Dear Mr. President,
A nuclear reactor is a little bit like the massive "Death Star" from "Star Wars". Hulking. Imposing. Impenetrable.
But despite its seeming in-destructibility, there exists a flaw in virtually every system which engineers refer to as the "single point of vulnerability". A vulnerability that, as with the “Death Star”, once activated will collapse the façade of any given structure or facility, including a nuclear reactor.
But, unlike "Stars Wars", the collapse of a nuclear reactor takes place in real life, with real people, placing real future generations at risk.
The only upside to such a cataclysmic collapse is that finally the debate has been settled.
It is only then that the obstinate claims of invulnerability, the delusional dreams of infallibility and the insane illusion that nuclear energy is (by any means) sane - are suddenly seen exactly for what they are…lies.
By then, of course, it’s too late. A nuclear incident is one of those bells we can’t un-ring.
For Japan, that “single point of vulnerability” was the unforeseeable earthquake that struck Fukushima on 3/11/11 and the subsequent tsunami that unleashed an unstoppable wall of seawater, knocking out the emergency back-up engines needed to replace any loss of water to the six (count them, six!) nuclear reactors lining Japan’s Pacific Coast.
And why does Japan have so many nuclear plants? Because we forced their government to build them.
It’s not an easy thing to look at but while we may have entered the fray of World War II as heroes, with many sacrifices made by families here at home and by young soldiers abroad, we emerged as dominators and spreaders of empire – partly due to our military planners’ willingness to unleash an unconscionable weapon of mass destruction.
I’ve heard the repeated justification, “Truman dropped the bomb to save American lives”.
But the people who dedicated themselves to building the A-Bomb, the scientists and engineers who designed it, made a simple and modest suggestion - demonstrate it first!
A demonstration would have saved lives and stopped the war...without the massive loss of life, limb and ecosphere that resulted from the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Nuclear energy is a relic of, what should by now be, our species' murderous past. It is the by-product of an insane race to be the first nation to develop a technology with the power to destroy all of mankind. Seeming rational human beings from countries all over the planet participated in a race to devise mankind’s “ultimate weapon”.
And we “won”. Yay??
But with this new technology in hand to wield as we saw fit, we turned into one of the biggest bullies on the planet, cleverly disguised as “liberators”.
Perhaps anyone would have. After all, that seems to be the nature of absolute power. It corrupts absolutely.
Why else would we sell and develop an energy source with the capability to destroy everything in its wake? Why else would seeming rational human beings cross the bounds of humanity and sends us careening into the void?
Greed, profit, control and domination.
Surprised by their own hubris at developing this diabolical technology, even the scientists and engineers who developed Nuclear technology wished they had never uncorked that particular Genie from the Alchemist's bottle.
In 1945, once adrenaline from the race to beat Hitler to "the Bomb" had subsided, everyone remotely connected to the project signed a petition to warn current and future leaders that power this destructive, this unstable, could not be trusted to, or wielded by the imperfect hands of Man.
Originally, the petition only went so far as to suggest massive oversight and regulation by governments and their engineers - but later scientists, humanitarians and philosophers emphatically suggested abandoning nuclear technology altogether.
And I have to agree.
I don't need to provide charts, mathematics or theories to make my case against Nuclear Technology. Data has been manipulated for decades to make a case for Nuclear Energy and the only thing those numbers have proven to me is that numbers can be crunched to argue in defense of insanity.
Numbers can distract us from the inarguable fact that even if production went perfectly well, with no hitch-ups or accidents and everything proceeded according to plan – we still have to deal with the toxic by-product of this "clean", "cheap" and (laughably) “green energy”.
Even if hazmat-suit-clad workers manage to get through enrichment and production unharmed, they are still forced to stock-pile a poison so toxic and so destructive that the merest exposure to it will kill every living thing in its path.
And there are certainly no guarantees that things will go according to plan.
Just ask the people of Mayak, Russia who are dying of cancer at unprecedented rates.
The children of Mayak are still being born with birth-defects unparalleled by any other region save Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even though their "safe" nuclear facility had a "minor nuclear incident" all the way back in 1957.
What happened to humanity that we humans could have strayed so far from our best ideals?
I look back at the history of our most admired leaders and I see a pattern of partnership between those leaders and their life mates. A relationship that kept them connected to the people, the land, our friends and our legacy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had Eleanor who brought his attention to the suffering of the poor and less fortunate when she showed him the slums of east New York. Then, later, advocated for the civil and social programs that helped raise America out of one of her darkest hours, the Great Depression.
John F. Kennedy had Jackie who inspired and nurtured his humanity through the arts and encouraged him to advocate our aspirations to seek a world beyond ourselves…a chance for us to understand our place in the larger scheme of creation. Whether that creation be accident, or by design…intelligent, or otherwise.
You, Mr. President, have Michelle. She is strong, wise and clearly a formidable ally. I applaud her fight against childhood obesity and her advocacy for healthy, organic foods.
But what is the use of planting an organic garden if the future of our soil is left to the mercy of a mega-poisonous corporation like Monsanto, or could be made toxic at any moment by the fall-out of an unforeseen nuclear accident?
Investors who have a financial stake (a multi-trillion dollar stake) always say of nuclear accidents, "It can't happen here".
Well, that's what Russia thought. And, clearly, that’s what Fukushima thought, too.
Mr. President, your political career was forged in Illinois…the state with the highest nuclear reactor count (11!) in the union. Maybe that isn’t a coincidence. Perhaps you were chosen to address this atrocious lapse in judgment?
You don't have to cater to Corporate America, Mr. President.
Citizen-awareness is increasing around the globe and the tide is shifting back toward sanity after a very long period of unchecked greed.
You were lifted into office by a mandate from the people to restore hope and lead us back to justice and equality…but that is not what has happened.
Time after time, you have sided with big banks, big business and Wall Street at the cost of the American people (not to mention the far-reaching global externalities).
But perhaps it is not too late. Maybe can still turn things around. Maybe we can still chart a course back to the land of common sense and common ground.
Many former presidents have spoken of a "shining city on a hill"…by which, I don't think they meant the warm glow of nuclear fall-out.
Those men were referring to Camelot, the shining example of an ideal by which Humankind could chart their sometimes dark, sometimes joyous, but always challenging course.
Toward the end of his reign, Arthur had lost his way but in his search for the Holy Grail (and with it his redemption) he was reminded of the very principle upon which Camelot was founded...the land and the King are ONE.
We, the people, are the land, Mr. President. If you poison the land with nuclear technology. You poison us.
Unlimited energy is swirling around us in the form of wind, sun, hydro and thermal units just waiting to be harnessed and captured through human genius and innovation.
They are nature’s gifts. They are ours to share. And they are the key to a new era of peace…and a return to sanity.
People around the world are dying because unscrupulous people have locked the world into fossil fuels. Whole generations are dying because of greed. And it is completely unnecessary.
Renewable energy is the Elixir that will heal the land, Mr. President. And it is the Elixir that will redeem the King.
We are your “Holy Grail”, Mr. President…and you are ours.