Most of the world is busy commending Donald Trump’s American unilateral military action against Syria, undertaken with no Congressional authority, and with no indication of what the next step might be. Trump must be basking in all this global attention.
Meanwhile, in a quieter and much less publicised process, some 123 nations were represented in the United Nations talks in New York, planning for a nuclear weapons ban treaty
Setsuko Thurlow, survivor of nuclear bombing of Hiroshima
It’s interesting to reflect on aspects of these two processes. The decision to send 50 cruise missiles to bomb a Syrian military site was taken in a room full of men of the most powerful nation in the world. There was one woman there. She got in presumably because she can speak Arabic, and none of the men could.
The careful deliberations at the UN were discussed by all those smaller, unimportant, countries. The big nuclear guys were conspicuously absent – USA, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and their dependent allies, such as South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia .
Indeed,proceedings were led by small nations – e.g Costa Rica – which doesn’t even have an army!
If that wasn’t unusual enough – in these discussions, women took an active, even a leading, part. Makes you ponder on just who should be running this world.
The United Nations has just held the first of two global summits to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. Sponsored by 57 nations, and with 125 nations represented. But the nuclear weapons nations did not participate.
Does this mean that the conference is meaningless? Perhaps. Yet, increasingly, public opinion supports nuclear disarmament, and those governments are being challenged, to explain their support for nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, it is something of a turbulent time in international politics, with elections in European nations, with UK and “Brexit” , with North Korea a continuing nuclear weapons worry, and with the unpredictability of USA’s President Trump, and his belligerent attitude to China. In this political climate, the risk of nuclear war continues to grow.
Yet the somewhat frenzied promotion of nuclear power goes on. Why? Perhaps because it is uneconomic in the home country, so it’s imperative to sell it off to other countries. Perhaps because non-nuclear countries in south Asia, the Middle East, Africa, covet nuclear weapons – and “peaceful” nuclear power is the first step towards nuclear weapons.
It really is time that civil society of every country prevailed, over the militaristic leaders of nations, who are beholden to the nuclear weapons industry. Intelligent military personnel know that there will be no winners in a nuclear war. And nuclear weapons are useless against the suicidal individual terrorists, who now frighten the world.
It is time that civil society rejected the dirty dangerous, (and super expensive) “peaceful” nuclear industry, including those billionaire zealots for geewhiz “new nukes”. Global energies, talents and funds, are needed for truly beneficial technologies in energy efficiency and clean renewables.
On 6 March 2017, The Daily Source, Global Social Justice News, published Current Problems in the Media, and discussed these under a number of headings. Many of those headings can be adopted for a critique of how the media fails in covering climate, and especially, nuclear news:
High levels of inaccuracies…. Sensationalism……Poor coverage of important issues: Information on Fukushima is often so inadequate that it amounts inaccuracy, minimising the severity of the problem. At the same time, some of the more sensational anti-nuclear stories are also inaccurate.
The media’s short attention span…..“the issue attention cycle”..”news media suddenly notice a serious problem, such as Fukushima, declare it a crisis: next they realize the problem will not be easily fixed and will be costly,….finally, they ignore the problem.
The media does not cover itself ….”journalism in America has become more slipshod and reckless, at times promiscuous…. Every journalist surely also knows that the old-time standards…have been weakened if not discarded. [This surely applies to coverage of health effects of nuclear industry] Most of us in the business, however, stand by as mere observers….If this were happening in any other profession or power center in American life, the media would be all over the story, holding the offending institution up to a probing light. …”Sydney Schanberg
Focus on profit margins, not serving public………. “As a loyal American, trained as a journalist some 45 years ago, I am convinced that journalists in the U.S. feel increasingly trapped between their professional values and the marketing/profits mentality so evident now everywhere in the news industry. The old professional values urge them to dig, investigate and bring to the light of day the relevant facts and issues, while the market/profit mentality asks, ‘Is it worth it? Do enough people care?’
It seems clear enough that the market/profit mentality has won out, especially in electronic news, and to a considerable extent in the print media. ..” Margaret T. Gordon, a professor of news media and public policy at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington
[As to nuclear issues, it must be far easier for news media to accept the sophisticated handouts prepared by the nuclear lobby, than to pay investigative journalists to do thorough research. This applies especially to covreage of new nuclear technologies]
A ray of light. Nonprofit media organizations rate far higher on educating the public than for-profit entities [Readers of this site must have noticed how much more informative on nuclear issues are many not- for- profit groups, than much of the mainstream media]
Today’s news media is a smorgasbord of online blogs,Facebook. Twitter, Youtube, Linked-In and a hundred other online sites. Oh, and yes, there are still some online, and even print, newspapers. You remember those last. They employed reputable investigative journalists, who did fact-checking about their news sources.
“help promote a culture that reveres veracity. Check your sources before you post anything. Support newspapers and other organizations that do good, reliable reporting. Discourage people in your own community when they promote stories that feel good to you, but are, alas, untrue.“ http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/opinions/fake-news-stories-thrive-donath/
A bunch of American billionaires is trying to save the astronomically expensive nuclear industry – by getting taxpayers to pay for even more astronomically costly “little new nukes”.
Meanwhile in China, France UK, South Korea – and even in America, governments are desperately propping up the super costly “big old nukes’ .
But not for long.
The “peaceful” nuclear industry is intrinsically linked to the multi $billion nuclear weapons industry. Yet even the nuclear weapons industry is under threat, with the coming UN nuclear disarmament conference.
Even if concern for the public good does not stop the toxic nuclear industry – the unaffordable economic costs eventually will
Forget health, environment, safety, future generations, weapons proliferation – today’s killer of the nuclear industry is that good old reliable thing – the exorbitant MONEY that is required
Are “developing” countries really buying the nuclear lobby’s advertising drivel? Is China really on a nuclear build spree? Is Australia really going to “embrace” the nuclear fuel chain and become the planet’s nuclear toilet?
The nuclear lobby , like everyone else, knows that the game is over as soon as the next radioactive catastrophe occurs. That’s predicted as 50% probability before 2050. It could be this week. That’s a big reason why the nuclear lobby is in such a panic to lock in contracts to buy its toxic products – while the going’s good.
Only tax-payers will fund nuclear facilities, despite the drivel from democracies about private enterprise. Russia, China are more honest about it – the State owns the nuclear companies. And they’re all so keen to export the technology to other countries. Heck! Russia even pays for them to buy the stuff.
The nuke industry is in trouble – In USA the nuclear industry is a thing of the past. Investors flee Nordic nuclear company Vattenfall. Finland pulls out of building Olkiluoto 4 nuclear reactor. AREVA teeters on bankruptcy.
A small number of nuclear enthusiasts, with more money than common sense, now pay journalists to advertise “new nukes’, especially Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. Of course, their plan is for taxpayers to cough up – for fleets of even more expensive nuclear gimmicks.
This transition is well underway. Renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper. It is now the time to consider whether perhaps renewable energy should not be so cheap. This is the age-old debate between quantity and quality. Should the world have so much more renewable energy, or so much better renewable energy? But then perhaps it can have both.
The whole point of renewable energy is that it is clean. And, for sure, the major fuels – sun and wind – are undoubtedly clean. However, renewable energy does require some components – rare earths – that certainly have a dirty radioactive history, and may still have a dirty radioactive present.
3 main approaches are being taken to this problem:
Design for recycling. This is particularly appropriate for wind turbines.
Reduction in consumption of rare earths . This is not applicable to renewable energy, but rather to the rampant and wasteful consumption of modern electronic gadgets – often unnecessary, all too often a part of our throwaway culture. http://chinawaterrisk.org/resources/analysis-reviews/can-we-build-a-clean-smart-future-on-toxic-rare-earths/
Design for green technologies that don’t require rare earths
Of course, like all modern industrial technologies, mining and manufacture and transport of renewables do mean environmental disturbance. But this is a balancing act, considering the environmental benefits of renewable energy.
The nuclear lobby pretends that renewable energy is environmentally dirty. In the 21st Century, it is vital that we acknowledge environmental problems, including that fact of radioactive waste from rare earths, and make sure that the production processes are clean, even if this adds to their cost.
It seems impossible for petrol heads coal and gas heads, and especially nuke-heads to get their heads around this – BUT – renewable energy and energy efficency ARE HAPPENING – world -wide, in both big ways, and small ways.
It must be tough, when you’re addicted to such a complex , complicated, and expensive technology as nuclear power – as well as addicted to the money you get from being involved in this business – it must be tough to consider the reality that the fuels for solar and wind energy are FREE, and so is the energy conservation from good design in energy efficiency.
As Dr Helen Caldicott pointed out, long ago, if they could put a blanket around the sun and sell holes, they would.
The out-dated energy systems of the past – nuclear,coal, gas, are looking more
and more like unwieldy and costly dinosaurs, as the world wakes up to the diversity and flexibility of 21st Century clean energy systems.
The nuclear lobby now tries its last ditch promotional pipe-dream – Small Nuclear Reactors – that in fact would rely on the continuation of the old big ones.
Solar panels bring cheap energy to India
No wonder that the nuclear lobby is in a panic to spread its spin all over the world. Their lies, about curing climate change with Small Nuclear and Big Nuclear, remain lies, no matter how fervently the nuclear industry and its media acolytes repeat them.
The nuclear panic is on, because genuinely clean energy, (and energy conservation), are developing so fast, ever cheaper and more efficient, that it’s becoming evident that New Nuclear doesn’t stand a chance.
Renewable energy is inexorably becoming cheaper, even without subsidies. Wind energy is the cheapest form of new electricity generation available today. Solar power is on the way to beating even wind. Compared to nuclear, both forms are fast to set up, and provide many more and cleaner, jobs.
The media usually ignore decentralised renewable energy. Yet small solar and wind systems are already becoming the dominant form of new energy production. (It’s quite laughable to see the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) lobby pushing their propaganda all over, while literally millions of solar rooftop panels go up every day. )
This month, this website will bring a focus onto the fast-growing renewable energy movement.
In 2017 the nuclear lobby lies should not prevail.
In a world where a jury acquitted O J Simpson of a double murder, and a nation elected Donald Trump for President, it is more important than ever, for lies and dishonest spin top be exposed.
The start was America’s Manhattan project – developing the atomic bomb. Then came the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then came – the shock and guilt, and the attempt to turn the nuclear project into something good – “atoms for peace’ “electricity too cheap to meter”.
Of course the costing for “cheap” nuclear energy did not include the health and environmental toll of uranium mining, which, as always, was to be paid by indigenous people. Costing also did not include the virtually eternal toll of the cleaup of radioactive trash. And of course, there would be no accidents, (no Chalk River, Rocky Flats, Windscale, Mayak, Lenin icebreaker, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tomsk, Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi)
Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex continued its production of nuclear weapons. Other countries adopted the “peaceful nuke”, so that they could develop nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was underway.
FROM THE ARCHIVES For this month, each week we’ll be posting an item from the past. Lest we forget.
The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public
Top secret document reveals British troops were knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests – mirror.co.uk, by Susie Boniface, 2 Jan 2011, British troops WERE knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests, a top-secret document has finally proved. Continue reading
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.
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.
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