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Horrors of Hiroshima, a reminder nuclear weapons remain global threat

UN News,    15 January 2022, Peace and Security, Despite the annihilation of two major Japanese cities in 1945, atomic bombs have not been relegated to the pages of history books, but continue to be developed today – with increasingly more power to destroy than they had when unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki back in 1945.
 Those first nuclear weapons deployed by the United States, indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of non-combatants but also left indelible scars for the immediate survivors, that they, their children and grandchildren still carry today.

“The Red Cross hospital was full of dead bodies. The death of a human is a solemn and sad thing, but I didn’t have the time to think about it because I had to collect their bones and dispose of their bodies”, a then 25-year-old woman said in a recorded testimony, 1.5 km from Hiroshima’s ground zero.

“This was truly a living hell, I thought, and the cruel sights still stay in my mind”

To highlight the tireless work of the survivors, known in Japanese as the hibakusha, the UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs, created an exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York which has just come to a close, entitled: Three Quarters of a Century After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Hibakusha—Brave Survivors Working for a Nuclear-Free World.

It vividly brings to life the devastation and havoc wreaked by those first atomic bombs (A-bombs), and their successor weapons, the more powerful hydrogen bombs (H-bombs) which began testing in the 1950s

Quest to save humanity

In the aftermath of the bombings in Japan, the hibakusha, conducted intense investigations with the aim of preventing history from repeating itself.

With an average age of 83 today, the dwindling band continue to share their stories and findings with supporters at home and abroad, “to sav[ing] humanity…through the lessons learned from our experiences, while at the same time saving ourselves”, they say, in the booklet No More Hibakusha -Message to the World, which accompanies the exhibit.

Recounting the day in Hiroshima that 11 members of her family slept together in an air raid shelter, a then 19-year-old woman spoke of how three small children died during the night, while calling for water.

“The next morning, we carried their bodies out of the shelter, but their faces were so swollen and black that we couldn’t tell them apart, so laid them out on the ground according to height and decided their identities according to their size”.

These brave survivors testify that peace cannot be achieved ever, through the use of nuclear weapons.

‘Absolute evil’

A group of elderly hibakusha, called Nihon Hidankyo, have dedicated their lives to achieving a non-proliferation treaty, which they hope will ultimately lead to a total ban on nuclear weapons.

“On an overcrowded train on the Hakushima line, I fainted for a while, holding in my arms my eldest daughter of one year and six months. I regained my senses at her cries and found no-one else was on the train”, a 34-year-old woman testifies in the booklet. She was located just two kilometres from the Hiroshima epicentre.

Fleeing to her relatives in Hesaka, at age 24 another woman remembers that “people, with the skin dangling down, were stumbling along. They fell down with a thud and died one after another”, adding, “still now I often have nightmares about this, and people say, ‘it’s neurosis’”.

One man who entered Hiroshima after the bomb recalled in the exhibition, “that dreadful scene – I cannot forget even after many decades”.

A woman who was 25 years-old at the time, said, “when I went outside, it was dark as night. Then it got brighter and brighter, and I could see burnt people crying and running about in utter confusion. It was hell…I found my neighbour trapped under a fallen concrete wall…Only half of his face was showing. He was burned alive”.Uniting for peace

The steadfast conviction of the Hidankyo remains: “Nuclear weapons are absolute evil that cannot coexist with humans. There is no choice but to abolish them”.

In August 1956, the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombs in Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki three days later, formed the “Japan Confederation of A and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations”.

Encouraged by the movement to ban the atomic bomb that was triggered by the Daigo Fukuryu Maru disaster – when 23 men in a Japanese tuna fishing boat were contaminated by nuclear fallout from a hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954 – they have not wavered in their efforts to prevent others from becoming nuclear victims.

“We have reassured our will to save humanity from its crisis through the lessons learned from our experiences, while at the same time saving ourselves”, they declared at the formation meeting.

The spirit of the declaration, in which their own sufferings are linked to the task of preventing the hardship that they continue to carry, resonates still in the movement today…………………………………………….

The hibakusha became more and more vocal in the suffering that was inflicted upon them, hoping that it could help create a road map towards the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In oral testimonies, they shared their experiences both during and after the bombings and sent written messages to the NPT Review Conference in 2010 appealing to the world.

In July 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which complements the NPT, was adopted and came into force last year on 22 January……………………

the UN is committed to ensuring their testimonies live on, as a warning to each new generation.

The Hibakusha are a living reminder that nuclear weapons pose an existential threat and that the only guarantee against their use is their total elimination”, Mr. Guterres stated. “This goal continues to be the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations, as it has been since the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946”.

While the Tenth Review Conference of the NPT, which had been scheduled for January, has been postponed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, he continued to urge world leaders to “draw on the spirit of the Hibakusha” by putting aside their differences and taking “bold steps towards achieving the collective goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons”. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/01/1109602

January 17, 2022 Posted by | culture and arts, depleted uranium, Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Can Santa Fe survive as a nuclear weapons suburb?

Will Santa Fe “fold up,” democratically and spiritually, when this new “Manhattan” fully appears? Is the faith of that man of peace, St. Francis — the very name of this city — obsolete to political leaders in the city and the state?

Can Santa Fe survive as a nuclear weapons suburb?  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/can-santa-fe-survive-as-a-nuclear-weapons-suburb/article_b6ab8ce8-7556-11ec-b47a-57273af4ebbc.html, By Greg Mello, 16 Jan 22,

Many Santa Feans understand that Los Alamos National Laboratory, the most lavishly funded nuclear weapons facility in the world, has embarked on a new mission: making plutonium warhead cores (“pits”) on an industrial scale, to involve 4,000 full-time personnel and 24/7 operations.

It’s among the dirtiest and most dangerous missions in the nuclear weapons complex, not seen at LANL since the 1940s. It’s centered in an old facility built for research and development, now to be driven far beyond its original capacity.

LANL predicts it will spend $18 billion to start up production over this decade. In constant dollars, this is 15-fold what the Manhattan Project spent in New Mexico — indeed it dwarfs the cost of every other project in New Mexico history.

The pits will cost at least $50 million apiece, 200 times their weight in gold. A single LANL pit, assuming all goes well, will cost as much as the combined annual salaries of 1,000 New Mexico teachers, or the equipment for 5,000 residential solar systems. A major reason our society is failing is because it is kept on a war footing.

This huge program has nothing to do with national security, except in the negative sense. It is not needed to maintain any stockpile weapon. As military planners say, it’s (very) “early to need” and there are now perfectly sound, cheaper plans to do without LANL’s production should something go wrong. Why wait?

After extensive analysis under both the Obama and Trump administrations, the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2017 firmly rejected what is now LANL’s pit plan. The New Mexico delegation fought back, enlisting congressional hawks to help blackmail the Trump administration into building an unheard-of two pit factories. Up to now, a barely functioning Congress has gone along with the game. Time will tell just how long this scam holds up.

LANL’s pit production, for all its cost and danger, just isn’t enough to support any foreseeable U.S. stockpile. If LANL is a pit factory, there will be two.

What about Santa Fe, then?

On July 18, 1945, Harry Truman wrote in his diary, “Believe [Japan] will fold up before Russia comes in. I am sure they will when Manhattan appears over their homeland.”

Will Santa Fe “fold up,” democratically and spiritually, when this new “Manhattan” fully appears? Is the faith of that man of peace, St. Francis — the very name of this city — obsolete to political leaders in the city and the state?

What exactly would Santa Fe stand for or mean if nuclear weapons — the ultimate in human disposability — became its main tangible product? When our schools and community colleges direct our young people into LANL’s “pipeline” of plutonium minions? Or do you suppose their potential for creativity, compassion and wisdom could be better developed in other ways, as the region faces the towering crises of the 21st century?

Can Santa Fe survive as a nuclear weapons suburb? It certainly can, as a kind of nuclear “Pottersville” — a sprawling, increasingly ugly “city” with growing inequality, a vacuum where shared ideals should be, with no real urban center or shared human purposes, its most cherished traditions washed away by too much money given to too few people doing “work” society doesn’t need or want. It would be a city divided against itself to be sure, with plenty of poverty, human tragedy and crime.

Santa Fe could be a city that aims for justice and peace, where the obligation of respect binding us together is fostered, where the potential of every child is honored. Those political values are incompatible with manufacturing more nuclear weapons.

Greg Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

January 17, 2022 Posted by | culture and arts, Religion and ethics, social effects, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sydney Poitier film ”The Bedford Incident” was based on true nuclear war near misses.


Sidney Poitier’s Most Frightening Role Was as the Conscience of Nuclear War 
 DEN OF GEEK, By Tony Sokol|January 11, 2022
The Bedford Incident is one of the most underrated nuclear nightmare movies, and one of Sidney Poitier’s least known classics………………..One of Poitier’s greatest roles is as a costar, not only taking second billing to Richard Widmark in The Bedford Incident (1965), but to the premise of the movie itself: World War III in the Atomic Age. It may sound like a sci-fi setup, but the science was not fiction.

Poitier, who won the Best Actor Oscar in 1964 for Lilies of the Field, plays magazine reporter Ben Munceford in The Bedford Incident. The Cold War thriller isn’t as well-known as Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb or Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe, but it is as chilling as any apocalyptic vision ever put on screen.

The Bedford Incident was directed by James B. Harris, who had been Kubrick’s producer until he turned Peter George’s 1958 novel Red Alert into the over-the-top farce of Dr. Strangelove. Harris was terrified of a nuclear standoff, and saw Mark Rascovich’s 1963 book The Bedford Incident as a powerful celluloid deterrent……………..

Historical Close Calls with Nuclear War

Part of the reason The Bedford Incident so successfully plays into the terrors of global atomic warfare is because it is so meticulously crafted. It is not a fast-paced film. It is a realistic enactment told in a leisurely fashion so all the details can be put in their proper place, like the machinery of a submarine. This tinge of cinematic verité underscores what is so frightening about the movie. Complete global devastation can be triggered in the course of ordinary actions.

But the main reason The Bedford Incident is the stuff of recurring nuclear nightmares is because it is based on real incidents.

During the Cold War, U.S. Navy captains were trained to presume any Russian sub they encountered was equipped with nuclear torpedoes. A single Soviet nuclear ballistic submarine could carry over a dozen Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles armed with hydrogen bombs capable of destroying cities.  

In August 1957, the USS Gudgeon was monitoring Russia’s Pacific naval base, Vladivostok, when it triggered an alert on Soviet radio channels. Eight destroyers set out in pursuit. After the sub’s captain, Lt. Cmdr. Norman B. ”Buzz” Bessac, failed to lose the ships by ordering the sub to “go quiet,” the Gudgeon dived 200 feet beneath the surface, well under periscope depth. Russian destroyers dropped depth charges. The Gudgeon shot decoys from its garbage tube, and submerged past the 700-feet maximum depth the ship was designed for to escape sonar.

The hold-down lasted over 30 hours before the sub requested backup from U.S. 7th Fleet headquarters in Japan. When the Gudgeon finally surfaced, its torpedo tubes were at the ready. After accepting the nautical intrusion as a navigational miscalculation, the Soviet ships allowed the Gudgeon to sail.

The second incident happened at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In October 1962, U.S. Navy destroyers in the Atlantic Ocean pursued the Soviet submarine B-59, which was armed with a T-5 nuclear torpedo. When the sub failed to surface, the destroyers dropped depth charges. The submarine captain was set to launch the T-5 but flotilla commander Vasili Arkhipov overruled the decision, and the standoff was handled diplomatically. The U.S. didn’t learn the submarine had nuclear capability until after the fall of the Soviet Union…………………………………………………

The Bedford Incident, distributed by Columbia Pictures but filmed at Shepperton Studios in the U.K., was made without Navy cooperation. It reflected the changing attitudes toward the military. It was co-produced by Widmark, who infused his Capt. Finlander with elements of Senator Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate voted most likely to start a nuclear war in the infamous “Daisy Girl” commercial. Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke (Eric Portman), a former Nazi U-boat commander onboard as a NATO attaché, says Finlander is “frightening.”…………………………………

In the pantheon of apocalyptic cinema, The Bedford Incident is highly regarded, but sadly underseen. It is more frightening than more epic doomsday films because it shows how realistically simple it could be to trigger armageddon. Poitier brings the universal appeal of unreasoning terror by playing the ineffective everyman. If he can’t stop the madness, none of us can.  https://www.denofgeek.com/movies/sidney-poitier-frightening-role-nuclear-war/

January 13, 2022 Posted by | culture and arts, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Greta Thunberg mocks world leaders’ words at Youth4Climate

The Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, used her speech at the Youth4Climate conference in Milan to mock the words of world leaders, including UK PM Boris Johnson. The 18-year-old used soundbites from Mr Johnson, such as “expensive bunny hugging” and “build back better”, to highlight what she called the “empty words and promises” of politicians.

Later in the speech, she urged people not to give up hope, saying that change is “not only possible, but urgently necessary”. Many countries have announced ambitious targets to reduce their emissions to tackle climate change.

Analysts say some recent announcements, such as China’s statement that it would not build any more coal plants overseas and the US, EU and others pledging to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, are signs that progress is being made. But they caution that some major challenges remain.


The UK, for example, has pledged to cut 78% of its emissions by 2035, from a 1990 baseline. But the government’s current plans are projected to deliver less than a quarter of the cuts needed to meet the goal.

 BBC 28th Sept 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-58726531

September 30, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts | Leave a comment

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and why the ‘madman theory’ is wrong about Kim Jong-unç

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and why the ‘madman theory’ is wrong about Kim Jong-unç  https://theconversation.com/north-korea-nuclear-proliferation-and-why-the-madman-theory-is-wrong-about-kim-jong-un-167939, Colin Alexander, Lecturer in Political Communications, Nottingham Trent University 15 Sep 21,  The two missile tests conducted by North Korea in recent days have reopened discussions about the country, its leadership, its foreign policy, its perception around the world and the use (and usefulness) of nuclear weapons as an option within global politics.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency announced on September 12 that it had test-fired a new long-range cruise missile, believed by analysts to be the country’s first missile with the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.

Three days later the South Korean military said the North had launched “two unidentified ballistic missiles” into the Sea of Japan, prompting Japan’s outgoing prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to order his country’s defence agencies to investigate.

North Korea usually makes grand nuclear statements like the ones we have seen in recent days during early September to mark the founding of the DPRK on September 9 1948. As such, these tests are as much about domestic propaganda and internal regime prestige as they are about threat to the outside world.

More broadly though, North Korea’s advance of its nuclear weapons technology – off and on since the 1950s – has made its integration with the rest of the international community much less likely. This is primarily on account of its development coming at considerable cost and sacrifice to the small nation.

No moral high ground

It can be argued that, given the indiscriminate barbarity of the destruction that a nuclear attack would cause, no state has a moral right to nuclear weapons over that of another state. But countries which already have a nuclear arsenal will often push the line that while it’s OK for them to have a nuclear stockpile, other countries do not necessarily have that right. These communications often rely on a manufactured sense of who is responsible and stable-minded and who is irresponsible and unstable. In short, it is an attempt to create a polarised world of good and evil.

This simplistic polarisation is encouraged through government communications regarding foreign policy. But they also depend on wider more implicit perception management strategies. These include harnessing the agendas of global mainstream news media and exporting popular culture products, films, television programmes and the like, that seek to encourage certain worldviews and to marginalise ones that are undesirable to the world’s most powerful nations.


It should always be remembered that the United States is the only state to have used nuclear weapons as an act of war (twice during 1945). Yet it declares North Korea to be a nuclear threat based on its “madness” (Donald Trump repeatedly called Kim Jong-un “mad”). But if we are to believe revelations from the upcoming book Peril by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, America’s top military personnel had to take action in the final months of the Trump administration to limit any risks of a nuclear showdown with China.

It’s probably true to say that few aspiring candidates for high office are going to say that they would never use their country’s nuclear capability in any circumstance. But it could also be said that any head of government who boasts of their readiness to use nuclear weapons is demonstrating their lack of fitness to govern. But, as the first part of this paragraph suggests, no candidate is likely to make this assertion.

Madman’ theory wrong

There is no evidence that the previous leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-sung or Kim Jong-il, were assessed by psychologists and found to be suffering from mental ill health. This is also true of Kim Jong-un, the country’s current leader – in fact before Kim’s summit with Trump in 2018, a former State Department psychiatrist, Kenneth Dekleva, who creates psychological profiles of foreign leaders, told America’s National Public Radio that: “I think the madman theory was wrong.”

I would say he’s smart, that he’s a very, very savvy diplomat, a leader with a sense of gravitas. He wants to be a player on the world stage.

For Simon Cross, a colleague of mine at Nottingham Trent University, “madness” is an imprecise term and a cultural construct that does not require a trained medical professional to identify it, but it resonates with ease with audiences when uttered by someone they trust. Stephen Harper at the University of Portsmouth, says our perception of what represents “madness” is based on uncritical interpretations of the past and fantasies and inclinations within the human mind towards what he calls “self-haunting”. These tropes are perpetuated, confirmed and even encouraged at the persuasion of powerful individuals reinforced by mainstream media content.

So, for example, the Hollywood films Team America: World Police (2004) and The Interview (2014), despite being satires of North Korea’s leaders, promote this idea of the North Korean leader and his senior advisers as mad.  And Trump kept hammering at this with his regular references to Kim as a “madman”, as “crazy” and as a “little rocket man”.

North Korea’s prevailing international image of being mad is thus predominantly the creation of hostile external parties. But Pyongyang has also played up to it at times when it has been deemed useful – as the psychologist Dekleva said earlier in this article, it could be a useful tool of diplomacy. This is a theme explored by Niccolo Machiavelli in his book The Prince in 1517.

That said, what is perhaps most interesting is the extent to which recent US administrations and their allies appear to have come to believe the madness story – despite the fact that they are largely responsible for it. This has been the case with successive US administrations – but whether they genuinely believe it, or perpetuate it because it is convenient to their wider foreign policy ambitions to do so, remains to be seen.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | culture and arts, North Korea, politics, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

Growing aggressive behaviour by nuclear proponents – is nuclear facing obsolescence?

Nuclear Engineering International 29th April 2021, Extract from Letter Andy Stirling, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex.

It is reasonable to give particular scrutiny both to the style and content of a commentary by Jeremy Gordon published on an article issued last year in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy. This is sadly especially so, because what we see as Jeremy Gordon’s aggressive tone and superficial arguments display behaviour that is sadly growing among nuclear proponents.

These are worrying signs of a wider malaise in current nuclear debates. It is a growing problem in nuclear advocacy that those holding contrasting informed and measured views – or who simply question the comparative merits of nuclear power – are so often smeared as ‘anti-nuclear’.

 It is hysterical to brand someone raising evidence of a problem with something, as being somehow intrinsically ‘anti’ that thing. Yet on nuclear, this is a norm. Even to raise questions about relative pros and cons of nuclear versus renewable based strategies is treated by Gordon as if inherently biased.

Gordon criticises us for not analysing coal, oil or gas. Our purpose is to examine associations between carbon emissions and the uptake of two families of technologies that are variously claimed as “zero carbon”: nuclear and renewables. We are ourselves clear in urging further more specific work addressing finer details and wider dimensions  

But it is not unreasonable that this pioneering study focuses specifically on technologies for which zero carbon
claims are actually made. Whatever ‘side’ one is on, it is striking that as the relative position of nuclear power deteriorates, the invective grows more intense. But perhaps all may agree (on any side), that spurious caricatures and personal attacks undermine themselves?

No technology is entitled to immunity either from criticism or obsolescence. Whether nuclear power faces this latter fate is unsure. But if (like many earlier technologies) its time has come, then this past quintessential icon of scientific prowess should not bring down with it the reasoned policy discourse that forms the lifeblood of democracy itself.  

https://www.neimagazine.com/opinion/opiniontowards-more-reasoned-debate-about-nuclear-and-renewables-8709792/

May 3, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Scientists must tell the truth on our consumerist, ecology-killing Ponzi culture

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise. 

Worried about Earth’s future? Well, the outlook is worse than even scientists can grasp , The Conversation, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology and Models Theme Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Flinders University.  Daniel T. Blumstein, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, Paul Ehrlich, President, Center for Conservation Biology, Bing Professor of Population Studies, January 13, 2021 

Anyone with even a passing interest in the global environment knows all is not well. But just how bad is the situation? Our new paper shows the outlook for life on Earth is more dire than is generally understood.

The research published today reviews more than 150 studies to produce a stark summary of the state of the natural world. We outline the likely future trends in biodiversity decline, mass extinction, climate disruption and planetary toxification. We clarify the gravity of the human predicament and provide a timely snapshot of the crises that must be addressed now.

The problems, all tied to human consumption and population growth, will almost certainly worsen over coming decades. The damage will be felt for centuries and threatens the survival of all species, including our own………

academics tend to specialise in one discipline, which means they’re in many cases unfamiliar with the complex system in which planetary-scale problems — and their potential solutions — exist.

What’s more, positive change can be impeded by governments rejecting or ignoring scientific advice, and ignorance of human behaviour by both technical experts and policymakers.

More broadly, the human optimism bias – thinking bad things are more likely to befall others than yourself – means many people underestimate the environmental crisis.

Numbers don’t lie

Our research also reviewed the current state of the global environment. While the problems are too numerous to cover in full here, they include:…………

A bad situation only getting worse

The human population has reached 7.8 billion – double what it was in 1970 – and is set to reach about 10 billion by 2050. More people equals more food insecurity, soil degradation, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss.

High population densities make pandemics more likely. They also drive overcrowding, unemployment, housing shortages and deteriorating infrastructure, and can spark conflicts leading to insurrections, terrorism, and war.

Essentially, humans have created an ecological Ponzi scheme. Consumption, as a percentage of Earth’s capacity to regenerate itself, has grown from 73% in 1960 to more than 170% today.

High-consuming countries like Australia, Canada and the US use multiple units of fossil-fuel energy to produce one energy unit of food. Energy consumption will therefore increase in the near future, especially as the global middle class grows.

Then there’s climate change.  Humanity has already exceeded global warming of 1°C this century, and will almost assuredly exceed 1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052. Even if all nations party to the Paris Agreement ratify their commitments, warming would still reach between 2.6°C and 3.1°C by 2100.

The danger of political impotence

Our paper found global policymaking falls far short of addressing these existential threats. Securing Earth’s future requires prudent, long-term decisions. However this is impeded by short-term interests, and an economic system that concentrates wealth among a few individuals.

Right-wing populist leaders with anti-environment agendas are on the rise, and in many countries, environmental protest groups have been labelled “terrorists”. Environmentalism has become weaponised as a political ideology, rather than properly viewed as a universal mode of self-preservation.

Financed disinformation campaigns against climate action and forest protection, for example, protect short-term profits and claim meaningful environmental action is too costly – while ignoring the broader cost of not acting. By and large, it appears unlikely business investments will shift at sufficient scale to avoid environmental catastrophe.

Changing course

Fundamental change is required to avoid this ghastly future. Specifically, we and many others suggest:

  • abolishing the goal of perpetual economic growth………..

Don’t look away………

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise.   https://theconversation.com/worried-about-earths-future-well-the-outlook-is-worse-than-even-scientists-can-grasp-153091

January 14, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, culture and arts, environment | Leave a comment

Uranium Film Festival 2020 – a huge success under difficult circumstances

December 10, 2020 Posted by | culture and arts, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Britain, and other countries, got nuclear weapons for reasons of status and pride

October 27, 2020 Posted by | culture and arts, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Culture and pride – Britain’s unnecessary attachment to nuclear weapons

October 22, 2020 Posted by | culture and arts, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Racism in nuclear bomb testing, bombing of Japanese people, and nuclear waste dumping

Langston Hughes voiced the opinion that until racial injustice on home ground in the United States ceases, “it is going to be very hard for some Americans not to think the easiest way to settle the problems of Asia is simply dropping an atom bomb on colored heads there.”[25] While his statement was made in 1953, near the eighth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, it remains equally relevant today, as we approach the 75th anniversary

Memorial Days: the racial underpinnings of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings  , Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Elaine Scarry, Elaine Scarry is the author of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing between Democracy and Doom and The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World. She is Cabot Profess…   By Elaine Scarry, August 3, 2020

This past Memorial Day, a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the throat of an African-American, George Floyd, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Seventy-five years ago, an American pilot dropped an atomic bomb on the civilian population of Hiroshima. Worlds apart in time, space, and scale, the two events share three key features. Each was an act of state violence. Each was an act carried out against a defenseless opponent. Each was an act of naked racism. ……….

Self-defense was not an option for any one of the 300,000 civilian inhabitants of the city of Hiroshima, nor for any one of the 250,000 civilians in Nagasaki three days later. We know from John Hersey’s classic Hiroshima that as day dawned on that August morning, the city was full of courageous undertakings meant to increase the town’s collective capacity for self-defense against conventional warfare, such as the clearing of fire lanes by hundreds of young school girls, many of whom would instantly vanish in the 6,000° C temperature of the initial flash, and others of whom, more distant from the center, would retain their lives but lose their faces.[2] The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki initiated an era in which—for the first time on Earth and now continuing for seven and a half decades—humankind collectively and summarily lost the right self-defense. No one on Earth—or almost no one on Earth[3]has the means to outlive a blast that is four times the heat of the sun or withstand the hurricane winds and raging fires that follow………

Centuries of political philosophers have asked, “What kind of political arrangements will create a noble and generous people?” Surely such arrangements cannot be ones where a handful of men control the means for destroying at will everyone on Earth from whom the means of self-defense have been eliminated……..

When Americans first learned that the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been collectively vaporized in less time than it takes for the heart to beat, many cheered. But not all. Black poet Langston Hughes at once recognized the moral depravity of executing 100,000 people and discerned racism as the phenomenon that had licensed the depravity: “How come we did not try them [atomic bombs] on Germany…  . They just did not want to use them on white folks.”[4] Although the building of the weapon was completed only after Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, Japan had been designated the target on September 18, 1944, and training for the mission had already been initiated in that same month.[5] Black journalist George Schuyler wrote: “The atom bomb puts the Anglo-Saxons definitely on top where they will remain for decades”; the country, in its “racial arrogance,” has “achieved the supreme triumph of being able to slaughter whole cities at a time.”[6]

Still within the first year (and still before John Hersey had begun to awaken Americans to the horrible aversiveness of the injuries), novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston denounced the US president as a “butcher” and scorned the public’s silent compliance, asking, “Is it that we are so devoted to a ‘good Massa’ that we feel we ought not to even protest such crimes?”[7] Silence—whether practiced by whites or people of color—was, she saw, a cowardly act of moral enslavement to a white supremacist. Continue reading

August 4, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, history, indigenous issues, Reference, social effects, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Russian Orthodox Church just might cease its blessing of nuclear weapons

 

THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH MAY STOP BLESSING NUCLEAR WEAPONS    https://futurism.com/the-byte/russian-orthodox-blessing-nuclear-weapons   JULY 10TH 19__DAN ROBITZSKI 

A faction of clergy within the Russian Orthodox Church wants to end the eyebrow-raising practice of blessing the country’s nuclear missiles.

First of all, yes: Russian priests currently sprinkle holy water on nuclear missiles as part of an old tradition in which Orthodox priests bless soldiers and their weapons, reports Religion News Service. But that may change, as some priests feel that intercontinental ballistic missiles belong in a different category from individual firearms.

Faith Militant

The Russian military and the Russian Orthodox church have long worked hand in hand, according to RNS, framing many of the country’s military conflicts as holy wars. The nuclear arsenal even has its own patron saint — RNS reports that St. Seraphim’s remains were found in a Russian town that housed several nuclear facilities.

As such, the push to stop blessing nukes faces strong opposition among members of the clergy, such as the high-ranking priest Vsevolod Chaplin, who referred to the country’s nukes as “guardian angels.”

“Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin once said, per RNS.

Changing Hearts

One priest, Dmitry Tsorionov, parted from the more militant aspects of the Orthodox Church after seeing men willingly sign up to fight Russia’s wars “under the banner of Christ,” he told RNS. Now he wants to see less warmongering among the clergy.

“It was not uncommon to see how church functionaries openly flirted with these toxic ideas,” he told RNS. “It was only then that I finally realized what the blessing of military hardware leads to.”

February 6, 2020 Posted by | culture and arts, Religion and ethics, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The age of the individual must end – our world depends on it

The costs of a culture focused on an illusory idea of personal autonomy are making us ill and heating our planet. But a new age may be dawning, Guardian, Tom Oliver, Mon 20 Jan 2020  Last month, as I travelled to see family for a very mild Christmas in the UK, I thought about the bushfires simultaneously raging across Australia. They are just one example from a long series of extreme weather events in 2019, including cyclones in India and Bangladesh that displaced more than three million people, Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 1,000 people in southern Africa, floods that displaced tens of thousands of people in Iran, and entire townships laid to waste by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. The year ended with reports of record rates of Arctic ice melt that, through positive feedback effects, are likely to intensify climate heating and impact the future of humanity.

In the face of global catastrophe, it’s hard not to feel daunted. What can I, an individual, do to address such a crisis? Understanding that my daily actions are partly responsible for climate change, I feel a gnawing sense of sense of individual guilt……..
Developing human minds are like sponges and ours were submerged in ever more individualistic language. Phrases such as “unique”, “personal”, “self”, “me” and “mine” were used with increasing frequency in lyrics, TV shows and books. This immersion took its toll: analysis of data from almost 80 countries shows how the majority have shown marked increases in individualistic attitudes over recent decades.
Having a strong sense of self can be useful, but excessive individualism has its costs. The more we see ourselves as discrete entities, the more likely we are to feel isolated and lonely and to show “selfish” behaviours. As a consequence, rates of anxiety and depression are rising across the world, while the climate and biodiversity crises deepen ever further.
Yet times are changing. In the last decade, we may have seen individualism peak. ……..
 the new science of social networks shows how we are linked together so closely that ideas, behaviours and preferences flow between us in a way that makes it unclear where one mind ends and another begins. …….https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/16/the-age-of-the-individual-must-end-tom-oliver-the-self-delusion

January 21, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts | Leave a comment

10th International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, May 2020

Marcia Gomes de Oliveira shared a link. 2 Nov 19

Next year, May 2020, we’re celebrating the 10th birthday of the International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro.

These filmmakers and producers have already agreed to come to Rio 2020: Peter Kaufmann (Australia), Kim Mavromatis (Australia), Laura Pires (Brazil), Angelo Lima (Brazil), Miguel Silveira (USA/Brazil), Cris Uberman (France), Marcus Schwenzel (Germany), Rainer Ludwigs (Germany), Michael von Hohenberg (Germany), Peter Anthony (Denmark), Michael Madson (Denmark), Lise Autogena (Denmark), Masako Sakata (Japan), Maurizio Torrealta (Italy), Alessandro Tesei (Italy), Amudhan R.P. (India), Tamotsu Matsubara (Japan), Tamiyoshi Tachibana (Japan), Tineke Van Veen (Netherlands), Mafalda Gameiro (Portugal), James Ramsay Cameron (Scotland), José Herrera Plaza (Spain), Marko Kattilakoski (Sweden), Edgar Hagen (Switzerland),Tetyana Chernyavska (Ukraine), Brittany Prater (USA), Ian Thomas Ash (Japan/USA).

Rio’s 10th International Uranium Film Festival is scheduled for May 21st to 31st. Do not miss it!

November 2, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, media, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

The dangers of Chernobyl nuclear site being turned into a tourism mecca

The grounds remain coated with plutonium, cesium, strontium and americium — radionuclides (atoms that emit radiation) that could pose potentially serious health risks to those who touch or ingest them. Some areas are more radioactive, and therefore more dangerous, than others.

“Even though the accident occurred over 33 years ago it remains one of the most radiologically contaminated places on earth.”

Chernobyl tourists should avoid plant life, and especially the depths of the forests.

Those areas were not cleaned in the aftermath of the disaster and remain highly contaminated by radiation. Research has showed that the fungus, moss and mushrooms growing there are radioactive. Eating or drinking from the area is not safe.

Those who stay on the paved pathways, which officials cleaned, are much less likely to absorb harmful toxins.

Ukraine wants Chernobyl to be a tourist trap. But scientists warn: Don’t kick up dust. https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2019/07/12/ukraine-wants-chernobyl-be-tourist-trap-scientists-warn-dont-kick-up-dust/?utm_term=.5e82b547ceaf  By Katie Mettler, July 12 2019

The tourists first started flocking to Chernobyl nearly 10 years ago, when fans of the video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. wanted to see firsthand the nuclear wasteland they’d visited in virtual reality.

Next came those whose curiosity piqued when in 2016 the giant steel dome known as the New Safe Confinement was slid over the sarcophagus encasing nuclear reactor number four, which exploded in April 1986, spewed radiation across Europe and forced hundreds of thousands to flee from their homes.

Then in May, HBO’s “Chernobyl” miniseries aired, and tourism companies reported a 30 to 40 percent uptick in visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, abandoned and eerily frozen in time.

Now the Ukrainian government — capitalizing on the macabre intrigue — has announced that Chernobyl will become an official tourist site, complete with routes, waterways, checkpoints and a “green corridor” that will place it on the map with other “dark tourism” destinations.

“We must give this territory of Ukraine a new life,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a visit to Chernobyl this week. “Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine’s brand. It’s time to change it.”

Zelensky, who was inaugurated in May, signed a decree July 10 to kickstart the Chernobyl Development Strategy, which the president hopes will bring order to the 19-mile Exclusion Zone that has become a hotbed for corruption, trespassing and theft. At the nuclear facility and in the nearby town of Pripyat, wildlife has returned and now roams freely. Flora and fauna grow up around decaying homes, playgrounds and an amusement park. Letters, dinner tables and baby dolls remain where their owners abandoned them 33 years ago.

Radioactive dust still coats it all.

“Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster, where there is a real ‘ghost town,’” Zelensky said during his visit. “We have to show this place to the world: scientists, ecologists, historians, tourists.”

Though exploiting a historical space like Chernobyl could infuse Ukraine’s economy with tourism dollars and motivate developers to revive the sleepy towns surrounding the “dead zone,” there are significant downsides, experts say.

[Thanks to HBO, more tourists are flocking to the eerie Chernobyl nuclear disaster site]

The grounds remain coated with plutonium, cesium, strontium and americium — radionuclides (atoms that emit radiation) that could pose potentially serious health risks to those who touch or ingest them. Some areas are more radioactive, and therefore more dangerous, than others.

“Chernobyl was the worst nuclear accident in human history,” said Jim Beasley, an associate professor at the University of Georgia who has been studying wildlife in the Exclusion Zone since 2012. “Even though the accident occurred over 33 years ago it remains one of the most radiologically contaminated places on earth.”

More than 30 people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, and officials are still debating the full extent of the longterm death toll in Ukraine and nearby countries where people grew sick with cancer and other illnesses.

The World Health Organization estimates total cancer deaths at 9,000, far less than a Belarusian study that put the death toll at 115,000, reported Reuters.

Today, radiation levels inside the Exclusion Zone vary widely from location to location, said Dr. T. Steen, who teaches microbiology and immunology at Georgetown’s School of Medicine and oversees radiation research in organisms at nuclear disaster sites. Because of that, she advises anyone visiting to be educated and cautious while inside the Exclusion Zone, and to limit time spent there.

“The longer you’re exposed, the more that future impact is,” she said.

She advises visitors to the Exclusion Zone to wear clothes and shoes they are comfortable throwing away. If they’re going to be touching or disturbing anything, she recommends a mask and gloves. Most importantly, Steen says, Chernobyl tourists should avoid plant life, and especially the depths of the forests.

Those areas were not cleaned in the aftermath of the disaster and remain highly contaminated by radiation. Research has showed that the fungus, moss and mushrooms growing there are radioactive. Eating or drinking from the area is not safe.

Those who stay on the paved pathways, which officials cleaned, are much less likely to absorb harmful toxins.

Generally speaking, Chernobyl can be safe, Steen said, “but it depends on how people behave.”

And so far, the accounts of tourists behaving badly are abundant.

Timothy Mousseau, a biologist and University of South Carolina professor, has been studying the ecological and evolutionary consequences of radioactive contaminants on wildlife and organisms at Chernobyl for 20 years. He just recently returned from his annual, month-long trip to the Exclusion Zone and said he was shocked to see 250 tourists in street clothes wandering Pripyat.

Some hopped in bumper cars at the abandoned amusement park there to take selfies.

“Part of the reason people don’t think twice about it is because there is this highly organized tourism operation,” Mousseau said. “A lot of people don’t give it a second thought.”

He is concerned that the government’s tourism campaign could only make that worse.

“The negative aspects that are being completely ignored are the health and safety issues of bringing this many people, exposing this many people to what is a small risk, albeit a significant risk, to this kind of contamination,” Mousseau said. “The more traffic there is, the most dust there is, and the dust here is contaminated.”

[We’re in the age of the overtourist. You can avoid being one of them.]

But Mousseau’s worries, and the anxieties of his colleagues, extend beyond health factors.

For decades, biologists, ecologists and medical researchers have been studying the mostly undisturbed expanse that is the Exclusion Zone. They’ve studied DNA mutations in plants and insects, birds and fish. As larger mammals, like moose, wolves and fox, have slowly re-occupied the surrounding forests, biologists have searched for clues about the ways short-term and long-term radiation exposure have altered their health.

Scientifically, there is no place on earth like Chernobyl. Beasley, who studies wolves there, calls it a “living laboratory.” An influx of humans — especially reckless ones — could destroy it.

“This is really the only accessible place on the planet where this kind of research can be conducted at a scale both spatial and temporal that allows for important scientific discovery,” Mousseau said. “Given increased use of radiation in technology and medicine, in going to Mars and space, we need to know more about radiation and its effects on biology and organisms.”

“And Chernobyl provides a unique laboratory to do this kind of research,” he said.

Tourism’s negative footprint in the Exclusion Zone is not theoretical, either.

They are leaving behind trash, rummaging through abandoned homes and buildings and, in Mousseau’s experience, stealing his research equipment. Cameras he has hidden in the depths of the most radioactive parts of the zone to capture the wildlife he studies have been vandalized or gone missing, he said.

It’s something that absolutely astounds me,” he said.

Theoretically, more government oversight at Chernobyl could help curb this kind of interference, especially if a financial investment in the zone will help preserve the ghost town there and bring in more guards and checkpoints to patrol who comes and goes.

None of that will prevent tourists from disturbing Chernobyl’s spirit.

“I think it is important to not lose sight of the fact that Chernobyl represents an area of tremendous human suffering,” Beasley said, “as hundreds of thousands of people were forever displaced from their homes or otherwise impacted by the accident.”

July 15, 2019 Posted by | culture and arts, environment, Reference, safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment