Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Unthinking the Thinkable | Nukespeak | Marginalized Media

Nukespeak co-author Rory O’Connor joins long-time anti-nuclear campaigner and author Harvey Wasserman for the first studio interview on Wasserman’s Green Power & Wellness Show on the Progressive Radio Network. O’Connor and Wasserman review recent developments from the on-going catastrophe in Fukushima, and the close-call for 2 U.S. reactors in North Anna, Virginia, when a late-August earthquake was stronger than the plants were designed to handle.

O’Connor notes that there were historic stones along the eastern coast around Fukushima warning of the danger of a major earthquake and tsunami on the scale of the events at Fukushima this March. But the utility (TEPCO) chose to build tsunami barriers that were far lower than these historic events. O’Connor says that this failure is an example of the nuclear mindset at work, a belief by the designer that such a severe event was unthinkable, and therefore unnecessary to design for.

Here is an excerpt from Nukespeak about the eerie markers of past earthquake/tsunami disasters which TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear industry regulators ignored:

The stone tablet on a forested hillside had a stark warning carved on it: “Do not build your homes below this point!”

Residents of the village of Aneyoshi say this message from the past— carved in stone by their ancestors—kept them and their tiny hamlet safe when a deadly tsunami struck on March 11, 2011. Although the tsunami and the massive earthquake that preceded it wiped out hundreds of miles of Japanese coast, the waves stopped 300 feet below the stone of Aneyoshi. “They knew the horrors of tsunamis, so they erected that stone to warn us,” said village leader Tamishige Kimura.

Such centuries-old tsunami stones, some up to 10 feet tall, are common along Japan’s northeastern shore, offering silent but still telling testimony to the destruction that killer waves have already visited upon the earthquakeand tsunami-prone nation. But other than in a few isolated places like Aneyoshi, the warnings from the past went largely unheeded. As Martin Fackler reported in the New York Times, “modern Japan, confident that advanced technology and higher seawalls would protect vulnerable areas, came to forget or ignore these ancient warnings, dooming it to repeat bitter experiences...”

Unthinking the Thinkable | Nukespeak


Nukespeak | Nuclear Language, Myths and Mindset

Nukespeak is the language of the nuclear mindset — the worldview or system of beliefs of nuclear developers and enthusiasts.

The word “Nukespeak” is a tribute to George Orwell, who in his novel 1984, used the term “Newspeak” as the name of the language of Big Brother and the totalitarian state. Unlike a living language, the state was constantly removing words from common usage, with the ultimate goal to make it (literally) impossible for a citizen to think a seditious thought.

In the world of “Newspeak,” vast numbers of people spent their days frantically revising the records of the past in order to make those records correspond with the political reality of the present: “He who controls the past, controls the future.”

In 1984, the authorities did everything they could to eliminate all references to the events in the past that might be embarrassing in light of subsequent political change. George Winston, who labored at revising newspaper accounts of the past, had a special tube at his desk. Once he finished working on a copy of a document from the past, he dropped the original into “the memory hole,” where it would be whisked away to be burnt and never seen again. In the world of nuclear technology, an ever-more elaborate system of classification has served as a “memory hole,” allowing politicians and the military to prevent the public from ever knowing about the plague of accidents and near-misses that could have lead to the accidental detonation of nuclear weapons, or the meltdown of nuclear reactors.

This blog has two authors: Richard Bell and Rory O’Connor. Bell and O’Connor are the co-authors (along with Stephen Hilgartner) of Nukespeak: Nuclear Language, Myths, and Mindset, published in hardback by Sierra Club Books in 1982, and in paper by Penguin Books in 1983. The three co-authors were recipients of the 1982 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, an annual award sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.

Nuclear Disasters and the Danger of a Marginalized Media | Fukushima Update

By Akio Matsumura

As all we know, Japan has not gotten it right, and has not rebuilt any public trust. TEPCO and the Japanese regulatory body have at times been incorrect in their assessments of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi. And on numerous occasions TEPCO has communicated misinformation to the government and the public. They have often delayed needed action. The media, the group meant to bring accountability, were only allowed into the Fukushima plant area earlier this month, eight months after the accident.

My concerns about media independence and nuclear transparency do not stop in Japan. How can we be assured of transparency in any case when the government and nuclear power industry are both responsible for and have a large stake in finding plausible solutions to nuclear crises? This colluded power consolidation marginalizes the public interest. What chance does public health stand when it depends on the fall of a nuclear company in bed with the government?

Full article
...As long as nuclear power plants continue to run, we need a gentleman’s agreement wherein governments and companies operating the nuclear power plants open the gates for the international media to visit the accident site immediately. The media is a necessary and often missing link between government and the people in the Rock Paper Scissors game of political consensus, political will and political action. International media and the many outlets they have should always serve the people, not only when the government and nuclear company find it convenient...
Akio Matsumura - Finding the Missing Link
Akio Matsumura is a renowned diplomat who has dedicated his life to building bridges between government, business, and spiritual leaders in the cause of world peace. He is the founder and Secretary General of the Global Forum of Parliamentarian and Spiritual Leaders on Human Survival with conferences held in Oxford, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Kyoto, and Konya.

Fukushima Update | Tracking Japan's nuclear crisis
The Fukushima Updates blog is a project of Green Action Japan.

Founded in 1991, Green Action is a Japanese citizens organization (NGO) campaigning to stop Japan’s plutonium program. Based in Kyoto, Green Action provides timely information in Japanese and English about nuclear fuel cycle issues. We believe Japanese energy policy should shift away from nuclear fuel cycle development to advancement of conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources.

Collaborating with other citizen groups, Green Action has successfully campaigned to bring about a de facto moratorium on Japan’s program to use plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel in Japanese commercial nuclear power plants. We continue to oppose government and utility plans to implement this ‘pluthermal’ program.

Green Action is also campaigning to prevent the start-up of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan. If operated, this plant would separate out as much as 7 or 8 tons of nuclear weapons usable plutonium a year. We also work with other citizen groups to build national opposition to Japan’s fast breeder reactor, Monju. Green Action is the international office for and co-founder of Stop Nuclear Waste Campaign.

Green Action networks regularly with domestic and international citizen groups to address pertinent issues concerning Japan’s plutonium program. We petition and hold negotiations with government agencies and electric utilities, initiate or participate in legal action, inform and lobby policymakers, brief and alert media and countries on the route of Japanese nuclear shipments, send delegations abroad, and invite international speakers to Japan. We also address policy change at government roundtables and symposia.

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