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Letter: Still too many nukes

Aug. 6 and 9 mark the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – events which ushered in a cold war that at times threatened to engulf the world in nuclear holocaust.

Although the nuclear stockpiles of the Cold War have been significantly reduced, there are still nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons in existence, several thousand of which are intercontinental and still on “hair trigger alert.”

Today we have nine nuclear armed nations, not just the Security Council’s “big five.” There would be many more were it not for the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, now ratified by 189 nations. It provides that non-nuclear states get access to nuclear power, but pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons; in return the nuclear armed states promise to pursue “negotiations . . . in good faith . . . on cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament” (Article VI).

There are no such negotiations.

Last April, the Republic of the Marshall Islands – a U.S. nuclear test site from 1946-58, and which knows firsthand about human and environmental devastation – has filed suit in the World Court against each of the nine nuclear armed nations (and also against the U.S. in federal court) for breach of the NPT.

The Islands asks merely for a judicial order requiring these nations to commence negotiations per Article VI. Let’s support the Islands’ lawsuit.

We may never get a world without nukes, or even a future without more Hiroshimas, but we’re obligated to try.



Legacy Comments20

Same type of debate about electric cars...that the energy needed for manufacture does not make them any more green than an ordinary auto....also in the news recently..wood pellet the one I bought 3 years ago...worse for the environment than a coal stove, according to some...

The threat from nuclear weapons today comes from terrorists who we fail to challenge and identify, instead we focus on introversion and how we are at fault. We need to aim those hair trigger weapons at North Korea, Iran and other Arab nations. We could reduce out nuclear weapons to zero and we would still be under threat. Peaceniks and liberals did not want SDI which would have protected all of us. It is easy to look in retrospect at 1945 but you probably did not live then. MAD was effective and the Russians and the United States both reduced their arsenals after the Berlin Wall fell. But the threat today is not from the Russians, it is from terrorists who can easily walk over our Southern border as our present leader golfs.

Just so I have this right: You believe the incredibly effective and grandly named Strategic Defense Initiative “would have protected all of us” from SUITCASE NUKES brought in by “terrorists who can easily walk over our Southern border”?

What you suggest then is that to do nothing is better because if we can't handle every scenario then there is no point. If progressives would stop allowing illegal immigration and would secure our borders, a suitcase bomb would not be an issue. But we are at threat from North Korea and soon, because of pansy policies of the Left, Iran will be a threat.

Interesting, but a different subject. Back on the subject, you admit that something like SDI is entirely irrelevant to any terrorist nuclear weapon threat?

The threat from savages from the Middle East is caused by our own immigration policies, our own ignorance and laziness as well as our unwillingness to be proactive in defending ourselves. SDI would, however defend against Iran or North Korea threatening us with missiles as well as an aggressive Russia, China or any other threat. Truth be told, that weaponry exists. How far along it is would be questionable.

Amen. Our obligation extends to all humans who may die from radionuclide-polluting technology, so for descendants living in a future world many-times 24,100 years from now (the half-life of Plutonium-239), we MUST ALSO work in our lifetimes to eliminate nuclear power (the lethally dirty -- in all senses of the word -- justification for weapons).

While I agree that nuclear weapons should be reduced to number in the single digits, nuclear power is a primary source of electric power for many future generations. Man-induced global warming will cause severe environmental hazards in the near future IF the world continues burning fossil fuels and stripping the world's forest (mostly rainforest). We don't have 24,000 years to wait for global catastrophies, few decades at most !!

HUGE YAWN! More disinformation, politically correct BS and hyperbole. I love my Brazilian rosewood floor Carly. I think I will do over the rest of my floors throughout the house. Thanks for bringing up "stripping the world's forest", it got me back on track. Love doing my part.

Somebody (Socrates, maybe) defined a good society as one in which old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit. Welcome to the Itsa definition of a bad society: I do it because I can. Nauseating to all but the most dedicated Ayn Rand cultist.

Oh enlightened one......I am looking at African rosewood next. Itsa's rant. No useful info just continuation of his rant on and on and on.......and

Carly, you need a hobby in retirement. That pension could be invested in stamp collecting or perhaps you should be honing your croquet skills.

Sorry Walter, the main selling point for nuclear power is completely false: the claim that nuclear power is relatively advantageous from the standpoint of carbon emissions -- its so-called “carbon footprint.” There is significant debate about the actual relative amount of atmospheric carbon emitted over the course of the nuclear fuel cycle (uranium mining and milling; uranium enrichment; fuel element fabrication; reactor construction; reactor operation; reactor decommissioning and dismantlement; and the temporary storage, transportation and long-term storage of spent cooling water and radioactive wastes for 240,000 years). Some studies have concluded that the the nuclear fuel cycle’s carbon footprint is actually equal to or greater than that of conventional coal electric generation; many more studies (due to a proliferation of studies generated by or on behalf of nuclear-friendly interest groups) have found that the carbon footprint of the nuclear fuel cycle is much less than that of conventional coal. Even the latter studies, however, acknowledge that the carbon footprint of the nuclear fuel cycle is at best in the same ballpark or greater than that of alternative technologies such as greater efficiency, wind turbines, hydroelectricity, solar photovoltaic, solar-thermal power or biomass. Since these latter technologies are genuinely sustainable, without significant external costs or “side-effects” such as widespread contamination of our air, water and food with radioactive isotopes, nuclear weapons proliferation, and terrorism risk, the question is: Why NOT phase out nuclear power as quickly as possible in favor of these other sources?

CG...would you care to state where you got this info?? Cause it seems ridiculous to think that the carbon emission from burning coal would be less than carbon emissions from nuclear power generating the same amount of gigawatts of electrical power.over the thirty years of life. Let me see if I have this straight: burning tons of coal each hour of each day for 30 years would generate less carbon emission than 30 years of nuclear fission? ROTFLMAO.

Shut the front door! (I’m hip too.) You missed my point entirely: While the carbon emitted by the fission reactor itself may be at or close to zero, to account for the full carbon footprint of nuclear power you need to measure the emissions fairly attributable to the entire nuclear fuel cycle -- from mining, to milling, to enrichment, to fuel fabrication, to transportation to, and maybe someday from, nuclear plants, to securing and storing... forever. (What IS the cost of forever, Walter?) As to the source of the info, as I said, there is “debate” in the scientific community -- depends on whom you ask, i.e., those paid and those not paid, by the nuclear industry. But one really great source was a fairly recent book by Dr. Helen Caldicott, the scourge of the nuclear industry, which mentioned that out West, one currently operational nuclear fuel facility required the neighboring construction of a large dedicated coal-powered generating facility(!)

CG...Of course their is a cost (is carbon generation) for mining, transporting, concentrating etc nuclear fuel. Most of those same costs apply to coal (except concentrating). However, small modular nukes, of the 300-500 GW capacity (i.e. about 1/3 to 1/5 the size of Seabrook) can be built in a factory, where it is tested and fueled, THEN transported to the site where is it buried (taking the terrorist threat to near zero potential). Having it sited where it is needed-away from dense populations but near power lines, would allow easy replacement and augmentation, as necessary. Return it to the factory for refueling and refurbishment. Reconcentrating nuclear fuel, then reusing the nuke would reduce radioactive waste and limit disposal. Sure, these projects need to be thought through properly and the public needs assurance of its safety; but OUR carbon footprint, contrary to the deniosphere, MUST be reduced SIGNIFICANTLY or our race MAY be doomed. Recent predictions of anthropogenic global warming, to levels first requiring continued air condition then agriculture so far north the lands (or ocean) could be too tiny to sustain humanity for the millenium while carbon dioxide levels SLOWLY decrease and global temperatures get back to levels experienced in the early 1900s, have been made by expert climatologists. Nukes would help ease the electric power burden placed upon the providers !!

WC: You and I are on the same page re the need to address carbon warming, but I daresay you have not even a scintilla of support for your claim that “Most of those same costs apply to coal (except concentrating)”; instead I believe those processing costs for uranium are orders of magnitude beyond coal’s. I have never heard of a coal facility that needed its own coal-fired generating facility -- would be sort of a wash, don’t you think? Beyond that, coal does not need to be fabricated into highly precise and secure fuel rods, and your “except concentrating” is another a HUGE exception. Aside from its emissions, unlike coal, the nuclear fuel cycle requires billions in annual taxpayer subsidies to stay in business. None of that would change for any of The Next Big Thing nuke “generations”. Finally, there is the human health cost of nuclear energy, which the AEC’s own study over 5 decades ago (Goff/Tamplin) estimated to be tens of thousands of additional cancer deaths annually. Please take all your attomic poison power away.

Gee CG...IF I put any faith in your statements, I might want to agree. BUT, most of what you say is, shall we say, unrealistic. Especially about a 50 plus year old radiation assessment. That may have been the study that tried to set an exposure limit which would have been exceeded by any city, such as Denver, more than 5000 feet above MSL. Stop and think a bit: the US has had a fleet of aircraft carriers and submarines all nuclear power. How many sailors that have been on those ships are now suffering cancer?? And, did you know that the Seabrook type plant is generation two, but new designs are generation five. Think about it. Atomic poison?? Did you know that radioactive sources are injected into people by doctors to assess patients illnesses??

I know that I am part of a thoughtful conversation when I elicit a sarcastic “Gee”. OR that I have bruised an over-inflated ego. Your responses me me have not been up to the great standard set by your many thoughtful comments and letters. “Think about it”? Ironic. You apparently are unfamiliar with the study by John W. Gofman and Arthur R. Tamplin -- Ph.D.s at Berkeley and research associates at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory who were both foremost in their field. Their seminal study had nothing to do with setting emission levels, but worked with what the expected emissions were agreed to be. It was commissioned by the AEC in 1963 intending to give what was then atomic power a clean bill of health. When that did not work out, the AEC attempted to bury the report and ostracize its authors. So, they wrote a book: “Poisoned Power.” Check the book jacket: It would be an understatement to say I am dubious that newer generations of plant designs have decreased radionuclide emissions whose very existence are determinedly denied by both regulators and the industry. Even if they had (somehow, to some extent) mitigated an exposure risk they claim to be negligible, it would still not address the inexhaustive but myriad list of other issues I identified above.

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