Your work is exemplary, reflecting some of the untouchable and unspeakable elements of U.S. history, as well as areas of international concern. I was especially interested in your interviews with Vladimir Putin (parts , , , & ) as Rodrigo Prieto, a Director of Photography (who can be seen as one of the cameramen), is my second cousin. From all this, I was extremely interested in listening to you at the beginning of Lex Fridman’s May 2022 interview describe a new, not-yet-released documentary on nuclear power (transcript below).
Given your pending documentary advocating nuclear power as the way forward for humanity’s energy source, and your citing of A Bright Future as being a significant inspiration for the film, I want to proffer a wider perspective on the wisdom of committing our species’ future to nuclear power than what is presented by Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist in A Bright Future. As the authors’ expertise covers the areas of political science plus international relations and mechanical plus nuclear engineering respectively, it is vital to widen the scope of this subject to take in the disciplines of nuclear physics and medicine.
While I am not trained in nuclear physics or medicine, as a layperson I have been curious and concerned about low-level ionizing radiation since the 1980s. It is this subject area I wish to address here, given the manner in which Goldstein and Qvist write about it in their book and the sources they cite.
From 1994 to his death in 2007, I worked with John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., amplifying his written works on the internet. In 2015 I wrote about His Life, and Research on the Health Effects of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation. As Daniel Steinberg wrote, “Gofman is a prime example of the unusual man who straddles two fields and as a result is able to see novel ways of applying methods and ideas from one field to the other.” [“The Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis. An interpretive history of the cholesterol controversy,” Journal of Lipid Research, 2004]. John Gofman’s life is indeed a prime example of a wide-ranging intelligence and desire to first do no harm. To appreciate his research and understanding, it is useful to briefly describe his work, which I will do below, in the hope that you will read it.
I am a big fan of your oeuvre and how it reflects ineffable discoveries, not just profound political ones but human themes underlying them. I interviewed Fletcher Prouty in 1989 after our mutual friend, John Judge, introduced me to him. The result of that high-water mark in this life was the book I published 10 years later, Understanding Special Operations, And Their Impact on The Vietnam War Era. In my correspondence with Fletcher, I learned of your consultation with him on the vitally significant JFK film. I have promoted your films, especially on the assassination of the 35th President by the national security state that, unlike John Kennedy who wanted to END the Cold War, the subterranean power control group wanted to WIN it. Acknowledging you are extremely engaged in your life path, I nonetheless encourage you to study the following in the spirit in which it is offered to reconsider your advocacy for nuclear power.
John William Gofman
While a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, John Gofman worked on the Plutonium Project sector of the Manhattan Project under the tutelage of Glenn Seaborg, his faculty advisor. Gofman earned his Ph.D. in nuclear/physical chemistry in 1943 and was deeply involved in work with Plutonium.
In 1946 Gofman completed medical school at UCSF, where faculty and classmates selected him to receive the annual Gold-Headed Cane Award for having the qualities of “a true physician.” After his 1947 internship, Gofman joined the faculty at UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in the Division of Medical Physics where he began his research on lipoproteins and Coronary Heart Disease at the Donner Laboratory. His work on heart disease, lipoproteins, and how blood transports cholesterol earned him many awards and, in 2007, he was named the “Father of Clinical Lipidology.“
By the late 1950s, Dr Gofman had shifted his focus to the study of trace elements in biology. He was the Associate Director (1962-1969) of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and founder of the Laboratory’s Biomedical Research Division where, at the request of the Atomic Energy Commission, his program (1963-1972), with a three-plus million dollar annual budget and first-rate lab and computer facilities, evaluated the role of ionizing radiation and chromosome injury in human cancer causation.
In 1969, Gofman and colleague, Dr Arthur Tamplin, concluded that human exposure to ionizing radiation was much more serious than previously recognized. Speaking at an IEEE Conference in October, they presented the paper, “Low Dose Radiation, Chromosomes and Cancer.” Gofman summarized the paper’s key points as: “One, there would be twenty times as many cancers per unit of radiation as anyone had predicted before, and two, we could find no evidence of a safe amount of radiation—you should assume it’s proportional to dose all the way up and down the dose scale.” In November, Gofman was invited to address the Senate Committee on Public Works that was holding hearings on nuclear energy, and prepared the paper for the Senate Committee: “Federal Radiation Council Guidelines for Radiation Exposure of the Population at Large – Protection or Disaster?”
Soon after this, Drs Gofman and Tamplin came under vicious attack from the AEC and the nuclear power industry. Gofman’s later recounting how he was dubbed incompetent overnight after seven years of managing a $3.5 million program reveals the appalling conflict of interest for the AEC to both regulate and promote U.S. nuclear energy programs. The degree to which the AEC hierarchy was desperate to destroy the credibility and research of Gofman and Tamplin was demonstrated when Dr. John Totter, head of biology and medicine at the AEC, told a member of the Public Health Service:
You’ve got to help us destroy Gofman and Tamplin.... It’s not a matter of whether Gofman and Tamplin are correct or not; the issue is that if their work gains creedence, the nuclear energy program will be destroyed, and right now we need the nuclear energy program. Besides, by the time the cancers and leukemias occur that they’re talking about, you’ll be retired and I’ll be retired, so what difference does it make?.
In May 1971, Dr. Gofman became Chairman of the newly formed nonprofit research and educational group, the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility (CNR). Established by Lenore Marshall, a poet concerned about nuclear issues, it was the first national anti-nuclear group. CNR’s Mission was “to provide independent analyses of sources and health effects of xrays and other ionizing radiations.” Others who joined Gofman on CNR’s Board of Directors included: Prof. Lewis Mumford, and Nobel Laureates Linus Pauling, Harold Urey, and George Wald.
By 1973, Livermore de-funded Gofman’s laboratory research on chromosomes and cancer. He returned to teaching full-time at U.C. Berkeley, until choosing an early and active “retirement” in order to concentrate fully on pro-bono research into human health effects from radiation.
Dr Gofman’s books present a series of findings.
In 1995, Dr Gofman submitted a Supplement to the Oral History he had participated in as part of the Human Radiation Experiments Oral Histories. This program was initiated in December 1993 by U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary. The Supplement provides context regarding how, in the five decades preceding the Manhattan Project, the dominant biomedical community erroneously believed that exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation was of no consequence. Once this bias of missing the boat concerning cancer induction had been adopted over decades, the imperative to continue operating with the “no problem from exposure to low-dose radiation” mindset predominated. This overrode all voices urging caution or that the medical community’s prior guidance was wrong.
1. Humans in recent decades (last couple of hundred years) operate on the technological imperative. Whatever is discovered must be applied immediately. There has been no thought, until recently, about DISASTER CREEP which can occur as a result of looking only at the short span of time for consequences of exposure to new technologies.
2. A special example of disaster creep is the inordinately long latent period before the full flowering of cancers following exposure to carcinogens such as ionizing radiation. The time is clearly at least 50 years and it may really be 60 or more years.
THE RESULT: The bulk of cancers from x-radiation and radium gamma rays simply were not seen, partly because of the long latency and partly because the idea that long-term follow-up was essential was clearly dismissed in the half-century after the Roentgen discovery.
In Radiation-Induced Cancer from Low-Dose Exposure, combining his knowledge of how ionizing radiation delivers its energy along primary ionization tracks, with existing evidence of cancer-induction at low doses, Gofman was able to prove “by any reasonable standard of biomedical proof” that no exposure to ionizing radiation is risk-free with respect to DNA mutations. The core of this comprehensive proof is presented in Chapter 18, “Disproof of Any Safe Dose or Dose-Rate of Ionizing Radiation, with Respect to Induction of Cancer in Humans,” with Chapters 19 through 21 comprising the Auxiliary Chapters on the Threshold Issue. Combined, these chapters form Section 5: Disproof of Any Safe Dose or Dose-Rate. Within three years, the quasi-official radiation committees (the United Nations committee, the British committee, and two American committees) began gradually but openly to publish the same conclusion.
John Gofman received the Right Livelihood Award in 1992 “for his pioneering work in exposing the health effects of low-level radiation”. In his 1981 book, Radiation and Human Health, Dr Gofman affirmed his profound awe and humility at the sanctity of life and his life-long committment to first, do not harm:
The author would like to say that, whenever he contemplates the mystery of cell division—the intricate production, mobilization, and proper attachment of “threads” (of some sort) to each of the 46 human chromosomes, and the “pulling” (somehow) of each in the proper direction—and when he considers the other steps in the healthy growth and maintenance of a human being, all of which are directed by the chromosomes and genes within the cell, he feels profound awe and humility. So, he also feels deeply concerned about activities which pollute and destroy this exquisite information machinery, from which all future humans must originate.
The author knows that it is just by chance, in the random shuffling of mankind’s genes, that he did not receive the damaged genes and chromosomes that produce very low intelligence, severe emotional disorders, early death, or major physical disorders. Luck, not merit. Those of us who were lucky may express our gratitude not only by helping those who were unlucky, but also by working to protect the integrity of the species’ genetic materials from unnecessary injury. (pp. 7-8)
Veracity of Statements in A Bright Future
The above is a requisite background to assess the fundamental veracity of statements by Goldstein and Qvist in Chapter 7, Safest Energy Ever, and Chapter 9, Handling Waste. Leaving aside that these writers are not trained in medicine, their assertions regarding deaths from nuclear power accidents, what has been learned about low-level ionizing radiation, and the longevity of radioactive matter are, at best, misinformed. Concerning Chernobyl, the statements are made:
In September 1986 Dr Gofman presented Assessing Chernobyl’s Cancer Consequences: Application of Four “Laws” of Radiation Carcinogenesis at The American Chemical Society Symposium On Low-Level Radiation, Division of Chemical Health and Safety. As stated in the Introduction and Section 9, Discussion and Conclusions, pages 40 and 41-42:
There exists as large a body of evidence for the human concerning the quantitative aspects of induction of cancer and leukemia by ionizing radiation as exists for any other carcinogen, probably an even larger body of evidence. In 1969, using the human evidence available to that time, Gofman and Tamplin presented three generalizations or “laws” which permit quantitative assessment of the cancer toll which will follow human exposure to ionizing radiation under virtually all circumstances of exposure....
It is correct to say that a single event—the Chernobyl accident—has caused between 600,000 and a million cases of cancer and leukemia. The radio-cesiums are on the ground, and humans are committed to receive the doses from them. To the extent that a share of the dose has already been received, a share of the malignancies is already underway, even though they will not become manifest, clinically, for years.
The Chernobyl accident obviously represents the most serious industrial tragedy in the history of mankind, and by a very large factor....
We can predict with high confidence that an honest study of the proposed population sample will simply confirm—but decades from now—the magnitude of radiation production of cancer, a magnitude we know quite well prior to such a study.
The existing human evidence provides a solid basis for assessing the Chernobyl toll. The credible lower-limit of malignancies from the cesium fallout is approximately 640,000 cases, and a credible upper-limit is probably 1,600,000 malignancies. Only additional and reliable measurements of cesium fallout, made by independent scientists, can narrow the range.
23 years after Gofman’s Assessing Chernobyl’s Cancer Consequences, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment was published in The New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 1181, December 2009, 335 pages. The authors: Dr Alexey Yablokov, was head of the Russian Academy of Science under Gorbachev; Dr Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist and ecologist in Belarus; and Dr Vassily Nesterenko, head of the Ukrainian Nuclear establishment at the time of the accident and who flew over the burning reactor and took the only measurements. In August 2009, he died as a result of radiation damage, but earlier, with help from Andrei Sakharov, was able to establish BELRAD - The Institute of Radiation Safety to help children of the area. Consulting editor Jeanette Sherman, who translated the book into readable English pointed out in 2011 that:
On the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl, WHO and the IAEA published the “Chernobyl Forum Report,” mentioning only 350 sources, mainly from the English literature, while in reality there are more than 30,000 publications and up to 170,000 sources that address the consequences of Chernobyl. By 2006, there had been 10 major publications concerning Chernobyl published in England, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the United States, with scientists currently publishing new data.
After waiting two decades for the findings of Chernobyl to be recognized by the United Nations, three scientists, Alexey Yablokov, Vasily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko undertook the task to collect, abstract and translate some 5,000 articles reported by multiple scientists, who observed first-hand the effects from the fallout. These had been published largely in Slavic languages and not previously available in translation. The result was Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009.
According to the official records, the destruction of the Chernobyl reactor was the result of both design factors and human error. Many technocrats hope that engineering feats will provide benefits for society, but from the sinking of the Titanic to the recent British Petroleum oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, it is apparent that neither technology nor humans are error-proof. To mitigate this and any future nuclear disasters, it is critical to learn about the extent of the Chernobyl disaster and continue research into the effects upon the biosphere and all that live in it.
As stated in Chapter 7, Mortality after the Chernobyl Catastrophe, written by Alexey Yablokov:
Thus the overall mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe was estimated at 985,000 additional deaths. This estimate of the number of additional deaths is similar to those of Gofman (1994a) and Bertell (2006). A projection for a much longer period—for many future generations—is very difficult.(p.210)
In 1986, employing the “three generalizations or ‘laws’ which permit quantitative assessment of the cancer toll which will follow human exposure to ionizing radiation under virtually all circumstances of exposure,” Dr Gofman estimated a lower-limit of malignancies from cesium fallout to be 640,000 cases and an upper-limit to be 1,600,000 malignancies. These generalizations were first published in 1969 in Gofman’s and Tamplin’s LOW DOSE RADIATION, CHROMOSOMES, AND CANCER. Two-plus decades later, Dr Yablokov presented findings indicating overall mortality through 2004 was 985,000 additional deaths.
On page 91 of A Bright Future, the authors state, “Radiation rarely kills anyone, but fear of radiation kills a lot of people.” They source this statement to David Ropeik, “The Dangers of Radiophobia”. Mr Ropeik is an author, teacher and speaker on risk perception and risk communication—again, someone not trained in medicine. This dismissal of consequences of exposure to radioactive poisons reflects Goldstein’s and Qvist’s sourcing The Chernobyl Forum on page 92 to state that “most likely, up to ‘several thousand’ people could eventually die from cancer as a result of radiation exposure, although the increase among a very large population would be so small as to be ‘very difficult to detect.’” Given the above quantitative assessment by Dr Gofman in 1986 of lower- and upper- limit malignancies from cesium fallout, followed by Dr Yablokov’s figure in 2009 of nearly 1 million additional deaths through 2004, one is left to wonder whose interests Goldstein and Qvist represent by their absurd claims.
Statements and assertions made in A Bright Future indicate a bias toward minimizing or dismissing the consequences of contamination of the gene pool and the biosphere from man-made radioactive matter. Concerning the impacts of radioactive poisons being generated from the destroyed reactors and spent fuel pool at Fukushima, Goldstein and Qvist assert there were no deaths caused by exposure to radiation:
Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment with a degree in radiation biology and doctoral studies concerning the radiological effects of nuclear fuel processing. In March 2021, Dr Fairlie reviewed the United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) third report on the health effects of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear accident, UNSCEAR 2020 Report, Annex B, Advance Copy, including the following:
On (a) [“the number of expected fatal cancers”], the 2020 Report concludes that there are no observed ill health effects from the accident but this conclusion is inconsistent with UNSCEAR’s own estimates of high collective doses from the accident. Table 13 (page 72) of UNSCEAR’s 2020 report shows that, in the first 10 years after the accident, the whole body collective dose from the accident was 32,000 man Gy. When we apply the widely-accepted fatal cancer risk estimate of 10% per Gy to this figure, we see that about 3,000 fatal cancers will have occurred due to the accident, correct to one significant figure.
I wrote to Dr Fairlie asking what he meant by “correct to one significant figure”? Dr Fairlie responded with the following (the symbol “Gy” stands for “Gray” which measures a unit of absorbed dose of ionizing radiation):
The words “correct to one significant figure” here mean that the correct answer to 10% per Gy x 32,000 person Gy = 3,200 persons but because of the uncertainties involved in the models used, it would be wrong to imply such accuracy. So the number 3,000 is used instead.
[If we were to count 1,567 oranges in a crate (just as an example) there are four significant digits here. But when it comes to fatal cancers we are making an estimate and all estimates involve uncertainties. So giving exact numbers as with oranges in a crate would be unscientific. However we CAN confidently estimate that about 3,000 fatal cancers are expected, and use this estimate confidently for Fukushima.]The problem here is that some of the authors of various official reports by UNSCEAR, WHO, ICRP are very pro-nuclear and tend to downplay radiation risks. Some even say there are no rad'n effects below eg 100 mGy. If this were true then few cancers would be expected. But it is not true. Instead the correct model to use for radiation's effects is the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model which means that there is no safe dose of radiation....effects will occur all the way down to zero dose. Of course, this model is hotly contested by nuclear proponents, but ALL of the world's radiation authorities now accept that the LNT model should be used.
Along with the tragic damage to and radiological contamination of the biosphere from accidental releases of radioactive poisons created in nuclear reactors, the issue of how to care for the man-made radioactive legacy that began being created in the 1940s is paramount. Chapter 9 of A Bright Future, is titled Handling Waste.
Dr Gordon Edwards is president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to education and research on all issues related to nuclear energy, whether civilian or military—including non-nuclear alternatives—especially those pertaining to Canada. The CCNR website is an archive of hundreds of articles and multi-media resources on nuclear issues in Canada and throughout the world. Dr Edwards graduated from the University of Toronto in 1961 with a gold medal in Mathematics and Physics and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. At the University of Chicago, he obtained two master’s degrees, one in Mathematics (1962) and one in English Literature (1964). In 1972, he obtained a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Queen’s University. Edwards has worked widely as a consultant on nuclear issues and has been qualified as a nuclear expert by courts in Canada and elsewhere.
In 2018 Dr Edwards was interviewed about the dilemma of nuclear waste management and his forty-five years of experience as the lead member of CCNR. In section 11 (of 32) of the transcript, he addresses how A disturbed “undisturbed” geological formation is no longer undisturbed.
But even under the best of circumstances, we know that you can’t get waste into an undisturbed geological formation without disturbing it. As soon as you disturb it, it’s no longer the same ballgame. The other thing that people are unaware of, generally, is the nature of this waste. They really don’t realize that this waste is not inert material, that it’s active. It’s chemically active. It’s thermally active. It generates heat for fifty thousand years. They have a fifty-thousand-year time period they call the thermal pulse, and the degree of radio-toxicity staggers the mind. Most people have no ability to wrap their mind around that. Take a simple example like Polonium 210 which was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, and which will breed into the irradiated fuel as time goes on... According to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratories ... this material is 250 billion times more toxic than [hydrogen] cyanide. That’s a staggering concept. In fact, nobody can wrap their mind around that, really. 250 billion times more toxic?! Theoretically, that means that if you had a lethal dose of cyanide, and you had the same amount of Polonium 210, the cyanide could kill one person. Polonium 210 could kill 250 billion persons. That’s amazing. How do you possibly wrap your mind around that?
Concerning the life-span duration of the radioactive poisons generated in nuclear power plants, Dr Edwards pointed out in 2015 how the time span is far greater than the 100,000 years cited in A Bright Future and how every radioactive poison, created in this process of producing electricity, started out as a uranium atom. Prior to 70+ years ago, none of these poisons existed here on Mother Earth.
[W]hen [spokespeople in the nuclear power industry] say a hundred thousand years they’re talking about plutonium which has a 24,000-year half-life and when you multiply that by ten you get 240,000, so there’s your hundred thousand years. The reason you multiply by ten is because it takes ten half-lives to get it reduced by a factor of a thousand. But what they don’t think about, even the people in the nuclear industry, who should know better, or at least they don’t want to admit it, is that when plutonium disintegrates because it’s unstable, it turns into another element [uranium-235] which is radioactive for seven hundred million years, and so, in fact, it doesn’t disappear. It transforms into something else which is even longer-lived than plutonium itself....
[Nuclear power] creates the most dangerous waste of any industry ever on the face of the planet and this waste is indestructible and remains dangerous for literally millions of years and we don’t know what to do with it except to bury it somewhere and hope that it won’t get out, and that’s not a very good recommendation for a technology. Secondly, it can undergo, as we’ve seen at Chernobyl and Fukushima, it can undergo catastrophic failures and the reason this happens is fundamental. It is because you cannot generate electricity with uranium without simultaneously generating huge quantities of radioactive poisons, and these radioactive poisons are all, you might say, transmutations of the uranium atom.
For example, people have heard about Fukushima. They’ve heard about the poisons that have come out of that: the cesium 137, the iodine 131, the strontium 90, the krypton 85, the plutonium 239. What people don’t always realize is that every one of these elements started off as a uranium atom and most of that uranium came from Canada. In fact, it came from Saskatchewan, went over to Japan, was used as fuel, and was transformed into literally hundreds of different highly radioactive poisonous materials which are then spewed out in event of the accident and are still leaking today from the reactor. They’re still pumping—this is four and a half years after the accident. They’re still pumping almost 400 tons of water a day down into the cores of those melted reactors, the three melted reactors, and then back up to the surface again. By the time they get to the surface they are saturated with these radioactive materials and the water is so radioactive it can’t be released so they’ve stored it in 1,500 tanks, huge tanks, each one containing about 300 tons, and they are building more every week because they need them.
In May 2022 Dr Fairlie updated a 2019 analysis of the implications of Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power seeking to dump massive amounts of tritiated water at Fukushima into the sea from the radioactive water that has been created for more than a decade from the process of cooling the melted reactors that remain extremely radioactive. (In February 2017, TEPCO announced radiation levels inside No. 2 reactor were estimated to be up to 650 sieverts per hour.) Over a million tons of tritium-contaminated water has been created—and increasing by approximately 300 tons a day—resulting in about one thousand storage tanks on-site at Fukushima. Citing many opinions in the debate about the pros and cons of dumping tritium into the ocean, “most [being] either incorrect or uninformed or both,” Dr Fairlie’s focus is “to rectify matters and the put discussion on a more sound technical basis.” After a discussion of the situation, Dr Fairlie concludes his assessment with the following:
There are no easy answers here. Barring a miraculous technical discovery which is unlikely, I think TEPCO/Japanese Government will have to buy more land and keep on building more holding tanks to allow for tritium decay to take place. Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least. This will allow time not only for tritium to decay, but also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power.
This Spring, Dr. Fairlie wrote a very concise five-page primer for laypeople on radiation and radioactivity. With 17 footnotes, 15 References and a Glossary of 17 common radiation terms, his conclusion is “that most people should be better informed about radiation.” Knowledge is power. We owe it to our descendants, and all life yet unborn, to have a working understanding of radiation and its effects on the biosphere, DNA, and human health.
Goldstein’s and Qvist’s assertions about deaths caused by exposure to radioactive poisons released from Chernobyl and Fukushima indicate adherence to sources significantly at odds with estimates reached by independent analyses not beholden to international agency, state, or corporate control. (Again, see endnote #5, Appendix B, The Safe-Dose Fallacy: Three Remarkably Similar Reports.)
Concerning the responsible handling of the long-lived man-made generated radioactive poisons, statements by Goldstein and Qvist such as “100,000 years until the radioactivity has decayed away” and “the volumes of very long-lived radioactive elements will be small” and “A residual part [of nuclear waste] will remain radioactive for very long times, tens of thousands of years for some.” are dangerously misinformed, misleading, and presents a misrepresentation of what the problem is. The following expresses a more thoughtful, necessary, and intelligent exercise of our birthright wisdom to address this new-to-our-species conundrum akin to a paradoxical riddle of the Sphinx.
The authors’ pronouncement at the end of the paragraph of the third excerpt above (on page 125)—“technology in a hundred years will be better able to solve the problem”—is a variation on the age-old kick-the-can-down-the-road and leave it to someone else to solve the issue. A far more responsible and ethical means to approach the handling of nuclear waste now is the strategy of Rolling Stewardship. Dr Gordon Edwards has written of this plan of action to address the dilemma in Nuclear Waste: Abandonment versus Rolling Stewardship.. On 23 March 2022 Nuclear Transparency Watch conducted Rolling Stewardship webinar #1 (1:21:40). Dr Edwards spoke on The Origin and Evolution of the Concept of Rolling Stewardship, beginning at 31:26 (see accompanying 75 slides). One of the central components of this strategy is successful continuity of communication to future generations:
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Radioactive Waste Committee, from 2011 to 2018, launched an RKM initiative: Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory (RKM) Across Generations. This came out of the Information and Memory for Future Decision-Making — Radioactive Waste and Beyond, Proceedings of the Stockholm workshop 21-23 May 2019.
[beginning at 1:11:24]
Telling future generations [about the radioactive legacy we are leaving them], of course, it has to do with this Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory (RKM) Across Generations. There were 21 organizations from 14 countries, representing implementing agencies, regulators, policymakers, R&D institutions, and international and archiving agencies, plus the IAEA, that contributed to the work.
I wanted to point out something else that is important. This is a graph [slide 64] from the Ontario Royal Commission Report that I mentioned. It shows the toxicity of high-level waste over 10 million years.
One of the arguments in favor of reprocessing is removing the plutonium from the spent fuel before burying, which is something that is again being talked about a great deal. The closer we get to burying the waste, the more intense is going to be the discussion about whether to reprocess the waste or not, to extract the plutonium. The danger of this is that inadvertently, the very design of a DGR [Deep Geologic Repository] might lead to extensive reprocessing around the world and therefore tremendous proliferation of nuclear weapons. Because reprocessing and extracting the plutonium would be a great idea if you knew how to get rid of it. But you don’t know how to get rid of it. The result is what you’re doing is you’re making it much easier for bomb makers and terrorists and criminals to get their hands on the plutonium. So you may be thinking that you’re doing the world a favor and you’re doing exactly the opposite. This is a really serious problem.
But one of the arguments used in favor of reprocessing is that, Isn’t it the plutonium and the transuranics that create the greatest risk long term to escape of radionuclides from the repository? The answer is, No not really, because if you look at the long-lived fission products like selenium-79 and technetium-99, these products are fission products but they have half-lives of hundreds of thousands even millions of years and they are much more mobile from an underground repository than plutonium and the transuranics.
In the above, Dr Edwards makes an essential and indelible connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Chiho Kaneko worked as a volunteer interpreter at the UN in 2015 on behalf of the Nihon Hidankyo (The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations). Writing in Demystifying Nuclear Power: Nuclear IS Atomic, she writes:
The nuclear power industry grew out of the nuclear bombs that decimated two Japanese cities in August 1945. These two industries are still inextricably entwined and will never be separated. The enrichment technology to make new uranium fuel is identical to that needed to make the uranium bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, while the plutonium stripped from spent nuclear fuel at reprocessing plants like Rokkasho is identical to the plutonium used in the plutonium bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. As long as we accept the narrative that necessitates the existence of nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and other nuclear facilities, we will never ensure that the world will be free from nuclear-caused suffering.
Steven Starr is the Former Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Missouri. In 2013 he spoke at the New York Academy of Medicine on The Implications of The Massive Contamination of Japan With Radioactive Cesium:
Long-lived radionuclides, such as cesium-137, are something new to us as a species. They did not exist on Earth, in any appreciable quantities, during the entire evolution of complex life. Although they are invisible to our senses, they are millions of times more poisonous than most of the common poisons we are familiar with. They cause cancer, leukemia, genetic mutations, birth defects, malformations and abortions at concentrations almost below human recognition and comprehension. They are lethal at the atomic or molecular level.
They emit radiation, invisible forms of matter and energy that we might compare to fire, because radiation burns and destroys human tissue. But unlike the fire of fossil fuels, the nuclear fire that issues forth from radioactive elements cannot be extinguished. It is not a fire that can be scattered or suffocated, because it burns at the atomic level – it comes from the disintegration of single atoms.
How is it possible to actually understand and grasp what has been created for the first time less than one century ago and how then to deal with the responsibilities incurred? INTO ETERNITY, A FILM FOR THE FUTURE is a 2009 documentary by Michael Madsen, the film’s Writer, Director, and Narrator. The focus is on Onkalo, the world’s first permanent waste repository. Situated at Olkiluoto in Finland, this program is projected to remain intact and untouched by future humans for 100,000 years. In reviewing the film, broadcast journalist Maria Gilardin endeavored to quantify this span of time:
What are 100,000 years in relation to known history? Since it is so difficult to predict the future, we usually look back:
- The Great Pyramid of Giza was completed around 4,500 years ago,
- the transition from nomadic hunter-gathering to farming and permanent settlement occurred between 7 and 10 thousand years ago,
- the last ice age was 20,000 years ago,
- our Homo sapiens ancestors only reached Europe 40 thousand years ago, where Neanderthals did not become extinct until 30 thousand years ago
- and the great original Homo sapiens migration out of Africa took place between 125 and 60 thousand years ago.
Gilardin poses a central question: “How far ahead can we burden the earth and future generations by turning on the lights?” Peter Bradshaw wrote in the British Guardian:
One of the most extraordinary factual films to be shown this year. Madsen's film does not merely ask tough questions about the implications of nuclear energy ... but [also] about how we, as a race, conceive our own future.... This is nothing less than post-human architecture we are talking about. Why isn't every government, every philosopher, every theologian, [everybody,] everywhere in the world discussing Onkalo and its implications?
The film’s narration speaks to our descendants in the future at one point stating, “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?” (emphasis added)
Near the beginning of your interview with Lex Fridman, you state:
It [A Bright Future] was a book, fact-based, clear, not too long, and not too technical. It was very clear that they were in favor of all kinds of renewables, renewable energy, yes. They made it very clear how dangerous oil and gas were—methane and made it very clear to the layman like me. And at the same time said that renewables can work so far but the gap is enormous as to how much electricity the world is going to need in 2050 and beyond. Two, three, four times—we don’t even know the damage but we have India, we have China, we have Africa, we have Asia coming on to the scene, wanting more and more electricity.
Collectively, every person alive today must ponder and deeply contemplate the assumption in the above concerning how much energy the world is going to need in 2050 and beyond. Our survival as a species depends on coming to terms with what Madsen identifies as our way of life depending on unlimited energy. How has our single human family managed to live since the dawn of time? How long in comparison to that timeline has it been since the industrial age began?
Further, the actual health-ecological-social costs are largely ignored for what is required to make what is termed renewable energy machines via coal, petroleum, wood, and uranium energy inputs. Thomas Troszak details an aspect of this in “Why do we burn coal and trees to make solar panels?” (below) and goes further with “The hidden costs of solar photovoltaic power” (NATO ENSEC COE Energy highlights Vol 16, pp 22. Copyright 2021 NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence).
All modern technology including “renewable” energy depends on the non-renewable resources that make it possible. For example, every step in the production of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems requires a perpetual input of fossil fuels—as carbon reductants for smelting metals from ore, for process heat and power, international transport, and deployment. Silicon smelters, polysilicon refineries, and crystal growers all require uninterrupted, 24/7 power that comes mostly from coal and uranium. Additional mineral resources and fossil energy are needed for constructing PV factories, process equipment, and manufacturing infrastructure. The only “renewable” materials consumed in PV production are obtained by deforestation—for wood chips, and by burning vast areas of tropical rainforest for charcoal used as a source of carbon for silicon smelters. Both media and journal claims that solar PV can somehow “replace fossil fuels” have not addressed the “non-renewable reality” of all the global manufacturing supply chains necessary for the mining, manufacturing, and distribution of PV power systems. Some often-cited accounts of solar PV production exclude raw materials and silicon smelters from the PV “supply chain” entirely, which obscures the profoundly non-sustainable basis of PV technology. A more complete overview of commercial PV production is presented, from the sources of raw materials to the deployed array. 38 references from published articles and industry sources are cited. (2019-11-18 revision)
I spent the latter half of 2019 into 2020 studying and building a directory on collapse as it pertains to our electronic civilization and the physical limits we continue to exceed without addressing the externalities of the energy required to make and operate electronic technologies and then dealing with the end-of-life resultant “electronic trash”. In this sphere of inquiry, I have learned a great deal from the work of Katie Singer. Along with her book, An Electronic Silent Spring: Facing the Dangers and Creating Safe Limits (2014) she writes for meer.com and runs Our Web of Inconvenient Truths which focuses on how,
The Internet is the largest thing that humanity has built. Every text message, video stream, Facebook post, Google search, GPS search, online purchase (every online activity) engages an international network of cell sites and data storage centers that consume huge amounts of greenhouse gas emitting electricity. Manufacturing every tablet, “smart” phone, “smart,” “energy-saving” Internet-of-Things-connected refrigerator and “zero emissions” vehicle starts with extraction of natural resources including coal, copper, quartz, coltan, cobalt, lithium, petroleum coke and fracked natural gas. Every device, appliance and infrastructure part depends on refineries, CO2-emitting power plants, nuclear plants, chemical plants, steel mills, metal smelters, slow-burning wood chips (for smelters) and factories of all kinds. Each energy-guzzling, toxic-waste and greenhouse-gas emitting operation depends on all of the others. They inter-connect by a network of power lines, natural gas pipe lines, cargo ships, airplanes, trains, trucks, shipping lanes, airports, railways, highways, telecom access networks and data storage centers to form one gigantic global super-factory. Becoming aware of these inconvenient truths is a personal experience. Decreasing our footprint requires collective action.
In 2003 Richard Heinberg wrote about the unique energy lifestyle humans living in what is today called the United States have learned to take for granted. Our wildly extravagant moment-to-moment exploitation of energy is unparalleled across the span of human history on Earth.
[U.S.] Americans, more than the people of any other region, have learned to take high-energy living standards for granted. In order to gain some perspective on this accustomed standard, it might be helpful to perform a little experiment. Try running up three flights of stairs in twenty seconds. If you weigh 150 pounds and the three flights go up forty feet, you will have done 6,000 foot-pounds of work in twenty seconds, or 300 foot-pounds per second. One horsepower equals 550 foot-pounds per second; therefore, you will have just generated a little over half a horsepower. But no one could sustain such a burst of muscle-energy all day long. The average sustained human power output is roughly one-twentieth of a horsepower.
This exercise is useful (even if performed only in imagination) in comparing human power with the power of the machines that maintain our modern way of life. Suppose human beings were powering a generator connected to one 150-watt light bulb. It would take five people’s continuous work to keep the light burning. A 100-horsepower automobile cruising down the highway does the work of 2,000 people. If we were to add together the power of all of the fuel-fed machines that we rely on to light and heat our homes, transport us, and otherwise keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed, and then compare that total with the amount of power that can be generated by the human body, we would find that each American has the equivalent of over 150 “energy slaves” working for us 24 hours each day. In energy terms, each middle-class American is living a lifestyle so lavish as to make nearly any sultan or potentate in history swoon with envy.
Oren Lyons is Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Council of Chiefs, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy). He was interviewed in 2016 for The 11th Hour Research Tapes. Within the complete transcript, he identifies a primary blind spot our western domination system is trapped within:
We always said that we have been told and understand that we’re relatives. Where our white brother will talk about water and trees and animals and fish as resources we talk about them as relatives. That’s a whole different perspective. If you think that they’re relatives and you understand that then you’re going to treat them differently.
Decades ago at schools and universities, David Brower delivered “The Sermon,” describing the history of Mother Earth covering a 6-day time span beginning midnight Sunday from her inception to the present. Life first appears Tuesday at noon. Saturday at 4 pm dinosaurs appear; by 9 pm they’re gone. Four minutes before midnight our proto ancestors show up. 1.5 seconds to midnight agriculture is hatched. One-fortieth of a second before midnight comes the industrial revolution. Since Brower’s birth in 1912, we’ve used up more of Mother Earth and our relatives than in all our previous history.
Are we exercising our birthright intelligence with clarity and coherence when we, literally, buy into the false promise of continued unlimited energy use ongoing, for the remainder of life on Mother Earth?
Carl Jung’s autobiography described his explorations of what the nature of being human means. The following speaks to an understanding of our species’ current dilemma concerning which fork in the road to take as we continue our collective, creative evolutionary adaptation into our post-industrial mind-epoch.
Our souls as well as our bodies are composed of individual elements which were all already present in the ranks of our ancestors. The "newness" in the individual psyche is an endlessly varied recombination of age-old components. Body and soul therefore have an intensely historical character and find no proper place in what is new, in things that have just come into being. That is to say, our ancestral components are only partly at home in such things. We are very far from having finished completely with the Middle Ages, classical antiquity, and primitivity, as our modern psyches pretend. Nevertheless, we have plunged down a cataract of progress which sweeps us on into the future with ever wilder violence the farther it takes us from our roots. Once the past has been breached, it is usually annihilated, and there is no stopping the forward motion. But it is precisely the loss of connection with the past, our uprootedness, which has given rise to the "discontents" of civilization and to such a flurry and haste that we live more in the future and its chimerical promises of a golden age than in the present, with which our whole evolutionary background has not yet caught up. We rush impetuously into novelty, driven by a mounting sense of insufficiency, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. We no longer live on what we have, but on promises, no longer in the light of the present day, but in the darkness of the future, which, we expect, will at last bring the proper sunrise. We refuse to recognize that everything better is purchased at the price of something worse; that, for example, the hope of greater freedom is canceled out by increased enslavement to the state, not to speak of the terrible perils to which the most brilliant discoveries of science expose us. The less we understand of what our fathers and forefathers sought, the less we understand ourselves, and thus we help with all our might to rob the individual of his roots and his guiding instincts, so that he becomes a particle in the mass, ruled only by what Nietzsche called the spirit of gravity.
Reforms by advances, that is, by new methods or gadgets, are of course impressive at first, but in the long run they are dubious and in any case dearly paid for. They by no means increase the contentment or happiness of people on the whole. Mostly, they are deceptive sweetenings of existence, like speedier communications which unpleasantly accelerate the tempo of life and leave us with less time than ever before. Omnis festinatio ex parte diaboli est—all haste is of the devil, as the old masters used to say.
Reforms by retrogressions, on the other hand, are as a rule less expensive and in addition more lasting, for they return to the simpler, tried and tested ways of the past and make the sparsest use of newspapers, radio, television, and all supposedly timesaving innovations.—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, New York: Vintage (1965), pp. 235-237.
Since my 20s, I have wondered, How did they do it on other planets? How did they mature out of the acquisitive, territorial, and grabby phase we in the post-industrial world are nearing the end of, and grow to a level of consciousness and conscience where they learned to live in peace within themselves, with all life in the world they shared, and with each other? Is it the case this has been ongoing in a portion of our species, as Shawnee/Lenape scholar Steven Newcomb puts it, in “Our Original Nations - Living Sacred Life Ways, Extending Back to the Beginning of Time”?
What happened when we came out with some facts about cancer and radiation: Within two weeks certain officials of the AEC, not Glenn Seaborg, were denigrating our work publicly, saying to reporters that we were wrong, that we were incompetent. It was a most interesting situation. Here is the department of the AEC that had just awarded seven years of $3-to-3.5-million budgets to be used under my general guidance, since I was the associate director for biology and medicine at Livermore. And two weeks after we’d come out with a paper on radiation, cancer, and chromosomes ... we became incompetent. Here’s somebody that for seven years gave me $3.5 million a year and couldn’t detect my incompetence; in two weeks I was incompetent.
... it seemed somewhat strange to us that these people who ostensibly had a grave concern about the hazard of radiation—indeed we had been commissioned by the Atomic Energy Commission to find out the hazard of radiation—should be so vehement in their immediate attack upon us. And the fact that the attack came from the electric utility industry and the manufacturers of nuclear reactors made us wonder if there wasn’t something that the nuclear power industry had to hide....
As a matter of fact at that moment, nuclear power plants were the least of our concerns. In fact we thought that was one of the rather good peaceful uses of the atom. We much more concerned about such things as weapons testing and the use of atomic explosives for so-called peaceful purposes such as digging canals.
But the nuclear power industry descended on us in the most vicious manner imaginable, attempting to destroy our credibility as scientists. It turned out to be a rather stupid blunder on the part of the utilities and the nuclear reactor manufacturers and the AEC because with each of their increasing blistering attacks they invited more and more people in the scientific community and among the media, the press, the radio and television, to say, If these are people going hysterical about somebody putting out some information on radiation, there must be something they’re trying to hide.
And, of course, they were trying to hide a great deal. Namely, trying to sell the idea of nuclear power as being cheap, clean, and safe. And our subsequent investigations directly went into the question of nuclear power and we’ve concluded that this industry is far, far from safe; far, far from clean; and the word cheap is really a joke because it is the most expensive imaginable way when you consider all the hidden subsidies and the costs that don’t show in the actual operation of the plant—namely your government subsidies—this is the most expensive way to produce power.
The biggest subsidy of all that they have is to take away your right to redress if you are ever injured through the courtesy of the U.S. Congress passing a law called the Price Anderson [Act] Law which virtually removes the requirement of any responsibility for damage caused by nuclear power.
You’re working on a documentary now about nuclear energy.
It’s interesting to talk about this. Energy is such a big part of the world, about the geopolitics of the world, about the way the world is. What do you think is the role of nuclear energy in the 21st century?
Good question. First of all, obviously, everyone’s talking about climate change. Right? Here I wake up to that a few years ago and clearly we’re concerned. I picked up a book by Josh Goldstein and his co-author who’s Swedish. Those two wrote a book called A Bright Future. Came out a few years ago and I lapped it up.
It was a book, fact-based, clear, not too long and not too technical. It was very clear that they were in favor of all kinds of renewables, renewable energy, yes. They made it very clear how dangerous oil and gas were—methane and made it very clear to the layman like me. And at the same time said that renewables can work so far but the gap is enormous as to how much electricity the world is going to need in 2050 and beyond. Two, three, four times—we don’t even know the damage but we have India, we have China, we have Africa, we have Asia coming on to the scene, wanting more and more electricity.
So they addressed the problem as a global one. Not just as often in the United States, you get the ethnocentric United States point of view that we’re doing well, blah blah blah. We’re not doing well. But we sell that to people that we’re comfortable. We spent more energy than anybody—this country per capita, than anybody and at the same time we don’t seem to understand the global picture.
So that’s what they did and they made me very aware. So the only way to close that gap—the only way in their mind—is nuclear energy. And talking about a gap of building a huge amount of reactors over the next 30 years and starting now. They make that point over and over again.
Obviously, this country, the United States, is not going to go in that direction because it just is incapable of having that kind of political will. And fear is a huge factor. And still a lot of shibboleths, a lot of myths about nuclear energy, have confused and confounded the landscape.
The environmentalists have played a huge role in—doing good things, many good things—but also confusing and confounding the landscape and making accusations against nuclear energy that were exaggerated.
So taking all these things into consideration we set about making this documentary, which is about finished now, almost finished. It’s an hour and 40 minutes and that was a hard part—getting it down from about three and a half hours to something more manageable.
It’s interviews among others. But essentially we went to Russia, we went to France—which is the most, perhaps, advanced nuclear country in the world—Russia and the United States. We went to the Idaho Laboratory and talked to the the scientists there as well as the Department of Energy people that are handling this. Idaho is one of the experimental labs—the United States is probably one of the most advanced and they’re doing a lot of advanced nuclear there. We also we studied—Russia gave us a lot of insight, were very cooperative because they have some of the most advanced nuclear—actually probably the most advanced nuclear reactor in the world at Bel’lay’arsk (sp?) in the Ural Mountains.
So we did an investigation there. In France they have some very advanced nuclear reactors and now they’re building again. The Green Party became a factor in France and there was a motion when Hollande was president, they started to move away from it. Actually they were beginning to just abandon, not complete, in other words close down some of the nuclear reactors. There was talk of that but thank god France did not do that. Macron came in and recently reversed it and they’re building as fast as they can now. Especially with the Ukraine War going on there’s an awareness that Russia will not be providing or may not be providing the energy Europe needs.
Then China is the other one too, that’s the other factor. I’m talking about the big boys. They are doing tremendous work and fast which is very hopeful. But of course China is building in all directions at once. Coal continues to be huge in China and methane too. But basically India and China are the biggest users of coal. As you know Germany went back to coal a few years ago.
So all these factors; it’s a fascinating picture globally. We try to achieve a consensus where nuclear can work and where it will be working. It will be used more and more. The question is how much carbon dioxide China and Russia will be putting out? France is the only one that’s not putting it out.
The United States has not changed. With all the talk and all the nonsense about renewables and the new lifestyle and all this, it’s great for your guilt complex, but it doesn’t do anything for the total accumulation of carbon dioxide in the world.
Who’s going to lead the way on nuclear do you think? You mentioned Russia, France, China, United States; Who’s going to lead?
I don’t think it’s going to be a United Nations kind of thing because the world doesn’t seem capable of uniting. We go to these conferences, Kyoto, and we talk and we agree but then we don’t actually enforce. So I don’t think it can happen that way. I think it’s going to be an individual race with countries. They’re going to just be do it for their own self-interest. Like China is doing it.
China, the thing is if it works and I’m praying that it will really work on a big scale, China will back away from coal naturally. The same thing will be true of India. They will see the benefits. Because if you go to India, you see the cities, the pollution, you walk around in that stuff and you get—there’s no hope in this and you sense it.
So people will move in this direction naturally because nuclear is clean energy. And the amount of casualties of nuclear is the lowest on the industrial scale for energy producing. From coal down to oil, everything, the lowest casualty rate, very low is .002 or something, is nuclear. Not that many people have died from nuclear. Not that many. I think 50 people at Chernobyl which was the worst accident. Nobody died at Fukushima. Nobody died at Three Mile Island. And that’s what you hear all over and over again—these accidents.
The environmentalists have sold us the idea that they’re dangerous. A lot of environmentalists, thank god, are changing. They’ve come off that routine and they’ve saying, We were wrong. We’ve done a lot of good work. Greenpeace did a lot of good work—whales, saving this, saving that. But they admit themselves—not they don’t—but people who have been in the organization have said we were wrong.
In 1956 we show the articles in the New York Times that came out. The Rockefeller Foundation, which of course is a big producer of oil, the Rockefeller family and the Foundation came out with a study which was weighted. They tipped the scale, put a thumb on the scale. But it was a scientific expose of radiation. In the study that came out, printed in the New York Times because the New York Times publisher, Salzburger, was on their board. He was one of the board members.
So they got a lot of strong publicity condemning radiation. Which killed, started the process of doubting nuclear energy. The radiation levels that they pointed out were very minor. And of course, if you go into a scientific analysis of this now, with what we know, it’s just not true. But it tilted the scale back in the 50s, 60s and started questioning the nuclear business.
Do you think that was malevolence or incompetence?
No I think it was competition. I don’t think it was conspiracy as much as it was a sense, We don’t want this—nuclear energy is going to end the dominance of oil. Absolutely. And it will. And it will anyway because it’s the only sane way for the world to proceed.
But the world will have to learn through adversity. So in other words the situation could get worse, much worse. And certain countries are just going to have to adapt, like we always do. When things become too hard you have to change your thinking.
And humans are pretty good at that.
Yes. Talking about human nature, they’re very adept at that. Germany, for example, when Fukushima happened they went out of the nuclear business. That was shocking to me. They just pulled out and they destructed several of their nuclear reactors that were still functioning and put up coal and oil, replaced it. As a result, Germany drifted into this place—next to France, their electricity bills went up and France has stayed the same. They have a different system in Europe but, more or less, no question that France was doing a lot better than Germany.
Now, with this Ukraine issue, it’s a very interesting fulcrum point, whether Germany—what what direction they’re going to go now? How can they keep going with coal? They just can’t.
What’s the connection between oil, coal, nuclear, and war? Energy and conflict. When you look at the 21st century, when you were doing this documentary, were you thinking of nuclear as a way to power the world? But is it also to avoid conflict over resources? Is there some aspect to energy being a source of conflict that we are trying to avoid?
I don’t have the history of energy at my fingertips and it’s a very long history here. But I would say, apparently not. It does seem that individually each country can answer its needs by building. Up until now, we haven’t had conflict except in this issue of Russia supplying Europe. Obviously the pipeline, Nordstream 2 has been closed and Nordstrom 1 is also probably going to be phased out. The concept of Russia supplying gas to Europe is now up in the air. Who knows what’s going to happen? I just don’t see how Europe can get away from using Russian gas. But Russian gas is not the solution because it’s methane too and it goes up into the atmosphere. Methane is in the short term is worse than coal. Worse.
There’s all kinds of charts we show in the film. We try not to be too over-factual. But methane is not the answer. It’s a short-term answer. Will countries go to war over energy? is a question that I’m trying to think of all the wars that happened. You could say Germany, of course, during World War II needed oil very badly and it dictated their strategy with Romania, etc., and getting the oil fields open. But I haven’t thought that one through. I’d have to make a documentary on it to really understand how energy and war interface.