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Fukushima’s Children Are Dying

9:08 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

By Harvey Wasserman

 

“More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected.”

Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors nowsuffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that “not one person” has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30.

But the deadly epidemic at Fukushima is consistent with impacts suffered among children near the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, as well as findings at other commercial reactors.

But a wide range of independent studies confirm heightened infant death rates and excessive cancers among the general population. Excessive death, mutation and disease rates among local animals were confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and local journalists.

In the 1980s federal Judge Sylvia Rambo blocked a class action suit by some 2,400 central Pennsylvania downwinders, claiming not enough radiation had escaped to harm anyone. But after 35 years, no one knows how much radiation escaped or where it went. Three Mile Island’s owners have quietly paid millions to downwind victims in exchange for gag orders.

At Chernobyl, a compendium of more than 5,000 studies has yielded an estimated death toll of more than 1,000,000 people.

The radiation effects on youngsters in downwind Belarus and Ukraine have been horrific. According to Mangano, some 80 percent of the “Children of Chernobyl” born downwind since the accident have been harmed by a wide range of impacts ranging from birth defects and thyroid cancer to long-term heart, respiratory and mental illnesses. The findings mean that just one in five young downwinders can be termed healthy.

Physicians for Social Responsibility and the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War have warned of parallel problems near Fukushima.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has recently issued reports downplaying the disaster’s human impacts. UNSCEAR is interlocked with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, whose mandate is to promote atomic power. The IAEA has a long-term controlling gag order on UN findings about reactor health impacts. For decades UNSCEAR and the World Health Organization have run protective cover for the nuclear industry’s widespread health impacts. Fukushima has proven no exception.

In response, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the German International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War have issued a ten-point rebuttal, warning the public of the UN’s compromised credibility. The disaster is “ongoing” say the groups, and must be monitored for decades. “Things could have turned for the worse” if winds had been blowing toward Tokyo rather than out to sea (and towards America).

There is on-going risk from irradiated produce, and among site workers whose doses and health impacts are not being monitored. Current dose estimates among workers as well as downwinders are unreliable, and special notice must be taken of radiation’s severe impacts on the human embryo.

UNSCEAR’s studies on background radiation are also “misleading,” say the groups, and there must be further study of genetic radiation effects as well as “non-cancer diseases.” The UN assertion that “no discernible radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members” is “cynical,” say the groups. They add that things were made worse by the official refusal to distribute potassium iodide, which might have protected the public from thyroid impacts from massive releases of radioactive I-131.

Overall, the horrific news from Fukushima can only get worse. Radiation from three lost cores is still being carried into the Pacific. Management of spent fuel rods in pools suspended in the air and scattered around the site remains fraught with danger.

The pro-nuclear Shinzo Abe regime wants to reopen Japan’s remaining 48 reactors. It has pushed hard for families who fled the disaster to re-occupy irradiated homes and villages.

But Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the plague of death and disease now surfacing near Fukushima make it all too clear that the human cost of such decisions continues to escalate—with our children suffering first and worst.

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm. Read the rest of this entry →

Fukushima Is Still A Disaster

5:02 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

The corporate media silence on Fukushima has been deafening even though the melted-down nuclear power plant’s seaborne radiation is now washing up on American beaches.

Smoke rises in an aerial view of Fukushima

Fukushima may be forgotten by the media, but the disaster continues.

Ever more radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific.

At least three extremely volatile fuel assemblies are stuck high in the air at Unit 4. Three years after the March 11, 2011, disaster, nobody knows exactly where the melted cores from Units 1, 2 and 3 might be.

Amid a dicey cleanup infiltrated by organized crime, still more massive radiation releases are a real possibility at any time.

Radioactive groundwater washing through the complex is enough of a problem that Fukushima Daiichi owner Tepco has just won approval for a highly controversial ice wall to be constructed around the crippled reactor site. No wall of this scale and type has ever been built, and this one might not be ready for two years. Widespread skepticism has erupted surrounding its potential impact on the stability of the site and on the huge amounts of energy necessary to sustain it. Critics also doubt it would effectively guard the site from flooding and worry it could cause even more damage should power fail.

Meanwhile, children nearby are dying. The rate of thyroid cancers among some 250,000 area young people is more than 40 times normal. According to health expert Joe Mangano, more than 46 percent have precancerous nodules and cysts on their thyroids. This is “just the beginning” of a tragic epidemic, he warns.

There is, however, some good news—exactly the kind the nuclear power industry does not want broadcast.

When the earthquake and consequent tsunami struck Fukushima, there were 54 commercial reactors licensed to operate in Japan, more than 12 percent of the global total.

As of today, not one has reopened. The six at Fukushima Daiichi will never operate again. Some 30 older reactors around Japan can’t meet current safety standards (a reality that could apply to 60 or more reactors that continue to operate here in the U.S.).

As part of his desperate push to reopen these reactors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shuffled the country’s regulatory agencies, and removed at least one major industry critic, replacing him with a key industry supporter.

But last month a Japanese court denied a corporate demand to restart two newer reactors at the Ooi power plant in Fukui prefecture. The judges decided that uncertainty about when, where and how hard the inevitable next earthquake will hit makes it impossible to guarantee the safety of any reactor in Japan.

In other words, no reactor can reopen in Japan without endangering the nation, which the court could not condone.

Such legal defeats are extremely rare for Japan’s nuclear industry, and this one is likely to be overturned. But it dealt a stunning blow to Abe’s pro-nuke agenda.

In Fukushima’s wake, the Japanese public has become far more anti-nuclear. Deep-seated anger has spread over shoddy treatment and small compensation packages given downwind victims. In particular, concern has spread about small children being forced to move back into heavily contaminated areas around the plant.

Under Japanese law, local governments must approve any restart. Anti-nuclear candidates have been dividing the vote in recent elections, but the movement may be unifying and could eventually overwhelm the Abe administration.

A new comic book satirizing the Fukushima cleanup has become a nationwide best-seller. The country has also been rocked by revelations that some 700 workers fled the Fukushima Daiichi site at the peak of the accident. Just a handful of personnel were left to deal with the crisis, including the plant manager, who soon thereafter died of cancer.

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The NY Times Pens an “Epitaph” for Nuke Power

11:47 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

That we still must fear Chernobyl more than 28 years after it melted and exploded underscores the “nightmarish side of nuclear power.”

In support of the dying nuclear power industry, the New York Times Editorial Board has penned an inadvertent epitaph.

Appearing in the May 2 edition, The Right Lessons from Chernobyl twists and stumbles around the paper’s own reporting. Though unintended, it finally delivers a “prudent” message of essential abandonment.

The Times does concede that “The world must do what it can to increase energy efficiency and harness sun, wind, ocean currents and other renewable sources to meet our ever-expanding needs for energy.”

The editorial drew 288 entries into its comment section before it was capped. I’ve posted one of them at NukeFree.org. Overall they’re widely varied and worth reading.

Because the Times is still the journal of record, the editorial is a definitive statement on an industry in dangerous decline.

Let’s dissect:

The editorial begins by citing the “New Safe Confinement” shield being built over the seething remains of Chernobyl Unit 4. Already “almost a decade behind schedule,” its completion is “a race against time” due to the “decrepit state of the sarcophagus” meant to contain the radiation there.

That we still must fear Chernobyl more than 28 years after it melted and exploded underscores the “nightmarish side of nuclear power.”

That the “vast steel shield” may not be done in time, or may not even end the problem, is downright terrifying, especially in light of the “near-bankruptcy of Ukraine,” not to mention a political instability that evokes horrific images of two hot wars and the cold one.

Amidst rising tensions between Ukraine, Russia and the west, the corporate media studiously avoids Chernobyl. But Belarus and Ukraine long ago estimated its cost to their countries at $250 billion each. One major study puts the global death toll at more than a million human beings.

The Times says Chernobyl’s terror is “more powerful than Three Mile Island before it or Fukushima after it.”

Three Mile Island suffered an explosion and melt-down in 1979. Exactly how much radiation escaped and who it harmed are still unknown. The industry vehemently denies that anyone was killed, just as it denied there was a melt-down until a robotic camera proved otherwise.

At Fukushima, there is no end in sight. Bad as it was, Chernobyl was one core melt and explosion in a single Soviet reactor in a relatively unpopulated area. Fukushima is three core melts and four explosions in American-designed General Electric reactors, of which there are some two dozen exact replicas now operating in the U.S., along with still more very similar siblings.

Spent fuel is still perched dangerously in damaged pools high in the Fukushima air. Thousands of rods are strewn around the site. The exact location of the three melted cores is still unknown. At least 300 tons of highly radioactive liquid pour daily into the Pacific, with the first of their isotopes now arriving on our west coast. Huge storage tanks constantly leak still more radiation. The labor force at the site is poorly trained and heavily infiltrated by organized crime.

The Times itself has reported that a desperate, terrified population is being forced back into heavily contaminated areas. Children are being exposed en masse to significant radiation doses. Given the horrific health impacts on youngsters downwind from Chernobyl, there is every reason to fear even worse around Fukushima.

But the Times Editorial Board follows with this: “Yet it is also noteworthy that these civilian nuclear disasters did not and have not overcome the allure of nuclear power as a source of clean and abundant energy.”

“Allure” to whom? Certainly the corporations with huge investments in atomic energy are still on board. The fossil fuel industry is thoroughly cross-invested. And extraordinary corporate media access has been granted to pushing the odd belief that nuclear power can help mitigate global warming.

But the vast bulk of the global environmental movement remains firmly anti-nuclear. Grassroots opposition to re-opening any Japanese reactors is vehement to say the least. Amidst an extremely popular revolution in green technologies, U.S. opinion demands that nuclear subsidies be cut, which means death to an industry that can’t live without them.

It’s here the editorial falls entirely overboard: “Only Germany succumbed to panic after the Fukushima disaster and began to phase out all nuclear power in favor of huge investments in renewable sources like wind and sun.”

Germany’s green transition has been debated for decades, stepped up long ago by Chernobyl. With strong popular backing, the German nuclear phase-out, as in Sweden, Italy and numerous other European nations (Denmark never built any reactors) has long been on the table. The center-right Merkel government finally embraced it not only because of Fukushima, but because the German corporate establishment decided that going green would be good for business. As energy economist Charles Komanoff has shown, they’ve been proven right.

Despite the predictable carping from a few fossil/nuke holdouts, Germany will shut its reactors, as will, eventually, all other nations. The ededitorial it says there may be “an increase in greenhouse emissions,” but it will be “temporary.”

But as some in the respondents section point out, the Times ignores nuclear power’s own greenhouse impacts, especially in the mining, milling, transport and enrichment of radioactive fuel. Not to mention the heat emissions into the air and water from regular operations and periodic melt-downs and blow-ups. Or those involved with the as-yet unsolved management of radioactive wastes, both at exploded sites and where thousands of tons of spent fuel rods and other hot detritus still sit.

The Times does concede that “The world must do what it can to increase energy efficiency and harness sun, wind, ocean currents and other renewable sources to meet our ever-expanding needs for energy.” But the vision of a green-powered Earth is no longer the property of a Solartopian movement. As the Times and other major publications have long reported, Wall Street has thoroughly rejected atomic energy and is pouring billions into renewables, especially photovoltaics (PV) which convert solar energy to electricity.

A technological, financial and ecological revolution is well underway. Maybe the Times Editorial Board should consult its financial section.

The editorial then cites a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report as a reason to keep nuclear energy as “part of the mix.”

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The Real Cure for Scumbag Team Owners is for the Public to Own the Teams

11:33 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Enough is enough, sports fans.

Green Bay Packers helmet

Why aren’t all teams community owned?

It’s been known for decades that the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is a racist jerk.

Ditto the owner of that professional football team in our nation’s capital, whose current horrific anti-indigenous team name is a global embarrassment.

But these guys are the tip of the iceberg.

The real question is:  why are these teams owned by individuals at all? Why do we allow our precious sports clubs to be the playthings of a bunch of billionaires? Why aren’t the football, baseball, basketball, hockey and other major sports franchises so many of us so passionately love and support not owned by the communities that give them their life? Why is our nation powerless to remove the racist logo from a public stadium just down the street from the White House and Congress?

There’s a model out there that does work.  It’s called the Green Bay Packers (of which I’m proud owner of 2 shares). There are plenty of flaws in the set-up. But when snow covers the field, the community comes out to shovel it off. And though the NFL owners have specifically banned any more teams from being public-owned (guess why!), the Packers have done just fine at the highest levels of competition.

It’s time to use the Packer green and gold as a starter model for all franchise ownership.

Some of the billionaires who now own these teams are obviously decent, tolerant, open-minded people.  Many are more than that—competent, committed, good at their jobs, even genuinely humble and community-minded.

But there’s a reason Donald Sterling can be possessed of “a plantation mentality” and get away with it all these years.  Likewise Robert Bennett Williams, the founder of the NFL team in Washington, whose bigot gene obviously dominates the current owner. It’s because the real issue is not the quality or lack thereof of the current custodians of the front office.

The core problem is this: THESE TEAMS ARE ACTUAL PLANTATIONS. Like so much else under the laws of today’s Gilded Age America, our sports franchises are public assets that we have allowed to be owned by private rich people. That is, to vastly understate the case, WRONG WRONG WRONG.

However nice or otherwise they might be, these team-owners have been gouging out public subsidies for stadiums, tax breaks and much too much else over the decades.  How else does a franchise like the Clippers leap in value from a few million when Massa Sterling bought it to nearly billion today? It’s all PUBLIC MONEY!

And it’s time to take these teams back. WE are the rightful owners, not the latest random Robber Baron with court-side thrones where players, coaches, fans and broadcasters can kiss their ring. Not the latest temporarily solvent corporation that sticks its logo in our faces while amazingly talented young men and women play their hearts out.

It took years of hard work for the sports world’s slave contracts to give way to free agency. It was an “impossible” task, but thanks to Curt Flood and a long-term public uproar, it finally got done. Similar things must be done about on-the-field injuries, especially in football.

And now Donald Sterling has underscored the need — once again — for an even broader campaign. Banned for life is not enough!

The Fifth Amendment says the public has the right to take property with “just compensation.”  It’s called “eminent domain.” Let’s use it to condemn all these franchises, buy out their “owners,” and have the teams run by the communities in which they reside, and to whom they rightfully belong. Management will be done in partnership with the players’ unions. And the Donald Sterlings and Daniel Snyders and so many other painful anachronisms will be relegated to the trash heap of our sports history.

It’s the only way.  And when we’re done, we can finally feel right at home in the public-owned stadiums where we cheer on OUR teams.

Harvey Wasserman roots for the Celtics, Red Sox, Packers, Crew and Blue Jackets, but he is part-owner only of the Packers … so far.

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UN Panel: Renewables, Not Nukes, Can Solve Climate Crisis

7:22 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

A rainbow reflected on rooftop solar panels atop a house

IPCC report calls for renewables to stop climate change.

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.

It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not.

The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.

This IPCC report was four years in the making.  It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.

The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change.  To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.

Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.

First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.

Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.

And third, the cost is manageable.

Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.

The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather.

The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.

But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job—at a manageable price.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” says Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who led the IPCC team.

The IPCC report cites nuclear power as a possible means of lowering industrial carbon emissions. But it also underscores considerable barriers involving finance and public opposition.  Joined with widespread concerns about ecological impacts, length of implementation, production uncertainties and unsolved waste issues, the report’s positive emphasis on renewables virtually guarantees nuclear’s irrelevance.

Some climate scientists have recently advocated atomic energy as a solution to global warming.  But their most prominent spokesman, Dr. James Hansen, also expresses serious doubts about the current generation of reactors, including Fukushima, which he calls “that old technology.”

Instead Hansen advocates a new generation of reactors.

But the designs are untested, with implementation schedules stretching out for decades.  Financing is a major obstacle as is waste disposal and widespread public opposition, now certain to escalate with the IPCC’s confirmation that renewables can provide the power so much cheaper and faster.

With its 15-year deadline for massive carbon reductions the IPCC has effectively timed out any chance a new generation of reactors could help.

And with its clear endorsement of green power as a tangible, doable, affordable solution for the climate crisis, the pro-nuke case has clearly suffered a multiple meltdown.

With green power, says IPCC co-chair Jim Skea, a British professor, a renewable solution is at hand. “It’s actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living.”

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.

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Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

9:27 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem.

An oil refinery.

To oppose atomic power with fossil fuels is to treat cancer by burning down the house. To oppose petro-pollution with nukes is to stoke that fire with radiation.

The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor fallout is doing the same.

How the two mega-poisons interact remains largely unstudied, but the answers can’t be good. And it’s clearer than ever that we won’t survive without ridding our planet of both.

To oppose atomic power with fossil fuels is to treat cancer by burning down the house.

To oppose petro-pollution with nukes is to stoke that fire with radiation.

In September, the first round of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report confirmed yet again that global warming is accelerating and that human activity is the cause.

On March 31, it reported on additional ecological impacts ranging from compromised food systems to harm done a wide range of critical living networks.

The core problem is “global weirding,” an escalating, unpredictable ecological instability. “A breakdown of food systems,” the loss of low-lying cities, ocean acidification, the death of coral reefs, the decline of critical land-based flora and fauna, and the decimation of critical ecosystems are all part of an increasingly poisonous package. The idea that somehow more CO2 will yield more crops is counteracted by the toll taken by temperature spikes and the loss of certain insects, combined with the increased predations of others—and much more we simply do not understand.

There are always dissenters. But at Prince William Sound in Alaska we see the consensus on warming joined by yet another global terror: petro-poisoning.

A quarter-century after the 1979 Valdez disaster, Exxon and its allies are sticking with their “see no evil, pay no damages” denials.

But the hard evidence shows a wide range of local sea life has failed to return. Residual oil is still globbed along the shoreline.

And, in what NPR has called a “Eureka moment,” scientists have confirmed that the “long-lasting components of oil thought to be benign turned out to cause chronic damage to fish hearts when fish were exposed to tiny concentrations of the compounds as embryos.”

The impact is confirmed by parallel heart problems reported by Bloomberg to tuna harmed in the Gulf of Mexico’s far more recent 2010 BP disaster.

If the petro-toxics from these spills can do such damage to larger fish, what are they also doing to all others that occupy this ecosystem? If trace poisons spewed 25 years ago are still ripping through the embryo of Alaskan fish, what must they also be doing to the starfish, the krill, the phytoplankton, the algae and so many other microorganisms?

It’s long been known that the particulate matter from burning coal over the centuries has killed countless humans.

But what, in turn, is all that doing to the global ecosystem and all its even more vulnerable creatures, warmed or otherwise?

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9:20 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

 

 Solartopia! Winning the Green Energy Revolution by Harvey Wasserman
By Harvey Wasserman
High above the Bowling Green town dump, a green energy revolution is being won.
It’s being helped along by the legalization of marijuana and its bio-fueled cousin, industrial hemp.
But it’s under extreme attack from the billionaire Koch Brothers, utilities like First Energy, and a fossil/nuke industry that threatens our existence on this planet.
Robber Baron resistance to renewable energy has never been more fierce. The prime reason is that the Solartopian Revolution embodies the ultimate threat to the corporate utility industry and the hundreds of billions of dollars it has invested in the obsolete monopolies that define King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).
The outcome will depend on YOUR activism, and will determine whether we survive here at all.
Four very large wind turbines in this small Ohio town are producing clean, cheap electricity that can help save our planet.  A prime reason they exist is that Bowling Green has a municipal-owned utility.  When it came time to go green, the city didn’t have to beg some corporate-owned electric monopoly to do it for them.
In fact, most of northern Ohio is now dominated by FirstEnergy, one of the most reactionary, anti-green private utilities in the entire US.  As owner of the infamous Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo, FE continually resists the conversion of our energy economy to renewable sources.  Except for the occasional green window-dressing, First Energy has fought fiercely for decades to preserve its unsafe reactors while fighting off the steady progression of renewable generators.
FE’s obstinance has been particularly dangerous at Davis-Besse, one of the world’s most profoundly unsafe nukes.  To the dismay even of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other notoriously docile agencies, undetected boric acid ate nearly all the way through a reactor pressure vessel and threatened a massive melt-down/explosion that could have irradiated the entire north coast and the Great Lakes.  FE’s nuke at Perry, east of Cleveland, was the first in the US to be substantially damaged by an earthquake.
Both Perry and David-Besse are in the stages of advanced decay.  Each of them is being held together by the atomic equivalent of duct tape and bailing twine.  A major accident grows more likely with each hour of operation.
Small wonder the nuclear industry has been shielded since 1957 by the Price-Anderson Act, which limits corporate liability in any reactor disaster to less than $15 billion, a drop in the bucket compared to what has already happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and could happen here.
Should either of those reactors blow, FE and other investors will simply not have to pay for the loss of your home, family, personal health.  Should that federal insurance be removed, the reactors would shut soon thereafter since for the last 57 years, no private insurers have stepped forward to write a policy on these reactors.
As for the wind turbines in Bowling Green, there are no such problems.  With zero federal insurance restrictions, they initially came in ahead of schedule and under budget.  They have boosted the local economy, created jobs and produced power is that is far cheaper, safer, cleaner and more reliable than anything coming out of the many nearby trouble-plagued burners of fossil and nuclear fuels.
Throughout the world similar “miracles” are in progress.  According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 92% of the new electrical generating capacity installed in the US in the first two months of 2014 was renewable ( http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/03/renewable-energy-construction-takes-lead-feb/ ).
That includes six new wind farms, three geothermal facilities, and 25 new solar plants.  One of those wind installations is a 75 megawatt plant in Huron County, Wisconsin.
Four solar arrays will produce 73 megawatts for Southern California Edison, which was just forced by a grassroots upsurge to shut its two huge reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego.  SoCalEd and the people of southern California are now in the process of filling that void with a wide range of renewable installations.  Many home owners will be doing it by installing solar panels on their rooftops, a rapidly advancing technology that is proving extremely cost-effective while avoiding production of millions of tons of greenhouse gases and radioactive waste.
By comparison, according to one report, new development in “fossil fuel-based infrastructure was almost non-existent for January and February, with only one natural gas facility brought on line.”
Across the nation, public opinion polls show an accelerating embrace of renewables.  According to a Gallup Poll taken last year, more than 70% of Americans want more emphasis put on solar and wind power, well over twice as many as embrace coal (31%) and nearly twice as many as those who support new nukes (37%).  ( http://theenergycollective.com/ecskris/204876/gallup-poll-shows-public-favor-alternative-energies )
And here Wall Street agrees with Main Street.  Despite gargantuan federal subsidies and its status as a legal fiefdom unto itself, major investors have shunned atomic energy.  The smart money is pouring toward Solartopia, to the tune of billions each year in new invested capital.
There have been the inevitable failures, such as the infamous Solyndra which left the feds holding more than a half-billion in bad paper.
But such pitfalls have been common throughout the history of energy start-ups, including all aspects of the fossil/nuke industry.  And in solar’s case, Solyndra has been dwarfed by billions in profits from other green investments.
Ironically, one of the biggest new fields—advanced bio-fuels—is being opened by the legalization of marijuana and its industrial cousin, hemp.  Hemp was the number two cash crop (behind tobacco) grown in the early American colonies.  Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were enthusiastic cultivators.  Jefferson wrote passionately about it in his farm journal, and Washington took pains to import special seed from India.
As a crop with many uses, hemp has been an essential player in human agriculture for 50 centuries.
In early America, hemp’s primary early service was as feedstock for rope and sails for ships.  But it was also used to make clothing and other textiles.  Ben Franklin processed it in his first paper mill.  And it has wide applications as a food crop, especially thanks to the high protein content of its seeds, which are also a core of the bird feed business.
Some of the early colonies actually required farmers to grow hemp.  During World War 2 the military commandeered virtually the entire state of Kansas for it, using it primarily for rope in the Navy.
But since then it has been almost everywhere illegal.
There are many theories behind why, including a belief that the tree-based paper industry does not want to compete with hemp feedstock, which—as Franklin knew— makes a stronger paper, and can be grown far more cheaply and sustainably.
China, Japan, Germany, Rumania and other nations have long been growing hemp with great profit.  Canada’s annual crop has been valued at nearly $500,000,000.  Estimates of its domestic consumption here in the US run around $550,000,000, all of it imported.
The US hemp industry is widely regarded as an innocent by-stander in the insane war against marijuana.  (Some believe that because it threatens so many industrial interests, hemp is actually a CAUSE of marijuana prohibition).
But because marijuana prohibition seems finally to be on the fade, the laws against hemp cultivation are falling away.  The national farm community is in strong support, for obvious reasons.  Hemp is extremely easy to grow, does not require pesticides or herbicides (it’s a weed!) and has centuries of profitability to back it up.
 When Colorado legalized recreational pot it also opened the door for industrial hemp, with the first full-on crop now on its way in.  Washington state is following suit.  In Kentucky, right-wing Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell both strongly support legalization.  The federal law against its cultivation in states where it’s being legalized has now eased.
Hemp’s role in the Solartopian revolution is certain to be huge.  The oil content in its seeds make it a prime player in the booming bio-fuels industry.  The high cellulosic content of its stems and leaves mean it might also be fermented into ethanol.  (The stalks and stems are also highly prized as building materials and insulation).
There has been strong resistance to bio-fuels now derived from corn and soy, for good reason.  Those are food crops, and their use for industrial fuel has pitted hungry people against automobiles and other combustion technologies, bringing on rising prices for those who can least afford them.
Corn and soy are also extremely inefficient as fuel stocks (corn is far worse).  In a world dominated by corporate agri-business, they are generally raised unsustainably, with huge quantities of pesticides, herbicides and petro-based fertilizers.  None of those are required for hemp, which is prolific, sustainable and can be raised in large quantities by independent non-corporate growers.
Along with on-going breakthroughs in other feedstocks (especially algae) hemp will be a major player in the Solartopian future.  As pot inches its way toward full legalization, we can reasonably expect to see a revolution in bio-fuels within a very few years.
Likewise wind and solar.  Windmills have been with us for at least five centuries.  Coming from the plains of Asia, they covered our own Great Plains in the Great Depression and have rapidly advanced in power and efficiency.  Newly installed turbine capacity is far cheaper than nukes and has recently surpassed all but the dirtiest of fossil fuels.  As at Bowling Green, installation can be quick and efficient. Actual output often exceeds expectation, as do profits and job-creation.
But the real revolution is coming in photo-voltaics (PV).  These technologies—and there’s a very wide range of them—convert sunlight to electricity.   Within the next few decades, they will comprise the largest industry in human history.  Every home, office, factory, window, parking lot, highway, vehicle, machine, device and much more will be covered and/or embedded with them.  There are trillions of dollars to be made.
The speed of their advance is now on par with that of computing capability.  Moore’s Law—which posited (correctly) that computing capacity would double every two years—is now a reality in the world of PV.  Capacity is soaring while cost plummets.
It’s a complex, demanding and increasingly competitive industry.  It can also be hugely profitable.  So there’s every technological reason to believe that in tandem with wind, bio-fuels, geo-thermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, increased efficiency, conservation and more, the Solartopian revolution in clean green PV power could completely transform the global energy industry within the next few years.
“Only flat-earthers and climate-deniers can continue to question the fact that the age of renewable energy is here now,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the Sun Day Campaign.  ( http://www.envirolink.org/resource.html?catid=5&itemid=628 )
But there’s a barrier—King CONG, the Robber Baron energy corporations.  In fact, the Koch Brothers and their fossil/nuke cohorts are conducting a vicious nationwide campaign against renewables.  It puts out all sorts of reasons for the bloviators to blurt.
But the real motive is to protect their huge corporate investments.
Because what’s really at stake here is the question of who will control the future of energy—Kong CONG, or the human community.
Though it would seem it could also be monopolized, Solartopian energy is by nature community-based.  Photovoltaic cells could be owned by corporations, and in many cases they are.
But in the long run PV inclines toward DG (distributed generation).  The nature of roof-top collectors is to allow homeowners to own their own supply.  The market might incline them at various stages to buy or lease the solar cells from a monopoly.
But in real terms, the price of PV is dropping so fast that monopolization may well become moot.  As futurist Jeremy Rifkin puts it more generally his “Rise of Anti-Capitalism” NYTimes op-ed (3/15/14) ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-anti-capitalism.html ) :
“The inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces. While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero.”
But that’s what’s starting to happen with photovoltaic cells, where fuel is free and capital costs are dropping low enough that the utility industry and its fossil/nuke allies can’t quite grab control.
When individual building owners can generate their own PV power, when communities like Bowling Green can own their own windmills, when small farmers can grow their own hemp-based fuel, who needs King CONG?
We know this powerful beast will fight against the renewable revolution right down to its last billion, especially now that American elections are so easily bought and stolen.  Defending the green-powered turf will not be easy.
But sooner or later, if we can survive fracking, the next few Fukushimas and the oil spills after that, Solartopia must come.
Our economic and our biological survival both depend on it.
See you there!!!
_________________
Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of the Columbus Free Press and freepress.org.  He edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH (www.solartopia.org) .

FASTING FOR FUKUSHIMA

1:07 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

By Harvey Wasserman, Jill Stein & David Swanson

Fasting can be a way of mourning, of cleansing, of meditation, of focus.
On Tuesday, 3/11, the third anniversary of the beginning of the disaster at Fukushima, we will abstain from food from dawn til dusk.

Our purpose is tied to the atomic disaster that continues to threaten life on earth.

The three melt-downs, four explosions, scattered fuel rods and continual gusher of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima have torn a deadly hole in the fabric of our ability to survive on this planet.

Its corporate perpetrators were repeatedly warned by tens of thousands of citizen activists not to build these reactors in an earthquake zone that has been washed by tsunamis.  Not only did they build them, they took down a natural 85-foot-high sea wall in the process that might have greatly lessened the damage of the tsunami that did come.

The disaster that has struck Fukushima has much about it that’s unique.  But it’s just the tip of the radioactive iceberg that is the global
atomic reactor industry.

There are other reactor sites threatened by earthquakes and tsunamis.  Among them is Diablo Canyon, whose two reactors could be turned to rubble by the multiple fault lines that surround it, spewing radiation that would irradiate California’s Central Valley and send a lethal cloud across the United States.

There are other reactors threatened by suicidal siting, such as the triple reactor complex at South Carolina’s Oconee, downriver from a dam whose failure could send also send a wall of water into multiple cores.

Throughout the world more than 400 rust bucket reactors are aging dangerously, riddled with operator error, shoddy construction, leaky cooling systems, least-cost corner cutting and official lies.

In all cases, the revolution in renewables has made them economically obsolete.  The long-dead hype of a failed “too cheap to meter” technology has been buried by a Solartopian vision, a green-powered Earth in the process of being born.

What would speed that process most is the rapid shutdown of a these old-tech dinosaurs that do nothing but cost us money and harm our planet and our health.

For decades we were told commercial reactors could not explode.  But five have done just that.

The industry said that radiation releases could do no harm at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during the atmospheric bomb tests, with medical x-rays, with atomic waste storage, at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and of course at the next major melt-down and the one after that and the one after that.

The automatic industry response is always the same:  ”not enough radiation has escaped to harm anyone.”  Push a button, no matter what the disaster, no matter where the radiation goes and how little anybody knows about it, that’s what they say now, and will say yet again each time another nuke bites the radioactive dust.

So today we live in fear not only of what’s happening at Fukushima, but of what is all-too-certain to come next.

This must finally stop.  If we are to have an economic, ecological or biological future on this planet, all atomic reactor construction must halt, and
all operating reactors must be phased out as fast as possible.

To honor this vision, we won’t eat from dawn to dusk on Tuesday, 3/11.

It’s a small, symbolic step.  But one we feel is worth taking.  Feel free to join us!!!

No Nukes/for Solartopia….

Documents Say Navy Knew Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan

8:33 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

A stunning new report indicates the U.S. Navy knew that sailors from the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan took major radiation hits from the Fukushima atomic power plant after its meltdowns and explosions nearly three years ago.

Sailors mop the deck of the USS Reagan to remove radiation

Sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan wash down the flight deck to remove potential radiation contamination while operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 22, 2011.

If true, the revelations cast new light on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by the sailors against Tokyo Electric Power. Many of the sailors are already suffering devastating health impacts, but are being stonewalled by Tepco and the Navy.

The Reagan had joined several other U.S. ships in Operation Tomodachi (“Friendship”) to aid victims of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. Photographic evidence and first-person testimony confirms that on March 12, 2011 the ship was within two miles of Fukushima Dai’ichi as the reactors there began to melt and explode.

In the midst of a snow storm, deck hands were enveloped in a warm cloud that came with a metallic taste. Sailors testify that the Reagan’s 5,500-member crew was told over the ship’s intercom to avoid drinking or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea. The huge carrier quickly ceased its humanitarian efforts and sailed 100 miles out to sea, where newly published internal Navy communications confirm it was still taking serious doses of radioactive fallout.

Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A similar metallic taste was described by pilotswho dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by central Pennsylvanians downwind of Three Mile Island. Some parts of the atolls downwind from the South Pacific bomb tests remain uninhabitable six decades later.

Among the 81 plaintiffs in the federal class action are a sailor who was pregnant during the mission, and her “Baby A.G.,” born that October with multiple genetic mutations.

Officially, Tepco and the Navy say the dose levels were safe.

But a stunning new report by an American scholar based in Tokyo confirms that Naval officers communicated about what they knew to be the serious irradiation of the Reagan. Written by Kyle Cunningham and published in Japan Focus, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias” describes the interplay between the U.S. and Japanese governments as Fukushima devolved into disaster.

Cunningham writes that transcribed conversations obtained through the Freedom of Information Act feature naval officials who acknowledge that even while 100 miles away from Fukushima, the Reagan’s readings “compared to just normal background [are] about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out to sea.”

On the nuclear-powered carrier “all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight deck and got the same value,” the transcript says.

Serious fallout was also apparently found on helicopters coming back from relief missions. One unnamed U.S. government expert is quoted in the Japan Focus article as saying:

At 100 meters away it (the helicopter) was reading 4 sieverts per hour. That is an astronomical number and it told me, what that number means to me, a trained person, is there is no water on the reactor cores and they are just melting down, there is nothing containing the release of radioactivity. It is an unmitigated, unshielded number. (Confidential communication, Sept. 17, 2012).

The transcript then contains discussion of health impacts that could come within a matter of “10 hours. It’s a thyroid issue.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike

10:17 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Vogtle Electric

“All of the above” means more costly nuke projects like Vogtle Electric.

So the “all the above” energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

“Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.”

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won’t touch. Georgia state “regulators” are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense … except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

Substandard concrete, unspecified rebar steel, major labor scandals, non-existent quality control … all the stuff that’s defined this industry since the Shippingport reactor started construction outside Pittsburgh some six decades ago is with us yet again.

It would be nice to say this is merely $6.5 billion wasted. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Long Island’s Shoreham and New Hampshire’s Seabrook came in at 5-10 times their original cost estimates.

Shoreham never made it to commercial operation. Neither did Seabrook Unit Two.

Should Vogtle, for which these loans are designated, beat the odds and actually go on line in the years to come, it will multiply its sunk cost by irradiating the countryside and creating radioactive waste nobody can handle.

Nor can it get private insurance to shield future victims and the taxpaying public from the inevitable disaster. The next commercial reactor to explode (joining the five that already have) will do damage in the trillions.

Its owners will not be liable, and the people making this decision will never go to prison.

But many along the way will pocket major fortunes from substandard construction, corner-cutting “safety” scams, black market parts purchasing, mafia-run hiring operations and the usual greasing of radioactive palms that defines all reactor construction projects.

Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.

THEN we can dent in our climate crisis.

THAT’s where the jobs are.

THERE would be an all-the-above energy strategy that actually makes sense.

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits www.nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US and Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth are at www.harveywasserman.com along with Passions of the PotSmoking Patriots by “Thomas Paine.” He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election, at www.freepress.org. Read the rest of this entry →