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Bob Dylan and America’s 70-Year Nuclear Nightmare


Bob Dylan and America’s 70-Year Nuclear Nightmare

Rev. John Dear

A few years ago, Bob Dylan gave a powerful interview to Rolling Stone. The editor asked about his recent music, but also about our political predicament and how we got into this global mess. Dylan seemed a bit cantankerous—forgive me, Bob!—and kept hemming and hawing.

“What gets in your blood?” the editor asked.

“The whole culture,” Dylan answered.

What do you mean? What are you saying? the editor asked. He kept pushing Dylan to explain where rock and roll came from.

Finally, when push came to shove, Bob Dylan gave the definitive answer.


“We as a people have never talked about how we vaporized hundreds of thousands of human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So we are numb, or we scream, or we’re mindless with our collectively insanity, and we go on planning to vaporize more people.”

I find this frame morally impossible for two reasons:

First, it generalizes that the maniacs who run the Military Industrial Complex somehow reflect universally applicable characteristics as if there is no variance within the human race, neither a natural complementary aspect built into the Feminine Gender and intended to work as counter-balance to such extreme Yang shows of force.

Second, most people were not alive, no less of any age of consent in l945. I wasn’t born then, so I think it’s a form of passing on Original Sin as generic castigation of the entire human race to traffic in this all-inclusive WE frame.

Matthew Foxx had it right in challenging the Old Church (and risking excommunication) for replacing that generations’ enduring Guilt Trip with its antithesis: Original Blessing.

The Course in Miracles states that “Guilt grinds all progress to a halt.”

And as I find it necessary to so often remind, when the WE-frame is used to equate all human beings with acts of violence, it spreads culpability onto those who are not violent, would not choose to drop bombs, and perhaps do know a thing or two about peace, sharing, caring, and getting along with others.

The problem is one of patriarchal controls. In such systems, for all the allegations of Democratic representation and/or equality, old dynastic families, Old Money, Organized Crime families, corporate oligarchs, Military mad men with major “decorations,” Bankers, and media moguls RULE. It has been that way since the onset of History and the Biblical Old Testament Patriarchs reducing women to chattel status. Emphasis on the Yang side of what was designed as a dualistic equation, or what Riane Eisler defines as “The Partnership Society” led to an over-emphasis on the power to DESTROY.

So little reverence was (and this is still the case) given to the Divine Mother and Feminine half of Creation/Source/God-dess/the Infinite… that life has been made cheap, along with women’s bodies as sex trafficking, appalling levels of violence towards women, destructive forms of pornography, and child abuse proliferate. And how the female is treated extends to how Mother Earth and all of her creatures are treated. (Pope Francis has some insight into this and it’s refreshing!)

So enough with the WE clause that subsumes the Feminine counterbalance into the masculine dominant/dominator culture and in this way leaves no ideological room for The Alternative that has always existed.

This is not to say “all men are bad” and “all women are good” as some particularly spiritually retarded persons extrapolate from my far broader content and intended explanation.

The use of the atom bomb tore asunder what God-dess sewed together and as Oppenheimer articulated, “I have become death” (or something along those lines). In particularly damaged souls, this need to assert power through a god-like capacity to destroy has proven mesmerizing. Much of the military state is covert in its actions. When entities that allot themselves a license to kill and are not bothered by the moral barometers of an operational conscience decide to put THEIR objectives into motion, the peaceful citizen too often is gunned down, beaten up, tossed aside, jailed, threatened or disappeared.

That doesn’t mean that millions of persons don’t morally oppose the use of weapons. What is on view is how a dominator culture uses aggressive force to maintain its hegemonic controls over everyone else… and one tool in its arsenal is wiping out any alternatives to “its brand.”

Until such time as the dominators are no longer free to assert THEIR will over the rest of humanity, they hardly deserve homage in the form of conflating their dark deeds with Everyman or Everywoman. That excuses THEM and spreads the horrors to all.

I am 100% in favor of creating a peaceful world. I don’t see us getting there from reinforcing–or taking ownership of the most vile behavior. I think it’s far more therapeutic to dis-own these primitive, atavistic impulses and recognize that they have their genesis in armed military outfits and the elites who rely upon that martial muscle to further their grip on the control of this world along with its human, mineral, and animal “resources.”

Peaceful alternatives exist and in some instances abound. The Age of Warriors is over. The question is whether or not they take the entire living world along with them… as THEY show homage to their own Big Bang theory… and practice.


I applaud your August 6 peace vigil, Father Dear. I’d love to participate in such a thing. Still, it’s sad that so few social justice advocates recognize the ways by which cultural misogyny and sexism have marred the human race and twisted collective priorities (along with mass culture, itself).

The same glaring omission is found in the writings of Robert Koehler and others, although Robert Jensen and Chris Hedges totally get it!

“That means we all need to talk about nuclear weapons and the need to abolish them; to study and teach nonviolence; to connect the dots between the issues of violence (from poverty and racism to war and environmental destruction); and to support the global grassroots movement of nonviolence.”

Dr. King also saw poverty, racism, and militarism as the triplicate evils. There’s a quartet… and the unequal status of the female half of the world population is the first Original Sin against Half of Creation: The Manifest World. It needs to be added to the list post haste!

From the article:

“We are calling people to take to the streets and march against every variation of violence—from U.S. warmaking, to poverty at home and abroad, to racism, police brutality and mass incarceration, to nuclear weapons and environmental destruction—and for Dr. King’s vision of a new culture of nonviolence.”

How about “Say Her Name”?

It’s a glaring omission that in a rape culture and world where one in 3 women will know violence that comes directly from a man’s hands–that this epidemic of violence which has been termed Femicide throughout Mexico and Latin America does not even gain a breath of mention from an otherwise profound peace advocate.

It’s beyond sad.


Your dedication to the culture of nonviolence toward other human beings is admirable. I hope you also understand that such a culture is not attainable as long as we practice violence as a matter of routine against other sentient beings (animals). Accepting cruelty to animals makes it easier to accept cruelty to people. Banning cruelty to animals makes cruelty to people unthinkable. The military is institutionalized ill will. We need a society based upon institutionalized good will and such a society will extend lovingkindness to all sentient beings. A society based upon good will to people and ill will to animals would represent an improvement over what we have now but it would not have a solid foundation.


You sure do like to hear yourself speak. I feel like apologizing to Fr. Dear because once you go off Sioux Rose, you just keep on talking and never notice you’ve strayed far from the pont of the article and are talking about the same issue as you always talk about no matter what article you respond to.

It is really bizarre how you cannot grasp the use of the rhetorical ‘we’. It isn’t meant to be taken literally but you insist on treating it as such time after time. Moreover you use it as a lead in to your pet peeves regardless of what the article is about.

What’s more is that after your tangential discourses irrelevant to the article as the case may be, eventually you get around to remembering to focus on the article. I think you add in a paragraph or two at the end just to make it look good. Here you write a second long piece as if you thought you’d better say something about the article but you ended up drifting off again.

Maybe if you’d wait to add in these personal pseudo articles later and give people a chance to discuss the article a bit before discouraging them right at the outset that might be excusable. It discourages debate and discussion, if you stuck to commenting on the articles more it might be different but you do this right out of the gate and it is getting old.

You are self indulgent madam.


“The editor asked about his recent music, but also about our political predicament and how we got into this global mess.”

The question could be “WHO got us into this global mess”?

If you say conservatives and neoliberals, you are 100% correct. But why do they rule?


it is easy for us to look at the history and be right in reaction to the evil that good men have perpetrated. i can only think of two american heroes in the face of the american government (that so willfully exploded death upon Japanese civilians.) there were alternatives to explore and perhaps a safer explosion off the shores of Japan would have been a better demonstration. the government chose the most evil and racist act and thus our reaction is deeper because we thought we lived in a democracy. julius and ethel rosenberg had no delusions in what they did, and perhaps the soviet union acted as a counter balance to the emerging fascism in the military industrial establishment. anyway it is a mess and has driven our politics since 1945 and that is the tragedy of our so called democracy.


Perhaps Bob Dylan should now issue a press release for Rolling Stone magazine to reprint which urges all governments in the world (including the u.s. government and the israeli government) to disarm and eliminate their nuclear warfare preparation arsenals in 2015 and jointly pledge never to use any nuclear weapons in pursuit of their foreign policy agendas?


Do you have any knowledge of Japanese atrocities in WW2. While we were debating using the bomb, the Japanese murdered a million Indonesian civilians by forced starvation (the army took the food). More people were dying every few days under the ruthless Japanese occupation than died in the two atomic bomb attacks. I will never get the racist point of view that Japanese lives were more valuable than the lives of the innocents in the occupied countries.

Why not demonstrate the bomb? This has been answered so many times, we only had two and could not afford to waste any trying to scare the murderous rulers of Japan. The Japanese were developing a bomb, I am sure they would have made the effort to stage a non-lethal demonstration. the bombs saved millions of innocents from being murdered by the Japanese, end of story.


sgm -

Nuclear bombs are weapons of mass genocide. No one is excusing any atrocities that were committed but there is a difference between those who are perpetrators and those who are innocents. Nuclear weapons make no such distinctions.

The near instantaneous destruction of all life over so great an extent is satanic. Nuclear weapons = genocide. They are evil - anti-creation at root. Evil.

Pity the innocent who suffered even if not the guilty militarists.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass genocide.


atrocities is what war is. the japanese were no different in their imperialist ambitions than say, the u.s. in iraq. stalin brutalized his own people to well over 50 million. we can not use the brutality we saw with little boy and big boy to justify all of this into the future which is what happened. had the u.s. made an attempt to be civil maybe the world would have noticed. (in light of the terrible deeds of the japanese) i would even mollify my position if the u.s. had dropped the bombs on strictly miltiary areas however japan was so crippled i imagine the ‘thinkers’ considered the diminished impact. (so lets bomb the hell out of the civilians!!!) no matter what you think in the end there is no justification and if our society thinks this, the u.s. will continue to be the brute in this world. consider weapons in space and the now possible and thorough control of your thoughts and deeds. we are beyond brave new world and thinking people are driven crazy by what has happened.


I’m not here to keep you from protesting against nuclear weapons, or demanding peace on our planet. I’m here to educate you about the truth. Rev. John Dear has been protesting at Los Alamos National Lab for “the last 12 years” - in his own words - against the “weapons of mass destruction” being built there. Rev. Dear goes on to say that a “trillion [USD] dollars” was approved to further this effort.

As a scientist, and someone who works at a one of 17 National Labs in the U.S., I want to point out the true “birthplace” of the atomic weapon - The University of Chicago.

Los Alamos was just the TEST site. I’d also like to share the TRUE REASON behind the effort to create the atomic bomb - using evidence from Einstein and President FDR’s own words [Google: FDR Library Einstein Letter since I can’t post links here] - As they say “Desperate times call for desperate measures” - and the 1940s were desperate times indeed. I’d also like to share the history of nuclear science [Google: World Nuclear dot Org “Outline History of Nuclear Energy”] - which I hope will clear up the confusion and re-route these anti-nuclear protests into an active pursuit of nuclear energy - which is the only thing that will save this planet from true destruction. Nuclear energy is a clean, green, safe form of energy contrary to what the media and environmentalists want you to believe [You can go here to learn more “www dot Ecosense dot me” - or follow my username on Twitter where I’ll re-post these links]. And I want to point out that many “weapons of mass destruction” have been turned into energy to fuel U.S. household light bulbs - plus electronics we use to read and post on websites like Common Dreams [Google: “Time magazine Turning Russian Nukes into Energy”]. We also use nuclear isotopes to create solar panels - radioactive isotopes in photovoltaic panels collect radiation from the sun. And where would we be without nuclear medicine [chemo and radiation treatment] to halt cancer and tumor growth?

“The Need to Close Los Alamos, the Birthplace of the Bomb”

One more thing I’d like to point out - if Rev. John Dear and his peace posse had been successful in closing the Los Alamos National Lab 12 years ago, the American people - I take that back - The WORLD - would have never experienced the “Love Note” (heart) on the surface of Pluto taken with pictures from NewHorizons or its moon, Charon. We would have never felt the joy of being alive to witness the first landing on Mars. Why? Because it was nuclear energy and batteries and “trillions of dollars” spent on research at National Labs - including Los Alamos and Oak Ridge and the one I know best, Idaho National Lab, - that helped launch these NASA space missions [Google: “Dept of Energy To Pluto and Beyond”] - Funding that also supports scientific research to solve our energy and environmental problems - the ones I’m proud to be a part of.

If we spent more time educating ourselves about the truth instead of wasting precious time jumping on 12-year-long-plus misguided bandwagons, we’d accomplish a whole lot more than bickering - and we’d save a lot of lives and prevent overpopulation - which, ironically, many religions, including Rev. Dear’s, and wayward governments have preached - “go forth and multiply and replenish the earth” and oppose abortion rights. Yes, it’s all connected.

When we’re out of water, out of land, out of fuel, and sitting alone in the dark, in the not-too-distant-future - it is then, in our moment of meditation and perfect clarity, that we can look forward to an annual peace march up to the mountaintop of Los Alamos and hope there’s enough candles to go around as we try desperately to figure out a way to hitchhike there while Bob Dylan songs play on repeat in our minds because we don’t have the energy to fuel our electric cars or stereos or iPhones. And we can be thankful we’re all still alive to witness the shortage - thanks to words of wisdom in a letter to the President from German-born Einstein and three words that saved the human race from total destruction, “This Requires Action”.

Sometimes when we THINK we are right, we don’t SEE how wrong we can really be.

So, when you come back down from your quest to the mountaintop, I urge you to enlighten yourself and others by reading the links I’ll post on my Twitter page since I can’t link them here: Dept of Energy programs, EcoSense - “The Sensible Environmentalist”, The Hiroshima Syndrome and then spend 14 minutes with Ben Heard - a very smart guy who lives in Australia.

14 minutes is a lot less time than the time it takes to march up a mountainside. It took 9 years for NewHorizons to travel to Pluto. This could be the last 14 minutes we need to save ourselves. Is it worth it? You decide.

And for Pete’s sake! Let’s convince the U.S. to RECYCLE nuclear waste - including the waste from stockpiles of Cold War weapons.


As a scientist you should ask yourself this question.

If the same amount of money (including subsidies and insurance) were to be spent on either building solar power arrays in the desert and putting them on roof tops and over shopping mall parking lots etc. or creating a nuclear power plant (s) in the southwest (including the costs for storage of the nuclear waste amortized over the required period if applicable and/or building and maintaining a permanent storage facility)… then which would be preferable? Clean safe solar or the illusory ‘clean’ nuclear (with the costly and horrendously dangerous potentially lethal contamination factor)?

To call nuclear clean is to throw your garbage into your neighbor’s yard and then claim that you don’t have a garbage disposal problem.

Nuclear cannot be called clean simply because hydrocarbon pollution doesn’t go up the stacks. Nuclear pollution is created however and needs be disposed of but it is just different from atmospheric carbon… not clean.


Wereflea, I suggest you take a MINIMUM of 14 minutes to educate yourself by viewing what’s going on in Australia RIGHT NOW by searching Google for “australian nuclear responsibilities ben heard youtube” which I posted in my comment above that you took the time to read (maybe not all of it - but just enough to toss your criticism my way). I hope you will re-read it and keep reading to the end of this one.

Common Dreams doesn’t let me post links because I first have to prove myself. But if you take the time to search Goog for it, AND Watch it, you’ll see how Australia’s ban on nuclear and Toronto, Canada’s acceptance of nuclear is changing the energy and environmental game for Canada. Ben Heard spells it out - clearly - for everyone who can do the math.

As an Environmental Scientist, I’ve HAD TO ASK myself that question (and more) and I’ve researched it for more than 10 years. I hope you’ll spend 14 minutes researching it - when Ben Heard has done all the homework for you. It shouldn’t be THAT hard. But I don’t blame you. There’s a majority of Congressmen in the U.S. who fail to do their homework too. They still don’t understand that over a 70 YEAR period of nuclear energy the amount of waste, AFTER it’s been RECYCLED (which Congress refuses to do, forcing the U.S. to STORE the waste) will ALL fit on the size of a dinner plate. That’s right, Wereflea, a DINNER PLATE. Less than 12-inches in diameter. No Yucca Mountain required. That’s HLW. You’ll understand that acronym if you’ve done ANY research on nuclear energy at all.

Ironically, 70 years is the same amount of time that’s transpired since Hiroshima exploded. The U.S. hasn’t recycled any of the “waste”. There’s also new nuclear power plant designs and methods created over that same period of time. We’ve gotten much better. The U.S. operates plants that weren’t meant to be used beyond 60 years. Congress refuses to build new ones or pay for old ones - or fund a storage facility for “waste”. Imagine trying to communicate with me without internet and only a Mac computer from the early 1980s - you have the software and you have the words but you have no way to transmit and your computer is way too slow. That’s what it’s like for the nuclear energy industry as we speak.

Don’t worry - I have asked myself that questions. The answer? As an Environmental Scientist, I prefer Nuclear. Hands Down. And those who’ve dared to ask questions all agree: to depend solely on renewables to get us below the CO2 threshold is not only unwise but dangerous. It’s what frightens us most - that people won’t ask questions until it’s too late.

I’ve asked all these same questions myself and it took me almost a year to grasp it, after many, many long conversations with actual nuclear scientists and nuclear engineers. It shouldn’t be that hard. It’s really not. But we have Greenpeace and Hollywood movies in the 1970s to thank for making it so scary. Fear is a motivator for humans. It doesn’t take much to make us fearful. Turn out the lights at night for some people and they immediately break out in a cold sweat until they find the stitch to their bedside lamp to turn on the light. Don’t be afraid to flip that switch. I did. And our planet will be a better place if more people like you stepped forward to ask questions. That’s what science is all about: Asking questions. Finding answers. Making a change - while trying not to kill anything in the process. Nuclear scientists want to stay alive. They want to stay employed. The scientists in France have been doing it right for more than 40 years. It’s about time the U.S. gets “with it”.

For the record, wind and solar (renewables) are HEAVILY subsidized in the U.S. Nuclear isn’t subsidized at all and has been lightly funded only to minimally maintain plants since the early 80s. Nuclear is 3 times LESS the cost of solar or wind in comparison. To make it easy for you to understand, think of yourself buying a nice new sports car. You take it home and park it in your garage. You only take it out during the day or when the wind is blowing - as long as the wind isn’t blowing too much because then you have to pull over and park because you can’t “keep it on the road” (true for windmill blades too). You’re still paying for your car even though you’re only able to use it during fair weather and daylight. The cost of that car gets really expensive to own and operate. It looks nice but it sucks. You can’t take it off-road and you can’t let anyone else drive it. You also need to pay for a garage to store it in. Elon Musk wants you to pay him $3,500USD per PowerWall battery that’s only good for about 10yrs (less in colder regions of the U.S.). It’s a battery that only operates your refrigerator (if you never open it) and one use of your washer and dryer (don’t wash more than one load!) to clean your clothes per day. Nothing else. Don’t even think about using your oven or microwave to cook! Of course, Americans only eat out - so who needs to think about that! Right? Well, as we all know - but apparently Elon is the last to know - batteries wear out. And not conveniently, at the same time. Elon wants you to spend a minimum of $350 more per year to pay him to solve your energy consumption issues. I’ll let you do the math based on his website figures [ teslamotors dot com forwardslash powerwall ]. And I won’t even get started on my rant about the disposal and manufacturing (rare earth metals to name a few) of batteries and the pollution and poisoning costs to our environment! But Elon and Tesla are “green” right? Right.

Nuclear doesn’t need batteries. It doesn’t depend on fair weather. It can be located - especially the cool modular/mobile (Ask Bill Gates about this one! One of his companies is making it for China) plants - in urban, heavily populated locations, not remote, isolated deserts or valuable farm ground (like wind and solar). They run clean, quiet, efficient, all day, all night, rain, or shine. They can be contained to avoid accidents like Fukushima or Chernobyl because we have new designs and materials to work with - and we’ve learned from our mistakes.

As someone who also enjoys flying, I can also point out one more thing that most people don’t think about with solar panels on rooftops - the panels act like “mirrors”, blinding pilots who fly over them. As a scientist, I believe they’re also responsible for heating up our Earth’s atmosphere because they’re reflecting heat, not absorbing it like light-colored sand in nature is designed to do. But let’s not think about that. That’s just a minor inconvenience of solar. hint of sarcasm

I won’t bother to address your criticism line-by-line because it’s clear to me you haven’t studied or researched nuclear energy at all. The waste from nuclear energy is contaminating our environment BECAUSE it’s NOT being recycled (reprocessed) in the U.S. France has been recycling it for more than 35 years. They’ve proven it. They’ve perfected it. No one in France has died from an accident, pollution, contamination or WMDs from their waste - because they don’t generate enough waste for it to be a problem. Congress in the U.S. is responsible for throwing it away like garbage. Ignoring nuclear power and treating it as “lethal contamination” or “garbage” is a climate crime. We wouldn’t have a “garbage disposal problem” if the U.S. RECYCLED the waste. And the only thing going up the stacks of a nuclear power plant is STEAM.

An article that sounds as if I’d written it myself, that I love to share, is from William Shughart - Google: “Forbes Why Doesn’t US Recycle Nuclear Fuel”. The article written by Shughart in 2014 should be easy for you to find. It’s also the one “bad” thing about nuclear energy - simply because the U.S. can’t seem to get unstuck from the rut its created for itself. Congress is the problem. And Congress is the solution. So take your criticism up with your local congressman or woman. Nuclear power is Clean power. Period. It’s also cheaper than solar or wind (who are running out of subsidies because they’ve proven inefficient and costly). Nuclear is consistent and the technology was created by great scientific minds who believed in it. It doesn’t depend on the weather or time of day to generate electricity for us to use. Both wind and solar have to be in remote locations - harming the environment which I could go on and on about but I think it will fall on deaf ears at this point in the conversation.

To learn more, I recommend you watch the documentary (from 2014) called “Pandora’s Box” and read up on Nikola Tesla - the TRUE scientist with a heart - and a book called “Power To Save the World”. It’s the only thing that will come up when you type those words into Google. Don’t you find that ironic? That a book about nuclear energy is the only thing Google can find that truly is “the power that can save the world”. Think about it. A lot more. Germany is - after spending more than 24 BILLION - with a “B” - in one year to subsidize “green” (renewables) energy when they chose to ban nuclear. They’re re-thinking it so much they’re considering adding coal to their portfolio which is THE worst - just Google “black lung” - a disease coal miners get. If you watch Pandora’s Box, you’ll get a good idea of how much renewables “cost”.


“over a 70 YEAR period of nuclear energy the amount of waste, AFTER it’s been RECYCLED (which Congress refuses to do, forcing the U.S. to STORE the waste) will ALL fit on the size of a dinner plate.”

Okay, reality check time. I’m not sure where that factoid came from, but I think somebody got a little carried away in stacking the assumptions to produce the most favorable figure possible. Recycling the fuel for use in current reactors can reduce the spent fuel volume by maybe half, but the limiting factor is that the driver fuel of today’s reactors is U-235, and plutonium is just a fairly modest fuel extender so long as you are working in the thermal neutron spectrum. To achieve high burnup, you either need fast-spectrum uranium-to-putonium breeder reactors, or if you want to stay in the thermal spectrum, you need thorium-to-uranium breeders. But even assuming you could achieve 100% burnup, at today’s thermal efficiencies, that would produce about a metric ton of fission products per gigawatt year of electricity. (With Brayton cycle and some tricks to make better use of decay heat, it might be possible to get that down to under 800 kg. per GWye, but we’ll ignore that for now.) By mass, around 830 kg. of those fission products would drop to background levels of radiation in various timespans up to 10 years, and then they become usable elements, so those are arguably not waste. But that still leaves 170 kg of fission products which will take at least 300 years for any of its components to drop to background levels. Almost all of it will be cold by 450 years, except for a few kilograms of mildly radioactive isotopes which have very long half-lives. The intermediate half-life fission products might not count as “waste” in the long run, but in the short run, they will have to be sequestered or dealt with in some manner which is practically the same as dealing with waste. Imagine you had a degradable plastic which would break down into elemental and bio-usable components, but not for 300 years. We would call a mountain of such plastic “waste” and that’s how we would treat it, even if we knew it would become usable in a few centuries. So if we had, say, a thousand high-burnup reactors operating over 70 years, even eliminating all the short-term fission products, we’d still have roughly 12,000 metric tons of the intermediate and long-term fission products to deal with in our lifetimes. And while that figure is a staggering improvement over anything we have now, there is simply no way that would fit on a 12 inch dinner plate, even if you cheated a bit and piled it several feet high.

“one more thing that most people don’t think about with solar panels on rooftops - the panels act like “mirrors”, blinding pilots who fly over them. As a scientist, I believe they’re also responsible for heating up our Earth’s atmosphere because they’re reflecting heat, not absorbing it like light-colored sand in nature is designed to do.”

When materials absorb sunlight, they heat up, and then they radiate that heat in the form of infra-red. However, the frequency of this re-radiated infra-red heat is not the same as the frequency of the incoming infra-red from the sun, and there are some gases which are more transparent to the incoming infra-red frequencies than they are to the outgoing re-radiated infra-red frequencies. That’s what makes them greenhouse gases. If you had a perfect reflector down here on the ground, the sunlight bouncing off it would pass through the atmosphere as easily on its outward leg as it did on its inward leg. White (snow, clouds) isn’t a perfect reflector, but it can still reflect a lot of infra-red without shifting its spectrum. To whatever degree sunlight is reflected off of solar panels instead of being absorbed, that reflected energy will do less to warm the atmosphere than if it had been absorbed on the ground.

“France has been recycling it for more than 35 years. They’ve proven it. They’ve perfected it.”

The French system of recycling reduces their waste profile somewhat, but it isn’t clear that it was at all cost effective relative to running on a once-through basis as in the U.S. Ultimately, the solution will be burning the spent fuel in reactors built for that purpose, at which point the expense of the French fuel recycling program will have been for naught. The U.S. once-through fuel will actually have better overall economics in waste burning reactors.

“Nuclear power is Clean power. Period. It’s also cheaper than solar or wind”

There is no totally clean option. Nuclear power, wind, and solar are all much cleaner than fossil fuels, and the differences between them are not large. Cost depends on circumstances, and different places will need different mixes of solutions. But nuclear, wind, and solar are all not cheap enough to displace fossil fuels yet. And nuclear power as we’ve been doing it will clearly never be cheap enough to represent any serious threat to fossil fuels. Nuclear combined with all renewables are not even growing fast enough to halt the ongoing growth in the fossil fuel sector. The nuclear power we’ve had has accomplished some good things, but it’s not nearly as good as we need it to be. That’s why there are dozens of teams working to develop better reactors.

"To learn more, I recommend you watch the documentary (from 2014) called “Pandora’s Box”

The 2013 documentary was called Pandora’s Promise, and I don’t recommend it. It was more about how some people who were opposed to nuclear power came to see that the nuclear power we have wasn’t as bad as they thought it was. And maybe that’s interesting to some people, but very little of the film was about the actual promise or potential of nuclear power–and about how that promise can only be realized by abandoning our current approach and going with radically different kinds of reactors. You can get more of that from some Gordon McDowell youtube clips than from any studio documentary out there, and they are more educational, more interesting and more fun to watch as well.


Nuclear weapons are weapons of genocide. Your slanted and occasionally inaccurate tome (you are longer winded than me and that’s a bad sign) notwithstanding, the article was about nuclear weapons. Your lack of empathy for the deaths caused by nuclear weapons use is eerie and somewhat scary. You’re cold and dismissive even of death on such a large scale.

That said, you need an editor to pare down the verbiage.

That being said, you left out a few things (believe it or not). Your comment about France -

Well no they haven’t from waste however during that heat wave when France’s rivers were too warm to cool the reactors they had to shut down the reactors and the lack of electricity resulted in 30,000 heat deaths.

You say reactors can be contained implying that they are therefore safe… of course we have **always **been assured that reactors have been safe whether Fukushima or Three Mile Island or Chernobyl among others. Right now a seriously large amount of radiation has entered /is entering the Pacific and all the contamination inland in Japan is real enough … that ‘safe and clean’ nuclear don’cha know?

You amazingly attempt to equate the costs of solar to nuclear as well as the environmental costs of solar and wind etc. Every time you spoke you slanted facts and distorted them. To you solar and wind uses up valuable farm land? I think you are strange. How about solar roofs, solar parking lots, solar arrays out in the desert? How about Windmills having waiting list of small/medium farmers who desperately want the added income of windmills on their land because once they are built there is no penalty in grazing or farmland? How about off shore wind farms like in DENMARK take a look at Denmark not just Germany. Denmark is shooting for 90% alternative energy production. 90%.

By the way I would like to see a reference cited for that comment that Germany (who is exactly?) are thinking of returning to coal. That is totally inaccurate as Germany is very happy with having achieved so much through solar and wind and is increasing them. There is a shortage of solar worldwide because demand has outpaced production. Moreover new solar particularly flexible film solar doesn’t use expensive silica based panels, and within a few more years a dual use electricity from photons and from residual het solar will be commercial. England has announced to new large scale tidal turbine facilitities in the North Sea using shallow water linked turbines. Eventually they will be miles long and produce more power than a nuke plant.

Did I mention that people have a right not to want to live near a nuclear plant where accidental small scale emissions are a regular occurrence?

I was astounded that a supposed nuclear scientist would not understand the law of thermodynamics and the conservation of energy. Sand is not designed to absorb sunlight and a walk on the beach or in the desert will convince you that it doesn’t - designed or otherwise. In fact this glaring (pun intended) lack of understanding of heat reflectivity/absorption kind of makes it hard to believe that you ever took high school physics.

You lapsed into self serving deception about how clean nuclear is but you got downright deceitful about costs. Despite a huge volume of words, you didn’t address my point about factoring in the subsidies enjoyed by solar from the government, the costs of maintenance and disposal… the way it is being done as opposed to how it could be done (recycled). The world doesn’t need the risks nor the costs.

If the money used to subsidize the nuclear industry were used for alternatives like solar roofs, every person and every building in NM could have free air conditioning during the day. Solar storage (salt reservoirs etc) can return sufficient heat to run steam turbines to produce power during the evening and is in fact in operation now at solar furnace type plants.

Your industry is not popular with people and while Chernobyl was one thing, Fukushima is another. To say new nuclear is safe is to forget that Fukushima was supposed to be safe. That the plant was supposed to be accident proof.

Yours is an industry with such arrogance that a nuclear power plant will be built virtually on top of the San Andreas fault line.

You write exclaiming that your industry can prove its merit but people are stupid (and yes you are insulting and even if your mistakes and errors and exaggerations made you look foolish, I didn’t appreciate the condescension which you attempted to impart without cause or merit.) You may think you are a brilliant scientist and people are stupid … I will remember your comment about how sand absorbs heat instead of reflecting it.

P.S. As a former photographer I suggest you take a light meter and point it at the sand on a sunny day and then realize just how much your brilliance and intelligence impressed people.


“however during that heat wave when France’s rivers were too warm to cool the reactors they had to shut down the reactors and the lack of electricity resulted in 30,000 heat deaths.”

The water was not too hot to cool the reactors. The regulations prohibited returning water that is hotter than 82 deg. F. and some of the rivers were already warmer than that during the heat wave. And do you have a cite that shows that the 30,000 heat deaths were due to lack of electricity? Because from what I’m seeing, France had to cut down on their electricity exports and increase some imports, but I’m not finding the reports of deadly widespread outages.

“of course we have **always **been assured that reactors have been safe whether Fukushima or Three Mile Island or Chernobyl among others.”

I don’t recall those assurances about Chernobyl. And every energy option out there has been overhyped to some extent. Even so, the actual death toll from commercial nuclear power is actually quite low for the amount of energy it has provided. And while I would agree it is possible to do nuclear power badly (and the way we are doing it now is mediocre, at best) that does not mean it cannot be done well.

“Right now a seriously large amount of radiation has entered /is entering the Pacific”

Seriously large relative to a human. Seriously tiny compared to the amount of radiation the Pacific has naturally.

“By the way I would like to see a reference cited for that comment that Germany (who is exactly?) are thinking of returning to coal.”

They are not returning to coal. That would imply they ever gave it up. Coal accounts for nearly half of German electricity production and they are building a couple dozen new coal plants, partly to replace some old retiring coal plants, and partly because the new plants will have a wider operating range, allowing them to better accommodate the fluctuating inputs of renewables. Overall, coal production is expected to gradually decline, but in effect, they are locking in coal as the the dominant backup for their intermittents.

“Did I mention that people have a right not to want to live near a nuclear plant where accidental small scale emissions are a regular occurrence?”

People also have a right not to want to live near windmills–as many people do not. And if they really don’t like it, they have the right to move away. But polls actually show support for nuclear power tends to be higher among those who live near nuclear power plants.

“I was astounded that a supposed nuclear scientist would not understand the law of thermodynamics and the conservation of energy.”

Environmental scientist.

“Sand is not designed to absorb sunlight and a walk on the beach or in the desert will convince you that it doesn’t”

My experience has been that sand can get very hot in the sunlight. But light-colored sands absorb less than darker sands. And even where solar panels reflect more than darker sands, that would be a good thing with regard to global warming.

“To say new nuclear is safe is to forget that Fukushima was supposed to be safe. That the plant was supposed to be accident proof.”

No power plant of any kind is accident proof. And Fukushima had secondary containment, and backup generators, and contingency plans precisely because a variety of kinds of accidents were foreseen as possible. They represented that their defenses in depth were adequate to cope with any likely accident, and they proved inadequate to cope with a very unusual event, but that is not the same as representing the plant as accident proof. It also doesn’t preclude the possibility of making nuclear plants which are much safer than Fukushima. It should be possible, for example, to eliminate the risk of meltdown under any circumstances.