Today, journalism is in a sorry mess. Yet still, there are courageous examples of investigative journalism – such as the McClatchy report on nuclear workers’ health. All too often, revealing and informative reports on nuclear matters are forgotten, as celebrity sex scandals and sport dominate the mass media.
This month we will remember and refresh stories from our archives. It’s important that, while we look at current events, these events are illuminated by knowledge of their history. Especially today, as the nuclear industry struggles desperately to survive – and to portray itself as “clean, green and of course, peaceful”, the truth of its dirty history must be remembered.
There’s an uncanny echo of the 1930s in the rise of extreme right wing politics in the Western world today. The dissastisfaction of the “working class” in their stagnant wages and disappearing jobs, and of the vanishing middle class – all tends to make a simplistic populist cry very attractive.
“I will make America great again” – says Donald Trump. And how many other strident voices are gathering mass support with a similar message in other countries?
If you think that this is unrelated to the nuclear industry, think again. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons, with all the necessary secrecy surrounding them , are the perfect technologies for keeping the public in fear, and under control – the fascist system.
The world is still reeling from the news that Americans have elected the narcissistic and unpredictable Donald Trump. The man has spent two years blustering his way into this role. He has made unnervingly ignorant pronouncements, which he will probably not be able to carry out.
Still, the world is left with an America ruled by a pro nuclear, climate change denying Republican government, and the likelihood of other national governments following America in that direction.
At least, the Trump election is galvanising opposition in USA. And, very diplomatically spoken leaders such as Angela Merkel, are indicating that they will not be swayed by the climate denialist forces.
As long as our politicians dance to the tune of their donors, the threat of nuclear disaster will never be far off – Amy Goodman – Big Nuclear’s cosy relationship with the Obama administration.
It’s awfully hard to find out how much nuclear companies and utilities have contributed to election campaigns. OpenSecrets.org gives some information on how much the Nuclear Energy Institute has donated to the American political parties, each year, but not beyond 2014.
Barack Obama in his political campaigns clearly became dependent on support from nuclear industries, notably from Exelon. Exelon and other companies used their access to the White House to successfully lobby for weakening some safety regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and water safety provisions of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The mind boggles at the sort of influence and control that the weapons industry and the Pentagon have over American nuclear and military policy.
In a sense, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the Democratic or Republican Party in charge of the American government. They’re both beholden to big corporations and the commercial and military nuclear lobbies.
The only complicating factor would be the unpredictability of Donald Trump. in the unlikely event that he were to be elected as President.
Stranded nuclear wastes. At the beginning of the nuclear industry’s career, it seems that they never thought about this. For decades the nuclear industry, governments, media were apparently oblivious of the the fact that these wonderful new “peaceful” nuclear reactors excreted toxic and very long lasting droppings.
Now, especially in America, the truth is becoming apparent. In Russia, the government owned industry claims that it has the problem solved, and touts its nuclear technology for sale, with a promise to “look after” the droppings. In China, with its appalling reputation for mismanagement of industrial excreta, the problem is barely, or never mentioned. Japan is in turmoil about it. They’re busy getting ready for the “clean” 2020 Olympic Games, and busy pretending that Fukushima is fine.
How can the Americans compete in marketing nukes to the “developing world” – Asia, Africa and the Middle East?
Well, there’s the distraction of the new young geewhiz guys and gals promoting the as yet non existent LEGO toy nukes, with the deception that these will the wastes problem.
But, the well subsidised and well connected American nuclear lobby has come up with a new idea – send the toxic poo to Australia. It was always a colony anyway. Now Australia can become a Nuclear Colony – radioactive trash toilet to the world. This is being kept pretty much a secret from the Australians – comfortable in their laid-back, beer swilling, footy loving culture. Except in one economically disadvantaged State – South Australia. Here, they are being promised a bonanza, streets paved with gold. (Except of course, for the indigenous people, on whose land the poo will surely be dumped)
You’ve heard of “stranded assets”, for example – things like coal mines that are no longer economic, and the owners can’t sell them.
That’s bad enough. But what about STRANDED WASTES? This is the horrible reality already going on in America – the land that pioneered the (?) great nuclear power industry. They are already stuck with radioactive trash in its various forms – liquid and solid.
They’ve even got legislation to try to unravel who’s responsible for the toxic trash – H.R.5632 – Stranded Nuclear Waste Accountability Act of 2016
The nuclear lobby bravely puts up its latest gimmicky ideas for nuclear reactors that should “eat the wastes” . But even those reactors would still leave highly toxic radioactive trash, and the experiments in nuclear reprocessing are turning out to be super expensive duds, such as Japan’s Monju project.
Why on earth would we keep on making radioactive trash, in view of this pressing problem?
Let’s pretend that nuclear power is really “zero carbon” (which it isn’t)
Let’s pretend that thousands of “conventional” nuclear reactors, or millions of little geewhiz new Small Modular Nuclear Reactors could be set up within just a few years, in time to be effective against climate change ( we know they would take from about 70 years at the earliest)
Do we need a dirty, dangerous, unsafe, land and water polluting industry as an environmental cure?
(Especially when clean renewable energy and energy efficiency can be set up quickly)
The global nuclear lobby’s current favourite lie is the one about climate change. (they rotate their lies – the next big push will probably be about how “low dose ionising radiation is good for you”
The last thing that we need is to direct money and energy to the nuclear industry, and away from renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Dr Goebbels would be delighted with the nuclear lobby’s lie that nuclear power is zero carbon and will fix climate change. He would be even more delighted with the current success of this lie.
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
The failing nuclear industry is fighting for its life. It now pitches its salvation on its claim to halt climate change. Even if
that were true (which it isn’t) the world would have to construct several thousand ‘conventional’ reactors, or several millions of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) very quickly, within a decade or two.
How is it that politicians , media, academics have swallowed this lie?
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientist and “father of the bomb”
On the morning of 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later the United States dropped a plutonium bomb code-named “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. 140,000 people (almost all civilians) died in Hiroshima either immediately or within a few days. Deaths in Nagasaki were about 74,000. The survivors lived on, some with horrifying burns scars, some to die of radiation-induced illnesses
Following the war, many scientists involved in the atomic bomb project, turned to the “atoms for peace” program – nuclear power. They did this partly out of guilt, partly to continue to be employed. (Where would a nuclear physicist get a job, otherwise? Well, some were happy to continue with nuclear weapons development)
Nuclear weapons are an inevitable by-product of the nuclear power industry.
Like climate change, nuclear weapons development is now at the point of a global emergency.
Time to close down the whole insane nuclear industry charade, before it kills us all.
In 1996 the International Court of Justice issued its landmark advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The court unanimously held that nations have a legal obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control…..
The continuing radiation crisis in Fukushima has alerted governments and public across the world to the inherent dangers of nuclear technology for electricity production. ICAN points out that the starting material is the same and the effects of radiation are completely indiscriminate and identical whether it is radiation from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb. …
“In the end, there beckons, more and more clearly, general annihilation” – Albert Einstein 1945
Today, I read an article about how superior we are to other species. Really, I thought? What other species is poisoning the planet’s air, land and water, with its carbon and chemical pollution? And we are SO intelligent compared to other species: we can write, and build computers, and fly into space!
And what other species delights in enriching a few greedy individuals by paying them to build wonderful nuclear bombs that can destroy ALL the species on the planet, as well as their own? How clever is that?
And if the weapons industries are criticised, why – the reasoning is – they provide JOBS. What sort of jobs, particularly in the nuclear weapons area? Jobs that have already killed 33,480 workers due to ionising radiation. And that’s just in America alone.
Meanwhile – thousands of clean, positive jobs could be provided by using the obscene amounts of tax-payers’ money that go into buying nuclear, and other weapons.
And yet, and yet, our species IS capable of learning – even the sociopathic types of people that rise to leadership positions can learn, as well as the billions of normal humans who want peace and a humanitarian society.
At left, drawings by Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing, August 1945
Indigenous Fight Against Nuclear Colonialism
Indigenous people protest EPA’s nuclear plans
Indigenous people continue to bear the brunt of nuclear toxicity. It started with uranium mining – of course, on indigenous land in rural areas, in USA, Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, Germany , India, and of course to provide nuclear weapons material.
Then came the nuclear bomb tests – on remote rural indigenous lands and islands
This Radioactive pollution remains today, from uranium mining in many countries – but always on or close to indigenous lands. The nuclear bomb test sites remain too radioactive for the indigenous people to return home.
Uranium mining and milling, nuclear bomb tests and radioactive wastes ...
Russia is secretive about its nuclear wastes. They used to dump it in oceans, as did the French and others. Russia is notorious for its extremely polluted remote area at Mayak, where the rural people suffer the health legacy to this day
Where to dump it? That’s a “developed society” no brainer – ON INDIGENOUS LAND, of course. There’s now a movement to export radioactive trash to remote rural areas, such as the Aboriginal lands of Australia
Next week we will look at the indigenous fight against the nuclear industry
One contradiction is the increasing recognition that nuclear power is uneconomic, and could even bankrupt the sellers. It’s doubtful that the sellers will really make money out of it, especially Russia, funding so many other countries’ nuclear set ups. Still, we know why, really. It’s all part of the irrational battle to be Topp, to have that geopolitical presence and advantage in other countries.
An obvious contradiction is the way in which both Russia and the West agonise about nuclear terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation, while enthusiastically marketing nuclear technology to all and sundry. Never mind if it’s to an unstable Middle Eastern or East Asian regime, with a high risk of both terrorism and nuclear weapons development.
Another contradiction is the pretense going on that Big nuclear reactors and Small nuclear reactors are being happily promoted at the same time. The “conventional” big reactor companies. Toshiba Westinghouse, Rosatom, AREVA etc are determined to sell their stuff, and no way want to let the “new little” nuclear reactors take over the market. You can see this battle going on in Britain, with the “little nukes” lobbying away, and getting themselves set up as a “charity” for goodness’ sake!
How long will it be before the world recognises that the commercial nuclear empire is crumbling. We don’t need their toxic expensive product. Meanwhile renewable energy gets ever cheaper, fast to set up, versatile, and attractive to the public.
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