No2NuclearPower, nuclear News No.95 May 17 Nuclear power was originally sold on a lie, writes Dave Elliott. While we were being told it would make electricity ‘too cheap to meter’, insiders already knew it cost at least 50% more than conventional generation. Since then nuclear costs have only risen, while renewable energy prices are on a steep decline. And now the nuclear behemoths are crumbling. Dave’s new book ‘Nuclear Power: past, present and future’ for the Institute of Physics looks at the long turgid nuclear story in detail and includes full references.
A classified internal US State Department Intelligence Report, circulated in January 1954, ‘Economic Implications of Nuclear Power in Foreign Countries’, warned that the introduction of nuclear power would ” … not usher in a new era of plenty and rapid economic development as is commonly believed. Nuclear power plants may cost twice as much to operate and as much as 50 percent more to build and equip than conventional thermal plants.”
It wasn’t just accidents that might be a problem. The poor economics of nuclear gradually became more apparent- as cheaper alternatives began to emerge. It turned out to be too expensive.
Given the problems some look to new ‘Generation IV’ designs. They are basically new versions of the old designs looked at in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the USA and elsewhere – and abandoned as unviable, or after accidents. They include fast neutron plutonium breeders, High Temperature Reactors (HTRs) and Molten Salt Reactors (MSR) possibly using thorium as a fuel and possibly also in scaled down Small Modular Reactor (SMR) format. The message from the past is not promising. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo95.pdf
Championing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Rules: The EU and Iran , Lobelog, by Peter Jenkins, 20 Apr 17 In a newly published book, Tarja Cronberg contrasts EU and US conceptions of multilateralism in the nuclear field. Her work is titled Nuclear Multilateralism and Iran.
A former member of the European Parliament (EP) and chair of the EP delegation for EU relations with Iran, Cronberg writes: “For the US multilateralism is a means to an end, but for Europeans it is an end in itself.” Both the EU and the US are committed, she continues, to upholding international law, well-functioning international institutions, and a rules-based international order. But the EU’s commitment is more heartfelt and goes deeper than the US commitment. After all, the EU itself is a multilateral institution, and, lacking military resources, is more dependent on global rules. The US approach is “utilitarian,” writes Cronberg, quoting Robert Kagan, whereas the EU approach could be characterized as both idealistic and needy (my words, not hers).
These distinctions are the starting-point for an analysis of the EU contribution to resolving the concern aroused by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports in 2003 that Iran had “pursued a policy of concealment” for 18 years and had failed to declare the possession and use of nuclear material to develop a uranium enrichment capability. Cronberg finds that the EU contribution was important, even essential to the eventual outcome of that process. The EU showed itself to be a “unified” and effective “actor.”
Good Cop/Bad Cop
This finding leads her to offer several recommendations to EU policymakers. Her chief recommendation relates to the role the EU should aspire to play in the event of similar nuclear proliferation cases in the future. She would like the EU role to be “autonomous.” In effect she is advocating that the EU put itself forward as a purer champion of a multilateral rules-based order than the United States, to lead the international search for peaceful solutions.
In support of that recommendation she makes a telling point. On moral and political grounds the five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) ought to have disbarred themselves from preaching nuclear non-proliferation years ago. Most NPT parties resent the continuing reluctance of the NWS to act on their NPT pledge to negotiate “in good faith” on nuclear disarmament. Indeed most parties find NWS hypocrisy nauseating. In contrast, although two NWS are members of the EU (only one, in all probability, from April 2019), the EU as a whole is entitled to characterize itself as a non-nuclear weapon entity………
This is a thought-provoking book that draws on “front-line” experience of the issues and historical events that the author addresses. It appears at a time when the commitment of the United States to the multilateral rules-based order that it fathered over 70 years ago seems weaker than ever. http://lobelog.com/championing-nuclear-non-proliferation-rules-the-eu-and-iran/
The most common tricks politicians use to muddle inconvenient science “I think my primary message would be learn to appreciate evidence.” VOX, by Apr 20, 2017 On Saturday, thousands of people will march on Washington in support of science. And they’ll do so for very good reasons: Science, under the Trump administration, is under assault. As Vox’s Brian Resnick noted recently, the Trump administration has proposed cutting around $7 billion from science programs, including stifling research funding for the EPA and the National Institutes of Health.
In this interview, I talk to Dave Levitan, author of the new book Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science. A how-to guide for spotting nonsense, Levitan’s book highlights the rhetorical tricks and logical errors politicians use when they distort science for political purposes. Here, we discuss the ideological roots of science denialism and why it’s so important for citizens to demand evidence in support of policy claims.
Dave Levitan The whole idea for the book came about when I started seeing patterns. Cherry-picking data is probably the most familiar. The tendency to draw on a single data point in support of some broader argument, like Sen. James Inhofe did with the famous snowball on the Senate floor. Or taking a very specific subset of data, like Ted Cruz did when he claimed there hasn’t been any global warming for 17 years. That might be the most commonly seen one where you really just pick and choose exactly which study and data point, which subset or source to use, and then conveniently draw on that when it aligns with your political narrative.
Another really common one is where they claim that because there is still some degree of uncertainty around whatever the subject happens to be, then that means we shouldn’t do anything about it. Climate change is a great one for that, but it dates back much farther. Conservatives used the same tactics for delaying action on acid rain in the ’80s, for example. President Reagan would say, “Well, we still have to study this and figure out what’s going on. There’s not enough data to do anything.”
First of all, they were wrong. There was plenty of data. We knew exactly how to deal with acid rain and ended up fixing it pretty well. So that one comes up a lot, the idea that because there’s any degree of uncertainty that we shouldn’t do anything, which is of course ridiculous because every scientific measure ever taken has a degree of uncertainty and always will……..
I think my primary message would be learn to appreciate evidence. I really wish that your average reader of news would keep in mind that evidence is important and just because someone said something doesn’t make it true. That’s true for people on the right or left, for scientists themselves, and for everyone. People have to back up their claims with evidence.
If individual citizens have this in mind at all times, I think they’d do a better job of spotting bullshit and lies. Make sure that people show their work, that their policy pronouncements are backed up with reliable data. http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/4/20/15339844/science-climate-change-republican-party-march-for-science
THE SINGLE SHINING HOPE TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE https://jpratt27.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/the-single-shining-hope-to-stop-climate-change-auspol-qldpol-science/ Shining Hope to Stop Climate Change By Michael E. Mann TimeApril 9, 2017
It is the single shining hope to avoid the worst of global warming
Science is under attack at the very moment when we need it most.
President Donald Trump’s March 28 executive order went much further than simply throwing a lifeline to fossil fuels, as industry-funded congressional climate changedeniers have done in the past. It intentionally blinded the federal government to the impacts of climate change by abolishing an interagency group that measured the cost of carbon to public health and the environment.
Now, the government won’t have a coordinated way to account for damages from climate change when assessing the costs and benefits of a particular policy.
With that in mind, Trump should read the landmark “2020” report now published by Mission 2020, a group of experts convened by the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The report establishes a timeline for how we can ensure a safe and stable climate.
We don’t have much time – 2020 is a clear turning point.
If emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, the world stands very little chance of limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the threshold set by the Paris Agreement, and a temperature limit that many of the world’s most vulnerable communities consider a threshold for survival.
We have four years to bend the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions toward a steady decline.
The good news is, we’re already moving in the right direction.
Global carbon emissions have plateaued, and are projected to remain flat over the coming years, thanks to China’s widespread economic transformation and the global boom in renewable energy production.
The 2020 climate turning point is within reach.
But, as the authors of the report reveal, the bad news is we aren’t moving fast.
Thankfully, there is a range of actions that, if achieved, can deliver a safe future.
The study shows that by 2020, renewable energy must beat out coal in all major energy markets.
Countries must commit to electrifying the transportation system, and transmission infrastructure must be built out to host efficient, low-carbon energy systems.
Deforestation must be reigned in, and the restoration of already degraded land must be well underway.
All of the Fortune 500 companies that represent heavy industries must have committed to the Paris targets, and their emissions-reduction plans must be in effect.
And, finally, capital markets must double investment in zero-emission technologies.
Around the world, more and more politicians are listening to scientists.
Nearly 200 heads of state adopted the Paris Agreement in December of 2015, and 136 have since ratified the deal in record time.
Leaders in China and India have redoubled investments in renewables, and investors across the developed world are walking away from coal.
And last fall, all 197 parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted a critical amendment that will phase down Hydrofluorocarbon, a particularly potent greenhouse gas.
Even in the United States, where public concern about climate is high but doubt of the scientific consensus on climate change has also spiked in recent years (I should know, having recently testified to the climate changedenying chair of the House Science Committee), and where the new Administration wants to stop funding climate science, many politicians are redoubling their commitment to climate action.
From mayors of major cities to Congressional Republicans to the Defense Secretary, serious policy responses are being debated. The only way to avoid dangerous climate change, and to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius target in play, is to step up our ambition by 2020, and deliver emissions reductions across all sectors.
Only by drawing down global carbon emissions, by making sure that they drop steadily from 2020 forward, can we ensure that the world avoids the worst fates of climate change.
Science has no political affiliation and shouldn’t be a political issue.
Chemistry and physics don’t care who is president or which party runs a parliament.
No politician should ignore the warnings of scientists, economists and military leaders, and argue against health, increased stability and economic prosperity – all of which depend on how the world responds to climate change.
There is no denying it: 2020 will be a very important year.
This article was originally published on TIME.com
If We Don’t Act Now, Fascism Will Be on Our Doorstep, Says Yale Historian Timothy Snyder warns: History gives us a bunch of cases where democratic republics became authoritarian regimes. By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet March 13, 2017 How close is President Donald Trump to following the path blazed by last century’s tyrants? Could American democracy be replaced with totalitarian rule? There’s enough resemblance that Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who studies fascist and communist regime change and totalitarian rule, has written a book warning about the threat and offering lessons for resistance and survival. The author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century talked to AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld.
“……..the book does describe what is going on now.
The year figure is there because we have to recognize that things move fast. Nazi Germany took about a year. Hungary took about two and a half years. Poland got rid of the top-level judiciary within a year. It’s a rough historical guess, but the point is because there is an outside limit, you therefore have to act now. You have to get started early. It’s just very practical advice. It’s the meta-advice of the past: That things slip out of reach for you, psychologically very quickly, and then legally almost as quickly. It’s hard for people to act when they feel other people won’t act. It’s hard for people to act when they feel like they have to break the law to do so. So it is important to get out in front before people face those psychological and legal barriers…..
I think that the people who inhabit the White House inhabit a different ideological world in which they would like for the United States not to be the constitutional system that it now is……
Democracy only has substance if there’s the rule of law. ……
The second thing about ‘post-truth is pre-fascism’ is I’m trying to get people’s attention, because that is actually how fascism works. Fascism says, disregard the evidence of your senses, disregard observation, embolden deeds that can’t be proven, don’t have faith in god but have faith in leaders, take part in collective myth of an organic national unity, and so forth. Fascism was precisely about setting the whole Enlightenment aside and then selling what sort of myths emerged……..
in terms of what might happen next, or what people could look out for, some kind of event that the government claims is a terrorist incident, would be something to be prepared for. That’s why it’s one of the lessons in the book…….
it is much easier to have a dramatic negative event, than have a dramatic positive event. That is one of the reasons I am concerned about the Reichstag fire scenario. The other reason is that we are being mentally prepared for it by all the talk about terrorism and by the Muslim ban. Very often when leaders repeat things over and over they are preparing you for when that meme actually emerges in reality…..
the German Jews then, and people now, don’t understand how quick their neighbors will change; don’t understand how quickly society can change………
German Jews were not aware of, or Germans were not aware of, was how new media can quickly change conversations. In that way, it’s not exactly the same, but radio at that time often ended up being a channel for propaganda. There are parallels with the internet now, where there were hopes that it would be [primarily] enlightening. But in fact, it turns out that with presidential tweets, or with bots, or isolated habits of viewing, it isn’t necessarily enlightening. It’s the opposite. A lot of us were blindsided by the internet in much the same way that people could be blindsided by radio in the 1930s……..
most of the time authoritarianism depends on some kind of cycle involving a popular consent of some form. …….
Are you in favor of the end of the American way of democracy and fair play?’ Because that’s what’s really at stake…….
The crucial thing is to get some kind of in [political opening] where people go along with or accept stigmatization. …..And if you go along with this, what else are you agreeing to go along with?……..http://www.alternet.org/activism/if-we-dont-act-now-fascism-will-be-our-doorstep-says-yale-historian
“Post-truth is pre-fascism”: a Holocaust historian on the Trump era “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.” —Timothy Snyder
The note consisted of “twenty lessons from the twentieth century,” adapted to what Snyder called “the circumstances of today.” Among other things, he admonished Americans to defend democratic institutions, to not repeat the same words and phrases we hear in the media, to think clearly and critically, and to “take responsibility for the face of the world.”
The post went viral. It’s now the basis of Snyder’s new book, On Tyranny. The book is a brisk read packed with lucid prose. If it’s not quite alarmist, it’s certainly bracing. This is a call to action, a reminder that the future isn’t fixed. Being a citizen, Snyder argues, means engaging — with the world, with other people, with the truth.
“You submit to tyranny,” he writes, “when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.”
If there’s a recurring theme in On Tyranny, it’s that accepting untruth is a precondition of tyranny. “Post-truth is pre-fascism,” he warns, and “to abandon facts is to abandon freedom.”
In this interview, I talk to Snyder about the book, the fragility of America’s liberal democratic system, and what we might learn from Europe’s descent into fascism………http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/3/9/14838088/donald-trump-fascism-europe-history-totalitarianism-post-truth
How the world reached the brink of nuclear war not once but twice in 1983, The Conversation, November 18, 2016
In the autumn of 1983, at the height of Cold War tensions, the world was only saved from nuclear disaster by the gut feelings of two soldiers during different incidents.
In the first incident, on September 26, a Soviet lieutenant colonel named Stanislav Petrov saw that according to the early-warning system, the Americans had launched numerous missiles against the Russians. He suspected an error and ignored the warnings. His decision to breach protocol and not inform his superiors averted a panicked retaliation.
The second incident is less well known. An American lieutenant general, Leonard Perroots, also chose to ignore warnings – this time that the Soviet Union had gone on high nuclear alert. Like Petrov, he did nothing, and once again may have prevented an accidental nuclear war.
This was the “Able Archer War Scare”, which occurred over ten days in the November of the same year. Recently declassified documents inform Able Archer 83, a new book by the Cold War historian Nate Jones which shows just how close the world came to disaster.
Superpower mutual suspicion was rife in the early 1980s. President Reagan’s notorious “Evil Empire” speech, combined with imminent plans to deploy the Pershing II missile system in Europe, which could destroy Moscow with 15 minutes warning, had made the Kremlin especially paranoid. Was the US preparing a first strike to win the Cold War? The USSR’s ageing and sickly premier, Yuri Andropov, certainly thought Reagan would have no qualms about it. “Reagan is unpredictable. You should expect anything from him,” he told Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassdor to the US, at the time.
President Ronald Reagan – “Evil Empire” Speech
Another reason the leadership feared a US first strike was Project RYaN, an intricate Soviet intelligence-gathering effort designed to detect preparations for a surprise nuclear attack. It was being kept busy by US aircraft testing Soviet air defence systems by flying towards USSR airspace as part of the PSYOPs (psychological military operations) programme.
The aircraft would deliberately provoke an alert and monitor the Soviet command and control responses, while demonstrating American strength and resolve at the same time. It was an example of the “Peace Through Strength” policy that was seen as vital by Reaganites to help the US emerge from its own perceived era of military weakness under President Carter.
But this US chest-beating led to a resurgence of intense mutual mistrust, with tragic consequences. On September 1 1983, Korean Air Lines flight 007 was shot down by a Russian fighter, killing all 269 passengers and crew. The Kremlin claimed the jet was an American spy plane deep in Russian territory.
In this climate of extreme tension, NATO’s “Autumn Forge” war game season kicked off. NATO war games had been an annual occurrence, but the Soviets feared this particular edition might be cover for a surprise attack.
The final phase of the 1983 series, codenamed Able Archer 83, was different from previous years: dummy nuclear weapons, which looked like the real thing, were loaded on to planes. As many as 19,000 American troops were part of a radio-silent airlift to Europe over 170 flights. Military radio networks broadcast references to “nuclear strikes”.
This sent Project RYaN into overdrive and the Soviets went on high nuclear alert. Warsaw Pact non-essential military flights were cancelled; nuclear-capable aircraft were placed on alert; nuclear weapons were taken to their launch vehicles; and Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Ogarkov descended into a command bunker outside Moscow to coordinate a possible response to a NATO strike……….
Too often, intelligence agencies collect data and fit it into whichever threat hypothesis is in vogue. We should learn from Reagan’s 1983 insight and not wait for the brink of war: in the nuclear age, whatever an adversary’s political goals, we cannot afford to downplay their genuine fears about military posturing.
We have never yet returned to the awful global tensions of 1983, but the rivalries between the world’s three leading powers remain real enough. We need to ensure that we are never again left relying on the gut feelings of one or two soldiers to avoid stumbling into disaster. https://theconversation.com/how-the-world-reached-the-brink-of-nuclear-war-not-once-but-twice-in-1983-68998
Bailing out aging nuclear power plants can impact development of renewable energy technologies, Enformable, 17 Oct 2016 “……. “Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power”. The latest edition, issued after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began, is available for free, courtesy of the publisher, on my website, www.karlgrossman.com
Cover Up was the first of several books I’ve written on nuclear technology. I’ve written thousands of articles, too, and hosted and written many TV programs on nuclear power broadcast on the nationally-aired TV program I’ve hosted for 27 years, Enviro Close-Up.
Since Cover Up’s publication in 1980, I’ve also been on the lecture circuit—including being paired by my lecture agency with a leading advocate of nuclear power, John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor. I’ve spoken at colleges and universities across the U.S. and also overseas, including making presentations in six trips to Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s as Russia sought to create a new energy program—before Vladimir Putin’s iron fist came down. My last presentation in Russia, a keynote address at a conference in Siberia on nuclear power, in Tomsk, a so-called “atomic city,” a center of Russian nuclear activity, was supported by the U.S. State Department.
I start Cover Up declaring: “You have not been informed about nuclear power. You have not been told. And that has been done on purpose. Keeping the public in the dark was deemed necessary by the promoters of nuclear power if it was to succeed. Those in government, science and private industry who have been pushing nuclear power realized that if people were give the facts, if they knew the consequences of nuclear power, they would not stand for it.”
“Equal to that of the State of Pennsylvania”
For example, although those Brookhaven Lab scientists downplayed the dangers of nuclear power, studies I obtained from BNL itself projected huge and dire consequences of an accident. For example, over and over again in BNL’s report, WASH-740 Update, is the line that “the possible size of the area of such a disaster might be equal to that of the State of Pennyslvania.” This was written a decade before the Three Mile Island accident almost turned that BNL projection into fact.
I reprint in Cover Up this line and many other passages from government documents on the dangers of nuclear power as facsimiles—reprinting the actual documents themselves—so nuclear promoter could not deny them.
Covering up, deception, continue today.
The push for nuclear power has been—and is—a huge con job, one of the biggest the world has ever seen. From the claim of Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter,” to the insistence of nuclear promoters through the years that nuclear plants are safe, to what the some nuclear scientists have advanced as the “hormesis” theory—that radioactivity is good for you; it exercises the immune system—the falsehoods run deep. It almost makes the tobacco industry look like pikers.
$7.6 Billion Bail-out Plan
And now we have in New York State a $7.6 billion plan advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo and supported by the state’s Public Service Commission, the members of which the governor appoints, to bail out four aged upstate nuclear power plants.
The bail-out would be part of a program that includes a “Clean Energy Standard” under which 50 percent of electricity used in New York by 2030 would come from “clean and renewable energy sources”
To subsidize the upstate nuclear plants, there would be a surcharge for 12 years on electric bills paid by the state’s residential and industrial customers. Business owners, because of their larger use of electricity, would be particularly hard hit.
Nuclear power is dirty, dangerous and expensive—very expensive. And these days, nuclear power cannot compete economically.
As Jessica Azulay, program director of the state’s Alliance for a Green Economy, explains about the bailout: “Without these subsidies, nuclear plants cannot compete with renewable energy and will close. But under the guise of ‘clean energy,’ the nuclear industry is about to get its hands on our money in order to save its own profits, at the expense of public health and safety.”
What are the arguments made by the bail-out plan’s promoters?
The four nuclear plants are needed to offset climate change. A nuclear plant doesn’t emit carbon or greenhouse gasses, they say, a key nuclear industry argument in a time of great concern over climate change for nuclear plants nationally and worldwide. What is never mentioned by these nuclear promoters, however, is that the “nuclear cycle” or “nuclear chain”—the full nuclear system—is a major contributor of carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses.
“Nuclear is NOT emission-free!”
As Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, wrote to the state Public Service Commission on this: “Nuclear is NOT emission-free! The claim of nuclear power having ‘zero-emission attributes’ ignores emissions generated in mining, milling, enriching, transporting and storing nuclear fuel.”……… http://enformable.com/
Can humanity survive the 21st century? Canberra Times, Julian Cribb, 27 Sept 16
Humanity is facing the sternest test in our million-year ascent. But this isn’t a single challenge – it’s a constellation of 10 huge man-made threats now combining to imperil our existence.
Society often treats these risks – ecological collapse, resource depletion, weapons of mass destruction, global warming, global poisoning, food insecurity, population and urban expansion, pandemic disease, dangerous new technologies and self-delusion – as separate issues. In reality, they are intertwined: each affects the others. They cannot be dealt with one by one, but must be solved in conjunction – and at species, not national, level…….
WMD: The latest climate models indicate it would only take 50-100 Hiroshima-sized (ie, small) nuclear bombs to end civilisation in a nuclear winter. World stockpiles currently hold around 15,000 weapons; the risk of them falling into terrorist hands is growing; a new arms race is under way. Nuclear conflict remains the most likely route to end civilisation – and eight nations now have the power to do it. As the International Red Cross points out, the only way to banish the spectre of such a conflict is to eliminate all WMDs and their material stockpiles.
Climate’s hidden risk: The release of 2.9 trillion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere and oceans will raise the Earth’s temperature by +5-10 degrees centigrade. We have already released 1.9 trillion tonnes and are adding 50 billion tonnes more a year. The unseen risk is that, as the planet warms, some of the 5 trillion tonnes of frozen carbon locked in the tundra and seabed will vent, causing “runaway” heating. Scientists assess this would render the Earth uninhabitable to most large life forms, including humans. The only answer is to cease using fossil fuels completely and revegetate half the world’s land mass. Green energy is advancing in leaps and bounds and will soon be in a position to take over. Paid off by the 90 companies which dominate fossil fuel production, politicians are hampering this transition…….http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/can-humanity-survive-the-21st-century-20160926-grohqo.html
Nuclear weapons mess: we’re all in it together but don’t know how to get out alive, WP
By Richard Rhodes July 15 Shortly after 4 a.m. on July 28, 2012, an 82-year-old Catholic nun, a Vietnam veteran and a housepainter cut holes in several security fences surrounding a government facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where thousands of nuclear bomb cores are stored, walked up to the massive white concrete-and-steel building and splashed its walls with blood. They spray-painted slogans. They hammered concrete chips off the base of a manned guard tower. No one shot them. Six minutes passed before a security van even arrived to investigate.
The story of this shocking peaceful invasion of Oak Ridge, and what followed, anchors Washington Post journalist Dan Zak’s “Almighty,” but the book examines at eloquent length the current state of nuclear security and diplomacy as well. As Zak finds, these appear to be at least as complacent and contradictory as did Oak Ridge security when the nun and her two fellow protesters challenged it in 2012……..
Zak reports not only on the lives of the three Oak Ridge protesters but also on the impact of nuclear weapons testing over the years on the people of the Marshall Islands, where the largest U.S. bombs were tested, and the downwinders of the American Southwest below the continental test site at Yucca Flats, Nev., who believe that their cancers and other serious illnesses resulted from exposure to nuclear fallout. He looks into the lives of the people who live in the city of Oak Ridge and work at the bomb facility in their midst.
He follows the trial of the three protesters from the point of view of the uncomfortable government lawyers who led the prosecution. He profiles Rose Gottemoeller, Obama’s leading U.S. nuclear diplomat, as she tries to untie the nuclear knot incrementally while more than 100 other nations sign an Austrian-initiated humanitarian pledge that commits them to work “to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.”
Zak doesn’t spare what he calls the “nuclear priesthood,” the weapons-makers and suppliers, finding them meeting in Washington during the same 2015 summer when Sister Megan was released from prison. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman sponsored their annual nuclear-triad conference. On that occasion, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama referred to Obama’s speech in Prague in 2009 on eliminating nuclear weapons, claiming happily, “I think we can safely say the president’s Prague vision is dead,” and a guest speaker warned of a “relatively new threat to our deterrent” — the same humanitarian movement that is promoting Austria’s pledge………
Like it or not, this question of fundamental equity among nations is the paradox and the core of the nuclear dilemma. The report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons stated it even more succinctly in 1996, calling it the Axiom of Nuclear Proliferation: “As long as any state has nuclear weapons, others will seek to acquire them.” And Obama in Prague added a surely true but terrifying corollary: “If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.”
With nuns splashing blood, countries making pledges, diplomats working to reduce the size of world-destroying arsenals, suppliers cheering a new Cold War, Zak demonstrates that we’re all in it together. And he’s honest enough to report as well the hard truth that none of us yet knows how to get out of it alive. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/nuclear-weapons-mess-were-all-in-it-together-but-dont-know-how-to-get-out-alive/2016/07/15/2ba1787a-3816-11e6-9ccd-d6005beac8b3_story.html
Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age By Dan Zak Blue Rider. 402 pp. $27
On the Brink of Oblivion William Perry’s memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,’ serves as a clarion global warning. US News, By Mortimer B. Zuckerman | Chairman, Editor-in-Chief June 7, 2016
Our planet today faces two existential dangers: an impending climate catastrophe, and the very real possibility of a nuclear calamity. Both of these dangers arise from human activity and are thus within our capacity to address. And both challenges are interconnected and require a new attitude that recognizes our common interests and need to cooperate. Public awareness and political will must be raised to levels commensurate with the threat.
The warnings about climate change are now part of our public consciousness, resulting in actions being taken that if continued and built upon might possibly stave off this catastrophe or at least reduce its damage. However, the public seems to believe that the danger from nuclear weapons ended with the Cold War.
But former Defense Secretary William Perry’s authoritative memoir, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” is a clear, sobering and, for many, surprising warning that the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is actually greater than it was during that era of U.S.-Soviet competition…….
Perry describes four ways a nuclear catastrophe could occur: nuclear terrorism; an accidental nuclear war (resulting, for example, from a false alarm); a nuclear war out of miscalculation; and a nuclear regional war
His special concern about the possibility of nuclear terrorism can be seen in the book’s preface, with an unblinking and transfixing account of a most believable scenario in which a terror group detonates a bomb in one of our cities. A seminal expert in worrying about such chilling contingencies, Perry outlines in quite credible steps how a terror group builds and sneaks a bomb into Washington, D.C., a scenario he describes as “a nuclear nightmare” and “all too real.” It is important to experience his powerfully understated dramatization:…….
The point is this: Any of the four scenarios could bring about the worst catastrophe we have ever experienced. Taken together they represent a higher likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe than we faced during the Cold War. (That judgment has also been reached by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which this year noted that its “Doomsday Clock” is at three minutes to midnight, closer to doomsday than they had judged we were for most of the Cold War years.)……..http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-07/four-paths-to-nuclear-disaster
Chernobyl and the ghosts of a nuclear past A Nobel laureate captures the beginning of the “age of disasters”. New Statesman, BY LUCY HUGHES-HALLETT 17 Apr 16
THis is not a book on Chernobyl,” writes Svetlana Alexievich, “but on the world of Chernobyl.” It is not about what happened on 26 April 1986, when a nuclear reactor exploded near the border between Ukraine and Belarus. It is about an epoch that will last, like the radioactive material inside the reactor’s leaking ruin, for tens of thousands of years. Alexievich writes that, before the accident, “War was the yardstick of horror”, but at Chernobyl “the history of disasters began”.Alexievich, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year for her powerful works of oral history, was born in Ukraine and grew up in Belarus. The explosion took place close to her home ground. At once, people began to ask her whether she was writing about it. Others rushed out books of reportage or polemic. She hesitated. What had happened was uncanny, beyond words. There was, she writes, “a moment of muteness”.
Gradually, over many years, she interviewed people whose lives had been affected by the blast. Many have since died. Her book – first published in Russian in 1997 and now issued in a new translation of a revised text – is made up of their testimonies. Her own voice is heard only briefly. Even the prefatory summary of events is a patchwork of extracts from news reports………
Since Chernobyl, there has been Fukushima. Neither site has yet been made safe: it seems unlikely they ever will be. We are living in Alexievich’s “age of disasters”. This haunting book offers us at least some ways of thinking about that predicament.
Svetlana Alexievich will be in conversation with James Meek in Cambridge on 31 May. Details: cambridgeliteraryfestival.com http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2016/04/chernobyl-and-ghosts-nuclear-past
Haunting photos of Idaho’s Atomic City, 30 years after nuclear disaster drove everyone away http://www.techinsider.io/the-atomic-city-nuclear-disaster-30-years-later-2016-3 Tech Insider Chris Weller 11 Mar 16 When photographer David Hanson arrived in Atomic City, Idaho in 1986, he knew he was capturing a still-cooling piece of American history.
While the Mountain West boomtown spent the early 1950s thriving on the power generated at the nearby nuclear complex, within a few years a string of nuclear meltdowns had sent the town’s residents searching for safer dwellings. Atomic City — current population: 29 — was left to become a shell of its former self.
Thirty years later, Hanson has finally released his haunting photographs in a book called“Wilderness to Wasteland.”
Here, he walks us through what he saw………
“It seems frightening yet somehow appropriate that the most enduring monuments America will leave for future generations will be the hazardous remains of our industry and technology,” he said.
He envisions an America that, in 150 years, will look upon Atomic City as a failed part of the human experiment to revolutionize the way people live.
David T. Hanson: Wilderness to Wasteland Published by Taverner Press
Foreword by Joyce Carol Oates. Introduction by David T. Hanson. Afterword by Miles Orvell.For 30 years, David T. Hanson (born 1948) has made photographs that are widely celebrated for their powerful depictions of the American landscape and its dramatic transformation and despoilment by humans. His newest collection, Wilderness to Wasteland,presents four series of previously unpublished and unexhibited photographs from Hanson’s early work, made between 1982 and 1987. Atomic City documents the former nuclear boomtown in Idaho, site of the world’s first nuclear power plant and first reactor meltdown. The Richest Hill on Earth is a study of the vast copper mines, housing and surrounding wasteland of Butte, Montana. The eponymous series is a dynamic group of aerial and ground-view photographs of hazardous waste sites, while the final series, Twilight in the Wilderness, comprises spectacular night views of industrial sites for power production. Together, these photographs constitute a haunting meditation on a ravaged landscape.
Featured image is reproduced from David T. Hanson: Wilderness to Wasteland.
Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link Paperback by Joseph J Mangan In 2001, college administrators entered a remote, musty storage room near St. Louis. Not knowing what was in the room, the group was puzzled to find a large wall with hundreds of long boxes stacked against it. They pulled out one of the boxes, took off the cover, and found —- baby teeth. Quite by accident, the group had unearthed 85,000 baby teeth left over from a study done decades before.
The study had found how much radiation from atomic bomb tests had entered human bodies, by testing teeth. News of the discovery spread like wildfire in newspapers across the country. Coverage focused on the fact that the teeth could answer a critical question – how much cancer was caused by radiation exposure?
In this book, read about the mystery faced by scientists of how much radiation from nuclear weapons and reactors actually infiltrated people’s bodies – and how much cancer it really caused. Learn about the furious opposition researchers faced from government and industry. Discover how the research helped end above-ground nuclear testing, how it challenged the claim that nuclear reactors are safe, and how it exposed an undeniable link with cancer. Joseph Mangano draws on his direct experience and his involvement with scientists and citizens to create a lively, intriguing story – a story that continues today. Mangano is a health researcher, and is Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, based in New York. http://www.amazon.com/Radioactive-Baby-Teeth-Cancer-Link/dp/0615168752/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452117447&sr=1-3&keywords=joseph+mangano