This 2009 award-winning documentary, written, directed, and
narrated by Michael Madsen, provides a profound, insightful
perspective on the consequences of the nuclear waste being
created every day around our planet from nuclear power plants
that will far
out-last our civilization and all
recorded human history. The film is about building the world's
first underground storage site for a fraction of this waste at a
place called Onkalo in Finland – where the site must remain
untouched and unopened for 100,000 years – and offers very
means to see and think about this situation in new ways. Among
the questions raised, consider the following:
How far ahead can we burden the earth and future
generations by turning on the lights?
The film reflects much of the discussion on how to create markers
on the surface to warn future generations of the danger below. . . .
And even if future generations were to somehow understand the
warning, would they heed it?
—from Maria Gilardin in her Time of Useful Consciousness Radio
broadcast (see annotated transcription,
Onkalo - Into
); and in the film, Michael Madsen speaking to an
audience far, far into the future:
In a July 2011
interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott
Onkalo must last one hundred thousand years. . . .
If we succeed, Onkalo will most likely be the longest lasting
remains of our civilization. If you, sometime far into the
future, find this, what will it tell you about us?
A hundred thousand years is beyond our understanding and
imagination. Our history is so short in comparison. How is
it with you? How far into the future will your way of life
My civilization depends on energy as no civilization before
us. Energy is the main currency for us. Is it the same for
you? Does your way of life also depend on unlimited energy?
We already have enormous amounts of nuclear waste all
over the world. If this waste spills out into nature it'll
cause death and destruction. Large areas will become uninhabitable
for a long, long time. Did that happen? Are there forbidden zones
with no life in your time?
Our law states that we must inform you about Onkalo. Maybe
you will need to enter if we overlooked something or if repairs
are required. Were our calculations and assumptions accurate?
Did we make mistakes? Is that why you are here?
, Madsen identifies one of the
paradoxes inherent in this technology which we all must face for the
sake of ourselves and the future:
As I always say about this
film, nuclear energy stands on the
shoulders of almost all the scientific
knowledge that we have about the
universe. It is really the powers of
the universe that we are harvesting.
much knowledge is fused together in
this technology. In that sense it's the
hallmark of human civilization. But
the flip side is the waste which has
this time span built in to it which
I believe is beyond what we can really
on the one hand it's based on deep
understanding in a scientific respect.
But it also has this very, very
difficult time span for us even to
relate to. Then if we cannot relate
to it – if we cannot understand it
or grasp it – it's suddenly
impossible to act responsibly.