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- Appetite for Armageddon Porn a Sign of the Times
Related posts on EcoHustler:
Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the brave Japanese people as they struggle to deal with the terrible aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and now the nuclear threat. This is also a time to reflect on the risks posed by nuclear power generation and to ask if we should continue with this massive investment. Might our money be better spent on renewable energy?
This letter featrured in The Guardian, Wednesday 16 March 2011:
The assessment in your editorial (15 March) that “the balance of the rational argument could conceivably be more in favour of nuclear [power] in a month’s time” is not just premature but ignores a number of important factors. Most worryingly, terrorists will have seen the devastation, disruption and fear that can be caused by an attack on a reactor’s cooling system, which presents a much easier target for them than the containment vessel surrounding the core.
Secondly, your claim that the renewable alternatives are “illusions” is at variance with the facts. Germany has installed more wind power capacity than the entire current UK nuclear capacity, and is adding to it at a rate equivalent to more than one new reactor a year. Furthermore, in 2009 alone Germany installed solar photovoltaic systems with capacity equivalent to approximately four nuclear reactors, and it looks like the 2010 figures will be much higher.
The coalition should reverse Labour’s dangerous decision to go for new nuclear build and use the money saved, firstly to strengthen our current nuclear facilities against terrorist attack, secondly to solve the long-term nuclear waste problem and thirdly to support renewables.
Emeritus Professor Keith Barnham
Anti-nuclear critics see nuclear power as a dangerous, expensive way to boil water to generate electricity. Opponents of nuclear power have raised a number of related concerns:
On August the 2nd President Obama reaffirmed his plan to end the War in Iraq (AKA ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ AKA ‘Operation New Dawn’). Between 2003 and 2010 the UK spent £4.5 billion and the total cost to the U.S. economy is estimated at $3 trillion. The Iraq Body Count project estimates the violent civilian deaths from the conflict to be between: 94,902 – 103,549. At a time when scientists were reporting on the increased speed and severity of climate change the most powerful nation on earth backed up by the nation in which the industrial revolution started were doing exactly the wrong thing. The world needed to be uniting to combat climate change and move away from fossil fuels. Instead a coalition of politicians and corporations backed up with the planet’s fiercest war machine were invading a sovereign state to steal its oil. Now is an appropriate time not just to look at the gross stupidity of this war; but also to reflect on how the process of war is diametrically opposed to the emergence of a human civilization that might survive this century.
War is the apex of human stupidity. It is the antithesis of sustainability. It is the most extreme example of waste. Wasted resources, wasted human potential, wasted land, wasted minds and wasted lives. The modern era’s most bellicose nation, The USA, has allocated $533.8 billion to the Department of Defence in fiscal year 2010. The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy on the planet. In 2007 it used 132.5 million barrels of oil (363,000 barrels per day). Imagine what all these resources could do if aimed at ending global poverty or conserving biodiversity or actually doing something good in the world. Now in a sick irony they are sure to miss a twitchy Pentagon is warning us of peak oil reporting that output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015. One obvious solution is to stop burning unimaginable quantities of oil in the violent quest for more oil.
The absurdity of expending precious, dwindling resources on deliberate destruction and pollution at a time when the scientific community is in agreement that human activity is driving the current ecological crisis is compounded by the fact that at the same time as fighting this war for oil it has also been engaged in international negotiations for a binding climate treaty. Well surprise surprise we haven’t signed one yet. How are nations suppose to agree a binding treaty which in effect is an agreement to share the atmosphere, a pivotal moment in the ethical evolution of our species, when countries are still bombing each other and fighting wars for resources!? It is time to grow up.
It’s not just the climate. The ongoing rise in human population and per capita consumption means that everywhere you look resources are running out; from oil to fish to fresh water. As resources are increasingly constrained we face the spectre of escalating violence and increasing wars for resources. Bold pre-emptive action is required to ensure we allocate resources fairly and safeguard against a surge in brutality.
The fundamental changes to our world we currently are living through mean that finally war’s time has come. Exponential population growth means that our species now controls a majority stake in the planet’s biology; emergent new technologies transform our potential to change our world and resource depletion pushes ecological systems close to collapse. With great power comes great responsibility and our ethics and morality must now take a great step forward to match that of our technological progress. The novel treaties and structures required to bind our species to a common goal are already well under way. Now is the time to use the international framework of the United Nations to begin the process of agreeing treaties binding nations to disarmament, cooperation and peace.
‘There will always be war… it is a part of human nature’.
This is a logical fallacy that has dogged human progress for generations. The persistence of war significantly reduces the probability of the persistence of humanity. This is most obvious in the case of nuclear obliteration. Less obviously but more significantly the solution to climate change and resource constraints is a treaty based on global cooperation. This will not be possible in a world of antagonistic nation states.
The logical statement is ‘there will not always be war’. This is true because either we will remain a world of antagonistic nation states and annihilate each other / be wiped out by runaway climate change or we will become sustainable which requires uniting as a species, rising above the limitations of the outdated concept of the nation state and together creating a globally regulated resource based economy. Either way, war is over.
‘Naive, idealistic, dreamer’ we hear the jaded, soulless readers of the right wing press spit out of their fearful faces. It’s not idealistic. It’s pragmatic. It isn’t naive either. We know, full well that there is a small powerful minority of men who have a vested interest in keeping fighting wars, of course, this has always been the case but the information age is tipping the balance in favour of the peaceful. Information activism brings the horrors of war into clear view and we understand more clearly than at any time in history why wars are fought, who is driving them and how they manage to coerce the young people of their country over to another to commit murder and more than at any time we have the tools to stop wars before they start (see below).
The Zeitgeist Movement-Activist Orientation Guide identifies 3 motivations for war. 1) Industrial Profit, maximized for the elite 2) Resource Acquisition (theft) 3) Geopolitical Alignment to increase the ease of further industrial profit and resource theft. Whether you make bombs, mine resources or pump oil the spoils of war equate to bumper profits unachievable in peace time. When the time is right governments and corporations collude to create the conditions for an invasion. Fear, nationalism / racism and twisted morality can all be manipulated via propaganda to stoke the flames. The information age means increasingly the general public is not fooled but even as far back as 1935 the shine was coming off the industrial war machine. In the words of Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Major General Smedley D. Butler:
“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes…”
Another vile racket was the international slave trade. Tens of millions of people suffered horrendous fates and a small number of slave traders amassed vast fortunes. No doubt the slave traders said in their defence that it was a natural feature of the human condition. Fortunately, the good people of that time had the vision to see forward to a fairer, better world and stood up for what they believed in. William Wilberforce in a speech before the House of Commons, 18 April 1791:
“Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.”
War is not a fundamental part of human nature. War is the most sinister part of human nature manifested, magnified and exploited by evil, powerful men. The fact that wars are created by a tiny number of people makes them easier to prevent in the information age. We must more effectively and proactively go after warmongers; isolating and stopping them. Like the great Wilberforce before us we can be bold and ambitious and wipe away this scandal to create a better world. We are conditioned to believe that war is inevitable because this is all that we have seen but another world is possible. In fact, another world is imminent… our species has to learn to cooperate to survive.
Ending war is no more farfetched then ending slavery, giving women the vote or going to the moon. Martin Luther King ‘had a dream’ and it became reality. So we must dream it, plan it, and then make it happen.
Things you can do right now:
Important speech by US Iraqi war veteran
The information age means that wars fought in distant lands can now be brought into our homes. The immediacy of information flows makes it far harder for those in power to conceal either their motives for war or the atrocities committed to achieve their aims. For example, Wikileaks is an “uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking“. In April it released a secret video (see below) showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen innocent people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency. The video brings into sharp relief, if we needed reminding, how appalling, uneven, cold blooded and ultimately devastating modern warfare has become.
A classified US military video depicting three airstrikes from a US Apache helicopter on July 12, 2007 in New Baghdad, Iraq. At least eighteen people were killed in the airstrikes, including two journalists working for Reuters, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. The video was recorded by the gunsight camera on the Apache helicopter, identified as Crazyhorse 18, and is accompanied by the radio communications of the helicopter gunmen as they communicate with their commanders and troops on the ground.
U.S. Army specialist Ethan McCord was one of the first on the scene after the helicopter attack. He describes what he saw:
“The top of one guy’s head was completely off… another guy was ripped open from groin to neck. A third had lost a leg … Their insides were out and exposed. I’d never seen anything like this before.”
Then McCord carried a child crying from a black minivan caught in the barrage of 30mm bullets. Inside, he found a frightened and wounded girl, perhaps 4. Next to her was a boy of 7 or so, soaked in blood. According to McCord their father,
“…was slumped over on his side, like he was trying to protect the children, but he was just destroyed… I started seeing images of my own two children back home in Kansas.”
Unsurprisingly McCord was devastated by his experiences. The Pentagon is struggling to deal with legions of young people warped by the stress of war. Back home McCord was dosed with antidepressants but turned to a zombie and took to downing pills with whiskey and walking around the house with a military knife. However, he isn’t doing so badly in June 32 members of the US military could bear it no longer and killed themselves.
The terrible legacy of the Iraq War goes beyond the trauma of the heart and minds of the survivors. The use of depleted Uranium in Iraq is now causing a surge in birth defects passing on the suffering to a new generation of innocents.
Music by Sun Ra: