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Into Eternity – Nuclear Past, Present and Future

Despite all of our differences, the future of humanity is bound to a technology born in the last century, the Pandora’s Box that tantalized scientists into attempting to harnessing nuclear power. Unleashed, the nuclear industry has terrified populations, invisibly threatening them with premature aging, cancers, a host of ailments, and birth defects, not sparing other species and life forms in the process. Shrouded in secrecy, heralded by the most powerful government, sanitized and promoted by the press, nuclear weaponry and nuclear power demand enormous government subsidies to exist while the costs and risks are born by the public. The scientists who witnessed and researched the harmful effects of radiation and began to voice their concerns were vilified and silenced. Those who championed the nuclear industry and developed the technologies were richly rewarded. Nagasaki, Hiroshima, nuclear tests, nuclear weapons, the threat of nuclear war have hovered over the consciousness of current generations, only gradually being replaced by the phantom threat of nuclear terrorism by rogue states and crazed religious extremists. In the wake of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, the greater threat seems to be human error, hubris, the inability of the entire industry to contain the deadly, deforming radioactive particles from threatening humanity, our air, our water, our food, our ocean.

Eighteen years ago, I was invited to a meeting at the home of Joanna Macy and the Nuclear Guardianship Project. At the time I had two small children and became pregnant which meant I was psychically, spiritually, physically concerned about my own children and their future. What I learned moved me deeply and during that pregnancy I edited a book entitled The Invisible Nuclear War - The Effects of Low-Level Radiation, the Massive Government Cover-Up, and the Continuing Battle Waged by the Nuclear Powers against All Life on Earth. We worked with Plutonium Free Future, an international grassroots organization working hard to halt shipments of plutonium and high level nuclear waste from France to Japan, as well as the development of plutonium fueled facilities in Japan.

The disaster in Fukushima was a stark reminder that even if the anti-nuclear movement in the U.S. succeeded in halting the construction of new nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons testing in the desert of Nevada, the nuclear industry has spread to thirty countries and boasts over 400 plants with an additional sixty under construction.

People rarely want to know that they have a fatal cancer, even when they are in pain, and there is a possibility for remission or a cure. Most people do not desire to probe into our species embrace of a suicidal technology, unless compelled to by painful necessity, such as the realization that they or their family, friends, or offspring might lose their life, health, or future. Government assurances that they are protecting the public and in control of the situation ring false. The reactors in Fukushima are obviously out of control, as radiation pours into the ocean, the air, contaminating larger and larger areas which are being monitored by independent, concerned citizens. Dr. Rosalie Bertell, author of No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth wrote-

“An individual death process, such as cancer, does not always end in a swift death. Sometimes there is a partial recovery and some or many years of fruitful living. This usually reflects a whole-hearted ‘conversion’ on the part of the patient: positive thinking; wholesome daily habits of rest, play and work; consciousness of the nourishing qualities of food, air and water; carefulness in avoiding physical and mental stress; development of wholesome interpersonal relationships; professional assistance in minimizing the strength of the cancer and maximizing the healing capacity of the body’s defense mechanisms.

“First the illness is correctly diagnosed as militarism… Species death is seen as flowing from the violent control of the earth or peoples of the earth. Passive cooperation with the death process is no longer possible for those who choose life. There is personal and national dignity and freedom, whereby people neither accept oppression nor oppress others. There are moves to dismantle power, spread wealth, decentralize authority and restore harmony between people and earth. There is a unique potential to “blossom” and to find solutions. Whether or not it is possible to halt the nuclear death process, it is possible to slow it down and mitigate its effects. People can replace death dealing behavior with behavior appropriate to humans who share a fragile earth.”

Revealing histories of the origins of the nuclear age have been written, the stories told through radio and film, chronicling the scientists, as well as the victims, including workers, their families, the survivors of the first bombs, the tests, the accidents that followed and continue to this day.

Citizens are also mobilizing, creating new organizations, forming broader coalitions, organizing rallies, protests, petition drives, aid to the victims, setting up growing monitoring networks to track the radiation which is carried by wind and waves, deposited by rain, absorbed by the food chain, packaged and sold to the unwary.

An award winning Danish film entitled Into Eternity , playing this weekend at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater) is about “Onkalo – the world’s first permanent nuclear waste repository. Onkalo is a Finnish word for hiding place. It is situated at Olkiluoto in Finland - approx. 300 km northwest of Helsinki and it's the world's first attempt at a permanent repository. It is a huge system of underground tunnels hewn out of solid bedrock. Work on the concept behind the facility commenced in 1970s and the repository is expected to be backfilled and decommissioned in the 2100s – more than a century from now. No person working on the facility today will live to see it completed. The Finnish and Swedish Nuclear Authorities are collaborating on the project, and Sweden is planning a similar facility, but has not begun the actual construction of it. The film screened in New York in February, as well as at the San Francisco Green Festival, in the first week of March. The Roxie Theater has brought it back. Hopefully Into Eternity will draw more attention to the deeper issues over the current generation’s responsibilities to past, present and future generations. We need to ask ourselves about our individual and collective capacity to overcome denial, anger, move beyond coping, and find the strength and energy to live fully, overcome militarism, and revive the earth’s immune system.

Recommended Resources-
Nuclear History-
T.U.C. Radio- http://www.tucradio.org/new.html
Iain Boal: THE BEGINNING OF THE NUCLEAR AGE
Enrico Fermi and Henry Moore
TO THE MEMORY OF CHERNOBYL: April 26, 1986 – 2011

Online Books- (Available at http://www.ratical.org/radiation/)

KILLING OUR OWN- The Disaster of America's Experience with Atomic Radiation by Harvey Wasserman & Norman Solomon

SECRET FALLOUT-LOW-LEVEL RADIATION FROM HIROSHIMA TO THREE-MILE ISLAND by ERNEST STERNGLASS

No Immediate Danger, Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, 1985, by Dr. Rosalie Bertell, "Part One, The Problem"

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment by Alexey V. Yablokov (Center for Russian Environmental Policy, Moscow, Russia), Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Nesterenko (Institute of Radiation Safety, Minsk, Belarus). (Available at http://www.tucradio.org/Yablokov_Chernobylbook.pdf)

In print-
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievic (See- http://www.alexievich.info/)

Online Films-
Children of Chernobyl (See- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fCCVU4y7oE)
Interview - Dr. Alexey Yablokov - Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe (See- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-hHTFWXr90
A is for Atom- a film by Adam Curtis(See- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/03/a_is_for_atom.html )
The True Battle of Chernobyl Uncensored (See- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5384001427276447319#)

Nuclear Ginza (See- http://www.japansubculture.com/2011/04/nuclear-ginza-japans-secret-at-ri...

Articles-
From Hiroshima to Fukushima, 1945-2011 by Dr. Anthony J. Hall (See - http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/03/28/from-hiroshima-to-fukushima-1945...)
Welcome to the Atomic Village by Stoneleigh (See- http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2011/05/may-10-2011-welcome-to-ato...)
Anti-Nuclear Ballot Measure Starts Circulating by Josh Richman (See- http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2011/05/23/anti-nuclear-ballot-measure-s...)
Is Fukushima now ten Chernobyls into the sea? by Harvey Wasserman
(See- http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/7/2011/1888)
Get Involved- Organizations-
Green Action Japan (See - http://fukushima.greenaction-japan.org/)
Tri-Valley Cares - Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (See- http://www.trivalleycares.org/)

Global Network AgainstWeapons and Nuclear Power in Space (See - http://www.space4peace.org/)

Western States Legal Foundation - (See - http://www.wslfweb.org/)

Ecological Options Network (See- http://www.eon3.net/)

Women’s Energy Matters (See- http://www.womensenergymatters.org/)

The Energy Net (Abalone Alliance – see http://www.energy-net.org/)

No Nuclear Action Committee (See http://nonukesaction.wordpress.com/)

A Rally in Solidarity with the People of Japan will be held in San Francisco June 10th 3:30-5:30 pm at the Japanese Consulate(See - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=218843821468487)

Center for Safe Energy (See- http://nonuclearaction.wordpress.com/links-beyond-nukes/)

California Green Party (See- http://www.cagreens.org/)

Citizen Monitoring Radiation Sites-
Geiger Counter Blog (See- http://geigercounter.com/)
SafeCast.org (See http://www.safecast.org/)
Nuclear Information and Resource Service (See - http://www.nirs.org/)

Educational Websites-
The Health Costs of Low-Level Ionizing Radiation (http://www.ratical.org/radiation/index.html)
Fairewinds Associates (See- http://www.fairewinds.com/)
Community Currency (See- http://www.communitycurrency.org)

Trailer for the film Into Eternity-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoyKe-HxmFk