Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nukes: Not the Answer

As the dire consequences of climate change become apparent to even its most ardent deniers, the need to develop alternate sources of energy is becoming clear. The fact that we have not been working furiously to develop alternative energy for the last 50 years is an example of short-sightedness on the global scale.

There is an exception to the above as one type of alternate energy has received enormous dollars over the years. Unfortunately, that one source is nuclear energy. Trumpeted as unlimited energy at minimal costs the truth is quite the opposite. Nuclear energy is costly and has not proven to lower energy costs.

But forget the costs, let us look at the other two claims made for nuclear energy: safe and clean. Safe, compared to what I always wonder. Even in the nation, France, which seems to have figured out the most efficient way to produce nuclear energy, safety remains a problem. According to a BBC report, France has 59 nuclear plants and produces 75% of its energy with nuclear power. The same report noted that four separate leaks occurred in a two week period in the summer of 2008 and that there had been a ten-fold increase in accidents in the recent past.

Japan is the other nation comparable to France in its reliance on nuclear power. According to a report by Sarah Buckley of the BBC in March of 2006, Japan has 55 reactors that produce one third of its power. Buckley noted that the nuclear industry, despite a national reputation for safety and efficiency, has a very spotty safety record when it came to nuclear power. Three Mile Island, Love Canal and Chernobyl all provide examples of safety problems in other areas of the world.

Any industry that involves human employees is destined to have accidents. With nuclear reactors, the possible risks from accidents simply exceeds the benefits. Even if we could somehow eliminate all human error and all possibility of an accident that would still not guarantee safety. Remember the earthquake that his Japan in July of 2007 which caused leakage of radioactive materials.Throw in deliberate sabotage by terrorists, revolutionaries and others and the safety factor begins to loom as a leviathan.

The other claim made for nuclear power is that it is "clean." Again, by what standard? The spent fuel rods provide a problem for which there is currently no viable solution. Even moving them for disposal creates difficulties that are nearly insurmountable. How about a wrecked truck carrying fuel rods? Plutonium has a half-life of forever. Any efforts to dispose of it must take that into account.

It is true that the planet is in desperate need of solutions for climate change and energy production. Cold analysis of the facts surrounding nuclear power strongly suggests that it is NOT the answer. The call for nuclear power is just more of the same old thinking that created our problems: energy production controlled by private sources paid for with public money. Solutions must not be prioritized based on the potential to generate profit for transnational corporations. That's what the nuclear buzz is really all about.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer