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‘The Triumph of Doubt’ – corporations’ war on science

Inside corporations’ war on science . A new book explains how corporations create a climate of doubt around science and expertise. Vox, By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com  May 26, 2020

Johnson & Johnson announced this week that it will stop putting talc, a mineral linked to asbestos, in its baby powder products. The move comes after years of lawsuits alleging that the powder causes various cancers.

It’s also a surprising turnaround. Johnson & Johnson has spent decades funding biased science and lobbying the government to avoid regulating its products or labeling them as cancer-causing. It’s a tactic deployed by many other industries that have a stake in stifling regulation and the science behind it.

The history of this practice is documented in a new book by David Michaels, the former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the Obama administration. It’s a close look at how powerful corporations fund junk science and misinformation campaigns in order to obscure evidence and undercut regulatory efforts.

Big Tobacco and the fossil fuels industry are obvious examples, but the problem goes well beyond that. From cancer-causing hair products and apparel to diabetes-linked food and sugary drinks, corporations have realized that you don’t have to convince the public or government officials of anything — all you have to do is create the illusion of doubt.

And they do that by piloting bogus studies, organizing partisan think tanks, supplying dubious congressional witnesses, and anything else they can think of to give regulators enough cover to plausibly look the other way. If you’ve ever heard a politician say “The science is still unclear” or “We need to keep researching the issue,” there’s a good chance that was made possible by industry-funded pseudo-science.

I spoke to Michaels about what this process looks like, why journalists and civic actors have been unable to stop it, and how the practice has become more pervasive in recent years. We also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and how the tactics he describes in this book helped lay the groundwork for the extreme skepticism of scientific expertise we’re seeing from conservatives.

“The Republican base,” Michaels told me, “has been acclimatized to be skeptical of mainstream science, and easily believe accusations that they are being manipulated by the deep state, the liberal media, and pointy-headed scientists.”

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing

When you say that big corporations like DuPont or Exxon manufacture doubt around their products, what do you mean?

David Michaels

I mean that they hire scientists who appear to be reputable to produce or obscure evidence about the products they make. If there are studies or even suggestions that their product is dangerous, you can hire a scientist who will say, “The evidence is in question,” or, “The study is wrong.”

Corporations make sure those scientists get their opinions into what look like credible peer-reviewed journals, then they get picked up by newspapers, then they have the sound bites that commentators repeat, and that’s enough to convince people that there’s uncertainty. Not necessarily that the product is safe, but that the scientific evidence isn’t there.

That’s basically how it works.

Sean Illing

You used the phrase “appear to be reputable.” What does that mean?

David Michaels

They are credentialed people, but they typically work for consulting firms whose business model is to provide any result their client needs……..

One of the things the Trump administration has done is essentially take the same mercenary scientists who have been working for corporations trying to influence the agencies to do the wrong thing and then given them high-level positions in these same agencies – [EPA , the FDA  and other public institutions]…….

The example that I find most striking is a fellow named Tony Cox, who was appointed chairman of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is himself a longtime lobbyist for the oil and coal industries……..

Sean Illing

So we’ve just made the process more efficient. Industry doesn’t even need middlemen to muddy the waters on their behalf now because they just have their own people appointed to run the agencies charged with regulating them…….

David Michaels

As the abject and enormously tragic failure of the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic becomes increasingly clear, the president and his supporters are taking the tobacco road, applying the same strategy used by cigarette manufacturers, fossil fuel corporations, and a host of other industries whose products and activities damage public health.

Not only is it the same strategy, it features the same cast of characters, and it is promoted in the same social media and cable TV venues, especially Fox News. Right-wing punditsTrump administration officials, and scientists with long histories of discredited studies first declared the epidemic a hoax and then asserted the numbers of cases and deaths are wildly inflated. They have been eventually shown to be wildly wrong, but it has no impact on their credibility or their willingness to offer outrageous claims.

This strategy is successful because the Republican base has been acclimatized to be skeptical of mainstream science and easily believe accusations heard on Fox News or read on Facebook that they are being manipulated by the deep state, the liberal media, and pointy-headed scientists……..

When the Trump administration is finally evicted from power, we will need to rebuild our system of public health protections, not simply by pouring more funding into federal agencies that were weak and flawed even before Trump, but by reimagining how they can be far more effective and inclusive, and are able to apply the best available science. And we must do this in a way that overcomes the anti-science culture fed by the current administration and the Republican party.

If we are unable to accomplish these goals, I fear that the nation’s disastrous response to Covid-19 is likely to be a preview of a very troubling future.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/21137717/johnson-and-johnson-triumph-of-doubt-david-michaels

May 30, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print, Resources -audiovicual, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Wake up world -to the climate emergency – Naomi Klein’s new book “On Fire”

To avoid climate catastrophe, it’s going to take a revolution of the mind, 

As we approach a turning point in our civilization’s journey, author Naomi Klein has been sounding the alarm about how to shift the current paradigm and loosen our deadly chokehold on the living world. Fast Company, BY ANNA LENZER, 15 Mar 20, 

Antarctica just hit 65 degrees, the highest temperature it’s ever recorded, and a sea in Siberia is “boiling” with methane. Major parts of the U.S. drinking water supply are contaminated with “forever chemicals”—so called because they virtually never degrade—that are linked to cancers and liver damage, among other health problems. Climate models used to forecast warming are running red-hot and giving us far less time than we thought to turn things around. And last July was the hottest month in the 140 years that records have been kept, the 415th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.

There’s a growing sense that we’re approaching a turning point in our civilization’s journey, in which the path diverges between two extremes—a re-flourishing garden planet and a bleak, burning wasteland of increasingly rationed resources. We’re pushing on dominoes that could fall into a runaway series of irreversible tipping points and feedback loops that will leave us to do emergency triage and run rescue-salvage missions on a dying and incinerated planet for the rest of our days. Peak Life is in sight, possibly already behind us, and our current trajectory is about to fling us off the cliff.

The UN is raising the alarm that the mass extinction of plant and animal species—which has already decimated large swaths of the planet—risks collapsing into a catastrophic point of no return, and that halting this destruction of the web of life (along with our food and water security) requires an unprecedented transformation of civilization beginning immediately.

A series of global summits through the end of this year is intended to kick off this paradigmatic shift and to loosen our deadly chokehold on the living world.

A few days before the UN’s Climate Action Summit in New York last fall, author Naomi Klein launched her latest broadside against the forces of inertia with the now best-selling On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, a book designed to inspire a blueprint for the United States’ reemergence as a global climate leader………https://www.fastcompany.com/90475368/to-avoid-climate-catastrophe-its-going-to-take-a-revolution-of-the-mind

March 17, 2020 Posted by | climate change, resources - print, USA | Leave a comment

Book review – “The Bomb”

The Bomb’ Review: Down the Nuclear Rabbit Hole
Until 1989, no president had ever been privy to the military’s list of specific targets in the Soviet Union.  WSJ, Paul Kennedy, Jan. 31, 2020,  In the summer of 1945, as a mushroom cloud rose high above the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the very history of war and diplomacy, and the world of Great Power relations, changed irrevocably. Science had created a weapon of such indiscriminate destructiveness that it ought, now that its ferocity was clear, never to be used again. This became even more obvious to contemporary observers when the more powerful hydrogen bombs appeared on the scene only a few years later, and when the Soviet Union also quickly acquired similar weaponry.

February 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War

Nuclear Nightmares– By Justin Vogt, NYT, Jan. 28, 2020, THE BOMB By Fred Kaplan, It’s an old joke, but a good one. “Doctor, my son thinks he’s a chicken,” a father tells a psychiatrist, who suggests treatment for the boy. “We’d like to do that,” the father says, “but we need the eggs.”

For decades, American presidents have found themselves in a similar predicament, as revealed with bracing clarity by “The Bomb,” Fred Kaplan’s rich and surprisingly entertaining history of how nuclear weapons have shaped the United States military and the country’s foreign policy. It is the story of how high-level officials, generals and presidents have contended with what Kaplan calls “the rabbit hole” of nuclear strategy, whose logic transforms efforts to avoid a nuclear war into plans to fight one, even though doing so would kill millions of people without producing a meaningful victory for anyone. As President Barack Obama once put it before weighing in during a meeting on nuclear weapons: “Let’s stipulate that this is all insane.”

Owing to the spread of those weapons and to the inevitability of competition between powerful countries, generations of policymakers have leapt into the abyss again and again. Nuclear strategy is an exercise in absurdity that pushes against every moral boundary but that has likely contributed to the relative safety and stability of the contemporary era, during which nuclear weapons have proliferated but major war has all but vanished. Apparently, we need the eggs.

“The Bomb” is a sequel of sorts to “The Wizards of Armageddon,” Kaplan’s 1983 book about the Cold War-era thinkers who established a template for how generations of American officials would approach nuclear weapons. The new book revisits the foundational debates and explains how they have played out in more recent years, making use of newly declassified material and a wealth of interviews with insiders. In less skillful hands, this could be a slog. But Kaplan has a gift for elucidating abstract concepts, cutting through national security jargon and showing how leaders confront (or avoid) dilemmas. ……….. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/28/books/review/the-bomb-fred-kaplan.html

January 30, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Book: ‘From Mad to Madness’- an Inside Account of US Nuclear Weapons Strategy

This Madness Deserves a Protest: an Inside Account at US Nuclear Weapons Strategy, CounterPunch,  By Joan Roelofs ,April 5, 2017

“In contrast to the Soviet Union, the United States has always maintained its ‘right’ to carry out a nuclear first strike. This has never changed and was reaffirmed by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter . . . on September 27, 2016.”  – Diana Johnstone, From MAD to Madness.

There is not much hope for the retraction of this threat. On March 21, Reuters reported “Trump has said that while he would like to see nuclear weapons abolished, he wants the United States to have an unrivaled arsenal. He also said that the United States has ‘fallen behind’ in its nuclear capabilities, even though it is in the midst of a 30-year, $1.3 trillion drive to modernize what most experts agree is the world’s most powerful nuclear force.”

An insider’s memoir, From MAD to Madness, by Paul H. Johnstone, describing the persistence of the US nuclear threat has recently been published by Clarity Press. Johnstone was a senior analyst in the Strategic Weapons Evaluation Group in the Department of Defense, directing studies on the probable consequences of nuclear war, to us and to them, and also an author of The Pentagon Papers.

He died in 1981, leaving his memoir to his daughter, author (and CounterPunch contributor) Diana Johnstone. He had previously served in World War II as an evaluator of Japanese enemy targets, but as Diana says here: “Hiroshima changed the nature of targeting dramatically, and that is the story my father tells in his memoir.”

In this book Diana has finally published his “Memoir of a Humanist in the Pentagon,” along with her added commentary and a foreword by Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts expresses in a nutshell the contemporary horrific relevance of the book: “The neoconservatives in pursuit of their goal of US world hegemony have resurrected the possibility of nuclear war. The neocons have taken us from MAD to madness.”

The neocons are not some far-right fringe group; they represent the mainstream of US foreign policy in recent Democratic and Republican administrations. The political use of the nuclear threat has a long history. It was inaugurated by the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a political decision opposed by the military. Admiral Leahy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote: “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. . .

” The Truman Doctrine (1947) indicated that there were no regrets. It stated in effect that any country that appeared to be adopting a communist form of government, whether through outside intervention, civil war, or ordinary elections, would be subject to whatever punishment the United States chose to inflict, not excluding nuclear attack.

Johnstone traces the “breather” in our policy characterized by MAD—the idea that Mutually Assured Destruction: a path to mutual suicide—was a deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons. This realization by our government occurred once Soviet nuclear capability became obvious. However, as Roberts notes, after the Soviet collapse in the 1990s the US “resurrected nuclear weapons as usable weapons of war. The Obama regime . . . authorized a trillion dollar expenditure for nuclear weapons, and US war doctrine elevated nukes from a retaliatory role to pre-emptive first strike.”

Roberts, who was United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Reagan in 1981, maintains that Reagan and Gorbachev “eliminated the risk of Armageddon by negotiating the end of the Cold War.”…….

The military and the increasingly gigantic industries equipping it wanted bases everywhere, and somewhat plausible threats that would justify annual upgrading of the lethal arsenal. Wars now and then that would enable testing and destruction of weapons were also useful for the advancement of warriors and profits of contractors. Furthermore, revolutions that were allowed to succeed and improve the lives of people might create imitators in our land of vast wealth accompanied by astounding poverty and misery.

Yet neither Roberts nor Johnstone discusses the role of multinational corporations and the military- industrial complex in motivating and perpetuating the post-WWII Cold War. They attributed major influence on US policy to anti-Soviet émigrés (Kissinger, Brzezinski and others) from Eastern Europe. A high-level Air Force intelligence “Special Studies Group,” headed by a Hungarian émigré “expert” predicted in every annual appraisal that there would be “a massive Russian land attack on Western Europe the following year.”

The worldwide cold war between capitalism and socialism continues—in Cuba, among other places—and there is now also the megalomaniac goal of world hegemony. The projected attack by the now-capitalist Russia is still awaited, despite indications that the Russians want to eliminate the specter of civilization’s total nuclear destruction.

Johnstone’s sober prediction in From MAD to Madness: “there can be no victor in a nuclear war” must be given priority by the newly-awakened activists. The abolition of nuclear weapons would be a step towards sanity.: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/05/this-madness-deserves-a-protest-an-inside-account-at-us-nuclear-weapons-strategy/

May 25, 2019 Posted by | resources - print, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Chernobyl Syndrome

With bountiful, devastating detail, Brown describes how scientists, doctors, and journalists—mainly in Ukraine and Belarus—went to great lengths and took substantial risks to collect information on the long-term effects of the Chernobyl explosion, which they believed to be extensive.

Other researchers have issued a much sunnier picture of post-Chernobyl ecology, but Brown argues persuasively that they are grossly underestimating the scale of the damage, in part because they rely too heavily on simplistic measurements of radioactivity levels.

Radiation has a special hold on our imagination: an invisible force out of science fiction, it can alter the very essence of our bodies, dissolve us from the inside out. But Manual for Survival asks a larger question about how humans will coexist with the ever-increasing quantities of toxins and pollutants that we introduce into our air, water, and soil. Brown’s careful mapping of the path isotopes take is highly relevant to other industrial toxins, and to plastic waste. When we put a substance into our environment, we have to understand that it will likely remain with us for a very long time, and that it may behave in ways we never anticipated. Chernobyl should not be seen as an isolated accident or as a unique disaster, Brown argues, but as an “exclamation point” that draws our attention to the new world we are creating. 

The Chernobyl Syndrome, The New York Review of Books  SophiePinkhamAPRIL4, 2019

Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future

by Kate Brown
Norton, 420 pp., $27.95

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster

by Adam Higginbotham
Simon and Schuster, 538 pp., $29.95

Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

by Serhii Plokhy
Basic Books, 404 pp., $32.00


“………As her book’s title, Manual for Survival, suggests, Kate Brown is interested in the aftermath of Chernobyl, not the disaster itself. Her heroes are not first responders but brave citizen-scientists, independent-minded doctors and health officials, journalists, and activists who fought doggedly to uncover the truth about the long-term damage caused by Chernobyl. Her villains include not only the lying, negligent Soviet authorities, but also the Western governments and international agencies that, in her account, have worked for decades to downplay or actually conceal the human and ecological cost of nuclear war, nuclear tests, and nuclear accidents. Rather than attributing Chernobyl to authoritarianism, she points to similarities in the willingness of Soviets and capitalists to sacrifice the health of workers, the public, and the environment to production goals and geopolitical rivalries. Continue reading

April 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, resources - print | Leave a comment

Manual For Survival – A Chernobyl Guide to the Future

Science 6th March 2019 Two decades after Chernobyl, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations (UN) Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation stated that “fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers,” because radiation levels were considered too low to have caused any detectable harm. This conclusion was based on data derived from the atomic bomb survivors life-span study, a program that began in 1950 to document the long-term health effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian scientists vehemently disputed this assessment, estimating Chernobyl-linked fatalities in the hundreds of thousands. The UN agencies later recognized a broader spectrum of Chernobyl-related health effects,
yet the idea that there were no long-term consequences to human health proved hard to dislodge.
The UN-WHO-IAEA assessment was repeated in many venues and was cited by journalists as a scientific consensus. After the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, residents in the affected region were told by experts from many of the same international institutions that there would be no direct long-term health effects because their radiation exposure was low.
Because there was no post-Chernobyl equivalent to the atomic bomb survivors life-span study, the argument went, the data on the Japanese survivors remained the gold standard of international nuclear regulations.
The notion that no such data existed, however, was not entirely true as regards Chernobyl. Kate Brown’s meticulously researched Manual for Survival is the first environmental and medical history that recovers decades-long efforts of scientists and doctors in Ukraine and Belarus to document the long-term health impacts from the Chernobyl meltdown.
Unlike the Japanese atomic bomb survivors life-span study, which began 5 years after the exposure, Soviet doctors worked in contaminated areas right after the Chernobyl accident—many of these areas populated by people who didn’t
know that they were exposed to radiation. Over the years, Soviet scientists amassed vast evidence of a broad range of debilitating health effects from low-level radiation, including cancers; anemia; gastrointestinal problems; and severe disorders of the liver, kidneys, thyroid, and other organs.
The individuals who collected these data risked their careers and lives, enduring harassment from regional politicians and Soviet secret police and accumulating radioactive isotopes in their own bodies.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2019/03/06/manual-for-survival/

March 12, 2019 Posted by | radiation, resources - print, spinbuster | Leave a comment

An Enthralling and Terrifying History of the Nuclear Meltdown at Chernobyl

 By Jennifer Szala,Feb. 6, 2019The word “Chernobyl” has long been synonymous with the catastrophic reactor explosion of 1986 — grim shorthand for what still qualifies, more than three decades later, as the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

As infamous as it is now, it’s easy to forget that the calamity seemed to drift to international attention as if by accident. A full two days after the meltdown began in Ukraine, with winds carrying radioactive fallout into Europe, alarms went off at a nuclear power station in faraway Sweden. Only then did Soviet officials deign to release a terse statement acknowledging “an accident has taken place,” while studiously neglecting to mention the specifics of what had happened or when.

Aid is being given to those affected,” the statement concluded. “A government commission has been set up.”

In his chilling new book, “Midnight in Chernobyl,” the journalist Adam Higginbotham shows how an almost fanatical compulsion for secrecy among the Soviet Union’s governing elite was part of what made the accident not just cataclysmic but so likely in the first  place. Interviewing eyewitnesses and consulting declassified archives — an official record that was frustratingly meager when it came to certain details and, Higginbotham says, couldn’t always be trusted — he reconstructs the disaster from the ground up, recounting the prelude to it as well as its aftermath. The result is superb, enthralling and necessarily terrifying………https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/06/books/review-midnight-chernobyl-adam-higginbotham.html

 

February 7, 2019 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Disaster

CS Monitor 31st Jan 2019 , It’s been 33 years since Reactor Number Four at the Chernobyl Atomic
Energy Station in Ukraine exploded, venting radioactive material into the
atmosphere. That radiation rolled over huge swaths of what was then the
western part of the Soviet Union, and the explosion entered history as one
of the worst nuclear power plant disasters. As with accounts of any
disaster, there are three major questions: What happened, why did it
happen, and could it happen again? Several books investigate the answers:
In 2018, for instance, there was “Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear
Catastrophe” by Harvard professor Serhii Plokhy, and in March there will
be Kate Brown’s “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the
Future.”
But the most comprehensive, most thoroughly detailed history yet
to appear in English is Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the
World’s Greatest Disaster by Adam Higginbotham. The author, along with
his research partner Taras Shumeyko, has conducted extensive interviews and
compiled background material over ten years, creating a compelling,
panoramic account of the disaster set in its broader context but still
working with those three fundamental questions, starting with “what
happened?” Thanks to the nature of Soviet Union, answering such a
question was complicated from the start.
https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2019/0131/Midnight-in-Chernobyl-explores-the-world-s-worst-nuclear-disaster

February 2, 2019 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

New book: former chairman of Nuclear Regulatory Commission opposes nuclear energy

How Dangerous is Nuclear Power and How Bad is Its Regulation? (2019)

Former NRC chairman remains clearly opposed to nuclear energy, Las Vegas Sun, 9 Jan 19, “……… former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is going on the offensive to explain why nuclear energy is nowhere near a perfect solution to the climate crisis.

In a new book, Jaczko reiterates his longstanding criticism of the nuclear industry and his opposition to development of traditional nuclear power plants, which he says are unsafe despite technological improvements designed to make them safer.

Exhibit No. 1 in Jaczko’s argument is the Fukushima disaster. …, he contends that the catastrophe at Fukushima wiped out environmental gains that Japan made by burning less fossil fuels

…….Meanwhile, he says, the cost of generating electricity through natural gas and renewables is lower in most parts of the country than nuclear generation

……“So to me, the idea that somehow we’re going to preserve these reactors and that’s a climate solution is just wrong,” he said.

Then, of course, there’s the issue with nuclear waste ………

Jaczko’s bottom-line assessment is that despite decades of development, nuclear energy remains too hazardous and costly to be a viable source of power.

“There’s going to be an accident,” he said. “The only question is when and where.”

It’s a compelling argument, and anyone who may be warming to nuclear energy in the fight to reverse climate change should examine it. The book, “

,” is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2019/jan/09/former-nrc-chairman-remains-clearly-opposed-to-nuc/

January 10, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, resources - print, USA | Leave a comment

Sayonara Nukes ~The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons

Book Review: Sayonara Nukes ~The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons,  BY DENNIS RICHES http://www.cnic.jp/english/?p=4174 BY CNIC_ENGLISH · CAITLIN STRONELL, CNIC AUGUST 2, 2018 

Center for Glocal Studies, Seijo University I first came across Dennis Riches’ blog about a year after 3.11 when I was in India studying anti-nuclear movements. I read it avidly for its rich perspectives and home truths. Dennis was offering cultural, psychological, socio-economic explanations for the innumerable crises that the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns had unleashed. Many of my friends at the time were focused on technical explanations, which although of course vitally important, didn’t answer the really big questions for me, such as: How can the nuclear industry still be telling the same lies? How can TEPCO still be allowed to operate as a company? What are the structures we have to change here? His blog described the stark reality that we were facing in a matter-of-fact way but with strong undercurrents of extreme passion, which somehow seemed to me exactly what was needed.

  His recently released book is a compilation of these blog posts, divided into three parts: Articles that relate nuclear issues to works of literature, cinema and popular music; articles primarily about nuclear energy; and articles primarily about nuclear weapons.
The first section connects nuclear issues to figures as wide apart as Don Quixote and Bob Dylan, and compares the situation in Japan immediately after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to a sci-fi drama called LOST. Although I have never seen this drama, Dennis’s comparison of the traumatized victims in the drama who somehow find themselves in an island paradise that has been transformed by technology and their dazed befuddlement and denial of reality, or perhaps inability to even grasp what had happened to them, and the situation in Japan in the nuclear disaster aftermath, make a lot of sense. We are reminded that in times when we feel utter disbelief, it is often the arts that offer the best explanation as to how and why we find ourselves in this predicament. This section also includes other film and book reviews and discussions.
The other two sections also contain book reviews as well as reports of conferences that Dennis attended, including the 2015 Pugwash Conference in Nagasaki (which he is quite critical of) as well as a report of a presentation on India’s nuclear program by Kumar Sundaram given in 2014 when he was in Tokyo. Articles on the devastating affects of the nuclear industry on citizens of various countries around the world, including the US, the Pacific Islands and Dennis’s native Canada are described with a focus on the voices of the victims. More abstract ideas such as the ‘institutional self-deception’ of the nuclear industry as well as an article titled ‘Commucapitalism’ about how ‘plutonium cities’ in both of the superpowers adopted the same political and social values despite their opposing national ideologies.
Many of the articles are 10-20 pages long and this allows Dennis to present many details, but also articulate overarching ideas and arguments. Each article is followed by copious endnotes and in many cases further reading lists providing a wealth of information on a wide variety of topics. Although this may sound a little academic, the articles are very easy to read and draw you in with their forthrightness and slight sarcastic edge.
The time period covered is from immediately after 3.11 through to more recent articles on the Trump administration. I would have liked to have known the actual date that the original blog was published as I think this might give some indication of the phases that Dennis, and perhaps many of us, went through and the way our thoughts developed post 3.11.
The book is published by Seijo University’s Center for Glocal Studies and is available in pdf form, free of charge at
www.seijo.ac.jp/research/glocal-center/publications/english-study-series/index.html

November 19, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

How France plays with nuclear fire – new book reveals the scandals

November 15, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

The horrible legacy of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster explained in prize-winning new book

‘A horror story’: history of Chernobyl nuclear disaster wins Baillie Gifford prize, Guardian, 14 Nov 18
Ukrainian author Serhii Plokhy, who grew up downstream from the damaged reactor, wins £30,000 prize for Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy. 
A Harvard history professor’s “haunting” account of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which delves into the “heartbreaking stories of heroism” from the people who helped to prevent the whole of Europe from becoming uninhabitable, has won the £30,000 Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction.

Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy opens as a radiation alarm goes off in a power plant in Sweden, and as staff begin to suspect a Soviet accident. It goes on to lay out what led to the worst nuclear disaster in history, telling the stories of the firefighters, scientists, soldiers, engineers and policemen who worked to extinguish the nuclear inferno in Chernobyl on 26 April 1986. ……

“It is a horror story – of political cynicism and scientific ignorance – in which the world was saved only by heroism and luck … It’s a kind of biblical book – haunting. And it has terrifying lessons for the world,” said the chair of judges, Fiammetta Rocco, the Economist’s culture correspondent. “At the core of it there are heartbreaking stories of heroism – of the firemen, of the people who were sent to close the reactor doors, of doctors, of soldiers – the people on the roof of the reactor who were kicking off burning stuff that had fallen back on it after the explosion. The closer they are to the disaster, the more quickly they die.” …….

In an interview ahead of the Baillie Gifford awards ceremony, Plokhy stressed that “we have to be super careful with nuclear energy, because it was introduced into the world as the cleanest energy possible.

“Today, with global warming there is an attempt to bring it back as a solution to the problems we have with climate, and the lesson that I learned from looking at Chernobyl is that yes it is the cleanest energy as long as nothing happens. Once it happens, it is the dirtiest energy in the world,” he said……https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/nov/14/a-horror-story-history-of-chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-wins-baillie-gifford-prize

November 15, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

New book faces the full import of climate change for human civilisation

September 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, resources - print | Leave a comment

Review of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg-Review http://www.freepressjournal.in/book-reviews/the-doomsday-machine-confessions-of-a-nuclear-war-planner-by-daniel-ellsberg/1338115By Kalyani Majumdar | Aug 19, 2018 

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, is written by none other than Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers of modern history. Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst and is best known for releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers.

The cover of the book has a quote by another famous whistleblower from recent times, Edward Snowden, that says, “The long-awaited chronicle from the father of American whistle-blowing.” And, it is no secret that Ellsberg is a strong supporter of Snowden. Steven Spielberg’s 2017 movie, The Post, is perhaps one of the bravest movies Spielberg has made. The Guardian, in London, brought the two famous whistleblowers together in an interview during a two-hour internet linkup between Ellsberg in California and Snowden in Moscow, wherein, they discussed the issues pertaining to ethics, press freedom, world politics, and so on.

Interestingly, back when, Snowden was deliberating on his decision to leak secret NSA documents that revealed the scale of mass surveillance by the government, it was a 2009 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, that inspired him and he finally went on with releasing the documents.

In the book, Ellsberg says, “In 1959, the nuclear control officer on the staff of CINCPAC Admiral Harry D. Felt told me that President Eisenhower had given Felt a secret letter, signed by himself, delegating to Felt the authority to execute his nuclear plans on his own initiative if he felt necessary at a time when communications were out between Washington and his headquarters in Hawaii… Only the President could legitimately make the decision whether or not to go to nuclear war, and that he must make the determination personally at the moment of decision… That is what the American public has been told throughout the nuclear era.”

The book has opened a Pandora’s Box, and it is only time that will tell us, whether Americans, Russians, other world leaders, and the entire human race can rise against these challenges and reverse these policies and eliminate the danger of near-term extinction caused by their own inventions. In the introduction-section, Ellsberg’s statements are spine-chilling as he states, “In sum, most aspects of the U.S. nuclear planning system and force readiness that became known to me half a century ago still exist today, as prone to catastrophe as ever but on a scale, as now known to environmental scientists, looming vastly larger than was understood then. The present risks of the current nuclear era go far beyond the dangers of proliferation and non-state terrorism that have been the almost exclusive focus of public concern for the past generation and the past decade in particular… The hidden reality I aim to expose is that for over 50 years, all-out thermonuclear war—an irreversible, unprecedented, and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth — has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima Daiichi, and before these, World war I, a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these. And that is still true today.”

“To those who struggle for a human future.” These poignant words by the author on the very first page of the book say everything, well, almost everything. For the rest, grab this insightful book.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | resources - print, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment