Greenpeace

Fukushima: latest I've seen / read

** Note on Jan. 10th: I keep adding more items in toward the bottom of this post.

2 Arnie Gundersen items:

1. Fukushima: Total Cost - 33 minute interview by Warren Pollock with nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen. Chockfull of very, very useful information about the Fukushima accident. Its potential impacts on U.S. health (very minor compared to what the Japanese will suffer, of course). Arnie Gundersen's theme: we can't run, we can't hide. The potential problems with reactors in the U.S. How the political system plays hardball (more like deathball) with our lives. (No different here in Canada than in the U.S., btw.) I did not know that nukes kill more birds than wind turbines - sure hope someone adds this info to the FAQ's on sees on wind energy!! Includes talk about economic costs of the Fukushima disaster, as well as human costs. Some clarifications re: particulate matter. Very worth seeing & I recommend it highly!! (One insight: if air travel were as risky as nuclear power, nobody would be flying!!)

2.  TEPCO Believes Mission Accomplished & Regulators Allow Radioactive Dumping in Tokyo Bay - Is the Japanese government and the IAEA protecting the nuclear industry and not the people of Japan by claiming that Fukushima is stable when it is not? Fairewinds’ chief engineer Arnie Gundersen outlines major inconsistencies and double-speak by the IAEA, Japanese Government, and TEPCO claiming that the Fukushima accident is over. Dynamic versus static equilibrium, escalated dose exposures to the Japanese children and nuclear workers, and the blending of radioactive materials with non-contaminated material and spreading this contaminated ash throughout Japan are only a small part of this ongoing nuclear tragedy.

PLUS:

Public health fallout from Japanese quake - Canadian Medical Association Journal

Fukushima: Alaska Seal Die-Off

The New Significance - Impressions of Post 3/11 Japan: lengthy & thoughtful piece by Sabu Kohso after a visit home this past summer, post-Fukushima accident. Puts the accident into "the big picture" & covers topics I don't hear "average" people talking about (how is one to eat or think about gardening, there, now? What is the fate of the workers who are being sent in as basically lambs to the slaughter? Why are men denying the dangers & women the ones who are speaking up, angrily? What is the purpose of demonstrating, & how does all of this relate to the overall global system of capitalism? How are the Japanese to live, post-Fukushima??)

Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately - Catholic Bishops of Japan

'Radioactive Iodine Blankets Much of Europe - Everyone Points Fingers'

Also watched the Greenpeace short film "From Chernobyl to Fukushima: A Campaigner's Journey." 20 minutes. Well-done interviews & photo coverage of Greenpeace Toronto Nuclear Campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil as he travels to Chernobyl & Fukushima &, closer to home, works to oppose new reactors at Darlington. No crazy anti-nuke hysteria at all, folks - just a calm & articulate campaigner telling (& showing) it like it is.

Janet

P.S. ++ YouTube here & reflections ++ here

'Quote of the day' with this post: “Sure, you can say nuclear power is somewhat less carbon-intensive than burning fossil fuels for energy; beating your children to death with a club will prevent them from getting hit by a car. Ravaging the Earth by one irreparable means is not a sensible way to prevent it from being destroyed by another. There are alternatives. We should choose them and use them.” – Rebecca Solnit (many other nuke-related quotes & other resources here)

Nukes: Climate Solution?? Not…

** More recent, more thorough collection about nukes & climate change here. I am going to refrain from going into my own little song & dance routine on this issue. No need for me to!

I personally believe (way down in my guts) that nuclear energy is actually immoral(1). So how could I suggest that an immoral practice be continued?? It wouldn’t make sense. It would be…immoral!!

There are, however, some (otherwise) pretty intelligent people who appear to not be using their heads on this issue. I won’t go into that either. Again, no need.

What I am providing in this post is simply a # of links that readers can go to & read for themselves why the use of nuclear energy (whether or not you agree that it’s immoral) is not a viable “solution” to climate change.

Read/watch away!!

Mark Jacobson on nuclear power's high carbon footprint: 2 1/2 minute video

Orion article by Rebecca Solnit "Reasons Not to Glow - On not jumping out of the frying pan into the eternal fires"

Honey, I Shrunk the Renaissance: Nuclear Revival, Climate Change, and Reality by Peter Bradford, a former Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, btw…

Nuclear Nonsense: Why Nuclear Power is No Answer to Climate Change and the World's Post-Kyoto Energy Challenges

Scientific American - "Nuclear Power Cannot Solve Climate Change"

Hermann Scheer - "Nuclear Energy:  The answer to Climate Change or a recipe for weapons proliferation?"

Nuclear Life-Cycle – A cycle in trouble (From this link, access/download a longer report called ‘The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy’)

Why Nuclear Power Can't Solve the C02 Problem - "Greenhouse Warming: comparative analysis of nuclear and energy efficiency abatement strategies."

Nuclear Power Does Not Have the Answers We Need, Scott Ludlam

Greenpeace - "Nuclear Energy - no solution to climate change."

Nuclear Power Explained: Climate of Hope: 3-part YouTube on the whole nuke story, including why nukes are not a solution to climate change (3 9-minute segments; very worth seeing!!)

'Nuclear Waste Out of Control - Debunking the Nuclear Renaissance' - 32 minute film (covers supposed climate solution aspect).

Trapping Carbon Dioxide or Switching to Nuclear Power Not Enough to Solve Global Warming Problem, Experts Say

Janet

P.S. Please by all means check out the ‘Nuke Quotes’ section of the blog! Some major goodies there…

'Quote of the day' with this post: "On top of the perennial challenges of global poverty and injustice, the two biggest threats facing human civilization in the 21st century are climate change and nuclear war. It would be absurd to respond to one by increasing the risks of the other.” - Dr Mark Diesendorf, author of Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy

(1) Creating wastes that will remain toxic & dangerous to all living creatures for thousands & 100s of thousands of years – down through many, many, many generations: how can this be anything other than immoral? I mean, really… Give your head a shake, people…

Tar Sands: Europe actions coming up!

I wrote about Canada’s obscene tar sands in the post ‘Tar Sands: Canada’s (Oil) Shame’. In that post you’ll find links to several YouTubes & info about Greenpeace’s tar sands film.

This post is about something kinda cool that happened the other day when I was in Washington, D.C. at the NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) conference.

I was wearing my current favourite T-shirt. It’s black, & on the front it has a map of Alberta (Canada), home of the infamous tar sands project. The red blotches on the map represent tar sands sites. On the back of the shirt it says, “Stop the tar sands. Greenpeace.”

Someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around, I saw an older man (in his 70’s, perhaps?), who said to me, “I used to work in the tar sands. I’m sorry.”

What a moment!

(We all do things we later regret, hmmm? When we hurt individuals we love (who among us has not??), we can apologize.(1) When our errors have had wider impact, there is always the possibility of atonement. I know this man has greatly atoned for whatever he may have done way back when, in the tar sands. But his words really moved me. Bless you, Lee!!)

Well. Later that day I had a very quick look at my e-mails. There was one from old friend Steve Leahy, another Canadian activist/writer. Steve’s son Derek is organizing anti-tar sands protests in several European cities this summe (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna & Berlin).

You can read about his activities on Facebook. Also on the Sierra Club of Canada blog here.

Let me point out that Derek became an activist only months ago. Because he’s been working in Berlin & could do so, he went to Copenhagen for the climate meetings his father was there to write about. Clearly, he got inspired!!

Check out what he’s up to.

What can you do?

For sure, you can learn about the tar sands & climate change.

And lessen your personal carbon footprint.

Join with individuals & groups working to end our poisonous dependence on fossil fuels.

I’m repeating myself here, but here I go again: Activism is the best possible antidote to despair (& apathy).

Activism (like virtue) is its own reward.

You can quote me on that.

Janet


(1) I love this quotation about apology: “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck. How about this one? “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

Christmas Gift Idea: 'Amchitka' CD

I'm not much of Christmas person. Hate shopping, never have lotsa money to spend & shopping centres positively give me the willies. But hey!!

Here is a fabulous Christmas present idea!

A CD called 'Amchitka' - from the October 16, 1970 Vancouver, B.C. concert that launched Greenpeace.

Phil Ochs, James Taylor & Joni Mitchell. 2 CDs' worth of fabulous songs!

Give a gift of awesome music & also help raise money for Greenpeace. (Maybe you're not a Greenpeace "fan," but I doubt it! What's not to like about a group that raises awareness the way Greenpeace has been doing for 39 years??? I mean...)

So, go to the Greenpeace Canada site here Over on the right-hand side, click on 'Amchitka' - & away you go!

Janet

Copenhagen: Some Links

There will be a million stories coming out of Copenhagen. Every delegate, every student, every protester, every writer will have her/his own take on what's happening there. I've been writing long enough to know that when 5 writers attend an event & tell about it afterward, you get 5 different "takes" on what happened. Kind of amazing the way that is... In any case, though, I know 2 men (fellow Canadians) who are over there - long-time activists/writers whose opinions I highly value. I'll be following what they have to say, & invite you to do so too.

Greenpeace Canada's Climate & Energy Coordinator Dave Martin's latest blog post can be found here

Steve Leahy's work (& that of his many young colleagues from Latin America) can be found here

The Toronto Star has Copenhagen pages here

There is also a young woman blogging for the Toronto Star. Her name is Jasmeet Sidhu & she's the founder of the Peel Environmental Youth Alliance (PEYA), a network of students in Peel Region (west of Toronto) working to implement environmental programs in all 220 Peel Region schools. Find her blog here

Janet

Civil Disobedience: Why did we occupy Fin. Minister's Office?

I’ve blogged twice recently about an act of civil disobedience I took part in last week, & do hope I’ve convinced some usually "polite" people to consider acting &/or speaking up themselves.

For information about doing direct action, you can go to Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice

I've just realized I ought to have said more about why we did what we did!?

Seven of us sat chained together in Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty’s office for the day & were willing to be arrested because:

  • We know climate change is the single most urgent threat facing our world.
  • We wanted to send a very strong message to the Harper government about the need to take ACTION on climate change – not stall & prevent global action/solutions at the Copenhagen meetings.
  • We know the Harper government’s finance minister Jim Flaherty controls the federal government’s purse strings.
  • We wanted to call on Flaherty & his government to finance the solutions to climate change – & climate justice – not continue subsidizing the tar sands (home of the world’s dirtiest oil).

The results of our actions? Impossible to pin down – but I do think this action (& others like it) have the potential to demonstrate to very different constituencies of people that:

(a) the issue of climate change is indeed mind-bogglingly urgent, & recognizably so, to vast numbers of Canadians/youth/world citizens &

(b) those of us protesting are not unruly, unreasonable or violence-prone; we are sensible, concerned, passionate people committed to action on climate change, & also to spreading the word about the need for climate justice. (Visit http://www.globalissues.org/article/231/climate-justice-and-equity for information about why we in the well-off, developed countries have a moral obligation to fund solutions in the poorer countries, the ones bearing the brunt of climate change impacts.)

Groups you can check out for their work on climate change & their take on & participation in the Copenhagen experience:

The KYOTOplus coalition – “A Canadian public engagement campaign to support an urgent solution to the global warming crisis” – consists of over 120 environmental & social justice groups – & many thousands of individual citizens – who have signed the KYOTOplus petition.

Check it out at http://www.kyotoplus.ca/

Here is what Canadian writer/blogger/filmmaker & activist extraordinaire, Guy Dauncey, has said:

“The message, so firmly, is – don’t give up. Don’t hang with the cynics, the angry-hearted, the whiners, the blamers, the negative minded. Hang with those who believe in love, hope, and beauty – and then work with them to make this a reality. This is our planet. This is our time. This is our call to action.” ~ Guy Dauncey, author of The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming

For suggestions of things you can do about climate change, please consider reading the blog post ‘Copenhagen Primer’. Skip lots of the “chat” if you prefer, & scroll down to near the end, where practical suggestions are offered.

Janet

P.S.  This blog is my own. I am not representing or speaking here on behalf of any other groups to which I belong - just me, myself & I. Any screw-ups are mine alone!?

P.P.S. Other blog posts about the sit-in are found at Busted for Climate Justice!; Civil Disobedience Rocks!! 10 Observations & Dear Judge: Comfort Zones & Climate Change.

P.P.P.S. Here is a fine quotation about disobedience: “You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there, obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there, kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” Richard Grossman

We Are TOO (Freakin’) Polite!

<Oct. 5/09>

This is a rant about being TOO polite. For sure, just to be clear, I was raised by my parents to be a very polite person. I always (almost always) remember to say my “pleases & thank-you’s,” and dutifully taught my children to do the same.

It’s a form of obedience, really. We are taught from Day 1 (by our parents & if not by them, by our culture) to be very obedient to the rules of our society. Not to “colour outside the lines,” as it were – and to be sure that we “play by the rules” and all that jazz. Yes??(1)

Sure we are. We live in an insanely (obscenely?) voracious culture that is destroying the Earth (a remarkably abundant and beautiful place, by the way, not to mention being our only home), yet we are all so damn polite that not only do most of us not speak up about what is taking place all around us, those of us who do are looked upon as “weirdos.” I know this because I’ve been perceived as a weirdo (by a lot of the folks who know me) for the past 20 years.

There are 3 things I’d like to cite about this being too polite business:

1. What got me started musing on this (again) recently was my attendance at an anti-uranium rally held at Queen’s Park in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) on Sunday, September 27th (2009). Increasing numbers of Ontario citizens have begun to oppose the mining of uranium – and with good reason. The rally was held at our provincial legislature to let our MPP’s (Members of Provincial Parliament) know that we want uranium mining stopped. There were several dynamic speakers to inform those in attendance about the issue & what needs to be done about it (namely, demand a legislated ban on uranium mining for all of Ontario – similar to the bans already in effect in three of our other provinces – British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick – & the territory of Labrador).

Native elder Bob Lovelace told the crowd at the rally that in his view, we Canadians are too polite. He knows a lot about this, having been sent to jail for his part in trying to protect his native band’s territory near Sharbot Lake, Ontario, against uranium exploration. What he said really resonated for me. We are, indeed, much too polite.

If you want to learn more about the Ontario uranium mining scene, go to the Web site of Cottagers Against Uranium Mining & Exploration (CUME) There is also a ton of useful information at the site of CCAMU – the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium.

2. Something that had got me thinking about this politeness business some time ago were the insights I had as a result of attending several Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearings in Ottawa. These were about tritium light facilities in Pembroke & Peterborough, Ontario (the companies are called SRB Technologies and SSI, for Shield Source International, respectively). Oh yes, there was also one on Zircatec Precision Industries Inc. a nuclear facility in Port Hope, Ontario – that I sat in on.

At each of these hearings, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the intelligence and information possessed by the citizen interveners who object to these 3 privately-run, profit-making nuclear facilities. Intervener presentations (firmly limited to 10 minutes per person, although the proponent – that is, the nuclear facility representative – has almost unlimited time and endless opportunities to state his case) are fact-filled, well-researched, and passionate, often, given the fact that their citizens, their neighbourhoods & their communities are bearing the brunt of the emissions and releases from these facilities.

The government-appointed CNSC commissioners seem to have very limited understanding indeed of the complexities (& risks) involved in nuclear technologies. Their knowledge very clearly represents a tiny fraction of that possessed by the citizen interveners (toward whom, btw, their demeanour is extremely patronizing).

My take, overall? These are “kangaroo” courts. They’re a joke. The CNSC does not exist to promote nuclear “safety” for Canadians; it exists to promote the nuclear industry.

I could go on here at length, because I have other insights & strong opinions about the CNSC hearing process – but I won’t.

It does frustrate the heck out of me that a) the “average” Canadian citizen has probably never even heard of the CNSC, has certainly never attended one of their kangaroo courts (oops, I mean hearings), & has no idea what this taxpayer-funded outfit gets up to & b) those of us who oppose these various nuclear operations can talk ‘till we’re blue in the face, present impressive evidence & studies from all over the world, cite human health impacts until the cows come home – but nothing ever changes. We put on our very best clothes, talk very, very politely in the hearings (which I suppose, come to think of it, are a little reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party), and the commissioners (and the CNSC’s very considerable-sized & no doubt well-educated & well-paid staff) go right on ahead & do what they’re going to do – with no apparent real concern for the safety of the Canadian public they are all supposedly being paid their generous salaries to protect.

It was this that got me thinking some time ago now that we are too damn polite

It was either Benjamin Franklin or Albert Einstein (I’ve heard both being credited) who said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

So who is it who’s insane here, anyway??

3. All of this motivated me to take part recently in a Greenpeace “Climate Action Camp” to learn about civil disobedience. So glad I went!!

I learned lots, and had a lot of fun, too! It was interesting to be reminded of some of the very early & well-known practitioners of civil disobedience. Jesus Christ was one of its early agents when he kicked the money-lenders out of the temple. There was Gandhi in India, & Martin Luther King & Rosa Parks in the U.S.

Civil disobedience has a very proud history. Henry David Thoreau. Harriet Tubman. Nelson Mandela. Vaclav Havel. And so on & so on. People most of us now recognize as heroes for having put their necks on the line – for going to great lengths, and at considerable personal cost – to speak up very loudly & initiate change on critically important social issues.

Now Greenpeace is making itself heard loudly & clearly on the climate issue, with recent actions in the Alberta tar sands – home of the world’s dirtiest oil.

You can love Greenpeace or not love them, but one thing you have to admit: their stunts get our attention – and they force us to think & become better informed.

If you want to learn more about Greenpeace &/or the Alberta tar sands project, go here Scroll down on the left under ‘What we do’ for tar sands information. GP has also recently commissioned a film about the tar sands. Watch for it! (I believe it’s now making the rounds of film festivals & will be released to the public soon.)

Meanwhile, why not muse on this being too polite business?

Is it really necessary – or wise – or even excusable – that we remain silent – and “polite” – in the face of crimes against the planet – and humanity?

We all have to decide this for ourselves, of course – but surely it’s worth a little thought.

Janet

P.P.S. A while after this (end of November 2009, to be precise), I took part in some "civil disobedience" myself. There are several blog posts about this - good one to start with is 'Busted for Climate Justice.'

P.S. There are other films/YouTubes on the tar sands. I’ve heard of these so far (they are all also listed in the posting 'Tar Sands: Canada's Oil Shame.')

1. “The Dark Side of the Boom: Canada’s Mordor” - here

2. From National Geographic: here

3. “Dirty Oil: Alberta’s Tar Sands Explained

4. Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands. 2 hour documentary.


(1) The blog essays ‘Looking Good’ and ‘Looking Stupid’ speak to this societal dynamic we’re all caught up in from Day 1. So does 'Good Girls & Boys.'

Climate Change – What are YOU doing about it?

Nothing? That seems to be what a very great many of us are doing. Sticking our heads in the sand. Like ostriches. Ignoring that very, very large “elephant in the room.”

Well, I guess we all feel a little scared, and/or overwhelmed, &/or unsure of what we can do about it.

Here are a few things you can do:

1. Sign the Greenpeace KYOTOplus petition. Then spread the word about it! Find it here

2. If you prefer, Nature Canada is gathering petition signatures too. Theirs is here (scroll down & look under the 'Take Action' heading).

(Note: only sign the petition once; otherwise it will have no credibility.)

3. Check out the wonderfully inspiring Guy Dauncey – his books, Web site, newsletters, blog and films. An extraordinarily energetic, determined and, yes, I’ll repeat myself, inspiring man, is Guy… His Web site is here

4. Check out Elisabet Sahtouris & her inspiring work. Her film “Crisis as Opportunity – Living Better on a Hotter Planet” is informative and hugely energizing. I can’t seem to find an appropriate link for this DVD, but you can order the film from Amazon.com (I also know that the Deep River, Ontario library has a copy, if that helps anyone).

5. Read Julie Johnston's ‘Compassionate Climate Action’ blog here. She’s made a commitment to take at least one action every day, and until this December’s meetings in Copenhagen, is doing a daily post to her blog. Her messages are passionate, intelligent, articulate and practical.

6. Watch the film “The Age of Stupid” &/or “Be the Change” or one I just saw – “Home.” Yikes! There is a positive profusion of films you can watch... For a fairly comprehensive list, go here

7. Plan to take part in the upcoming October 24th GLOBAL day of action. Raise your voice so our politicians get the message that we want them to take ACTION. Find out plenty more at http://www.350.org/ (You can also read my blog post ‘October 24th: We’re ALL Invited!’ Check the blog Index. Franke James has a neat visual essay promoting 350.org Check it out here )

For info on “Filling the Hill” in Ottawa (Parliament Hill here in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, that is) on October 24th, go here http://cday.atypical.ca/about/thebigday/

Toronto folks can go to Queen's Park for a fun gathering there. For more info, go to http://torontoclimatecampaign.org/home  & look on the left-hand side under Events.

I’m working with some young people in my local area to fill up a bus of folks who are keen to take part in the October 24th Parliament Hill event. It’s going to be a fun day!!

8. Take action in your own life! Drive less. Walk, bike & use public transportation more. Use less energy, eat local food and learn how growing our own food is going to be increasingly necessary (only if we want to keep eating. Heh heh). Sharon Astyk’s blog (and her books!) are very useful on this score (find a link to her blog in the Blogroll, over at the right-hand side of this page).

Tell our politicians your views, and be willing to back them up with your actions. As Albert Schweitzer said, “Example isn’t the main thing in influencing others; it’s the only thing.” Find out about & then implement lifestyle changes.

Ottawa Citizen newspaper columnist/editorial board member Kate Heartfield commented in a recent column entitled ‘Not ready to quit,’ “choosing not to act is itself an action, and carries consequences.”(1)

This is surely so. Failing to act has consequences. Failing to act is in itself an action (and a conscious choice.) Which side of the apathy/action divide do we choose to be on?

A Few Relevant Quotations:

“You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing.” Paul Hawken, entrepreneur and author, The Sun (April 2002) – quoted in July/Aug. 2002 issue of Utne Reader

“If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear. People who can open up to the web of life that called us into being.” – Joanna Macy

“If [oppression] is of such a nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Nothing is more irritating, and, in the final analysis, harmful to a government than to have to deal with people who will not bend to its will, whatever the consequences.” Jawaharal Nehru

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you sick at heart, that you can’t take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop.” – Mario Savio

For sure, readers, I don’t have any guarantees that any of what I myself do (or write) will make the slightest bit of difference – and more and more, I find it harder and harder to summon hope about the long-term prognosis for the human race.

But I’ve always found action far more satisfying than apathy. It’s the very best possible antidote to denial and despair, for sure. As a young man named Jeremiah, whom I met at a John Seed workshop, said (he may have been quoting someone else), when hope is gone, there is still action.

I may not be able to “save the world,” but I’d sure rather go down trying than hang out on the sidelines, doing nothing!

Janet

P.S. Joanna Macy says things will turn out based on how we choose to “show up.” You can check out the blog item ‘Joanna Macy invites us all to SHOW UP’ (find it in the blog Index).

P.P.S. Alice Walker said, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.” Are you paying your rent?


(1) She was talking about Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan – but her statement applies equally to any situation.