Saturday, March 19, 2011

Peony Pink and the Ides of Plutonium

Peony Pink - Image c 2011 Lynda Lehmann

Spring solstice has arrived!  This tender season is usually regarded as a time to rejoice at life's beauty and renewal.  Life is precious.  It is also delicate and perishable, and not at all guaranteed.  It's a gift and a miracle, with or without a religious perspective to cast it in.  I present to you a photo of a delicate Peony as a reminder of life's fragility, as the towns on the Northeast coast of Japan and well inland, struggle for their very survival. 

I will continue to wish, hope and pray for the Japanese people to find comfort, solace and the support of the world community in their healing from this week's multiple tragedies. I also wish, hope and pray for all of us to achieve freedom from the nuclear monster. The lethal potential of isotopes with a half life of 25,000 years or more, makes nuclear energy a Pandora's box of potential for the destruction of Life.  I think the world is finally recognizing that a technology that can't be controlled or adequately addressed with solutions and fail-safes, should not be used. Plutonium and cesium can exact a high price for the privilege of turning on a hair-dryer or the central heating system.

If you're not familiar with the specifics of nuclear energy and how it's produced, and what radiation can do to all living things, you might want to read the books of Dr. Helen Caldicott, the Australian physician who researched and campaigned against the nuclear demon. She saw the contradiction of ministering to a few sick children while the nuclear monster grew in the background and cast a shadow over all of life on Earth. If you think I'm being dramatic, read "Nuclear Madness" or "Missile Envy," among others.  And read other sources if you like, as I did, to corroborate the information she presents.

Let's pray for the government of Japan to mobilize their Air Force and call on other countries for help in burying the distressed and very dangerous radiation-spewing nuclear reactors with sand and concrete, before they pour more poison into our atmosphere, to rain down on the seas that are at the base of our food chain and settle on our precious land, water, and all living beings.  

Physicist Michio Kaku suggested this solution, which was successfully used to limit further contamination after the Chernobyl disaster. Given the miserable condition of the plants, it's the only solution.  Incidentally, Dr. Kaku suggested that where alternatives are available, using nuclear energy is like selling one's soul "to the devil," as Christopher Marlowe's doomed fictional character Doctor Faustus did.

Personally I'm for going in other directions, as the feasibility of safe-use for nuclear, is doubtful, at best. It's never been more obvious that nuclear power is just too dangerous to fill our energy needs, and we need to make drastic changes to improve the technology and come up with real fail-safes.  Or we need to go in other directions.

If more funding went into R & D, even a fragment of what has gone into designing and building weapons systems, we could find alternatives. And since we in the USA use 25% of the world's energy, we need to learn to cut our use. If everyone conserved, including corporations, we could make a big dent in our usage. For example, we recently drove down a major Long Island road that is lined with the gorgeous buildings of corporate headquarters. I'm talking HUGE modern buildings with too many offices to count. In most of these buildings, the lights were left on for the overnight hours. If the cleaning staff needed to clean, they didn't need every floor and cubby illuminated bright as day, at ten at night. It's just a small example--but it's my guess that the power those buildings consumed over one night, could power a small city for basic needs during the same period of time. 

Japan has long had Mag-Lev trains; we do not. Our mass transit systems are in disarray and our roads are a mess in many places. There are SO many things we can do to make travel easier and more fuel efficient. But we are spoiled and no one really wants to feel any pain at all, to facilitate change that will help us survive in the long run. As for nuclear, it's my opinion that no amount of physical/mechanical safeguards will make the technology failsafe, until we learn how to neutralize spent fuel, etc. 

There will always be the occasional natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. As advanced and organized as Japan society is, they did not give credence to the idea that the flooding of the shoreline plants could threaten their population, and maybe the larger human family. If plutonium becomes airborne because of an explosion, those particles will land and emit radiation willy-nilly for 25,000 years. 

So how does that advance the cause of human life, world peace, and the pursuit of happiness? Experts with a wider perspective on nuclear technologies are few and far between and of course, they are not willing to create a panic now by laying out worst-case scenarios. I don't know what we're going to do, but I know that nuclear weapons and nuclear power have the potential to put an end to life on earth. No one even talks about its mutagenic qualities, and ill-advised news-persons sometimes suggest that we can "wash it off" or take potassium iodide. They don't take into account or articulate the differences between alpha, beta and gamma particles, and how they move into the body and the permanent damage they can do. To me, getting rid of nuclear materials--except for medical applications--seems like a survival imperative for our species.

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  1. Enjoyed reading your thoughtful post and nod my head in agreement.

  2. Powerful article and a beautiful flower. I don't know about nuclear power. As long as our population continues to increase faster than less damaging sources of energy, we'll be dependent upon it in some way. Maybe those with the brains will discover a way to use nuclear power without such risks and radioactive waste. Maybe hydro, wind, solar and true co-gen will catch up to our appetites for energy.

    Nuclear weapons are just heart-breaking. We have fewer than we did in the world a few decades ago. Let's hope the trend continues.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog.



  3. I agree with you. I have never felt comfortable with nuclear power plants. We have to start tapping solar energy, the way the trees and plants do.

  4. Sandy - I'm glad you agree. I think maybe it's time that thinking people take a stand on energy policy! EVERYTHING is at risk.

  5. CASEY - The problem is that no one has come up with a way to safely transport or store nuclear waste. And even the "best" designs yield nuclear plants with vulnerabilities. All of these facilities worldwide, are vulnerable to natural disasters or to some degree, terrorist acts or sabotage.

  6. Ruth - I'm no scientist, just a layperson. But I think we all can see that taking a multi-faceted approach will yield results. Right now we are trapped in a paradigm of dependency on oil and nuclear.

    To me, nuclear power is like an obstinate and destructive Genie. We really need to put him back in the box, so he doesn't destroy us all.

    Yes, I'm sure we could do a lot more with solar power if we put our minds and political will to it!

  7. If only we humans could learn to live simply and naturally like this beautiful peony, so many of our self-inflicted problems would gradually dissolve and disappear.

  8. nothingprofound - Amen to that!

    The problem is GREED coupled with FEAR! Perhaps humans need to look deeper into themselves to find their inner core of integrity, security, and conscience. We project our fears outward and hence, look for enemies. That is not to say that we don't occasionally have an opposing or dangerous force to contend with, or that we don't have to go to war sometimes.

    As for greed, I think that those who are most insecure, are the ones who always want MORE. And there are many millionaires among them....

    I'm trying to remember where I just read the phrase "Egoism shatters." Egoism is at the base of so many of our ills and excesses.

  9. Magnificent peony beautifully photographed and delicuiosos clear tones. A marvel. Nuclear energy is not only dangerous in the short term, so is long term and certainly capable of changing lifestyles on the planet. Greetings.

  10. Karma is not just a personal matter - it affects, communities, cities, countries, nations and continents and while my heart grieves for the Japanese I know it is necessary.
    Interestingly the recent disasters have happened on an 11 day or a year with 11 and/or 1....
    You bring out some very good points about nuclear energy - thought-provoking post Lynda.
    Thank goodness you posted that beautyful peony too - it's an amazing photo.

  11. Beautiful illustration for a thought-provoking post, Lynda. I keep hoping that the best of us will come forward in this truly world wide disaster. The best of humanity will find solutions.

  12. Very thought-provoking post! The pink fragile flower can indeed be viewed as symbol of the fragility of life.

    I do agree with your opinions in this post, and I wish to add a few words.
    Last week I left a comment on a blog which goes like this:

    We are witnessing a fierce struggle between Nature and the Nuke (the monster created by the human mind). Nuclear experiences and accidents cause Nature to behave crazily: extreme changes in climate, more frequent earthquakes, tzunamis, floods, volcano eruptions.

    In this battle, Man is the first victim. The next victim will probably be Nature as the Nuke contaminetes everything in the universe and causes destruction. It will take hundreds maybe thousands of years to rebuild (recreate) the universe.

  13. CONDA - I hope so, Conda. Tragically, it seems to be greed that is compelling most people, these days. The Profit Motive rules all; corporations and Big Pharma push their agendas to the max. And really, it IS all of precious, fragile life that's at stake.

    I could cry to think of the contaminated food in Japan and the radioactive water in Tokyo. Who will save the children? They are very sensitive to damage from radiation. It's time the PEOPLE of the world realized that all exposures to radiation and isotopes, are cumulative. And plutonium is radioactive, literally, for a million years!

  14. DUTA - Because of the research I had done on this topic, I have feared this kind of event for years. I can only hope--desperately--that they can stop the leaks of radioactive gases into the environment.

    And that it's not too late, for all of us to survive. Especially all the suffering and grieving people of Japan, who are most effected. Heaven help them.

  15. I have read a few good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to create such a fantastic informative site.

  16. What a beautiful piece and a very thought provoking look at our world and the mess we make of it without a look backwards or in the mirror. All it takes is one powerful jolt of the earth to make us question everything about the world around us. Blessings to you.

  17. tangled stitch - Thanks for visiting and reading. I feel very sad because it has taken us so long to begin to look at the Monster, and now millions of people are getting dosed with radiation. The trouble with Reactor 3 is that is contains plutonium, which has a half-life of 500,000 years. That means its deadly radiation with be around virtually forever. TOO HIGH A PRICE for energy!

    I'm praying for the people of Japan, in particular, as well as the rest of us.

    What no one tells us is that all the lifetime exposures are cumulative, from flying airplanes (cosmic radiation), x-rays, sunburn, routine releases from nuclear plants, and now this!

  18. Hi Lynda,

    Beautiful flower.

    Yes, Spring is officially here (although, in Portugal, it has been in for quite some time).

    As for Nuclear Energy: Portugal doesn't have it and it doesn't want it. Spain, though, has it...near our border. So, if the thing should explode Portugal would suffer the consequences (and its not wanting nuclear energy due to its danger would prove to have been vain, since the result would be the same). It is quite a dilemma.

    I sometimes want nuclear power, specially when I compare my Portuguese electricity bills with the ones I used to have in the U.K. or even in France.


  19. MAX - I have always been against the use of nuclear power, since the days when I read up on it. I don't think it should be used until we develop ways to use it safely. As it stands, they still don't know how or where to SAFELY store even low-level nuclear waste. The danger to all life on the planet makes it impractical to use. What good is having electricity when it may cost us our world?

    Love to you, my dear Max. Enjoy your day!

  20. Lynda,

    Would you be in favour of Nuclear Power, if scientists would find ways to deal with Nuclear Waste or even finds ways to use it safely?

    Thank you, darling :D! Have a great as well!


  21. The decision makers in Japan appear to be caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to providing power to over 130 million people and industry.

    Do they shut down all their nuclear power stations and rely totally on other means to make up for the shortfall? Obviously that can't happen overnight, and if they did manage to pull it off they'd have to resort to fossil fuels and the like which will only add to their woes.

    Coupled by their very small land mass, stretched natural resources, bludgeoning population and high dependence on imported fuel I see no realistic alternative energy that will allow them to remove their 50+ nuclear power stations any time soon, unless of course, mankind gets their act together or an act of God solves their problems. Touch wood, that happens soon.

    Take Care,

  22. Peter - I don't know what the answer is, but using a technology that can make large swaths of land or whole countries into dead zones while impacting the food chain, health and longevity worldwide, is not the answer.

    I've been thinking of you and wondering how your treatment is going. Hope all is well and that you're finished with it.

  23. MAX - Yes, I would of course see nuclear power as a good source, IF they could come up with true failsafe systems with redundancy and reliability that could anticipate every plausible scenario. But that would be hard to do, and so far, they don't even know how or where to store the worldwide mass of accumulating low-level waste!

    The way things stand, the destructive power of nuclear fission is too great a price for humanity to pay, for their power needs.


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