 21st.
Below. I found this inspirational photograph by Robert Rodriguez Jr http://robertrodriguezjr.com/2014/08/19/storm-king-mountain-environmental-movement/#comment-20272
Will that public awakening translate to action, in time? Even big businesses, corporations are now pledging support for climate action. Yet then immoral nuclear lobby now jumps on that bandwagon, with its massive ability to buy politicians.
When it comes to the nuclear horror, very little progress in the weapons area – it seems that the boys just can’t stop “improving” their nuclear weapons toys.
It’s a bit better concerning commercial nuclear power – the realities of its stupendous costs are now biting.
Wikipedia gives some encouraging facts concerning nuclear power in 2014:
” As of 2014, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark,Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway have no nuclear power stations and some remain opposed to nuclear power. Germany and Switzerland are phasing-out nuclear power. Globally, more nuclear power reactors have closed than opened in recent years.…..
In March 2014, around 130,000 Taiwanese marched for an anti-nuclear protest around Taiwan. They demanded that the government remove nuclear power plants in Taiwan. The march came ahead of the 3rd anniversary of Fukushima disaster. Around 50,000 people marched in Taipei while another three separate events were held around other Taiwanese cities attended by around 30,000 people. Among the participants are the organizations from Green Citizen Action’s Alliance, Homemakers United Foundation, Taiwan Association for Human Rights and Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.Facing on-going opposition and a host of delays, construction of the Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant was halted in April 2014.”[
The world-wide People’s Climate March on September 21st showed that Climate Change is recognised as a huge global threat. The mainstream media glossed over this as quickly as they could, focusing on terrorism and matters military. Nevertheless, people have woken up, as never before, to the global nature of problems of environment and public health. Like a slow dawning, even political leaders are starting to see important connections, like for example, the safety threats of nuclear power plants situated in another country, but near their borders.
As always, politicians, beholden as they are to their corporate funders, are the last to want to act in the public interest, for a healthier planet.
Fortunately more and more people are realising that wonderful aim of Friends Of The Earth - “Think globally, act locally “.
Many of those who marched in September had no connection with organised groups. Many others were members of groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear and hundreds of others – too many to list.
The corporate and political sociopaths who run government, business and mass media do not want you to know that environmental groups have made much progress. Not only the visible activism of Greenpeace exploits, and of protest marches, but the quieter actions of lobbying, and of alternative media have brought about changes in law, and curbed the onslaught of rapacious polluting industries.
What’s happening now includes the recognition that renewable energy and energy efficiency are economically successful, as well as universally ever more popular. Despite the powers that be, the world is realising that the “nuclear renaissance” is a stillbirth, and that the Fukushima nightmare is not over.
The task for those who care about the future of this planet is to keep on in the movement for the local and global public interest.
It’s good to join positive groups. But just look out for the charlatans. There are plenty of these, with important sounding names and important sounding members. Some American examples are- The Breakthrough Institute, Americans For Prosperity, American Enterprise Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heartland Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and of course, nuclear information groups like Nuclear Matters. America is the great leader in these dishonest industry front groups, but all other countries have some, too, along with journalists like George Monbiot, who have been sucked in.
The best way to detect corporate anti-environment propaganda is, if possible, to “Follow The Money” – who is funding them? This applies to academics, too – as polluting corporations increasingly fund universities.
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
- 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