Mar
01
2008

Letters to the Editor

‘Truthful’ or ‘Alarmist’ on Nuclear Power?

I would like to comment on the excellent story Karl Grossman wrote on the horrors of nuclear power (1-2/08). Too many people don’t understand the dangers associated with nuclear power, and Karl Grossman did a wonderful job detailing some of them.

Nuclear power is dead, or at least should be. It’s probably the worst idea man has ever come up with.

Thank you for printing such a truthful and informative article.

Mark McKelvey

Pasadena, Calif.

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It seems rather ironic that Karl Grossman’s article on nuclear power should appear in an issue of FAIR. It was anything but fair. He is an ill-informed alarmist. I noted that he had a degree in journalism, which may account for how facile he is with distorting the facts.

For example, he argues that nuclear power does add to greenhouse gases through mining and ore processing! That is such a reach, it is grossly stupid. For that matter, so does mining coal and drilling for natural gas.

If anything, producing and processing ethanol, at whose altar I am sure he worships, does truly produce a great deal of greenhouse gases. The energy balance for ethanol is near zero. It requires almost as much BTUs as it yields.

Please tell Mr. Grossman to be a bit more FAIR in his writing.

Stanley Mandeltort

Lincolnshire, Ill.

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Karl Grossman is right-on in assessing “the hoax of eco-friendly nuclear energy.” It is, in fact, amazing the way that atomic power and other exploitive, polluting industries have undertaken to greenwash themselves into good guys who really care about the challenges of global warming.

But it isn’t simply global warming that concerns me; it’s the sum and substance of its causes more than its effects. The whole world is encompassed and exploited by globalized trade and commerce. The Earth is treated as a commodity to be surveyed, bought and sold and converted into merchandise. The air, water and land are polluted and poisoned and degraded in the process, with toxic materials applied to induce one product or another to grow faster, cheaper and more profitably.

Supertechnology has led to superconsumerism. Ultramodern means of mass production have enabled the manufacture of more goods than people need or logically can use. In consequence, to keep the system going, people must be persuaded to buy and use more, and more again, and never mind the waste of it. That is the role performed by advertising, marketing and mass media. And population uncontrolled means more consumers to buy more and waste more, everywhere.

In this global atmosphere, people are separated from land and nature. Traditions and entire cultures are overrun and obliterated. In a globalized economy, standards of living are not raised but lowered. As I see it, globalization, with its competition for materials and markets, does not bring people together as neighbors and friends, but drives them apart with fear and hatred of each other. It leads to war, one war after another, in which the innocents are the victims.

Public relations, the spin doctors working for powerful corporate and government interests, constitutes a preeminent influence on how news is covered and presented. But then the media themselves are corporate, driven far more by profit than public service. Little wonder, as Grossman pointed out, that mainstream media join in pushing for a nuclear revival.

Advocacy is a word journalists have been taught to avoid, presumably because it marks a bias, something that should not be acknowledged. But journalists ought to be advocates for the health and safety of the planet, concerned with global warming, acid rain, destruction of tropical and temperate forests, toxic wastes, pollution of air and water, and population pressures that degrade the quality of life.

Clearly it is time to ask for new and better answers. Individuals succeed when they rise above themselves, and above institutions, to challenge an entrenched system in which a small minority controls wealth and power. So keep up the great work at Extra!.

Michael Frome

Port Washington, Wisc.

I have trusted FAIR (in the form of Extra! and CounterSpin) for years. I have been comfortable frequently citing statements from FAIR as factual. I am disturbed by something stated as a fact in your recent article, “Money Is the Real Green Power: The Hoax of Eco-Friendly Nuclear Energy” in the January/February 2008 issue of Extra!.

The statement that I question is: “But use of plutonium-fueled reactors has been stymied because they can explode like atomic bombs.”

I obtained a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1977. I switched to computer programming for my livelihood about 20 years ago. I have never worked for the “nuclear power industry,” and, in general, have great distrust for corporate America. However, based on my education and continued interest and reading, I know of absolutely no credible source for the statement cited above. This statement severely undermined the credibility and fairness of the entire article by Karl Grossman.

I hope that FAIR will either publish a prominent retraction or back up the statement with a credible source (and an appropriate chance at rebuttal to any such supposed credible source). This would go a long way in restoring my severely shaken faith in the integrity and accuracy of FAIR.

Tom Marks

Sante Fe, N.M.

Karl Grossman replies

The best source on the atomic explosion potential of plutonium-fueled breeder reactors is The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants (University of Massachusetts Press, 1976) by nuclear physicist Richard E. Webb, who has specialized in research into this huge risk.