Monday, 13 July 2015

International Uranium Film Festival 16th and 17th July in Rio de Janeiro. Clips online.

 Nearly 50 years ago, two American planes collided over Palomares,  Almeria - Spain causing four H bombs to fall to earth.  Two of them exploded their conventional charge and due to the strong wind  radioactive material was scattered all over the region. The material was apparently several kilograms of plutonium.
 A film called "Broken Arrow. Nuclear Accident in Palomares" is being shown at The International Uranium Festival, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro on 16th and 17th July.
"Broken arrow" is a US military term used for an accidental event that involves nuclear weapons, warheads, or components, but which does not create the risk of nuclear war, according to Wiki. Well that's good to know!
The festival is showing some brilliant short animations and clips which can be seen online..."After The Day After"  by Nathan Metz is one.. I must admit, I really liked "Beloved Sun" about a firefly who falls in love with the sun...but the variety and artistry of the films amazes me.
The sheer nonsense of safety of nuclear power plants for surrounding populations is highlighted in "The Plan?" showing a down to earth series of interviews with people living within 10 miles of Indian Point, the ageing nuclear power plant which sits 35 miles north of New York City. What are they told to do in an emergency?  Go to the special bus stop and wait for the bus..I'm not joking.




Monday, 8 June 2015

Don't get sucked in - A deadly silence.

When we were very young, we were taken as a Christmas treat to a pantomime.  Part of the show usually had a scene where the hero or heroine had just chased away a bad character and had resumed the story.  They then faced the audience and said "You'll let me know if they come back again, won't you?"
Charged with this unusual and fearsome responsibility, when the baddie reappeared, the kids would be sitting on the edge of their seats shouting "Look behind you!" 
The hero or heroine would pretend not to hear until the volume became huge, by which time the baddie had disappeared, and when they looked round, they came back to face the kids with "I can't see anyone!" and got on with the story.
The baddie would reappear, this time to the left or right, and the same farce would be played with the kids getting more and more frustrated at the adult stupidity, the hero or heroine turning round a second after the baddie had adroitly skipped sides and the kids had been shouting their lungs out, "He's on the left." Even to the smallest child, it surely seemed complicit.
Well, today is World Oceans Day, and I am just as frustrated as I was then as a small child. You can join any number of worthy organisations to protest against over fishing of the seas and plastic polution...and quite rightly so...  You can protest with The Pew Charitable Trusts, become a wave maker with Oceana, or a Seachampion with the Marine Conservation Society in the UK. If you are a famous film star you might be invited to take all your clothes off and be photographed nuzzling up to a dead fish by the Fishlove Campaign .
Now I might be wrong, and if I am, I apologise, but as far as I can see, there is not a word there, I mean seriously, not a word, about the millions and millions and millions of fish eggs and fish and other small marine animals killed annually by the once-through cooling systems of nuclear power plants. Not a word.
On behalf of the fish I would like to take the stage, and before I am hauled down for spoiling the show, give you some facts.
According to the Sierra Club,
 "A single power plant can obliterate billions of fish eggs and larvae and millions of adult fish in a single year," They produced a very readable, long, document, "Giant Fishblenders:How power plants kill fish and damage our waterways (and what can be done to stop them)."
and there is a very short, thought provoking piece written in 2008 about work done by Dr. Peter Henderson.
He mentions Dungeness Nuclear Power Station in the U.K. where outfall pipes have become clogged with dead fish. “We are talking as many as 250 million fish in as little as five hours,” Dr. Henderson said. This is the link and there are more detailed ones below the blog. 
What happens is this: Fish and animals that are sucked in, which are too big to go through the filter screens, are smashed and mutilated when they come up against the screens. It's known as impingement. Fish, other little animals, larvae, and millions of eggs, which are small enough to go through the 1cm mesh screens, go through the cooling pipes and according to Dr. Henderson, many die after being heated to 30 C, chlorinated and given small doses of radiation. This process of going through the cooling pipes is called entrainment.
In the Southern Region of the North Sea the calculated mortality of eggs and young for sole was so high that it had been equal to 46% of commercial fishing, Herring mortality off parts of the East Coast of the U.K. was 50% of commercial landings. 

As I understand it, any power plants that use water for once-through cooling, cause problems, but nuclear power plants pull in huge amounts of water.
If you wonder what it's like to be entrained, there is a graphic description in another really excellent document, "Licensed to Kill" by NIRS.. "How the nuclear power industry  destroys endangered marine wildlife and ocean habitat to save money." A diver called Bill Lamm suffered nightmarish and life threatening entrainment in the St. Lucie nuclear power plant in Florida  in 1989 (See page 34)
It's the sort of stuff disaster movies are made out of. 
For some of the fish around Fukushima, a different disaster movie is already happening and if this seems far away, don't forget that in Europe the nuclear power industry is allowed to discharge nuclear waste into the sea, by building kilometres of underwater pipes through which radioactive effluent now flows freely into the sea; something which would be banned if this same waste was in containers! Links: http://enenews.com/tv-plutonium-being-pumped-ocean-miles-underwater-pipes-nuclear-waste-left-lying-beach-kids-playing-sand-machines-scoop-plutonium-day-video-photos  and  http://www.psr.org/nuclear-bailout/resources/nuclear-power-in-france-setting.pdf 
 So who will join me on stage and shout "Look behind you!" before it's all too late and the lights go out on the last fish? 

Sources: http://vault.sierraclub.org/pressroom/media/2011/2011-08-fish-blenders.pdf

 http://wildsingaporenews.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/nuclear-plants-sucking-sea-life-from.html#.VXYEOUZKWf_
  http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/licensedtokill/LiscencedtoKill.pdf
http://consult.pisces-conservation.com/2-paper001.html
http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/ocean/cwa316/rcnfpp/docs/foe_cmmnts_to_bechtel.pdf
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/giant-bass-o-matic-power-plants-killing-millions-of-great-lakes-fish.html
http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/thirsty-nukes-cant-take-the-heat.html






Monday, 18 May 2015

Trident.... Tried and found wanting.

Several committed people from the UK are bravely rocking the boat this week, and the boat just happens to be Trident. One is William McNeilly, a whistle blower who  has been serving on HMS Victorious, one of the Royal Navy's four nuclear submarines.  "I am a Strategic Weapons Systems engineer who has sacrificed everything to tell the public how close it is to a nuclear catastrophe."
A short account of security and safety issues recorded by him  can be found at the Nuclear Information Service.  http://www.nuclearinfo.org/  
The article is entitled  'Submariner: Trident is “so broken it can't even do the tests that prove it works”
It's certainly worth reading. He expects to go to prison for making this public.  Incidentally, the original post that he wrote at Scribd  has now been deleted.
The other protesters will go on trial today, following their arrest last year for blocking the gate of Devonport Docks, where the nuclear fleet is serviced. 
They are Theo Simon and Nicki Clarke.  I was privileged to  hear Nicki give a speech at the rally commemorating the fourth anniversary of the disaster at Fukushima, outside  Parliament, earlier this year.  These are people who protest because they care.
Theo explains in his blog that he has been charged with 'interrupting the  "lawful" work on the HMS Vengeance Submarine.' and continues:
'My position is that it is the government who are breaking an international treaty by upgrading Britain’s nuclear arsenal, and that work on maintaining a nuclear weapons systems is itself unlawful.
At my trial three expert witnesses will testify on international humanitarian law, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the threat that holding nuclear weapons poses to our security and safety in the southwest. Because it is an indiscriminate “Weapon of Mass destruction”, the Trident warheads could never be fired without committing a crime against humanity, as set out by the International Court of Justice.'
You can find the rest of his post at Theo's blog: https://theosimon.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/my-case-against-trident-in-plymouth-19515%EF%BB%BF/
 Theo has some kind back up from his neighbour, Michael Eavis, dairy farmer and founder of the Glastonbury Festival, who has offered to help with his costs if he loses the case in court. Michael Eavis has been a life-long opponent of nuclear weapons and Glastonbury Festival has showcased the anti-nuclear cause since its beginning.
Maybe the voice of reason is beginning to be heard, and maybe the tide is turning.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A spoon

Usually I'm writing about issues, but just for once, tonight I want to write about some of the lovely things my friends do, as well.

It was a spoon, a hand carved pale wooden tasting spoon, the dark rings in the middle of the bowl created by the sapwood going over into the heartwood. At the far end, the finger groove had been carved to allow perfect hand balance when you lifted it.




About six inches of pale English wood, a surprise present from my good friend, Michael Smith, it might not seem much, but there was so much more to it.
Michael's alias is Veshengro, which is is Romany for "man of the woods", woodsman, or forester.  He writes a blog using that name at Green (Living) Review. He has a written book about woodland management, full of interesting facts, and a guide to reusing and upcycling trash, called "Let's Talk Rubbish". Michael is also the brains behind Reuse Central, a collection of ingenious upcycling ideas on Facebook and he works full time... I've never been too sure how he does it all.
I asked Michael how long it took him to make a spoon like this and he replied that they take between two to four hours, all told, to make, at least...
 He wasn't sure exactly what kind of wood he had made it out of, having already sent it to me, but he thought it was probably Serviceberry or Ash.  Serviceberry wood is very strong and Ash is very resilient. I had wondered if it was Sycamore, because of its pale lustre.
The point is, that this wood hadn't been discarded or burned, but turned into something beautiful which I shall treasure and use for the rest of my life and hopefully it will still be in use a generation or so later. All the while it survives, some of the carbon dioxide the tree took in while it was growing will be locked in there.
Another of my friends, Reg Mabbett, also makes thumb sticks from coppiced hazel wood.  The handle of the stick on the right is a traditional design... and the left hand one is a joke on the name, but very good to hold as well.

Carved handles of Reg's sticks
  According to Michael, a properly managed coppiced stool can live for several thousand years, way outliving a single standard tree.
The woods live on if they are properly cared for and aren't destroyed by politicians and developers. Our most treasured woods go back centuries. Ancient woodland in England is woodland that has existed since 1600 AD and some ancient woods may link back to the woods that covered the UK around 10,000 years ago.  Only around two percent of the land area of the UK is covered by ancient woodland and whole communities of animals and plants live there. These woods can be beautiful and peaceful places for everyone to visit.  It only takes weeks for modern machinery to completely destroy them and they needs protecting, especially now. We need the trees as much as they need us!
This reminds me,  if anyone wants to buy one of Michael's spoons, he can be contacted at Green (Living) Review.  I don't have any idea how much he charges for them as mine was a present, but I'm sure he'd be happy to let you know.

Information about ancient woodland and campaigns taken from the Woodland Trust.
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/
and
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/greenpolitics/planning/11500924/Ancient-woods-face-gravest-threat-for-decades-Woodland-Trust-warns.html

Declared interest:  Michael once wrote a very kind review of one of my books..and that's how we became friends.





 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Remember Fukushima

If you are in or around London on the 4th anniversary of the 11/3/11 disaster, do join us to remember Fukushima. All the dates of events are on the poster and there is a dedicated website with the details www.fukushima2015.com  Please can you let us know if you are coming to the meeting, because we need to know the numbers.  Thanks.



If you are anywhere else in the world, there is a link to other events, on the website and there is another list which I found, on Facebook, courtesy of  "Beautiful Energy : The stand for a nuclear free world."
The list is from Nick Thabit at Fourth Anniversary of 3.11 Fukushima Nuclear Accident Events and Actions Worldwide.
If you can't get to an event, but would like to join in, you can light a candle to link into the Global Candle Chain - 3/11 Fourth Anniversary Remembrance by Beautiful Energy

Monday, 23 February 2015

What does ISIS believe?

  Recently, having heard and read a fair amount about ISIS and what it represents, I came across a scholarly and brave post by two liberal Muslim feminist journalists. The headline of the article in "The Daily Beast" is "Will It Take The End of the World for Obama To Recognize ISIS as Islamic?"
  As a Christian, I find the content important and I would suggest to anyone with an interest in the subject to read it, with the warning that quite a lot of it is based on the murder of the Christians from Egypt. It isn't pleasant reading.
This is the link http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/20/will-it-take-the-end-of-the-world-for-obama-to-recognize-isis.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon





Saturday, 20 December 2014

Cosy up

How much notice do you take of your Dad's opinions?  Seriously... or your Mum's opinions or your partner's or your sibling's or even someone you respect who's older than you?
I'm asking, because a very good article in The Ecologist, which I think deserves to be widely read, brings a new light to this question.  It's succinct, readable, and when I got to the section headed "It's the money, stupid" in bold font.... even I was bowled over by the length of the list of politicians.
Head over to "Nuclear power trumps democracy" by Donnachadh McCarthy. He is a former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats. Here's the link http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2587477/nuclear_power_trumps_democracy.html

Well, that's reason enough for me, but there is another cogent article, this time by the editor of the Ecologist, OliverTickell, about keeping the U.K's status as a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) state and about tritium production. It's entitled "Bombs Ahoy! Why the UK is desperate for nuclear power"
I prefer "Peace on earth. Good will towards men." Do some politicians miss out those words when they sing the carol?