Chilling Notes on Nuclear Energy


In his excellent book, Drawdown, Paul Hawken includes this ‘Editor’s Note’ at the end of the nuclear energy discussion:

“One hundred solutions are featured in Drawdown. Of those, almost all are no-regrets solutions society would want to pursue regardless of their carbon impact because they have many beneficial social, environmental, and economic effects. Nuclear is a regrets solution, and regrets have already occurred at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Rocky Flats, Kyshtym, Browns Ferry, Idaho Falls, Mihana, Lucens, Fukushima Daiichi, Tokaimura, Marcoule, Windscale, Bohunice, and Church Rock. Regrets include tritium releases, abandoned uranium mines, mine-tailings pollution, spent nuclear waste disposal, illicit plutonium trafficking, thefts of fissile material, destruction of aquatic organisms sucked into cooling systems, and the need to heavily guard nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.”

Chilling: Excerpts from Expert Judgement on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (Sandia National Laboratories report SAND92-1382 / UC-721, p. F-49) Accent 1:

This place is a message… and part of a system of messages… pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.
What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.
The danger is in a particular location… it increases toward a center… the center of danger is here… of a particular size and shape, and below us.
The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.
The danger is to the body, and it can kill.
The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.
The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

See also my post with Green Peace response.

“Without exception, no solution has been found for long term management of the vast volumes of nuclear waste. This includes the highly radioactive spent fuel produced in all nuclear reactors, for which to date all efforts to find secure and safe permanent disposal options have failed.”

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that each goal and target is achieved by 2030. Details of each of the 17 goals can be found HERE. Goals 11(Sustainable Cities and Communities), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), 15 (Life on Land) and are all closely tied to the question of climate change.

On the question of the relationship between these 17 goals and climate change, the UN Sustainable Development web site states the following in their Frequently Asked Questions section: How does climate change relate to Sustainable Development?

“Climate change is already impacting public health, food and water security, migration, peace and security. Climate change, left unchecked, will roll back the development gains we have made over the last decades and will make further gains impossible.

“Investments in sustainable development will help address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience.

“Conversely, action on climate change will drive sustainable development.

“Tackling climate change and fostering sustainable development are two mutually reinforcing sides of the same coin; sustainable development cannot be achieved without climate action. Conversely, many of the SDGs are addressing the core drivers of climate change.”

Important new presentation by Jem Bendell

A new and very important presentation by Jem Bendell was released on YouTube yesterday (February 14, 2019). Jem’s view is that a climate induced societal collapse in our way of life is inevitable, and in the near term (less than 10 years). By ‘societal collapse’ he means the uneven ending to our current means of sustenance, shelter, security, entertainment and identity.

This presentation, to 300 people in Bristol, UK, was his first recorded lecture on Deep Adaptation. Using a more informal format than a University lecture, the Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria, invites the audience to explore forms of action additional to drawing down carbon from the atmosphere – actions associated with personal and collective preparedness for coming disruption. Accompanying him was Toni Spencer, a poet and facilitator who works on Deep Adaptation and Transition.

“We need to move beyond the idea that this is taboo and this is counter-productive, and, actually, have far more honest, expansive, open-minded, and open-hearted conversations about what that might mean and about what we might do.”

At one point in his presentation, he asks people to stand up if they feel anxiety, shock, skepticism, anger, sadness, grief, or motivation. It was very striking that most people stood up for the word ‘motivation.’ This, it seems, would confound his critics who argue that he should not talk this way because people will throw up their hands and give up.

He also discusses some of the obstacles: denial, I’m too busy, it’s too difficult, etc. As well, he offers a few immediate actions we can take now: Don’t panic. Don’t process alone. Don’t blame. Do expect a change in priorities. Do join or organize groups. Do act locally and politically. Do combine mitigation, adaptation and joy. He also makes a number of policy suggestions, all well-considered.

He is a member of Extinction Rebellion (XR) but thinks that XR would do well to include in its thought and action a place for deep adaptation. I agree with him on this, for to disregard or minimize our deepest emotional needs would be calamitous.

The presentation concludes with poetry readings by Toni Spencer, adding a human depth that is difficult, perhaps impossible, to attain by any other means, for, as Paul Tillich says,  “art allows us to participate in a level of reality which we otherwise can never reach.”

Please watch the video all the way through as the mental, emotional and psychological support comes after the ‘bad news’ is presented and discussed.

Under Water

People tend to respond to immediate threats and financial consequences – and Florida’s coastal real estate may be on the cusp of delivering that harsh wake-up call. Read THIS RECENT ARTICLE from The Guardian and, for a more detailed analysis, the following report by the Union of Concerned Scientists: Under Water: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2016). According to the report:

Properties will not be the only things to flood. Roads, bridges, power plants, airports, ports, public buildings, military bases, and other critical infrastructure along the coast also face the risk of chronic inundation. The direct costs of replacing, repairing, strengthening, or relocating infrastructure are not captured in our analysis, nor do we account for the indirect costs of flooded infrastructure, including disruptions to commerce and daily life (Neumann, Price, and Chinowsky 2015; NCA 2014; Ayyub and Kearney 2012). Taken together, these costs of chronic flooding of our coastal built environment—both property and infrastructure—could have staggering economic impacts.

Editorial Note

For the very best introduction to the spirit and intent of Our Gallant Ship, read 1) the About page on this site, 2) the lengthy but impeccably rendered essay by Catherine Ingram entitled “Facing Extinction,” 3) the succinct but powerful TED talk by Greta Thunberg, 4) Dougald Hine’s essay,”After We Stop Pretending,” and 6) David Attenborough’s 57 minute (April 2019) BBC production: Climate Change: The Facts.