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Fukushima, denial, and the ethics of extinction

Mon, May 14, 2012

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by Mary Poppins, a long-time environmental activist who can be reached via email at info@fukushimaresponse.com

Fukushima

The problem first became apparent in 1985. I was sitting on a porch in the mountains in Arizona reading a Scientific American article by one of the early researchers investigating the unlikely possibility that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere might be a problem. Over the previous months there had been a number of similar pieces on things like the ozone layer and the decline in fisheries. Then a ‘eureka!’ (actually, a ‘holy shit’) moment. Clearly there was going to be serious trouble in maybe 20-30 years unless something changed. I tried hard and for a long time to help that change happen, because it sure didn’t look good, even back then.

Skip forward to now. The window of time during which our species could have changed course and averted this has slammed shut. The forces we blindly set in motion are far beyond our ability to control, despite the geoengineering fantasies of the technologists. Ever see The Sorcerers Apprentice?

There are several irreversible processes under way that would each, alone, be sufficient to kill off if not everything at least the upper part of the food chain, which now consists mostly of humans..Two of them are the release of the methane now beginning to boil out of the Arctic ocean and permafrost and ocean acidification.

These are disasters from which the living planet will not recover for perhaps millions of years, and the composition of the recovered biosphere will include few currently extant species. Cockroaches look good to go, primates not so much. But life has made it through these sorts of things before, these great extinctions, and probably would yet again recover and flourish although we will not be around to see it. The third problem is different, new to the world.

We have created astoundingly toxic substances which have not been present on the surface of this planet in billions of years; some have never been here before. All are made in nuclear reactors — they do not occur in nature. The particulars of this problem are well documented and need not be repeated here, except to note that earth’s living beings do not have eons of genetic adaptation to constant high radiation levels. All other problems allow some optimism about the long term prospect for recovery after the human rampage is over. This threat is different in kind from other environmental problems because radioactivity directly disrupts or destroys the ability of genes to accurately replicate. This is not repairable. We menace everything, not just ourselves.

For about seventy years, we’ve been building and operating reactors with design lives of maybe 40 years. There are roughly 450 operating civilian reactors, and a guesstimated 500+ military, research, and other reactors, all of which continue to produce radioisotopes with half-lives ranging from seconds to millions of years in containments designed as temporary until the waste problem is solved. Unfortunately, no solution has been found, and when the containments begin to fail significantly, all the garbage sitting in them will disperse into the environment. There is no other choice- remove this crap from the biosphere, or eat, breathe, and wear it, wash with it, walk on it and drink it when the containment fails.

We’re there.

You’re now looking down the barrel of the gun that is the likeliest of all to kill you, me and everyone we know. It’s not vague any longer. This is the specific problem that will end civilization and ruin the biosphere, with a specific mechanism of action and a very short time frame. Unless, of course, something can be done to secure those SFPs and reactors until a currently unknown technology can be invented capable of removing the spent fuel to another place before the earthquakes and entropy make the effort moot. Is it even possible?

Denial

Maybe, but we’re unlikely to ever find out. The first step in solving or mitigating a problem is to acknowledge it, all of it, and humans don’t if they can possibly avoid it.

When I was in my twenties and reading a lot of history, there were a couple of years where I got fascinated by the Holocaust, how that could have been, what people thought they were doing. One aspect in particular struck me; it was in a book whose title is long forgotten, about the response of the Jewish community in Germany to the rise of the Nazis. In a nutshell, denial.

Nobody in the Jewish community, especially the well-off, wanted to believe that the words they were hearing from the Nazis as they rose were serious. Respectable authorities, rabbinical celebrities reassured everyone that Hitler was just posturing, nothing would come of it. As the vise grew tighter, the denial grew more fervent. Those few who defied the consensus and insisted on the reality of the danger were admonished, ridiculed, and finally shunned, in the old-fashioned sense — nobody would have anything to do with them. Reality was just too damn uncomfortable, so they chose to die rather than face it. This is not uncommon; in fact, it is pretty normal behavior. People would often rather die than give up comfortable lives.

That is what we’re doing. For a minimum twenty years it has been clear to anyone who actually look that industrial civilization is a suicide machine based on a false premise; that the Earth offers both endless resources and a bottomless pit for waste. Wrong on both counts, obviously- but admitting that is to acknowledge the destruction we create merely by living in this briefly possible fashion, this remarkably comfortable suicidal fashion.

So you and me, naturally above average in awareness, intelligence, spiritual development, so hip and edgy that we read Nature Bats Last, been worried about this stuff for years, tsk tsk — we gonna give it all up and live on what can be had from the interaction of air, soil, sunlight, water and intelligence?

Do you sometimes drive for pleasure, say, out to eat and a movie? Been known to blast out a few Btu to get the hot tub ready? Get on an airplane? Buy convenient plastic items (gotta have music) that will still be leaking toxins in a millennia or two?

Me, too.

And there’s your answer: No.

Proposed solutions to any of this mess which require humans to behave better than we do are worthless, just another form of denial. Please consider the environment in which the creatures whose descendants we are, evolved. To be successful in evolutionary terms means only one thing, breeding.

The champion breeders (sorry, I can’t resist: did you know one sixth of the human population carries genes from the most successful breeder of all, Genghis Kahn?) in our line of descent were those who were best at acquiring food, water, shelter, and a mate- short term challenges. The critters who were best at short term challenges did well; there were no bonus points awarded for worrying about the ozone layer. As a result, we are hard wired for short term motivation, and long term problems are mostly invisible to our emotional perceptions (and it’s the emotional process that dictates our actions despite these fond illusions of intellectual rigor). We’re going to behave the way we’re wired to behave, with some rare exceptions. The wiring isn’t going to change quickly.

An aside, scientists are wired on the same plane as the rest of us. They are just as addicted to denial and comfort as anyone else, and as unwilling to look at harsh reality. I had a mentor in radiation monitoring for a while, a retired physicist with a background in that area. He was great as long as we were talking about equipment and procedures, but I made the mistake of telling him about Fukushima, and he declared himself too depressed to continue and cut off contact.

Another interesting thing this situation has turned up is the apparent inverse relationship between social rank and ability to grasp the consequences of the situation. Wealthy and powerful people rarely seem to understand that not all problems can be handled with spin, force or money. People who deal with physical reality for a living take a look at this information and quite often get it immediately.

So denial it is and will be, until the situation gets so immediately, undeniably awful that denial will no longer work, at which point everybody starts demanding immediate action; that usually occurs long after there is any effective response possible. We’re most likely there now — the time available to reinforce SFP 4 is melting away as the next earthquake approaches.

Plus there’s another problem that may make doing anything impossible. Tepco is almost out of workers. The experienced workers at all levels have far overstepped the radiation dosages which bar them from further work and must leave. There is no one to replace them, and it is getting extremely difficult to find anyone willing to go out there for any amount of money, as the ambient radiation hits higher and higher levels and continues to rise. Reactors 2 and 3 cannot even be approached anymore, and there appears to be an ongoing release of yellow, radioactive steam cracks in the ground. It seems likely that the plant will be abandoned soon, not by policy, but because anyone going there will die.

What to do?

In all likelihood, Fukushima is going to blow and the chain of dominos will fall; if some miracle occurs this time it won’t matter for long, because all commercial reactors are being run by for-profit companies under a de facto policy of “run to failure” — that’s how you maximize profits. And then there are those other lethal problems if we get past this one.

Why do anything?

The ethics of extinction

My ethics are personal and therefore subjective, as I think is ultimately true for everyone. So since I’m going to talk about ethics, I need to tell you a little about mine to keep things up front. My effort in life is to grow in kindness and integrity, which to me look like necessary components of each other. I don’t have a religion or gurus, but let me tell you about a story in the Los Angeles Times some years ago, when the newspaper were doing a series on the poorest of the poor.

The story was about a couple living in a hut with their child in a barren wasteland in Africa. Poor doesn’t begin to convey their situation. None of them had shoes or more than a rag or two. Every day the man went scrounging in this desolate, empty place for some way to get enough calories for another day of life. Because repeated failure would doom them all, he always had to eat first even when if child went hungry. The woman made her efforts closer to home. One day a near miracle occurred; out scavenging, she found five potatoes, which could be traded for nearly a week’s worth of millet, a huge windfall.

Walking home, she encountered a mother with a baby who hadn’t eaten in two days and whose milk had failed, who asked her for help. She thought about it for a moment, and then she gave the mother three of the five potatoes.

I think that this woman is a very advanced soul, and if I can make some progress towards her ethics then this life will have been a success.

To my subjective perception, service is the expression of kindness, and it seems incumbent upon me to try and do whatever I can to make things better for the beings around me.

So here are some personal, subjective reasons to keep trying, even in the face of human extinction:

We have just seen a sudden mass movement intentionally triggered by a small group — Occupy Wall Street — significantly change the political debate in this country overnight. It may be possible to do something similar regarding Fukushima. It won’t solve the problem, but it could be part, even an important part, of a larger effort which mitigates things a bit.

That’s about as much hope as the visible landscape will bear. It isn’t much, and granted, the likeliest outcome by far is the worst one.

If there was nothing at stake except our sorry selves, then maybe sinking back into the familiar numbness of inertia would be defensible. But that isn’t the case. There are uncountable numbers of living beings, some of them human and very small, who will suffer and die horribly and slowly when Fukushima blows. Almost all of them are innocent, and powerless to prevent this.

You and I are neither powerless nor innocent. We didn’t stop gobbling the world even when we knew that others will be paying for our little party with their futures, including our own children. We have failed as guardians of their future.

Our unbridled selfishness has ruined the ever-changing web of living interaction known as the biosphere. This has been called biocide, and if the worst happens with the worlds radioactive waste, that may become literally true. Our debt is very large indeed, and it is owed to our own victims. It is just possible that an enormous effort may help somewhat.

What kind of person am I if I will not try?

__________

Many of us have treasured deep connections to certain places (the deserts and mountains of Arizona, in my case) and done our best to keep them alive and vibrant, to leave hawk and juniper, and ponderosa, elk and wolf room to thrive, to push back against the death culture with every tool available. We failed, and for those who know what is now gone the loss is hard to bear.

Consider love of life as a reason to keep working, love for what was and the astounding grace of having known the beauty and intelligence of a flourishing living ecosystem before the chance was gone, and love manifested as a willingness to make it possible again. I will keep trying in gratitude, and in hope that possibly the recovery can be expedited in some small way by something I do.

That’s reason enough.

__________

Who will you chose to be now, in this painful, nightmare time? This is an existential crisis in the most literal sense. The future existence of our species, and likely everything above the cockroach level is seriously in question, and our individual lives and the lives of our children are immediately at risk from Fukushima. One quake, one lengthy glitch in the water flow to any spent fuel pool, and immense suffering ensues instantly.

The situation may still seem abstract and unreal on an emotional level because humans cannot perceive radiation directly, and usually only personal perception of danger registers. But this will change over time as the cover-up cracks, or immediately if a pool burns. At some point the denial will break, followed by much disorder as people try to make themselves and their loved ones safe when it is impossible to be safe.

In disasters people can both show great kindness and commit terrible crimes, but mostly there is fear and running, hiding and shocking, paralyzing confusion. Responding to this situation requires courage, not least the courage to look directly at the horror we are facing and still not be broken, to refuse to stay safely passive as our species kills itself and everything else.

I think that for myself, integrity requires I keep trying until I no longer have the ability.

__________

I adore little kids. A yard full of happy pre-schoolers is about as much fun as I know how to have. I am reading about what is happening to kids in Japan, and it breaks my heart and make me very sad and very angry- children dying of cardiac arrest in fifth grade, children forced to consume huge amounts of radiation to protect the reputation of Fukushima produce, refusal to test children for internal radiation. It goes on and on it is sickening and horrifying and as a human being I will not stand idly by while this happens there and spreads around the world, regardless of any other reason to try.

Fuck the murderous corporate scumbags doing this. I will fight them to my last breath. It is too late for Japan, but it may not be so everywhere. WE MUST NOT PASSIVELY LET THEM POISON MORE CHILDREN. And to those displaying a sophisticated, cynical superiority such that even this doesn’t signify a moral imperative to act: consider living with yourself when they start dying here. Is this who you chose to be? Is this really who you chose to see in the mirror every morning?

How much cowardice is currently showing?

Because this is really what it comes down to, isn’t it- taking full responsibility for who we are and what we do, and making and living that hard decision to always do the right thing. I am a fighter by nature and by path, and for me this is the essence of life for an honorable warrior. It’s only secondarily about fighting, although defending those who need it is certainly a necessity. The true essence is always doing the right thing regardless of personal consequences. Fear, and overcoming it, is just part of the work. There are many depending on us to do this, for they cannot help themselves and without our help they will die in great misery. For your sake as well as theirs, I hope you will undertake to become courageous and help them.

So there it is, one person’s reasons for trying regardless of whether or not it makes any difference, of whether or not the universe offers meaning beyond that which we construct, whether or not anyone else does anything. I will never stop trying to make things better, so long as I am able to choose. And sometimes there is a success.

It is enough.

SOMETHING, HOWEVER SMALL AND IMPERFECT, IS BETTER THAN NOTHING

But the form of the effort may change. No matter what we do, it may not be possible to avert biocide and our own extinction.

Then what?

There is a Zen monastery near Fukushima, currently a place of immense suffering. The citizens there have effectively been condemned to death by their government because admitting the truth and evacuating them would cause an intolerable loss of face. They are watching their children sicken and die, while the medical profession refuses to test for radiation and diagnoses the problems as “flu” and “stress” and “hysteria.” The area will not be habitable again for thousands of years; it is truly a lost cause helping them.

One of the insane things that is happening there is a truly bizarre and useless effort to decontaminate areas by digging up contaminated soil. The citizens have been told this will work and of course it doesn’t, but they are conditioned to believe what authority tells them and to obey. So this process generated many tons of highly contaminated soil in plastic bags, with no place to put it, and there were many anxious homeowners thinking that if only they could put this stuff someplace, their children would be helped. Where to put it?

The Abbott of the temple opened the gates and invited anyone who needed a place to dump, to bring the bags to the temple.

That is what to do: just give kindness. It’s the only thing you can always offer.

__________

That’s enough words for now. There are a few of us involved in a project to get the word out, and there are plans to set up radiation monitoring networks and a non-government controlled radiation measurement lab so people can see what their kids are eating, and more. If someone is interested in that, or if you’ve got a better idea contact me, or maybe we can have a discussion in the comments? I’ve never done this before and I don’t know how it works.

I hope someone finds this essay useful.

Kindness to all beings, as best I am capable of doing it. And best wishes to you.

________________

Please join me in supporting Mike Sosebee’s film. To learn more, click here.

________________

McPherson’s latest essay for Transition Voice appeared today. You can read it here<>.

94 Responses to “Fukushima, denial, and the ethics of extinction”

  1. Jay Says:

    Yes, a Japanese diplomat and scientist have stated the extreme danger of SFP4 along with Western experts. Obviously this should galvanise a World Wide effort to assist Japan to solve this Apocalyptic threat to Earth’s wellbeing. Yet Nothing! The MSM is silent as if this situation doesn’t exist. We prefer to take the blue pill or as Joe Bageant said find our reality in the Hologram, both illustrate that willful escape from reality as too painful to face is very common in our culture, including alcohol and drugs and any distraction possible including lots of work so that we’re too tired to care about a far away maybe apocalypse. Sorry if I sound as part of the problem, but what can one person do when even the Japanese Government appears helpless?

  2. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    “… This threat is different in kind from other environmental problems because radioactivity directly disrupts or destroys the ability of genes to accurately replicate. This is not repairable. We menace everything, not just ourselves….”

    Our future’s going to be terrible,
    Extinction means life is unbearable;
    Just check it out, dude:
    Life on earth is now screwed—
    The damage we’ve done’s not repairable.

  3. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Radiation is bad for your genes,
    It busts them to small smithereens;
    There are no vaccines,
    So our prepping routines
    Are just bullets, band aids, and beans.

  4. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hi Jay-

    You can’t fix it by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can do nothing at all. And it isn’t expensive or hard. How about this; email all the pediatricians in your area an information sheet about the effect of radiation on children, and what is happening to them in Japan, and what is expected here if Fukushima blows.

    Or maybe the City and County health departments? Just email them Fukushimaresponse.com ( that’s the page that appears when you hit the ‘We’re there now’ link above) with a note saying that you thought they might be interested in a major public health threat.

    Mail to every reporter in your state demanding a story be written about the single greatest threat to humanity of the age. One of them might do it.

    None of this costs any money, and it might help. You can actually do a great deal if you wish.

    Mary Poppins

  5. Anarchy Wolf Says:

    It’s hard not to descend into self destructive nihilism when you learn about these things.

  6. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Mary Poppins,

    Well written, yet incredibly sad; sad because it’s a reality we can’t escape.

    I will never stop trying to make things better, so long as I am able to choose.

    I think that outlook is just as valid as any other – we all have to do something, even if it’s to do nothing, so we might as well do something that makes us feel better.

    Ultimately, as you note, the processes underway are irreversible. Nothing we do will make any difference in the long run. Even if we could get the word out, so very few would be willing to change anything. Case in point: I treat a LOT of patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – emphysema). Invariably, their smoking is what caused their disease. When I first give them the diagnosis, they immediately want to quit smoking. 99.99% of them, however, don’t quit. They realize that no matter what they do, their COPD isn’t going to get any better, so they might as well smoke themselves into oblivion. They like smoking, or the effort involved in quitting is just too much for them. Yet these same people would be the first in my office looking for treatment if they thought they were being exposed to nuclear radiation. The difference is that one requires lots of hard work and sacrifice. The other, not so much.

    The American public, and I suspect much of the world is the same way. Sure, we’d all love to save the world, but “what’s the point, considering that these processes are irreversible?” Besides, it’s much too damned inconvenient to give up all the bells and whistles of modern life for some abstract “end of the world someday” idea.

    Yes, I realize that I’m being very negative this evening, but every time I turn around, I read another article and/or study pointing out that we have already careened off a cliff and are headed for the sudden stop at the end. Most just aren’t aware of it yet. So I guess I’m not really being negative – just tired of putting up a false front of hope when I can see the ground rushing up to meet us.

  7. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hello Dr House,

    I would like to mention that I never said nothing we can do can make any difference in the long run, and it’s hard to see how I could be accused of putting up a false front of hope.

    There is nothing we can do to avoid disaster, but there may be something that can be done to lessen it, maybe even make it likelier that the biosphere can regenerate. For instance, there is no plan at all regarding what is actually going to be with done all the nuke waste we have. It is possible that events at Fukushima occur in such a manner that it is acknowledged that the waste must be dealt with before it becomes impossible. There is no current workable plan, because no plan is workable if the only acceptable aim is perfect containment. The actual as opposed to fictional regulatory regime could be described as run to failure with the spent fuel stored on site. We would be better off to stop living in fantasyland and figure out what the best thing to do is that can actually be accomplished. There have been calls to shoot it all into the sun, but that is not even remotely possible. It’s going to be here on Earth, where to put it?

    I don’t know, but we need to start thinking about this, maybe somebody already is. How about this for a wild stab in the dark: Find a place where one tectonic plate is sliding over another one, with the intersection not too far down. Drill, bore, blast a large hole down through the subduction zone a few thousand feet into the descending slab, and put the stuff there. It will be a long time before it hits the biosphere again.

    Will this work? Probably not, but we need to try and find some way of getting as much of this crap as possible contained as best it can be done. Getting a lot of it put someplace for even a few thousand years would help a lot.

    You’re an intelligent and educated man- would you like to head an effort to think this through?

    best wishes,

    Mary Poppins

  8. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Mary Poppins,

    I didn’t mean to imply that those words were yours – rather, they’re mine. Sorry to be confusing.

    I agree that there are all sorts of things that could be done. I just don’t think that any of them will do any good other than make the doer feel as if they’re doing something. That has some merit, I suppose, but again, in the long run, it makes no difference at all as to the outcome. When you look at all the life-ending problems facing us and the human animals’ unwillingness to act until it’s too late, and the global community’s inability to agree, much less actually work together, there is simply no way that this is going to turn out well.

    As I mentioned in my post above, I’m through trying to have that false hope that somehow, by some miracle, divine or otherwise, we’ll be able to mitigate total disaster. Even if – also by some miracle – we found a way to achieve the statement from your essay: WE MUST NOT PASSIVELY LET THEM POISON MORE CHILDREN, what would we be saving those children for? Just so they could survive long enough to suffer through average temperatures in the 150s in the summer across the U.S.? (Just read an article today projecting this in the not too distant future.) Or would it be saving them so that we can watch them starve to death as part of an overshot population coping with crop failure due to global warming and peak oil?

    You also said: SOMETHING, HOWEVER SMALL AND IMPERFECT, IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. There’s nothing wrong with that statement, and as I mentioned above, if it makes you feel better, then by all means, do what you can. Ultimately, it won’t make any difference to the outcome and I’m tired of pretending otherwise.

  9. bub Says:

    Wile E. Coyote often obtains complex and ludicrous devices from a mail-order company, the fictitious Acme Corporation, which he hopes will help him catch the Road Runner. The devices invariably fail in improbable and spectacular ways. Whether this is result of operator error or faulty merchandise is debatable. The coyote usually ends up burnt to a crisp, squashed flat, or at the bottom of a canyon (some shorts show him suffering a combination of these fates).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wile_E._Coyote_and_Road_Runner

  10. Kathy C Says:

    There is only ONE thing we can do that is certain to relieve the amount of suffering in the world – don’t have children and support all efforts to provide birth control to anyone wanting it. The unborn will never have to die, and never have to suffer.

  11. Victor Says:

    Mary Poppins

    Excellent and moving essay. I agree that one should be true to one’s highest values till the end whatever the consequences. And often that involves sacrifice. This is the most that can be expected of anyone. And as you say, perhaps it will help someone or something in some small way, however local the effect. Unfortunately, the world is far more complex than Fukushima, as Dr. House has ably pointed out. The state of humanity – and sorrowfully, the natural world, consequently – is wrapped up in a complex web of our own doing that places us in a position whereby no matter which way we move, we are doomed. And whilst we might free ourselves from on conseq

  12. Victor Says:

    Mary Poppins

    Excellent and moving essay. I agree that one should be true to one’s highest held values till the end, whatever the consequences. And often that involves sacrifice. This is the most that can be expected of anyone. And as you say, perhaps it will help someone or something in some small way, however local the effect, or however far-reaching.

    Unfortunately, the world is far more complex than Fukushima (as if Fukushima wasn’t complex enough in its own right!), as Dr. House has ably pointed out. The state of humanity – and sorrowfully, the natural world, consequently – is wrapped up in a complex web of our own doing that places us in a position whereby no matter which way we move, we are doomed. And whilst we might free ourselves from on consequence, there are those that are rushing in on us that will swallow us up.

    As I have put it so many times, we as a civilisation and a species can’t hold on and we can’t let go. And where that leaves the individual is on a very personal level as we await the end. For me, I will maintain a personal belief in the power of love and occasional sacrifice, respect for others to that end that awaits us all and a hope for divine intervention which I believe, rightly or wrongly, is our only remaining hope.

  13. Victor Says:

    Apologies for the duplicate posting…wild and unruly fingers…. :-)

  14. Robin Datta Says:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinococcus_radiodurans“>Maybe “the meek and radioresistant will inherit the earth”

  15. Robin Datta Says:

    we gonna give it all up
    And there’s your answer: No.

    Regardless of whether hugging or wrestling them in the global porcine cesspit, it is pointless to try to achieve pristine purity while wallowing in the stuff. .

  16. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Correction to my earlier post. I stated that I read an article that projected average 150 degrees in the summer. That was wrong. The temps in the article were in Celsius and I converted in my head to Fahrenheit. It should be closer to 130 degree Fahrenheit on average.

    Not that that really makes much difference.

  17. brad smith Says:

    whatever happens was meant to happen

  18. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hello Dr House and others,

    I’m seeing arguments which make the following points:

    1. The situation is so bad that there is no hope.

    2. Any effort made is useless, just an attempt to feel better.

    And finally, and most importantly,the desired conclusion:

    3. There is no point in doing anything and I can continue to be one of the elite few who understand, a blameless free rider sitting in comfortable and undemanding despair, commenting with gloomy satisfaction from my Olympian position as my most dire predictions are fulfilled.

    I’ve been listening to this ethically pathetic shit for thirty years- it doesn’t matter if there is anything which might help or not. The smug self-centered whiners who said this thirty years ago were absolutely wrong,it turns out- there was a great deal which could have been done.

    You’re wrong now. I have never given a flying fuck about doing something useless so that I could ‘ feel good about myself’ This effort has cost me a great deal, and it has been a genuine attempt, and there have been successes. As a result of something I initiated,
    a small Indian tribe in the southwest did not have their acquifer loaded with the byproducts of uranium mining. It may still happen, but they’ve had another generation of kids growing up drinking clean water. That one cost me some prison time,but it worked- the people making the “it’s no use doing anything’ argument were sitting around bemoaning the fate of the earth and relieving themselves of the responsibility for further effort while that work was done.

    Anyone who wants to help others can do so, and it can be meaningful, not just an attempt to soothe our delicate little feelings. Want to work on something that has some small but real chance of success and that could make a difference to final outcome of this mess? The answer is still going to be no, because what you are looking for is not a way to help but a reason why it’s OK not to do anything. You can always find those.

    I notice,Dr House, that you didn’t address my suggestion in the previous comment. Here is an area of great importance which may be amendable to effort- you going to do anything?

    I’m not going to hold my breath, but if you’re willing to try, I’ll do my best to assist you.

    best wishes,

    Mary Poppins

  19. Kathy C Says:

    Mary Poppins, I went to Haiti to volunteer in Mother Teresa’s children’s home some time back. I felt good helping to save babies lives. I also noted how overpopulated the country was. I realized that saving those babies meant they would grow up and have more babies and continue to make the country even more overpopulated. There are no birds other than chickens in Port-au-Prince because the children make slings and bring them down for food.

    I went into a severe depression because of this. How could good be bad. But in fact good can bring about bad no matter how well intentioned it is. The Green Revolution fed more people and now more people get to live on $2 a day or less. Health care, vaccines and antibiotics saved more lives and now more people can die of starvation. And in the process we created superbugs that can outwit us and cause more death because there are more people living closer together to infect.

    Chernobyl is still not contained. There are cracks in the dome and the fund and project to build better containment is stalled. Decommissioning a nuclear power plant costs 1/2 billion or more. So we are talking about 200 billion at least to decommission all the power plants in the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_decommissioning You must forgive some of us for being a bit skeptical in a time when the economy is about to tank, and peak oil is increasingly being felt that efforts on this front would have any salutatory effect. If we have firm beliefs that this is something not amenable to our efforts, shouldn’t we follow our own beliefs and make what efforts we think will have some effect however small.

    Please check out Dr. House’s barter clinic where he allows patients to trade chickens etc. for medical care http://www.housemedicalclinic.com/bbc.lasso

    As I pointed out in a previous post I was once criticized for spending my volunteer time as a Hospice Volunteer because I wasn’t changing the world. And of course I wasn’t but didn’t making one person’s inevitable exit from the world a little easier count? Doesn’t Dr. House’s clinic count?

  20. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    Does anyone know the current situation on the ground for the people in or near the no go zone? Number of sick, dying, leaving? What about Tokyo?

  21. Elaine Says:

    Thank you for saying everything I feel. Though my heart breaks to read it, I commend you and everyone who tries. For some of us that’s what we have to do no matter how many people tell us we’re idealistic.

    “Consider love of life as a reason to keep working, love for what was and the astounding grace of having known the beauty and intelligence of a flourishing living ecosystem before the chance was gone, and love manifested as a willingness to make it possible again. I will keep trying in gratitude, and in hope that possibly the recovery can be expedited in some small way by something I do.

    That’s reason enough.”

    Well said.

  22. Elaine Says:

    Thank you Kathy C. for your comment:

    “There is only ONE thing we can do that is certain to relieve the amount of suffering in the world – don’t have children and support all efforts to provide birth control to anyone wanting it. The unborn will never have to die, and never have to suffer.”

    I tried having this conversation with my daughter but she made her choice. I’ve been shunned by other mom’s for saying such things.

  23. Gabrielle Says:

    Mary,

    Thank you for your words — they are much needed and I think that any of us who have a love of this world we live in and the people on it, should be motivated to act out of that love rather than sit idly by and watch ignorance, greed and hubris destroy this big blue marble we all call home.

    In response to the idea that it is not worth trying — or that even if this crisis were averted that we are still on a crash course with extinction — our actions would depend on whether we would rather die now or later. The children of Japan and the people effected by this lack of action by their government do not sit idly by and wait, but write and share information in several groups on social media, and are pleading, begging and hoping that this information would be acted upon rather than nothing be done. Many of these people know their fate is sealed by this accident — yet, they care enough about the rest of us and the planet to want to spend their energy trying to warn the rest of us.

    For that reason alone, I can do nothing but act.

    The children of Japan no nothing of the current state of environmental destruction — but for us to not try everything within our power to mitigate future damage — is to sign the death warrant of every child, whose possible future might include some knowledge or action that could answer questions we are unable to answer at this point in history about how the environment and the planet can be healed.

    I for one, cannot let that possibility slip into oblivion with nihilistic thinking. I wouldn’t be able to look my daughter or my nieces in the eye or myself in the mirror if I used the word ‘impossible’ when their very existence screams ‘possibility’.

    I am working toward making this information widely available and interestingly enough, have found many more women are taking up the charge than their male counterparts and have even had arguments with professors who claim nuclear energy is safe and no deaths will occur — as if they were stuck in a 1950’s corporate PR nuke ad, claiming man has control over such a powerful energy for the benefit of mankind.

    Well, we all know now that disaster capitalism has no control over itself, let alone a power so destructive as to annihilate an entire planet for short term gain and ego driven righteousness akin to religious dominionism. I’ve fought it this long, I’m not about to quit now.

    Everything we do effects the web of life — good or bad — I honestly think Einstein was right when he said it is indifference, ‘the people who allow evil men to destroy the world because good men do nothing’ is the lesson everyone should take into consideration when thinking of what to do. Indifference is the worst – it is death, a walking death. To be indifferent about your own life is to sentence others to your fate — I will not be party to that.

    I have sent you an email, Mary and I hope we can collaborate and use our energies together with others who have not given up.

    Namaste,
    Gabrielle

  24. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Fukushima Evacuation

    “… If a significant fraction of the 400+ commercial reactors (all with pools) worldwide meltdown, that is an extinction event. As in, we’re all dead.”

    http://fukushimaresponse.com/

    Tsunami and earthquake vibration,
    Workers try to fix the nuke station;
    They find that they can’t
    And abandon the plant:
    Fukushima evacuation.

    Reactor and pool degradation
    Threatens the population;
    Genetic mutation
    Creates malformation:
    Tokyo evacuation.

    It’s not just one single location,
    But everywhere in that nation;
    Plants aren’t maintained,
    Damage can’t be contained:
    Japan evacuation.

    Worldwide, plant disintegration
    Spreads massive irradiation;
    Humans find out what’s meant
    By extinction event:
    No evacuation.

  25. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hi Kathy-

    Yes of course Dr. House’s efforts count- he’s actually doing something and I fully support that and I honor him for it.. but he didn’t mention this- all he DID was say was that there is no point in trying. That’s all the information I had to respond to.

    And I thank you, and honor you, for what you have done. The pain of looking directly at the suffering in the world is intense, and trying to do something meaningful about it is extremely painful and often frustrating.

    But still we must try. Those cost numbers for decommissioning nukes come from the same scumbags who built them, and are not believable. If they are not challenged, nothing at all will happen, and the nukes will simply be run to failure which is the current de-facto regulatory policy, and I think that it is worth pointing this out to the people living near them. Done intelligently, it could change the game just like Occupy got the conversation started about the 1%.

    I’ve been shunned for telling unpleasant truths as well- it’s a standard response to bad news, and a lot of us have felt it. Anybody who thinks that telling the truth is valued is in for a rude shock.

    Best wishes, Mary

  26. Robin Datta Says:

    Thank you, Mary Poppins, for the post and the comments.

    FYI:
    The nuclear industry in the united States is insured by the federal government because no private insurer is able or willing to underwrite the risk:

    Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act

  27. Bernhard Says:

    “I hope someone finds this essay useful.”

    Mary Poppins, are you serious in that question?

    Later have to read all the discussion thread as well.

    Wow, what an essay.

  28. bub Says:

    The good physician lets people die; the poor one kills them. -Verdey

    From a letter that Jefferson wrote to a man named John Taylor in 1816, Jefferson thanked Mr. Taylor for sending him a copy of a publication that he wrote titled Enquiry into the principles of our government.

    After commenting on various aspects of the American republic, Jefferson says, “And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity in the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

    In other news, the coyote catches the roadrunner!

    Beep, beep!

    There would be no physicians if there were no diseases, and no forestry science without deficiency in wood supplies. This science is only a child of necessity or need, and need is therefore its natural concomitant; hence
    the phrase should be: We have now a forestry science because we have a dearth of wood…The lighter it grows around us, the more unknown things become apparent, and it is a sure sign of shallowness, if anybody believes he knows it all. -Heinrich Cotta

  29. Kathy C Says:

    http://www.voanews.com/content/chernobyl-donor-conference-falls-short-of-goal-120203594/138250.html

    The Fukushima factor reaches around the world to help raise funds for a new containment shell for the stricken nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine.

    One week before the 25th anniversary of the nuclear power plant explosion at Chernobyl, world leaders pledged Tuesday to provide $780 million for the construction of a shelter designed to house the toxic remains for another century.

    Rain, rust and snow have weakened the first shelter, built 25 years ago and designed to last 20.

    Laurin Dodd, an American engineer who is directing the new containment project, described the condition of the existing shelter, often called the sarcophagus.

    “The sarcophagus itself had very large openings in it the size of picture windows, with small creatures going in and out and birds flying in and out,” Dodd noted.

    Chernobyl suffered the what was then the world’s worst nuclear power accident. The explosion sent a plume of contaminants one kilometer into the air over Ukraine. Winds carried radioactive clouds north over Russia and Belarus. 330,000 people had to be moved from their homes.

    Today, millions of people live on contaminated land. A central core, is closed forever to human habitation. The governments of Belarus and Ukraine devote 5 percent of their national budgets to treating survivors and patrolling the no go zone.

    Despite this legacy, there was little optimism back in February when the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) took reporters on a tour of Chernobyl, hoping to raise world interest in paying for the new containment shell.

    Then on March 11, a wall of water crashed into the nuclear power plants in Fukushima, on the Pacific Coast of Japan. Balthasar Lindauer, deputy nuclear safety director at the European Bank, described the Fukushima factor.

    “Today at the pledging conference, Fukushima was mentioned very frequently, and I think it certainly has drawn attention to Chernobyl,” said Lindauer.

    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the conference that Chernobyl and recent events in Fukushima, Japan, were a reminder that nuclear risks may not stop at a country’s borders.

    He pledged $156 million from the European Union to rebuild the Chernobyl containment shell. The United States delegation, led by former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski made the largest single nation donation: $123 million.

    By the end of the day, pledges had come in for three quarters of a final $1 billion needed to complete the project. All in all the new shell is to cost $2 billion and should be complete by the end of 2015.

  30. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Mary Poppins, you said:
    There is no point in doing anything and I can continue to be one of the elite few who understand, a blameless free rider sitting in comfortable and undemanding despair, commenting with gloomy satisfaction from my Olympian position as my most dire predictions are fulfilled.

    That’s a pretty harsh (and false) assumption but not surprising since it’s obvious my comments struck a nerve in you. If things work out the way that I feel is likely, then none of us will be feeling much satisfaction, gloomy or otherwise. We will be suffering and dying right along with everyone else. It’s not as if we’re going to be sitting in the coliseum while we watch the poor Christians get eaten by the lions. I might add that more and more people are beginning to understand that things are falling apart, and I suspect the majority will understand it soon – in a very real way.

    You also said:
    I’ve been listening to this ethically pathetic shit for thirty years- it doesn’t matter if there is anything which might help or not. The smug self-centered whiners who said this thirty years ago were absolutely wrong,it turns out- there was a great deal which could have been done.

    I agree that more could have been done 30 years ago but probably not as much as you think and I suspect the outcome would not have been much different. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that something of consequence can be done now. I concede that I could be very wrong on the timing of collapse – we’ve had that discussion here before – but as I mentioned, ultimately it doesn’t matter when oil will run out or when the electric grid fails or when the global temperature reaches the point of positive feedback loops (already happened?). Right now, today, our planet cannot support the 7 billion plus people we have currently. Yet, we continue to add 3 people (after subtracting deaths) every SECOND of every minute of every hour of every day – about 80,000,000 a year! Every four years we add the equivalent population of the United States. Each one of those new lives expects and deserves to have a decent home, warm clothing, and adequate food and water. Almost a billion people already don’t have those things. The bad news is that we can’t do anything about that. It is mathematically impossible to do so no matter how much you’re offended by “ethically pathetic shit”. There simply aren’t enough resources on this planet to accommodate the sheer bulk of humanity.

    You also said:
    You’re wrong now. I have never given a flying fuck about doing something useless so that I could ‘ feel good about myself’.

    As Kathy C. mentioned, one day a week, I offer patients healthcare in exchange for homemade, homegrown, home produced items. I also do other things which are considered to be “good deeds”. I recognize that my acts help other people and in some cases have actually saved people’s lives. I also hoped that this would spur interest in a return to a more natural way of living. But I can be brutally honest in my introspection and see that I do these things largely because it makes me feel good. I enjoy being recognized in my community as a caring and giving person and I really enjoy getting to know more about my patients and their skills. I’ve met some really fine people through this clinic. I also enjoy the items I receive in exchange. Does my honest assessment sully my acts? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. It is what it is. Your situation may be different – but if so, you’re a rare person indeed.

    Finally, you said:
    You’re an intelligent and educated man- would you like to head an effort to think this through?

    To answer your question in a word: no. I have no interest in beating my head against a wall. The situation reminds me of the all-too-common occurrence I encounter when families can’t accept that their loved one is about to die. They bargain, they insist, they demand, they get ugly, they cry, they scream, all because they just KNOW that if we just do something, we can postpone the inevitable. Using your argument, if they had just quit smoking 30 years ago (or any other of the ridiculously unhealthy things we do to ourselves), then yes, they might have avoided some of this pain and suffering. But they would not have avoided death. That comes to all of us, no matter what. The point is, however, that none of that matters. The patient is on the deathbed. Nothing will change that.

    It is my opinion that humanity is on its deathbed. We can run tests, push more fluids, perform CPR, etc., nothing will prevent the inevitable.

  31. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Sorry that last post was so long. This one will be much shorter.

    Despite all the misery and destruction Fukushima has already caused, and in denial of the utter devastation it could cause still yet, apparently economic growth and the convenience that electricity gives trumps all that.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/14/us-japan-nuclear-idUSBRE84D0BW20120514

    “The local assembly in a Japanese town that hosts a nuclear plant agreed on Monday it was necessary to restart two off-line reactors, its chairman said, the first such nod since all the country’s stations were halted after the Fukushima crisis.”

  32. Victor Says:

    Mary Poppins

    I understand your frustration as an apparent life-long activist. It is the frustration shared by all such people through the ages. When you, as an activist, see what is seeming lethargy and apathy among those you feel should know better, the tendency is to strike out. But don’t you think your passion, which I admire btw, is a bit miss-directed here?

    Many who post here, and I assume many who simply read the postings, lead very active lives and have done much personally to change the way they live and to help others as well. They are not world changers. They are not activists. They are simply people who have realised after many years that there are forces at work in the world that are far more pervasive and complex than can be managed by not only the individual, but the entirety of humanity at this point.

    That said, this is not the time to give up. It is vital that we maintain our sense of humanity and charity in these times. And whilst all may not be activists, still there are things in each of our lives that can be accomplished on a personal or local level. And many of those who post here do just that. So you can understand, perhaps, why some here are a bit miffed that you say such things about us. We need activists. But we also need people who can live sacrificial lives in service to others around them – people who can serve as examples of right, energy-constrained and non-wasteful living in their communities – even in the face of the disaster that is upon us.

    But to me, one keeps on fighting in whatever way suits him best because it is the right thing to do – not because it will change the world. You stand up for the people of Fukushima because it is the right thing to do – for you. Others have other causes. But most on this site see pretty clearly that it will all end the same no matter what. And this is one of the things that distinguishes the NBL site from others. This is a site where you, as an activist, should be able to come to occasionally and share your frustrations among people who understand and have some level of understanding of the bigger picture.

    Where humanity is today was inevitable from our beginnings. We are of a certain nature, a nature that drives us, as a species, to look at things from a rather selfish and short-term perspective. Not all humanity was like that, but those communities who flourished at one time under more rational and thoughtful lifestyles were pretty much wiped out by the hordes of those who didn’t. And so where we are today, and where we will be be tomorrow, are quite predictable and inevitable. Recognising this is not giving up. It is simply facing truth backed by human history.

    Our greatest challenge in the future, imo, will not be getting enough food, water or energy (though those will certainly be challenges!), but our greatest need will be to remain human in the face of it all.

    I am not optimistic.

  33. Victor Says:

    Dr House

    RE:Japan – note that one of the prime reasons to re-open the plants is economic – jobs and corporate interests. The economy always trumps everything. And always will. And is much of the reason that society has such inertia today – jobs, stability, money, political power. The momentum of such a huge and complex civilisation can not be easily disturbed due to this inertia.

    Decisions made many hundreds of years ago – even thousands of years – have led us to this point. That is not readily unravelled, except through disruptive and destructive forces.

  34. Robin Datta Says:

    I have no interest in beating my head against a wall…..
    ….The patient is on the deathbed. 

    Words of wisdom, indeed!

    But spreading knowledge and understanding, by example in action or in word (of mouth/podcast/talks etc.) or written (as in blog, article, book) and as is being done by every NBL commenter could possibly have some salutary effects. 

    Reminds one of the parable of the sower,
    Matthew 13, King James Version:

    3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

    4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

    5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

    6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

    7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

    8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

    9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

    11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

    12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

    Despite all the misery and destruction Fukushima has already caused, and in denial of the utter devastation it could cause still yet, apparently economic growth and the convenience that electricity gives trumps all that.

    When the addict wakes up from a bad trip, no matter in how bad a shape, the craving soon returns. 

  35. Victor Says:

    Further signs of Collapse amidst a rotting system, destroying itself from the inside. You could apply these same principles to the medical/industrial complex, the education/industrial complex, the banking/insurance/financial complex, the energy/industrial complex, and I’m certain others. The drive for profits at the expense of reason is gutting the world and will contribute heavily to the final Collapse of modern civilisation.

    The Prison/Industrial complex. Some facts about Prison America – think about this the next time you are tempted to think about America, the Land of the Free:

    1. The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prison population

    2. Since the war on drugs started in 1970, America’s prison population has surged 700 percent to 2.4 million

    3. There have been more than 40 million arrests for drug-related offenses in the past forty years

    4. There are 50,000 arrests for low-level pot possession a year in New York City, representing one out of every seven cases that turn up in criminal courts

    5. Since 1980 California has built one college campus and 21 prisons

    6. Americans spend upwards of $70 billion a year to imprison one of every 48 working-age men

    7. Although blacks make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners

    8. In 1980 there were 691 inmates on death row; currently there are 3,189

    9. The U.S. is the only country in the Western industrialized world that still uses the death penalty

    10. The U.S. has the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world, including 961 sites either directly owned by or under contract with the federal government

    11. Nearly 10 percent of US prisons and jails are private, dominated by two major firms — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group

    12. CCA and GEO Group now manage 16 percent of federal prisons and nearly 7 percent of state ones to the tune of nearly $3 billion in combined revenue in 2010

    13. The Justice Department said more than 216,600 people were sexually abused in prisons and jails in 2008, at least 17,100 of which took place in juvenile detention

    You can find these facts with their related charts at the end of the following link and labelled 13 Signs That America’s Prison System Is Out Of Control. The article discusses the Southern state considered the prison capital of the world. The article also has a 5 min vid on it worth watching.

    Prisons in America are becoming privatised, and are beginning to support a huge prison/industrial complex that depends heavily upon a constant feed of prisoners to maintain profits. Another advantage of capitalism? Keeps criminals off the streets? Not so. Indeed, it encourages easier and easier imprisonment, even for first offenders, for longer and longer terms. Loads of money are involved.

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/louisiana-is-the-prison-capital-of-world-2012-5

    Quote from the 13 Signs That America’s Prison System Is Out Of Control article:

    Now that there are more Americans under correctional supervision than were in Stalin’s gulags, it’s officially out of control.

  36. Brett Stokes, Australia Says:

    thanks Mary and Dr House and all – reading all this is very useful for me. Best wishes.

  37. Kathy C Says:

    Mary, all too often I have seen people attempt to do good things but waste a lot of effort by not tying into something already going on. There are in fact organizations that are already attempting to make change. At the very least you should check them out, see if you might better help them, rather than start something new, or ask them what they think might be efficacious. Duplication of effort is a waste of effort. It is not enough to do something so that you can relieve angst about the state of the world. If one wants to make an effort to effect a change one should make sure that it has a chance of making a change, is the most useful way to make that change, and won’t have any negative consequences.

    For instance Medea Benjamin has been hauled shouting and screaming out of more Congressional hearings than I can count. I can’t see that she is making any headway, but possibly having a negative effect by giving the press something to report that makes people think poorly of anti war efforts.

    At any rate my top site for nuclear information is Fairewinds. Run by Arnie Gunderson and his wife Maggie they have disseminated information in Japan, the US and throughout the world. Arnie has his bonafides as a man who had 40 years in the nuclear power industry who can speak accurately and intelligently about the dangers at Fukushima and in the various nuclear plants around the world. I listened to his clip this morning about the problems and their causes at San Onofre that have resulted in its shut down http://fairewinds.com/content/san-onofre-bad-vibrations He has testified before Congress and has spoken to groups in Japan, taken soil samples around Tokoyo (they have enough radiation that they would be considered radioactive waste in the US), been on multiple radio programs. Even if you don’t want to support his efforts you could contact him and ask him what might be the most useful thing to do. You could find opportunities for him to speak or at the least pass around his videos. I personally find his information more compelling because it is not overly emotional, yet when you hear him and/or Maggie speak you know they feel deeply about the matter. I believe many people who don’t want to know the truth might accept it more from hearing him.

    I have done my small part by making donations to his work and plan to continue doing so. I plan to ask Amy Goodman at Democracy Now to carry an interview with him – since it takes just a moment to place such a request on her site I don’t need to worry how effective it will be.

    Professor Chris Busby is or was starting a program to send pills to Japan that would block uptake of radioactive cesium. However this has come under criticism and I can’t tell if the criticism is valid.

  38. Kathy C Says:

    Link to Busby’s organization but it is in Japanese

    http://www.cbfcf.org/

  39. Kathy C Says:

    http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/01/dr-c-busby-quit-being-involved-in-cbfcf/

    Apparently Busby has quit the foundation but still advocates Calcium and Magnesium supplements that would he claims block uptake of radioative cesium just as iodine tablets do for radioactive iodine. I believe he thins they need to be a special formulation to provide that function.

  40. Ozman Says:

    To all,
    passion concerning the way we live as individuals and as a collective is strongest when we are under significant threat. The whole debate here about what to ‘do’, in the face of the worldwide unremediated, unsecured, toxic nuclear stockpile, and the 450+ ‘run untill failure’ reactors is reasonable and normal. We all know the ‘head in sand’ approach, and the do nothing from dispair approach are counterproductive. I recall a bit of Kippling- If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs… I have some practicle advice:
    1. Commit to doing what you can to avert the probable threats.
    2. Talk to as many reasonably open people about your concerns. return to the topic now and then.
    3. Have copies of a sheet of paper with three websites that inform, shock and offer activities to collectivise on the issue in youbag at all times. At the bottom of the sheet have a brief letter to your local, state and federal members that can be coppied and easily signed and mailed. Request that they treat Fukashima, Chernobyl, and unsecured nuclear material as a real threat to all life.
    4. Don’t E-mail, sorry, but it is too easy to delete, and letters leave traces in the world that will need to build up for any action to be stimulated.
    5. Allow yourself to go through these initial phases of anger grief, despair, craziness. Explain to colleagues, workmates, family, children in your orbit what you are feeling and that it is difficult to cope with. Tell them that you know in your heart that you must answer the call to alter this likely destructive destiny. Your conscience compels you to.
    6. When appropriate, tell your story about how you came to wake up to the issues of nuclear waste,(and environmental destruction)and its threat to humanity,(abridged is best) to others who show interest and concern.
    7. Accept that some, even many, may not respond , or even shun you. However, my experience leads me to believe that the Bhuddists have this area of advocacy down and dusted. They essentially attempt to add no emotional memory to advocacy, that is not to put too much effort into a conversion, as it is the person themselves who drinks, and when they do, it will be clear to them that they are changing, or seeking a new path.
    8. Contact your Local,State, and Federal members yourself and request an interview. Give them the NEWS. Ask for a committment from them to raise the issue at their forums and follow up if they have done so. Communicate disappointed when they fail to do so.
    9. Never give up, never surrender.
    10. Accept that one day you will die. Others you love will die. Everyone in this world will die. All live has a finite time here.
    11. While discharging your present worldly responsibilities, ( paying rent, providing for children and dependents, domestic duties etc.), begin to fundamentally change your way of life to do things that bring attention to this issue until it reaches a state of social momentum that the right actions by buisness and governing groups eventuate.

    Some may already have seen a documentary on the safe and intellegent disposal of the Finnish nuclear waste, that would seem to be the only program in the world to dispose of the material for 100,000 years. It is called ‘Into Eternity’, and shows work being done at a deep site called ‘Onkalu’.
    It says all that ‘uninformed everypeople’ need to know to become worried and concerned.
    I applaud Mary Popins,and all who contributed to the discussion.

    Whatever we achieve in our passionate activism, if we bring all our humanity to the planned and unplanned encounters and actions, we will have an impact on the outcome of this threat.
    “Human made, can be human fixed” -JFK, (who is now dead)
    Regars,
    Ozman.

  41. Michael Irving Says:

    Mary Poppins,

    You will no doubt take the following as a personal assault. Perhaps that will be justified. Likely you will want to respond in kind, and I can understand that. However, I will plunge ahead regardless.

    Conspiracy theories—how do we sort out what is true from what is only partially true, or patently false?

    I have checked out some (far from all) of the references at your Fukushima Response site but I cannot square the projections given there with those provided by other sources. In many cases the blog posts are claiming biosphere-ending scenarios as a result of the Fukushima event. Further, in most cases it is the position of the bloggers that there is a vast conspiracy to cover up the relevant facts. Other sources paint a very different picture. Here are two projections of the outcomes for the same event.

    (1) http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/11/opinion/la-oe-gale-fukushima-20120311

    An LA Times article from March 11, 2012 By Robert Peter Gale and F. Owen Hoffman.

    The authors are described as follows: “Robert Peter Gale, a visiting professor of hematology at Imperial College London, is involved with the aftermath of the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. F. Owen Hoffman is an expert in radiation risk assessment working in Oak Ridge, Tenn.”

    “What do the Fukushima exposures really mean? A rough estimate is that for a 50-year-old male working at the Fukushima nuclear facility, his lifetime risk of cancer might increase from 42% to 42.2%. The magnitude of this increased risk is comparable to the added risk of living in Denver (where background radiation is higher because of the altitude and radionuclides in the Rocky Mountains) versus New York City for 10 to 15 years, or smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for one to two years. The Japanese public will, of course, get far less radiation.”

    Contrast that with

    (2) http://fukushimaresponse.com/
    From Fukushima Response.com

    “An immediate threat exists which will most likely soon leave the West Coast and possibly the entire US uninhabitable on very short notice.”

    So, the question I have for you is how do we reconcile these two very different assessments? How can we compare “smoking one pack a day for one or two years” over a lifetime with “entire US uninhabitable” almost immediately?
    It may be that the governments of the world, and all the captains of industry, and all the mainstream media are covering up the whole thing just so they can continue to…what? Do none of those people have children? What is to be gained by a cover-up of this magnitude?

    How are we to vet the disparate sources of information? How are we to sort out which of the ‘experts’ is telling the truth?

    Michael Irving

  42. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hello Dr. House,

    It’s admirable that you do nonprofit work, and I honor you for it. However, that doesn’t address the issue- the need to do hard, uncomfortable things sometime with no guarantee of success. It’s not too tough to be a sweetie when your comfort zone isn’t very threatened.

    I don’t buy the pitch. I do apologize for getting angry and becoming somewhat personal, that never helps. I don’t know you, I only know what you write here. That ugly little meme of hopelessness and the deluded fools just doing something, anything to feel better, gets pretty personal as well. There are a hell of a lot of us who have paid substantial prices to do this work. “Feeling good about yourself” as a motive doesn’t explain it. That motive can be ascribed to almost any human action or choice, and a universal explanation is no explanation at all:

    “Doctor House is hiding from reality by imagining that all effort is useless, so that he can feel good about himself without doing anything that takes him outside his comfort zone.”

    “Mary Poppins is hiding from reality by imagining that her efforts may be of some use in the long run, so that she can feel good about herself without doing anything that takes her outside her comfort zone.”

    Kind of tough to make a choice between those two, isn’t it?

    So lets look at the specific example I gave of something that might be of some genuine, long term, non-me-silly-fool-need-pacifier-to-feel-good usefulness: doing something less-bad with the nuclear waste than just leaving it in place while everything collapses. Your response to my request that you, as an intelligent and educated man, consider thinking about this was answered with:

    “To answer your question in a word: no. I have no interest in beating my head against a wall. The situation reminds me of the all-too-common occurrence I encounter when families can’t accept that their loved one is about to die. They bargain, they insist, they demand, they get ugly, they cry, they scream, all because they just KNOW that if we just do something, we can postpone the inevitable. Using your argument, if they had just quit smoking 30 years ago (or any other of the ridiculously unhealthy things we do to ourselves), then yes, they might have avoided some of this pain and suffering. But they would not have avoided death. That comes to all of us, no matter what. The point is, however, that none of that matters. The patient is on the deathbed. Nothing will change that.

    It is my opinion that humanity is on its deathbed. We can run tests, push more fluids, perform CPR, etc., nothing will prevent the inevitable.”
    ——————-

    This is full of truthiness and falsity. You are smart enough know that it is false to conflate the death of an individual who has at best ten or so decades before inevitable death with that of a four billion year old biosphere which could possibly chug along for a few billion more if we don’t completely ruin it.

    But even so, you are not as smart as you seem to think you are; and neither am I. No one is that smart. You don’t know that an effort to lessen the long term impact of the waste we leave behind, extinct or not, will not have some positive effect, and I don’t know it will. And could you please stop pulling out that tired stuff about this being an attempt to deny the reality of our upcoming extinction? Maybe this will finally put that to bed:

    As far as I can see, one of the likeliest outcomes of this mess by far is human extinction. But I don’t know that, and neither do you, despite your certainty. One of the descriptions I have seen used to define a ‘chaotic’ situation ( in the sense in which that term is used in complexity theory) is ‘ a situation so complex that it is impossible to predict the outcome of a given input’.

    It’s hard to imagine a more complex situation than this one, but given how dire things are, let’s stipulate that the likeliest outcome for humans, extinction, is a fact. So can we leave that as a moot point which no longer needs to be belabored? Humans and all our idiocy and whining? Gone! Alright?

    Now, with that behind us, let’s consider the ethics of just leaving all the nuke waste right where it is with no humans involved. Does the upcoming extinction of humans make it ethical to passively finish off everything else, because humans are the measure of all things?

    There is no logical way to answer that, because there is no factual basis on which to rest an argument- it’s all just subjective opinions supported by no, some or much evidence. Dr. House’s opinion, yours, mine, the Pope’s, the President’s and everyones’ included. Opinions.

    My opinion is no. I think we have an obligation to do whatever we can do that may mitigate the catastrophe that we have created. My opinion is that there is an ethical structure in universe for which I think I see evidence, but which cannot be proven or disproven, and which I do not remotely understand, but which somehow requires us to try and clean up our mess as best possible. Can any significant improvement be made in the situation?

    Nobody knows, but there is some reason to think so, if only because the bar for improvement is so low. How could we not do better than leaving all this death in buildings with design lives a tiny fraction of the millennia for which the contents must be contained? If we could keep it or some of it out of the biosphere for even a few thousand years, much though certainly not all of the problem would be gone. Maybe we could do that by dumping it into the salt caverns which were rejected because they might leak in ten thousand years; ten thousand is better than forty. This is not out of the question, and if it is all that can be done, with a great deal of effort and with no guarantee of success, I think we must try.

    There is another opinion which I cannot prove, and if it is wrong, I sincerely apologize in advance for misapplying previous observations to you. This discussion is not new to me, and it has been my observation that people arguing the ‘ no point in trying’ position will reject ANY argument that requires them to leave their comfort zones regardless of validity, a position which can only be maintained by invalidating and trivializing the efforts the efforts of those who step up and try. I think this is clearly what you are doing- here is a situation where improvement is possible, but you don’t want to know that because you might then be ethically obligated to do something uncomfortable. You have a right to think whatever you want and do nothing, but your personally motivated defense of this hiding and denial are destructive to the efforts of others and dishonest to boot, and I hope you will stop doing it.

    I’m not going to go around this track anymore- good luck to you.

    Mary Poppins

  43. Victor Says:

    Michael Irving

    I have that same problem with the likes of H Caldicott (sp?). Very emotive and distorted language used. The government understates the problem. The Caldicotts over-state the problem. And we, the public, are left to draw conclusions not always based on fact.

    But of course, the position of advocate often demands a measure of rhetoric to get attention. Even if it is outright lies, it forces the argument. And therefore, hopefully truth eventually prevails.

  44. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    Yes, I agree that the position of advocate demands hyperbole. In the issues I’ve worked on I’ve found that staking out a reasonable, considered position always puts you in danger of then having to negotiate away from where you know you must end up. I always had to start out with an extreme position if I was to have any chance of a reasonable outcome in the end. Working from the extremes toward the middle and “endless pressure, endlessly applied” worked for me (sometimes). The same clearly applies to any discussion of Fukushima outcomes. If Mary were to state, “It could be bad,” no one would listen. Knowing how I feel about issues, I hesitated to ask the question.

    Michael Irving

  45. Michael Irving Says:

    Answering my own question, there’s this today: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/16-7

    The US government, flying in the face of the lessons learned from the Fukushima event, has seen fit to weaken nuclear plant safety drills and test evacuation rules and operate on the premise that there will be no radiation releases so response crews do not need to plan or practice what to do in that event.

    Michael Irving

  46. Mary Poppins Says:

    Micheal and Victor-

    Please enlighten me: what exactly am I lying about or hyping up? I’d love to hear, since I have tried to avoid that. As far as I know, everything I said is backed by evidence, but if that’s wrong, I’d greatly appreciate knowing it so I can apologize for causing unnecessary alarm and change it. Especially tell me about my specific lies, please.

    You have read the evidence, right? Or are you operating off a quick skim combined with pre-set opinions?

    It really is this bad, as far as I can tell.

    Eagerly awaiting your response,

    Mary

  47. Rita Says:

    Mary, etal – I’ve been going round and round in my head about all this lately. Right now I am in not-doing mode, except for urging my children to at least take iodine, eat seaweed, chlorella, etc to protect their thyroids and dna. Sometimes I will tell a total stranger about Fukushima and urge them to learn more, but I don’t know what I want anymore. None of them are interested in getting worked up over it all.

    Today I read about how the wildlife around Chernobyl are getting along. Some are thriving in the absence of humans. There are mutations, of course, but lots of surviving and maybe thriving critters and birds. Maybe it is “all going to come out in the wash.”

    I am not the only one to notice that heroic efforts to save babies from starvation and rid the world of disease has resulted in a lot more humans using a lot more fossil fuels. An increasing number of bloggers also appear to have reached their emotional limits. Some of them have quit blogging and I would not be surprised if they are not hanging out on the porch with a home brew or two.

    Anyway, I think I have reached the last stage in those steps you go through after someone dies – acceptance. I even accept that I may have a deformed grandchild or may get cancer. I calmed down about it. I had to. Call it a survival mechanism.

  48. Rita Says:

    Mary – to clarify: I have devoted huge amounts of energy and time to changing the world on many levels, left my comfort zone, raised my children “right” and spoke truth to power. I may do so again.

    It feels like I’ve dancing to the point of exhaustion and then have to sit one out, watching the other dancers. Maybe I will get back in. Maybe not. But I cannot be any good to anyone if my life is one big panic attack.

    Meanwhile, I live extremely simply, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best…. and read a lot. No more tears of rage.

  49. Michael Irving Says:

    Mary,

    I’m sorry you thought I was accusing you of not telling the truth.

    I’ll restate the question. How are we to figure out where to get trustworthy information? Who is the Rachel Carson of this issue?

    Michael Irving

  50. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Rita,
    It feels like I’ve dancing to the point of exhaustion and then have to sit one out, watching the other dancers. Maybe I will get back in. Maybe not. But I cannot be any good to anyone if my life is one big panic attack.

    Thanks for saying so well in just a few words what it took me multiple paragraphs to say not very well. :-)

  51. Rita Says:

    Thank you REAL Dr. but a few words got left out in the edit. Oh well. BTW – I do hope you visit. I may sell my house. I might go north a bit where I can see the stars and drink better water.

    Mary Poppins – I feel nothing but empathy for you. I don’t know how old you are, but I think my age may play a big part in my emotions.

    I think it was 1968 when I marched on Washington DC against the VietNam war. We were singing “All I am saying is give peace a chance.” I don’t remember, but I think it was 200,000 of us and no march since then has equalled it. I was 20. I felt partially responsible for ending the war. I salute you for all your efforts to make change. I get it.

    This feels different. If you google around about the Rothchilds, Bilderberg folks, Davos goers, it begins to feel like the deck is so stacked against us that we are pissing in the wind.

    So now I put my energy into helping those right around me who suffer. A friend’s daughter was born disabled because of a prescription drug for scabies containing pesticide, for instance. Arghhh.

  52. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Mary Poppins,
    I do apologize for getting angry and becoming somewhat personal, that never helps.

    I agree. I certainly didn’t mean to insult you but I understand fully the sensitivity that comes with criticism (justified or not) of something with which you are totally invested.

    You are smart enough know that it is false to conflate the death of an individual who has at best ten or so decades before inevitable death with that of a four billion year old biosphere which could possibly chug along for a few billion more if we don’t completely ruin it.

    I’m not really that worried about the biosphere, per se. There have been multiple mass extinctions in our 4 billion year history. We are in the middle of one right now. Even if we pollute the earth to the extent that all species die, the ingredients for life are all here and life will return eventually. That doesn’t mean I endorse what we’re doing – not even in the least. It saddens me and angers me, but ultimately, I know the earth will recover.

    it’s all just subjective opinions supported by no, some or much evidence. Dr. House’s opinion, yours, mine, the Pope’s, the President’s and everyones’ included. Opinions.

    I agree totally. I usually qualify what I say as being my opinion. Sometimes I have specific facts or data to back up what I say, sometimes, just lots of knowledge and information gained over the years. But, ultimately, as you say, it’s just my opinion. Obviously, my opinion is no better than anyone else’s.

    My opinion is that there is an ethical structure in universe for which I think I see evidence, but which cannot be proven or disproven, and which I do not remotely understand, but which somehow requires us to try and clean up our mess as best possible. Can any significant improvement be made in the situation?

    I’ve seen no evidence for “an ethical structure in the universe”. Humans have made use of ethics for at least as long as we’ve had recorded history but that’s not the same thing. I’m picking apart your words now, I know, but I think it’s important to make that distinction. The universe could care less what happens on Earth. No more than it cares what happens on Mars or Pluto or in the Horse head nebula. There is no universal right nor universal wrong. We humans care about right and wrong. When we are gone, so will be our ethical dilemmas. The only ones who will see what we leave behind as “wrong” will be us. But we’ll be gone. Again, I’m not excusing what we’re doing, but that’s because I’m human and I’m using the ethical values that (some) humans share.

    There is another opinion which I cannot prove, and if it is wrong, I sincerely apologize in advance for misapplying previous observations to you.

    Apology accepted. :-)

    This discussion is not new to me, and it has been my observation that people arguing the ‘ no point in trying’ position will reject ANY argument that requires them to leave their comfort zones regardless of validity, a position which can only be maintained by invalidating and trivializing the efforts the efforts of those who step up and try. I think this is clearly what you are doing- here is a situation where improvement is possible, but you don’t want to know that because you might then be ethically obligated to do something uncomfortable.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “leave their comfort zone.” I’m an openly gay man living in the rural South, practicing medicine in a town with a population of 2,000. I have lived most of my adult life in the big city but now raise chickens, milk my goats, and am working to raise my own food. Is that what you mean about leaving my comfort zone? Sister, let’s talk. As to “invalidating and trivializing” your efforts, that has not been my intention, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t say anything to that effect. My comments have been mostly targeted toward what right for _me_, not for you.

    You have a right to think whatever you want and do nothing, but your personally motivated defense of this hiding and denial are destructive to the efforts of others and dishonest to boot, and I hope you will stop doing it.

    You’re right, I do have a right to think whatever I like, as do you. You’re incorrect in assuming that I’m in denial. If you have found my comments destructive and dishonest, then I encourage you to read them again. Clearly, either you misunderstood me or I just didn’t communicate very well (always a possibility). Regardless, I will not stop doing what I’m doing and I resent your request. I would never dream of asking you to stop doing what you’re doing. Just because you’re passionate, doesn’t make you right, nor does it mean that everyone must agree with you. I can’t say if you are right or not. But, please don’t presume to tell me what’s right for me.

    I really didn’t intend to get into such an involved and oppositional discussion with you as generally I tend to be very non-confrontational. But, for whatever reason, it has happened. So, like you, I will shut up now. I wish you good luck as well.

  53. Kathy C Says:

    Lets talk about comfort zones. I sort of felt like I left my comfort zone when I took on 3 foster children, 8, 6, 4 while mine were 8 and 5. That was when my ex and I lived in TN working to help poor people in the mountains. Because we brought in workgroups from outside who had black members, we ended up with a van torched by the Klan, guns fired, and a note on a burned cross “get the hell out of M County or we will get you out the hard way”. I can tell you my time in Haiti was no comfort zone, even though I lived in more comfort than many of the people there. I loved Hospice volunteering, that was not difficult but most people think they could not volunteer to sit with one dying patient after another for 10 years. I have spent many a night helping staff homeless shelters – places many felt were not safe. My husband has protested Vietnam, White Trains ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Train ), where Brian Wilson lost both his legs sitting on the tracks in protest. He has protested at School of the Americas, done death penalty work, and protested the nuclear submarines at St. Mary’s GA among other things.

    You know when people have been activists their whole lives, moving out of ordinary comfort zones, it gets a bit tiresome to hear someone berate them for staying in a comfort zone just because you are not signing up on their cause.

    Right now I could make the case that the most pressing problem we are facing is not nuclear plants of Fukushima or Chernobyl but nuclear war. We are edging ever closer and if the US goes to war in Iran it may draw in Russia and China. That may be a much more imminent threat than the power plants although it will affect them as well.

    Meanwhile Mary I would urge you to check out the link to Arnie Gunderson’s site that I posted and find out if he has some project you can help with. I think you need to follow not lead because you will not keep any followers the way you are trying to lead, by shaming and blaming.

    I used to watch my grandmother try to convert people she encountered in the grocery store. She had no luck. I wondered why she tried. Then I realized it was not about saving them but about being able to report back to god that she had tried. If you really want to get your own thing going rather than supporting something that someone else is doing, I think you need to study just what kind of words are most likely to motivate others. Perhaps a visit to those monks you mentioned might help. They are not doing anything to keep the fuel pool at #4 from crashing, just providing a service to people who need to feel they are doing something. Something like what Dr. House is doing, just caring in the way he can for one small section of humanity. Maybe those monks could help you to calm down.

  54. bub Says:

    chop wood, carry water… here we go again.

    This is the best website ever.

  55. bub Says:

    (no joke!)

  56. the virgin terry Says:

    best website ever?!?! maybe, in the worst situation ever. i’d prefer to be active in the worst website in the best, most utopian world.

    nuc war, ocean acidification, runaway agw, untended nuc plants, eco collapse, toxic chemicals, the list goes on and on. what shall be our ultimate downfall? who knows? who cares?

    i agree with kathy 100% re. the effectiveness of not reproducing as one of the very few means available to lessen our collective suffering and problems. if one wishes to go further as i do not right now, i have a suggestion: kill yourself. be one less consumer/polluter. be a leader, set an example for others to follow. on the extremely remote chance that your sacrifice sparks a flurry of fellow self sacrificers, it could make perhaps a tiny temporary dent in the big problems. if i believed in miracles i might even hope that enough sheople committing suicide might eventually cause the remaining survivors to commit to soul searching and wising up to their insanely self defeating ways. i don’t believe in such miracles, of course, so i offer this advice without conviction, in the spirit of this thread which seems to be: damn the torpedoes: something must be done to stop the madness! it’s a fine and no doubt heartfelt sentiment, but since when has any sort of reason/action been a cure for madness?

  57. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hello all,

    I would like to reply to everyone individually but time is short and I don’t type that fast, so please let me sort-of catch up with a less specific response to the responses.

    First off, a blanket apology for my own abrasiveness. The point has been made that I need to chill out, and it’s true. I do try to keep my emotional body from interfering with what ( I think) needs to be done – two-three hours of meditation , yoga, breath work a day to keep more or less on an even keel. But there are certainly failures, and I apologize for each one and will do my best to not repeat them. That’s all I can do.

    I am getting criticism, much of which is useful and which is being heeded. That said, much of it is not useful because it seems to come from commenters who appear to have spent just minutes skimming the essay and no time at all on the evidence. The situation at Fukushima and in Japan is bizarre beyond belief, and unless you take the time to learn about it, much that is true will seem like hyperbole. But it is not. Please don’t let/allow my failures as a messenger stop you from investigating the copious information available- that’s all that matters, not my opinions. If you won’t do this, I’m sorry, but your opinions aren’t worth much. If you spend enough time to get a better grasp of the situation than I have, then your opinion will be worth more than mine. It’s not really a personal thing. I could name a whole lot of people (Gunderson et al) whose opinions on these matters are worth vastly more than mine.

    Very little of what I have written is original with me. It’s almost all an attempt to bring together the scattered statements of credible experts into a comprehensible form useful to people who know even less than I do. Not a very ambitious goal, but all I can offer.

    The one aspect of this that is/was somewhat new is the idea of the cascade of failure that will very likely occur when/if pools 3 or 4 go down, so accusations that I am hyping this could find some support there- but again, it’s just stringing together things that Gunderson, Busby, Caldicott, Kevin Kamps, etc have said. And it isn’t an exclusive thought, the ‘chain of failure’ idea is around and getting traction. I haven’t made anything up. Please , please, please, look at the evidence.

    some good sources, there are many others as well:

    http://enenews.com/ If you only have time to do one thing, this is the one to read. Fifteen minutes a day will keep you pretty well informed.

    http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/

    fukushima-diary.com/

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dr+chris+busby&aq=0&oq=dr+chris+bus

    http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/ covers more than this, but very qualified to comment on technical aspects and does so frequently.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/ excellent coverage, from today:

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/05/nuclear-cheerleaders-use-voodoo-science-to-pretend-low-levels-of-radiation-are-safe-or-even-good-for-you.html

    http://www.beyondnuclear.org/

    —————————–

    OK, have to go do other things, but I’ll get back to this later.

    Kindness to all beings, as best I can do it,

    Mary

  58. Robin Datta Says:

    I’ve seen no evidence for “an ethical structure in the universe”.

    Only among mammals and such, where there is sufficient brainpower for memory to guide anticipatory action, can any ethical framework be discerned.

    For the universe at large there are only two rules that may have ethical connotations: the interconnectedness of all things, and consequences.

    you will not keep any followers the way you are trying to lead, by shaming and blaming.

    “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal. So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey which catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the highroad to his reason.”
    Abraham Lincoln

  59. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    Mary:

    Thanks for the links. That is what we need to help sort things out.

  60. Kathy C Says:

    Mary, I understand your angst. Many of us have looked quite thoroughly at the evidence for some time before you wrote your essay. I thought your essay was in fact a good compilation of the matter and I cannot argue with the direness of the situation. I have been looking at peak oil for over 10 years and that is dire enough. Yet despite warnings from highly credible people nothing is being done other than mining oil and gas that have devastating consequences. If we got every nuclear power plant in the world shut down, found a safe repository for all the spent fuel, there would be an even stronger push to frack, mine oil sands, remove mountain tops and further the pollution and increase the likelihood of extinction of the human and other species by climate change.

    We are at least 40 years to late despite many highly credible people advocating for a more sustainable mode of human living. Herman Daly envisioned a steady state economy that he said would give civilization perhaps 1000 more years. He has been writing since 1973
    Toward a Steady-State Economy (editor, 1973)
    Steady-State Economics (1977)
    For the Common Good, (1989, with theologian John B. Cobb, Jr.). This received the Grawemeyer Award for ideas for improving World Order.
    Valuing the Earth (1993, with Kenneth Townsend)
    Beyond Growth (1996)
    Ecological Economics and the Ecology of Economics (1999)
    The Local Politics of Global Sustainability (2000, with Thomas Prugh and Robert Costanza)
    Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications (2003, with Joshua Farley)

    Limits of Growth – well we all know how well that book and study from 1973 went over.

    James Hansen has been speaking out about climate change since at least 1985. We can see how well that has gone over.

    Believe me many of us have gone through your angst. When I realized Peak Oil was near and envisioned the consequences I realized that about 5 billion or more people would likely die earlier than expected. I went through a period of angst and then remembered that every one of those people would die anyway and the rest would die later. I realized that the sooner the dieoff happened the less people would be created only to die an early and probably very unpleasant death. Early dieoff would be the best way to limit total deaths.

    Fukushima was a big wake up and those of us who expect that the grid is coming down (emp, solar flare, lack of fuel) Removal of electricity would horrific effects for civilization. I for one hadn’t really focused until then on the fact that it would also mean meltdown of all the nuclear power plants in areas that lose the electricity. So for some months now many of us have had to add that to the angst we already carried. The sun is acting up now and may continue to be more active through 2013. The likelihood that a Carrington type solar storm would take out most of the grids in the world without any possibility of restoring that power is high and well may happen in the next year and 1/2. We could not even begin to decommission all the power plants in the world in the next year and 1/2.

    Please do not make the mistake that we are uneducated on the risks to humanity. Some of us are just realistic enough to realize that despite all the protests and activism things have only gotten worse and so we want to be there for people around us when things come down.

    I read your essay in its entirety. Perhaps you should browse back threads to understand that you didn’t introduce much new, just packaged the information all together in a moving essay.

    I read Washingtons blog every day, watch any new video put up by Gunderson, and have searched actively on nuclear power issues, peak oil issues, climate issues, and electric grid issues. Just checking on posts here that reference Fukushima in the post or comments http://guymcpherson.com/?s=fukushima&x=0&y=0 I see that Victor posted two Washingtonsblog articles on Sept 20 2011.

    There is a saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Offer some suggestions of what people can do. Let them choose if they will to do something that they think will be useful. Start doing something yourself and let your caring shine as an example instead of your blaming turning people away.

  61. Robin Datta Says:

    A grain of salt (cum grano salis):
    Life tries to postpone the inevitable – death.

  62. Kathy C Says:

    Looks like the italics are back on.
    Robin I hadn’t updated when I made my post – interesting that the catch we both thought of the catch with honey phrase.

    Here is what it comes down to:

    Per Guy we need to end industrial civilization yesterday or climate change will not be stopped and will become and extinction event.

    If we end industrial civilization today the grid will come down and the nuclear power plants and their fuel pools will go into meltdown in about a week. (no cooling water can be pumped without electricity or diesel and no diesel can be pumped out of tanks without electricity)

    Decommissioning takes about 5 years. Many already decommissioned have been done so by the SAFESTOR method “This option postpones the final removal of controls for a longer period, usually in the order of 40 to 60 years. The facility is placed into a safe storage configuration until the eventual dismantling and decontamination activities occur.” After the grid goes down, no eventual dismantling and decontamination can occur.

    Game Over

  63. Robin Datta Says:

    Another angle to the story:
    The Twilight of Protest

  64. Robin Datta Says:

    Trying to stop the italics gone wild. 

  65. Robin Datta Says:

    italicAnother try at stopping the italics. 

  66. Robin Datta Says:
  67. Victor Says:

    May Poppins

    Thanks very much for your recent post. I have indeed studied Fukushima extensively (and Chernobyl), as many on this have, and agree whole-heartedly with the ‘cascade’ possibility. It is a dire and ominous situation. I believe Japan’s existence as a country is at stake. And btw, how the hell do you evacuate a city of 8 million people (36 million, if you count the metro area surrounding it!)? What about ALL of Japan? Good God!

    And I believe that there will be fallout for many many years if they don’t find a solution. Indeed, and as many believe, I think that once No. 4 collapses (or develops a serious crack), that the cascade effect will ensure that no one will ever be able to approach the plant again.

    Where I believe the hyperbole comes in, is that even though it will be spewing out radioactive discharges freely and will contaminate with almost certainty, the northern hemisphere, I do not believe we are looking at an extinction level event. Increased cancers within the populations of many countries, perhaps, but much of the most serious contaminants are heavier metals that are not easily caught up in the higher atmosphere and carried across the world – at least not in the quantities that would assure ‘extinction of life on earth’, or even in the hemisphere. And this is where I think the hyperbole is located. I might be seriously wrong here, but I don’t think Arnie Gundersen has signed up to that theory as well – at least I do not recall him saying it in that way. I do hear people like H Caldicott saying it, but I expect it from her – her continued visibility depends on statements like that.

    Thanks for the links. I have seen most of them but I am always interested in those that I am not aware of – and you have furnished a couple of those.

    As for why something has not yet been done, my take on this is that no one knows what can be done. As Arnie says, there are only 3 options – and none of them are very good options given the risk of new quakes in that area which have increased dramatically in the last couple years. Time is not on anyone’s side, and the risk is so great that no one knows how to mitigate it. It is certainly not because no one wants to get it done. And that, I think, is what the governments and the industry are afraid to admit, and have therefore just simply shut up about it. (My opinion only)

  68. Victor Says:

    Kathy

    I wonder how many of the world’s 400+ nuclear power plants would be disables in a global nuclear exchange?

  69. Michael Irving Says:

    Mary,

    I’ve thought long and hard about your comments.

    I began a long post about “the chain of failure” you mentioned but checked the site and noted that others had said it better. I began a long post about your “please, please, please, look at the evidence” plea but I checked the site and others had said it better.

    So, I’m left with this: You have my respect for fighting the good fight.

    Michael Irving

  70. Kathy C Says:

    Victor, in a global nuclear exchange it would be reasonable to think that major cities would be targeted. See http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2011/03/16/the-nuclear-world-interactive-map/ So it would look like a bunch of nuclear plants might actually get hit. Hits to major cities might take down the grid and then all the country’s plants would go critical regardless of whether they were hit or not. A country might try for an EMP instead of or along with direct attacks. A commission was formed by Congress to evaluate our grid vulnerability to Solar Storms and EMP attacks. For about 1 billion dollars our grid could be considerably hardened and be far less vulnerable but the decision to do that was not made. I will post info on that in a 2nd comment. So it would look likely that we would get thoroughly irradiated in a nuclear war. The up side to this vs. just all the plants going critical without a war is that a substantial number of people would get to be vaporized instead of irradiated which would of course be a quicker death and presumably less painful death.

  71. Kathy C Says:

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/03/we%E2%80%99re-spending-money-combating-the-wrong-dangers/ [“For the cost of a single B-2 bomber or a tiny fraction of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout, we could invest in preventative measures to avert what might well become the end of life as we know it. There is no way to protect against all possible effects from an extreme GMD or an EMP attack, but we could implement measures to protect against the worst effects. Since 2008, Congress has narrowly failed to pass legislation that would implement at least some of the EMP Commission’s recommendations.[13]
    Citizens can do their part to push for legislation to move toward this goal and work inside our homes and communities to develop local resilience and self reliance, so that in the event of a long-term grid-down scenario, we might make the most of a bad situation. The same tools that are espoused by the Transition movement for developing local self-reliance and resilience to help cope with the twin effects of climate change and peak oil could also serve communities well in the event of an EMP attack or extreme GMD. If our country were to implement safeguards to protect our grid and nuclear power plants from EMP, it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack. The sooner we take these actions, the less chance that an EMP attack will occur.”]

  72. Privileged Says:

    Great post and passion. I’m just floored by my ignorance on this matter but that has surely begun to change. I admire your will and determination as mine is as always in question…depending on the minute/hour/day.

    Dr. House…I feel ya brother and tomorrow I’ll go back to work on another homestead and the world will continue to turn.

  73. bub Says:

    The other day I was asked, “Well, but so if they let you give your ‘Fall Of America’ monologue on American Idol, would you do it? -I mean, don’t you think you should try? You are theatrical enough!”

    I haven’t been able to figure that one out. I figure they’d never let me, or any of us on that show, but… Well? Would you? I’d vote for Mary Poppins. Maybe we could get Rita to do it. We would have to send the most likeable one of us. –And I feel bad every time I don’t buy my flour in a 25# paper sack now. ‘Cause, if I buy less organic, the co-op makes me put it in plastic… I aspire to do so. Next time.

    I said best website ever, because there isn’t even a conversation about how unproductive the conversation is other places. The whole dialogue is set on revenge over right actions. Our legislators are obsessed with poison pills and have no intention of coming to a solution. So, I’ll listen to whatever you’ve got? Complaining about not having it easier won’t work.

  74. Kathy C Says:

    The United States has completed its planning for a military strike on Iran, the US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said in remarks at a closed conference in Tel Aviv that were broadcast on Israel TV on Wednesday night.

    “It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically, and through the use of pressure, than to use military force,” Shapiro said in comments that were recorded Tuesday and were broadcast Wednesday. “But that does not mean that option isn’t available. Not just available, it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.”

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31350.htm

  75. Kathy C Says:

    While we are figuring out what could be done about Fukushima and all the nuclear plants in the world, perhaps we could all take the time to call or e-mail our Representatives, Senators and the President about this legislation and pass it on to everyone you know. War with Iran could easily escalate into global nuclear war.

    [This week, Congress is considering two pieces of legislation relating to Iran. The first undermines a diplomatic solution with Iran and lowers the bar for war. The second authorizes a war of choice against Iran and begins military preparations for it.

    H.Res.568: Eliminating the Most Viable Alternative to War

    The House is expected to vote on H.Res. 568. Read the resolution. Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment.

    This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the "redline" for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons "capability," a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible.] rest at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-dennis-kucinich/ndaa-authorizes-war-again_b_1524474.html

  76. Rita Says:

    bub – My coop lets me take glass jars for all the bulk stuff so I don’t have to put anything in a plastic bag. I completely avoided buying anything in plastic for a year, but now I am less strict. Still – it formed a nice habit.

    You have to take the jars to the cashier to weigh them (called the tare weight) and write it on the lid with a sharpie, which is, of course made of plastic, dammit. Then when you are later washing your jars, you have to keep the lids on the right jars, or else re-weigh. Next you will probably need to buy a canning funnel for those over-head bins so you don’t spill. Then you need a basket to keep it all in so you can remember to return it to the car (extra points if you bike to the store). There is a little learning curve, but anyone who goes to the gym has the same curve for remembering things.

    I even put mushrooms in jars. Anything loose. I take my own masking tape and sharpie so I can put a little piece of tape on the lid to write their code # on it.

    As for what to do about getting radiated – I have found some good info on Dr. Gabriel Cousens blog at the Tree of Life. He’s a raw foodist, a scientist (chemist?), and sells stuff, but I trust his info. He is suggesting that we grow food under plastic to head off the radiation. Read all his Fukushima blogs. There are many detailed instructions, protocols, and explanations. He researches a lot. I usually avoid the ones selling you their stuff, but he seems trustworthy. check it out and report back what you think.

    Basically, the higher up the food chain you eat, the more concentrated it gets. So I quit dairy. Already seldom eat meat. I love seafood, but haven’t had any lately. For protein I sometimes eat eggs, but mostly spirulina/chlorella in green smoothies, nuts, seeds, beans, sprouts, homemade tofu, and coconut kefir. I forage a lot of greens. This will seem extreme, I know. I got here gradually over the last five years. It’s a trip. I don’t have health insurance and very little money, so this works well for me. I am 64 and never been operated on, no meds ever, and never sick. If it wasn’t for the four hit-in-the-rear car accidents, I would be in good shape.

  77. Rita Says:

    Kathy C – thank you so much for all the vetting you do. All the sharing of sources. It helps.

  78. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    Rita:

    You are quite a character (complement). I love reading whatever you have to say.

  79. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Duh!
    (Note the choice of “unusual” in the headline. Mustn’t scare the customers.
    ———–

    Forecasters predict unusual summer temperatures

    (CNN) – The forecast from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration calls for above-average temperatures for June through August.

    That should be the case for about three-quarters of the United States.

    The weather could be especially troublesome for the West due to the prospect for wildfires.

    It’s not just heat for everyone, though.

    In the northwestern U.S. and in Alaska, forecasters expect cooler-than-normal temperatures.

    The hottest 12-month period on record came from last May through April of this year.

    Those records go back to 1895.

    http://www.kait8.com/story/18545315/forecasters-predict-unusually-warm-summer

  80. Michael Irving Says:

    Privileged,

    “…tomorrow I’ll go back to work on another homestead…”

    Will you amplify that please?

    Michael Irving

  81. Guy McPherson Says:

    I’ve posted anew. It’s a short essay, and it’s here.

  82. Victor Says:

    Not certain how much truth is in this article, but a lot of it sounds reasonable. The main point to be picked up from it being that apparently Japanese officials might be negotiating with Russia and China over where they might re-settle something like 40 million Japanese in the coming months. Radiation levels keep rising in Tokyo and other cities, and Fukushima No. 4 is in imminent danger of losing the water in its fuel rod pool should another earthquake hit. The Japanese need to make extensive plans NOW to mitigate that risk by possibly depopulating their country.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/035894_Fukushima_evacuation_radiation.html

  83. Victor Says:

    Also, one of the sites recommended by Mary Poppins discloses that there is growing concern about the number of nuclear workers available for work at the plants. they must have a continuing supply of new workers as current workers reach their radiation limits (and very possibly beyond those limits).

    They also are very concerned about the dwindling numbers of mid-level plant experts available to work on site – these are the folks with the expertise to know what needs to be done and when. As they reach their limits, at least one of the plants might have to be abandoned, thus possibly triggering the chain reaction referred to by May.

    And of course if that happens, the entirety of Eastern Japan, which includes most of the major population centres will have to be evacuated.

    Serious, serious stuff going on right now.

  84. Victor Says:

    One also needs to consider the psychological effects of a totally blown Fukushima complex on the populations of the world once it happens. Are we looking at a panic of 7 billion people once they realise that this stuff is in the air and in the oceans and headed for them?

    It matters not whether or how much radiation actually arrives ashore in any country – it is the psychological impact of a disaster like that that could trigger mass hysteria, and possible disrupt whole economies and produce violence in the streets – especially if Japan has to be evacuated.

  85. Kathy C Says:

    Last night we watched a movie called Hostile Waters about a 1986 submarine accident in which a capable and wise captain of a Soviet nuclear submarine saved the east coast of the US from his ship blowing up. He saved all but one of his crew in the process. I know of 2 other incidents in which Russian captains saved the world from nuclear war. One is the K-19 in 1961 which also had a movie made about it K-19 The Widowmaker. The other was a hold out by Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov (see below). Unknown to most Americans three Russians saved the world three times. How much longer will the world be saved?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov

    [On October 27, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a group of eleven United States Navy destroyers and the aircraft carrier USS Randolph trapped the nuclear-armed Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-59 near Cuba and started dropping practice depth charges, explosives intended to force the submarine to come to the surface for identification. The captain of the submarine, Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky, believing that a war might already have started, wanted to launch a nuclear-tipped torpedo, despite the Soviets’ being informed that practice depth charges were being used.[4]

    Three officers on board the submarine — Savitsky, the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and the second-in-command Arkhipov — were authorized to launch the torpedo if agreeing unanimously in favor of doing so. An argument broke out among the three, in which only Arkhipov was against the launch,[5] eventually persuading Savitsky to surface the submarine and await orders from Moscow. The nuclear warfare which presumably would have ensued was thus averted.[6] Although Arkhipov was only second-in-command of submarine B-59, he was actually Commander of the flotilla of submarines including B-4, B-36, and B-130 and of equal rank to Captain Savitsky. Washington’s message that practice depth charges were being used to signal the submarines to surface never reached B-59, and Moscow claims they have no record of receiving it either. (A good argument for creating the Hot Line.)[opinion] The B-59 was also too deep to spy on US Navy radio traffic, so those on board didn’t know if war had broken out. The nuclear torpedo would have killed a lot of people, including those on board B-59.[7]]

  86. Tom Cavanaugh Says:

    We must realize this world is a mind creation and not real–of any real substance.

    Fear is a belief in duality. Seperation from the Source is an illusion about which we’ve been told from many sources– Einstein, the Bagava-Gita, Shakespeare and quantum physics. The only thing you need to do is awake from the dream using Love aand forgiveness.

    The material world is an illusion. Albert Einstein

  87. Mary Poppins Says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for all the feedback. This discussion has been very valuable , I’ve had to think through much that was inchoate. And again, my apologies for the abrasiveness, especially to Dr. House, who seems like a really nice guy. We both got a little excited, but he handled it a lot better.

    So, here’s my last two cents worth on the issue of whether or not it’s worth doing anything in this situation; whether or not it’s possible to make any significant improvement in the mess we’re in. What follows is based on memory. There isn’t time to go back and find everything I have read about this, and memory is not very reliable ( a point which will recur), so that will introduce some errors. Other errors will appear because my understanding of the subjects being discussed is inadequate. My understanding is that of a relatively well-informed and very interested observer; I can follow about seventy percent of Scientific American and New Scientist, about ten percent in Nature, and know zip about the mathematics required for advanced understanding.

    With those caveats clear, there’s been recent research on perception, consciousness and memory that may have some relevance to the discussion. This must be oversimplified, which is another source of error.

    This new research, much of it make possible by brain imaging technology, has added further evidence to the already well-supported (with the whole of human history as evidence) hypothesis that we don’t have much idea what reality might be. The manicured model we experience as ‘reality’ isn’t it.

    Consider vision, for most of us the dominant sense and the one we trust to give us accurate information- ‘seeing is believing’. Well, it turns out that this isn’t quite right. There are places in the eye where there are blind spots ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_spot_%28vision%29 ), areas where the brain fills in the picture although what you’re seeing isn’t really there. Just makes it up. There are other limitations as well. The parts of the spectrum we see, that constitute visual reality to us, are those parts that we needed to see to survive in the savannah. The world looks very different to creatures who see a different set of wavelengths, much of their world is invisible to us and vice versa.

    And that’s just the beginning of it. There are more layers of totally unconscious image manipulations that take place as well, for instance the electrochemical transformation the signal from your eye must make to be comprehensible to the brain; more editing. There is always evolutionary editing, has to be, it is impossible for the brain to process the amount of information available even with these sense limitations. So every input has been edited by evolutionary pressure to maximize the chances of successful breeding. Everything we perceive through the senses is derived from a very narrow selection of the possible inputs, and narrowed again by the process of moving the information from sensory inputs to the brain.

    That isn’t even the interesting part, if you’re an aspiring rationalist like I used to be. The interesting part is illustrated here. It’s a famous experiment to see how the students would react to the gorilla:

    Nobody noticed the gorilla. Once the brain gets the heavily redacted input available , it produces a model of the world which provides the basis for decision and actions. Which it does largely by editing the still enormous volume of information coming in yet again under the same set of criteria as previously. No wonder we’re self centered! it really does look like the world revolves around us, because the brain is wired to get us what we need to make babies. Couldn’t be otherwise, or there wouldn’t be anyone writing this. The faux gorilla wasn’t on the agenda, so it didn’t exist to those students. If a different stimulus had been used that is almost always on the agenda, maybe the outcome would have been different. What do you think the result would have been if it had been a naked human? I bet a real gorilla , or a tiger, would have registered instantly , because we’re well wired with alarm triggers and an unconscious peripheral glance revealed only an unthreatening guy in a gorilla suit.

    So we’re doing our thinking and making our decisions with a brain that constantly removes already limited information to boost the chances of achieving short term objectives, because back on the savannah, that was what got you laid, and it still is. Bad enough, but there’s worse news still. The brain is not that good at doing this, being a mere 2-3 pounds of electrochemical goop whose decisions in all matters are always greatly influenced and often determined by a constantly changing mix of sleep deprivation, mood-influencing hormones, disease induced and pollutant toxins, and whatever the last customer said to you and if the car needs tires. Regardless of the merits of the case, most employees know that the decision on a raise depends greatly on requesting it when the boss’s biochemistry is looking mellow.

    This is getting way too long, even compressing horrendously, so I’m going to skip over several other influences on the brain which collectively paint an even gloomier picture for the ‘rational actor’ picture of human consciousness. ( If you’re interested in this stuff, check out the research on how parasites can alter the actions of their hosts in bizarre ways. Well known in animals, just starting to be noticed in us.) Still, there is one more point to be made in this area.

    Conscious decision making is an illusion. A growing body of research using brain scanners shows that even simple decisions, moving an arm, are made 200 milliseconds before your conscious mind knows about them. We aren’t actors, we’re observers. Mostly what we’re good for is coming up with acceptable rationalizations for what we just did, and believing them.

    In a classic example of rational academic decision making, one of the researchers took this result and loudly proclaimed that this was decisive in the debate about free will, proof positive it doesn’t exist.

    Whoa, dude! Like, radical! Nobel Prize coming right up!

    If this guy had thought to check outside his area of expertise, he’d find that many people over many centuries had noticed this time gap, wrote about it, investigated it, and now routinely train the brain to increase the odds that decisions made without conscious thought are good ones, and implemented without the time gap. Martial artists work especially hard at this, a fifth of a second is a long time in a sword fight. But the same process of training to remove the conscious mind entirely from the action takes place in many other areas, from dancing to sports to art to meditation. The very best music comes from this process. It’s is sometimes referred to as ‘in the flow’, and is a highly prized state even in science, as witness the many discoveries which are documented to have occurred in dreams or while contemplating a sunset. Or , in a famous case involving methods of genetic sequencing, while swacked on acid.

    “What a weak, credulous, incredulous, unbelieving, superstitious, bold, frightened, what a ridiculous world ours is, as far as concerns the mind of man. How full of inconsistencies, contradictions and absurdities it is. I declare that taking the average of many minds that have recently come before me … I should prefer the obedience, affections and instinct of a dog before it. “
    — Michael Faraday
    Letter to C. Schoenbein, 25 Jul 1853. In Georg W. A. Kahlbaum and Francis Darbishire (eds.), The Letters of Faraday and Schoenbein, 1836-1862 (1899), 215.

    Well, this is at 1200 words already and there’s a need to go try and avoid imminent financial collapse, so I’m afraid there is no time for the profound untrustworthiness of memory and the pages of fascinating implications for both decision making and identity, but a quick summary is: as Henry Ford once famously said about history, memory is bunk, mostly made up. Verification of this statement is easily available in current science reporting.

    ————————

    Finally, the point: Why is everybody so certain about their positions, seeing just how irrational and unconscious the process of reaching them is? Scientist are hardly immune to this. About every ten or fifteen years it seems somebody writes a book proclaiming that there is nothing significant left to be discovered, it’s all just details from here on in. Then something happens, like discovering that contrary to what was taught as dogma, the entire universe isn’t just steadily expanding in a well-understood process. It’s accelerating, nobody has quite figured that out just yet, and of course it we don’t know the nature of most of matter and energy in the universe. All but a few percent- the part we are capable of perceiving- is unknown. So maybe there might be a little humility before getting too certain of our own ideas?

    Everything we think we know is known from a certain perspective. It’s what can be perceived and recorded in a few centuries from one minute speck of matter orbiting an obscure star far out on the spiral arm of a galaxy which is one of an estimated 100 to 200 billion visible to us, that is only a part of what may be an infinite universe which may itself be only one of an unknown number of them. Yet someone with a Phd in physics made the widely publicized statement that the human brain is “ the most complex structure in the cosmos”. Once again, one can only say: Dude?

    Our ignorance is almost total and our brains are undependable. My favorite bumper sticker says ‘ don’t believe everything you think’, but maybe it should really be ‘anything’, because if you’re like me, much of seems to be knowledge at any given moment later turns out to be wrong. Reason is valuable, but it is not the panacea we want it to be.

    Things happen that defy reason all the time, but they are ignored, not explained, if they conflict with the current scientific dogma. A good example of this is the work of Lamarck, who noticed that some genetically inherited traits changed in one generation. His observations were considered completely wrong, and ‘Lamarckian’ has been scornfully used as an description of idiotic wrongheadedness. Trouble is, he turns out to be right, because in fact genes can be turned on or off , and the expression can be altered, in a single lifetime with the changes passed along to offspring.

    So I ask you to consider the possibility that there may be factors operating which are unknown to science because they aren’t on the list of acceptable possibilities and thus evidence supporting that thesis is rendered invisible. Lamarck.

    This thesis can be tested with an experiment. Sit down comfortably in a chair without slumping and take ten slow breaths without physically moving. Try for only five minutes once a day unless you actively want to do more. Once you can sit still ( this took me a few weeks), focus totally on the sensations of breathing for the ten repetitions . Accomplish this and you may find that new perspectives become available.

    Anyway, all the above is just to set the stage for discussing the current situation from a more fluid perspective. I think that the crisis we are in is a crisis that must be addressed by more than just the brain. We need to involve our hearts, if we want to do the best that can be done to mitigate this terrible disaster to the extent possible, and my heart- which for these purposes can be described as the part of my subconscious which makes most important decisions- says to do whatever seems most urgent, and can possibly be accomplished.

    The single most important thing in the world right now, the single action that would benefit every single living being on earth and all living beings to follow us if any do, is to stabilize Fukushima Daichi so the failure cascade will not be kicked off. It is not impossible, just very difficult. There are hopeful signs, however- the warnings are getting more numerous and more accurately dire, and the information control is starting to break up. It is possible that a successful effort can be mounted. So I will spend my time on that.

    If such an effort does get under way, then the next almost equally urgent task will be to turn off the remaining reactors and to isolate as much of the waste from the biosphere for as long as possible. It may or may not be possible to remove enough waste for a long enough period to make any difference, but without the effort there is no chance. If all the radioactivity in the waste is released into the environment life may totally end. Genes are unable to make accurate duplicate copies in the presence of strong radiation, and strong radioactivity will be everywhere for a very long time. Perhaps some can stand aside , but I cannot and I will not.

    I am deeply appreciative of the chance to post, and the editing that Guy did which improved it, and the input of the commenters. This process has cleared up a lot for me, and I hope others found it useful as well. I’m not interested in hearing, reading or writing one more word about whether or not it’s any use to try, but anyone who wants to discuss doing the work can reach me at info@fukushimaresponse.com .

    I’ve got one more small thing I’ll get up tomorrow, but I am in serious time trouble so other than that I can’t respond to anything. My thanks to you all, and best wishes.

    Kindness to all beings, as best I can do it,

    Mary

    PS- anyone willing to help me figure out how to change the contents of the one-page website myself so I don’t have to pay some guy fifty bucks to do it? thanks!

  88. Rita Says:

    Mary Poppins – masterful post.
    I tried to email you and it didn’t go thru. A bunch of your links have been taken down, no surprise there.

    I wish I believed there was actually something they could do at the plant. If I write and urge others to do something, there needs to be something that can be done. I think Tepco is stymied. I do pray a lot.

  89. Robert Atack Says:

    http://cryptome.org/eyeball/daiichi-npp/daiichi-photos.htm

    When you look at the above photos, apart from the extinction of humans I can’t see anything good coming from Fukushima.

  90. Kathy C Says:

    Mary, I can’t help with how your set up on web site is done as I have no expertise there. However I would suggest that you put your real name and some personal information on your site. While I read blogs that are anonymous, I trust them less than those where the blog owner says who they are.

    Again, I think you would serve your cause better by working with an organization that is already operative. Since time is possibly short, why spend time trying to organize. Why not assist those who are already organized. Beyond Nuclear is another good organization http://www.beyondnuclear.org/
    Headed by Paul Gunter
    “PAUL GUNTER is a lead spokesperson in nuclear reactor hazards and security concerns. He acts as the regulatory watchdog over the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear power industry. He is
    a 2008 recipient of the Jane Bagley Lehman Award from the Tides Foundation for environmental activism for his work on the nuclear power and climate change issue. He has appeared on NBC Nightly World News, The Lehrer News Hour, BBC World News and Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now.” He was a
    cofounder of the antinuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 to oppose the construction of the Seabrook (NH) nuclear power plant through non‐ violent direct action that launched the U.S. antinuclear movement. Prior to joining Beyond Nuclear he served for 16 years as the Director of the Reactor Watchdog Project for Nuclear Information and Resource Service.  An environmental activist and energy policy analyst, he has been an ardent critic of atomic power development for more than 30 years.  Paul is a New Englander who was born in Mississippi and raised in Detroit, MI.”

    While you might want to argue that these groups have not accomplished the end you envision, one could also argue that if such well organized, long standing groups have had little impact maybe it is because the forces arrayed against them are so strong.

    But one can also point to the fact that the two new nuclear power plants that were recently authorized are the first in 30 years. I would say that these groups like Beyond Nuclear that have been around for a while have been in fact rather successful.

    I was all set to applaud your post after reading it until I saw you attacking Dr. House without knowing a thing about him. I would again note to all that if someone’s name shows up blue you can click on it and learn more about them. Forming a new organization is likely to be difficult for you until you calm down and start thinking of how best to bring someone to your point of view – I know I sometimes get out of line and can always count on Victor letting me know when I do. But I am involved in a group here that is working to reinstate our little town and Victor would be amazed at how much I zipper my mouth. If you think a cause is vital you may have to learn to meditate on the best way to win someone over and it is seldom by attack.


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