Staring down the crystal ball

I really want to believe it’s all a hoax.

Why else would not one mainstream media outlet be reporting on the massive danger posed by the unused fuel rods in Fukushima Reactor 4?

Today I learned (through a link posted by on Facebook by my friend, the author Susan Griffin) that a group of high-level scientists, diplomats and civil society organizations has issued an urgent call to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, requesting U.N. leadership in an international effort to stabilize the fuel the wrecked Fukushima plant.

This call has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Roy Wyden, who visited the plant in April and reiterated the call for urgent international action.

If the fuel in the plant were released into the atmosphere, which would be almost inevitable in the event of another earthquake, “this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cesium-137 released by the Chernobyl accident,” according to the letter to Secretary Ban.

Fukushima burning

Given the climatological realities of wind and ocean currents, this could potentially put hundreds of millions of people at risk of radiation poisoning—not to mention the devastating effects on flora and fauna.

Remember the reports of thousands seals with fatal skin lesions washing up in the Arctic? Apparently polar bears and whales are also known to be affected.

Imagine that multiplied tenfold, and affecting not just marine life, but humans as well.

And then ask yourself, why is only one U.S. Senator engaged with this issue?

Why are we frittering away our precious time on White House Correspondents Dinners and sports events, when in so many ways our future hangs in the balance, connected by a very short fuse to multiple forms of total catastrophe?

Sometimes I look down at my peacefully sleeping dog and think, maybe he has the right idea.

Why fret and worry about the future?  It will come soon enough…might as well enjoy life while it lasts.

But that is what separates us humans from other species.  We can see into the future.  We can spin out possible future scenarios based on how we act today.

And given these crystal balls of ours, can we really in good conscience shrug our shoulders and head off peacefully to bed?

Nuclear famine: the future that must never happen

“I am convinced that nuclear weapons must be abolished. Their use in a military conflict is unthinkable; using them to achieve political objectives is immoral.”

Who said this?  Not your average peacenik hippie.  Not even a pie-in-the-sky anti-war activist.

No, it was Mikhail Gorbachev who called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, in a recently released report by the renowned International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and its US affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

A-bomb on Nagasaki

The report is grimly entitled “Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk—Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition.” Its lead author, Dr. Ira Helfand, draws upon new modeling evidence showing that  “even the relatively small nuclear arsenals of countries such as India and Pakistan could cause long lasting, global damage to the Earth’s ecosystems andthreaten hundreds of millions of people….It would not cause the extinction of the human race, but it would bring an end to modern civilization as we know it.”

Even a limited nuclear exchange would affect the production of staple foods like corn and rice worldwide. “Significant agricultural shortfalls over an extended period would almost certainly lead to panic and hoarding on an international scale, further reducing accessible food,” the report says.

It is hard to get a handle on how to stop the steam roller of global carbon consumption, which in itself is a recipe for disaster.

Nuclear weapons, by contrast, are controlled by nation states, and can be precisely counted.

Nuclear weapons can be disabled and destroyed.

There is no sane reason for the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to maintain hundreds of nuclear warheads ready to go at a moment’s notice.

That 20th century Cold War mentality has to be consigned to the dustbin of a very dangerous, outmoded and counterproductive history.

Imagine what would be possible if instead of investing billions of dollars in nuclear weapons each year, those funds were invested in renewable energy sources, sustainable agriculture, and devising methods of increasing human health and welfare while also creating a sustainable human footprint on the planet.

There is so much to protest these days, and nuclear weapons seem beyond the ken of most ordinary citizens.

But these are our lives the generals are gambling with.

We need a concerted people’s movement to insist that the time of nuclear weaponry has come and gone.

We vote for peace and life. Tell me, Mr. Politician, are you going to vote against us?

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