Quaking Nukes

Last year I reviewed a book called “Apocalypse Never” that made a powerful case for our options being limited to two: either we get rid of nuclear weapons or humanity will be destroyed. I noted then a deep flaw in the case: the author accepted nuclear energy as something we could survive, focusing his opposition purely on nuclear weaponry.

A new film makes the additional case I was looking for. “Knocking on the Devil’s Door: Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy” by Gary Null could not come at a better time. Not far from where I write this, a nuclear plant at Lake Anna was damaged in a recent earthquake. Whether the damage was severe or not — this time — is unclear.

This is also a moment of growing pressure against fossil fuels. Pushers of nuclear energy love to seize that opportunity to pretend that nuclear is cleaner and safer than coal or oil. The film includes a clip of Ann Coulter claiming that radiation is good for you, among other Fox Nuttery.

The Fukushima disaster receives the attention it deserves in the film, with Harvey Wasserman arguing that President Obama is guilty of murder for having told the public not to worry about radiation coming to the United States from Fukushima. The dead from Chernobyl are approaching a million. Helen Caldicott says she will not eat European food because too often it is radioactive. The Three Mile Island disaster is featured as well, including the many who died from that radiation and the lies told about it.

Another lie exposed in this film is the lie that we do not have viable alternatives. The case is made here that with current technology we could eliminate coal, oil, nuclear, and gas, substituting for every bit of it clean renewable energies. Nuclear energy is a scam and rife with corruption, as Greg Palast details in the film. Earthquake proofing has been faked. Private insurance won’t touch nuclear plants. We the people subsidize this industry, the industry then buys politicians with our money, and guess who’s on the hook to pay for any disasters.

President Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and nuclear energy company Exelon are offered as a prime example of nuclear power, by which I mean the power of the nuclear corporations over our political system. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reauthorized numerous plants for decades to come, including Vermont Yankee, which is the same design as Fukushima. Gosh, I hope Vermont doesn’t have any flooding or anything like that.

Helen Caldicott explains in “Knocking on the Devil’s Door” how so-called “low-level” radiation causes cancer and infertility. We have higher cancer rates around nuclear power plants that have suffered no disasters and violated no laws, here in the United States and around the world. Who talks about this? The corporate media is silent.

But nuclear plants are disasters in slow motion waiting to speed up, waiting for a screw up, a bad stroke of luck, or a bomb. Meanwhile, their ordinary waste products are materials for nuclear weapons, including the depleted uranium weapons that have recently killed and deformed so many children in Basra, Iraq, and which will continue to do so for billions of years.

The fall out from weapons testing and the routine use of power plants, globally, is making us all less healthy and less fertile. What can be done to make this consciously self-imposed catastrophe even worse? In U.S. politics, THAT is always the question to ask, and it is always easily answered. In this case, one answer is nukes in space. The history of nuclear materials in space is one of accidents and near catastrophes. Obama is eager to further test that luck.

President Dwight Eisenhower gave a famous speech promoting nuclear energy, but Admiral Hyman Rickover, called the father of the nuclear Navy, gave a speech that should be remembered as well. It was farewell testimony and a warning, as was Eisenhower’s speech warning of the military industrial complex. But Rickover’s warned that we would need to eliminate all nuclear reactors or we would ruin the earth for human habitation:

“I’ll be philosophical. Until about two billion years ago, it was impossible to have any life on earth; that is, there was so much radiation on earth you couldn’t have any life — fish or anything. Gradually, about two billion years ago, the amount of radiation on this planet—and probably in the entire system—reduced and made it possible for some form of life to begin… Now when we go back to using nuclear power, we are creating something which nature tried to destroy to make life possible… Every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has a certain half-life, in some cases for billions of years. I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it… I do not believe that nuclear power is worth it if it creates radiation. Then you might ask me why do I have nuclear powered ships. That is a necessary evil. I would sink them all. Have I given you an answer to your question?”

David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia

More articles by:

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography