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Lawrence Charles Jorgensen
Professor of History and Political Science -- November, 1989

Nature sends no messages to man when all is well. -- Loren Eiseley

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow's today. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too Late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect...This may well be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos and community." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967

The Nuclear Age: Power, Proliferation and the Arms Race. William Sweet. Congressional Quarterly Inc: Washington, 1984. A popularly written attempt at "objectivity," this is an excellent introduction. Clear diagrams, graphs, an index and a short annotated bibliography all contribute to easily lead the reader into a field that is only difficult to understand because of the "technical phobia" too many of us possess.

A Guide Book to Nuclear Reactors. Anthony V. Nero, Jr. University of California Press: Berkeley, 1979. Everything you might have wanted to know about nukes, as well as, no doubt, a whole lot you'd prefer not to. At times a bit technical for the "layperson," this is still a well written book, and it includes an extensive bibliography.

Environment and Health. Mary McNeil, Ed. Congressional Quarterly. Inc. Washington, 1981. Chapter 5, "Nuclear Power and Radiation," a mere 20 pages long, is one of the best of the brief explanations of the mechanics of nuclear power, the origins of the industry, the role of the government in subsidizing, promoting and "regulating" the nuclear power industry (i.e., Atomic Energy Commission; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Energy Research and Development Administration; and the Department of Energy itself). The nature, the sources, the hazards and the disposal problems inherent in radioactive materials and their by-products (wastes) are clearly explained and illustrated.

Your ignorance and the resulting self-imposed impotency are your enemies' greatest assets. --E.E. Lynlar

Energy Politics. David Howard Davis. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982. Energy Politics has separate chapters devoted to each of the various energy sources (coal, oil, natural gas, etc.), explaining the historical development, the mechanics and the politics of each. Chapter 6 deals with "Nuclear Energy."

Nuclear Inc: The Men and Money Behind Nuclear Energy. Mark Hertsgaard. Pantheon Books: New York, 1983. If any of the above books have whetted your appetite, try this well researched and documented, exceptionally comprehensive and detailed account of the history of the nuclear power industry. Pay especial attention to the individuals, most of who are still with us in policy making positions (Ronald Reagan, Caspar Weinberger, George Schultz, Donald Hodel, Philip Habib, to name just a few), and the giant corporations which have for decades snooted (and still snort) at the public trough (Bechtel, Westinghouse Electric, General Electric, and others, natch). Our government and its policies often and understandably do not make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated. If you wish to understand why the US Government gives away billions of dollars to special corporate interests every year in the form of various subsidies, everyone of the crooks, everyone of the thieves, are herein listed. Makes Harding and his cronies look cheep, cheep, cheep. Makes us (as in US) look dumb, dumb, dumb.

The Cult of the Atom: The Secret papers of the Atomic Energy Commission. Daniel F. Ford. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Begun in 1971 under the auspices of the Union of Concerned Scientists, this book, according to its author, is based on tens of thousands of pages of the United States Atomic Energy Commission's internal documents which the author obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and through two major lawsuits. For those among you still naive enough to believe that the United States government (and the A.E.C.) simply did not understand the various dangers inherent in the development of nuclear power reactors, in the development and testing of nuclear weapons, and that thousands of cancers which the United States government has caused among the American people have been the result of well-intentioned but simply mis-informed decisions, give this book a serious look.
Briefly, the people in charge of these programs knew what they were doing; their own scientists told them, in print (though in secret memorandums), of the many probable dangers; but in the pursuit of prestige, power, sometimes simply money, the nuclear power program was pushed ahead. The building of reactors, the construction of nuclear power plants, the testing of nuclear weapons, etc.-- all used the American people (you, me, our parents, our children and our grandchildren) as so many guinea pigs. All this done to the very American people that the United States government and its various agencies are supposed to represent and protect. Question: with a government like this one, who needs to worry about the Soviet Union?

The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War, 1945-1950. Gregg Herken. Vintage Books: New York. 1981. The primary subject of this work of remarkable scholarship is "The role of the atomic bomb in the cold war after Hiroshima -- from the surrender of Japan in 1945 to the end of the US nuclear monopoly in 1949 and the subsequent decision to proceed with development of the hydrogen bomb."
Additionally, the book argues that the United States government's (President Truman, et, al.) decision to not cooperate with the "Russians openly on the bomb after the war (W.W.II.) unavoidably meant adoption of a policy of monopoly" --a policy doomed by the simple fact that there were no atomic secrets that the Russians and others could not themselves discover in a relatively short time. A third focus of this book is upon the belief held by too many in and out of the United States government that the atomic bomb was THE "winning weapon," in the post World War II rivalry with the Soviet Union. The United States' policy of Pax Atomica was not only doomed to failure, but it created "a climate of fear and suspicion, beginning even before the Russians surprised the Truman administration and ended the US nuclear monopoly."

Herken's scrupulously documented (indeed, the notes are an additional extremely informative essay in themselves) book paints a most dismal picture of the civilian and military leadership of the United States during those critical years of the "cold war." Incredible stupidity sheltered from scientific, technical and geographic reality by an arrogance unmitigated by any willingness to keep an open mind, to be reasonable, to be, indeed, rational.
Probably, only a historian born (1947) and raised after these events could manage to contain his outrage at and his anger of those who foisted upon the American public "the deadly illusion of enduring nuclear supremacy." The continuous failure of that illusion created a frantic search for enemies at home, for spies, for commies, for "fellow travelers," and dupes. That failure also sent every American administration in search of anti-Soviet allies, a continuing search that leads the United States to support some of the most hideous political regimes in history.
Herken is a real pro (as in professional historian), and I am not, which explains my anger at merely writing this bibliographic annotation. You should have seen me when I originally read the book. You read it. You get outraged. A little outrage is good for the soul. It reminds you that you are still alive, still capable of feeling.

To Win A Nuclear War: The Pentagon's Secret War Plans. Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod. South End Press: Boston, 1987. In the past several years hundreds, "a mountain," of Top Secret Pentagon documents have been released through both the Freedom of Information Act and intentional "leaking," mailed anonymously to journalists in plain brown envelopes. This book is based upon that documentation, supplemented by research into archives, diaries, interviews, etc.
A most unusual aspect of this work of history is that both of the authors are physicists, not professional historians. Kaku, the author of Nuclear Power: Both Sides and Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Search for a Unified Field Theory, is a professor of nuclear physics at CUNY; Axelrod is a professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Nevertheless, either because of their unusual academic and professional background, or in spite of it, this is one powerful indictment of US government nuclear military policies.

Unlike Gregg Herken's The Winning Weapon, which argued that US leaders were both stupid and arrogant, To Win A Nuclear War argues that those leaders were both evil and criminal. As Ramsey Clark summarizes in the Foreword, "Our government means to have its way through the use and threatened use of superior force. It will lie. It will deceive. It will kill."
The two authors' background probably explains the facility and the clarity they demonstrate dealing with the most technical aspects of the various Pentagon plans, over the past 40 years, to "first strike" the Soviet Union, to occupy the Soviet Union, or to wage and win a protracted "all out" nuclear war. Honest. The various plans are all here. They are explained. Background to these plans is also provided, from the various members of the Council on Foreign Relations (Kissinger, et. al.), to the full blown psychopaths like Alexander Haig.

There is little in the way of literary embellishments in this work. Every page and every paragraph is stoked with specific details, descriptions, etc. The way a couple of scientists would approach a subject, I guess. If your interest is in knowing every type of nuclear weapons system and for what purpose they have been designed, as well as the biographies of those men who we have allowed to take charge of our destiny, this is one "hell of a book" to read.
I suspect that To Win A Nuclear War was published by South End Press because none of the regular publishers (read General Electric et. al.) would touch it. Its hot. I also suspect that "the authorities" believe that only people like myself will read it. Thus, there is no reason to suppress it. Not yet.

Write to South End Press (Boston, MA 02115) for a list of titles. A lot of good stuff.

Three Mile Island: Thirty Minutes to Meltdown. Daniel F. Ford. Penguin Books: New York, 1982. This book is by the same author as the above Cult of the Atom. Ford, a former executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, has worked on several technical studies of nuclear power generation; consequently, he is most qualified to sort through the official records, documents and interviews in order to trace the development of Three Mile Island and explain how the "accident" occurred; how it was mishandled; and what it means in relation to the future of nuclear power plants in the United States.

Nuclear California: An Investigative Report. David E. Kaplan, Ed. Greenpeace and the Center for Investigative Reporting: San Francisco, 1982. Bringing all the above a bit closer to home, as if there was anywhere to hide -- even if the government did give us all enough shovels, this book details the extent of the nuclear power and nuclear arms industries' proliferation throughout California. Where all the reactors are reacting; where all the bombs are being built, and where many of them are stored -- it is all here. Of particular interest to those of us living in the San Fernando Valley is the description of the 1959 nuclear accident in the Santa Susana Mountains, 6 miles west and north of the Canoga Park headquarters of Atomics International, a subsidiary of Rockwell International. And while that particular reactor has been dismantled and removed, another of theirs is still producing plutonium in those mountains along the west side of our Valley. This brief 150 page book also contains a detailed list of all of the existing organizations working for a nuclear-free California (and world). The following publications, which I read and recommend, are more specific in their points of view; none of them are particularly favorable to nuclear power development...or to nuclear war, for that matter.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Founded by many of the original nuclear scientists and published 10 times a year since 1945, this is perhaps the standard international vehicle for the dissemination of the atomic scientists' points of view. Again, the writing is not beyond the capability of the educated "layperson." Environment magazine is perhaps the oldest continuing publication for the dissemination of world wide environmental orientated technical and scientific information. Written for the informed "layperson," this monthly is published in cooperation with the Scientists' Institute for Public Information by Heldref Publications, 4000 Albermarle Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.

And nuclear waste for evermore

Does anyone remember those deliberately and ridiculously dishonest advertisements in the late 1950's and early 1960's, in which we were shown a small dark pellet, smaller than a chicken egg, and told that each one of these pellets had as much energy in them -- at this point, the camera swings around to --- a whole string of coal cars?

Does anyone remember the nuclear power companies and the electrical power utilities promoting nuclear power in the 1950's with the promise that "by the 1980's" and thanks to nuclear power -- see small pellet B.S. above, "electricity would be too cheap to meter"?

Damn, think of all the poor saps who believed that stuff, who went out and bought one of those G.E. "All Electric Homes." Well, as you are feeling sorry for those "saps," think of the predicament we are all in because an older generation were suckered, or seduced, by the "nuclear promise" of unlimited, low cost energy.

Remember the "Ecological Imperatives:" There is no free lunch; Everything has to go somewhere; Everything is connected to everything else.

And now think of all the permanent environmental, human health and genetic costs, the tax and rate-payers' costs -- all required to produce that little dark pellet.

Usually when a generation really screws up, the effects do not last long, However, with that generation's "Faustian Bargain" with nuclear power, every generation hence will have to deal with and pay for the greed and the ignorance of that decision to "go nuclear." Think of how that German/European generation that embraced Hitler and collaborated with the resulting horror is remembered, and then try to think how that generation of Americans who embraced nuclear power, or who did nothing to oppose it, will be remembered. And which of the two will be remembered and vilified the longest?

Some people have been and are trying to do something about it. The two following books have been produced by one such group, a group working to control the radioactive waste by-products of the nuclear age.

Living Without Landfills: Confronting the "Low Level" Radioactive Waste Crisis. Marvin Resnikoff. Radioactive Waste Campaign. New York, 1987.
This is really an amazing book, especially designed to assist activists in understanding nuclear reactors, the fission process, the nature of the resulting waste, the dishonesty of the nuclear power/utility companies and the complicity of the US government in that dishonesty. And, yes, it presents specific and concrete solutions.
The drawings, illustrations, graphs and tables are alone worth the price of admission. An excellent glossary, additional reference material, people and organizations to contact listed state-by-state, a large format, with a clear, easy to read and understand style -- wow, how can you beat it?
Two of the most important facts that this book explains are: 1) "Low level" radioactive waste is not necessarily, or even usually, really low level. That is simply a term created by the government to assist the nuclear power industry in disposing of its deadly garbage. 2) While the waste disposal companies would have the public believe that most of what they will be handling is the product of medical use, and of course of utmost utility to human health care, the truth is that when measured in terms of radioactivity, over 75% of the waste comes from nuclear power plants. And some of that nuclear garbage will be deadly for over 10,000> An extra for southern Californians is the brief history of US Ecology, a company that wants to operate a "low level" dump in Ward Valley, about 20 miles east of Needles. Check this out and see if you want them to receive the contract from the state of California. Get in touch with your state senator/representative. Ask them what they know about it. Find out how little they know. Teach them. Your children, their children, and their children, etc., will remember and thank you. IF enough of us act in time.
This is not an easy book to find. Los Angeles Valley College Library has 3 copies. To get your own copy, ask a good book store to order it for you. Or write directly to Radioactive Waste Campaign. 625 Broadway, 2nd Floor. New York, New York 10012. Mine was $11.00 plus postage.

Deadly Defense: Military Radioactive Landfills. A Citizen Guide by the Radioactive Waste Campaign: New York, 1988. Now, in late 1989, everyone knows. "It is one of the great ironies of our age: in the name of protecting our national security and well being, we are poisoning ourselves. Every day, government facilities involved in producing nuclear weapons spew toxic pollutants into our environment."
Rockwell's Rocky Flats, near Denver, Colorado, has been in the recent news; and Rockwell's Canoga Park and Santa Sussana facilities right here in the San Fernando Valley have been detailed --as much as is possible-- by the Daily News. At Hanford, in Washington, radioactive waste is seeping into the Columbia River. The Savannah River, South Carolina, facility is a national (and costly) disaster. The list goes on and on. In all, this book details some 15 sites, spread all over the country --making us all equally hostaged to this insanity.
A most important fact to keep in mind, as this book emphasizes, is that radioactive waste from the various military contractors (i.e. Rockwell, et. al.) is under the supervision of the Department of Energy, not some regulatory agency. Unlike radioactive waste generated by private, non military sources (commercial nuclear power plants, hospitals, etc.), the disposal of military waste is un-regulated. Think about that, for a minute. The admitted first consideration of the Department of Energy has been military necessity --as in defending us from our enemies; the second, cost (as in cheap); public health and safety were down the line somewhere.
Where are we and our children safe --from the US military and the Department of Energy? How much is it going to cost to clean up all these sites? Who is going to pay? The corporations and the military who did it, or will the money come from more cuts in social programs? From education, from health care, from environmental protection, from assistance to the aged?
This large format, clearly written handbook for action (with glossary, index, people and organizations to write to, etc.) covers all of the major nuclear facilities involved in producing materials for weapons. It has maps of each facility, as well as detailed explanations of what each facility produces. It is, in part, because of the work of the Radioactive Waste Campaign, and this book, that the United States government, and corporations such as Rockwell, may now have to answer to the public for the cancers, birth defects, genetic damage, and other health effects directly attributable to weapons' manufacture.
The writing is perfect for the literate layperson. The government's stupid and dangerous storage of the waste by-products of weapons' manufacture is the main concern of this work. The difference between high level and low level wastes are clearly explained, as are the various kinds of radiation and their dangers. There is even a brief history of the atom and hydrogen bombs (a full page cross-section of the H-bomb is included); and each of the chapters concludes with a list of titles for additional reference.
This is not an easy book to find. Los Angeles Valley College Library has 3; but to get your own, you will have to either ask a book store to order one or write directly to Radioactive Waste Campaign, 625 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, New York 10012.


"The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our ways of thinking. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive." --Albert Einstein.

First: Always remember . .
Do not be defeated by the feeling that there is too much for you to know. That is a myth of the oppressor. You are capable of understanding life. And it is yours alone and only this time.
--Kenneth Koch. "Some General Instructions."

Second: As functioning adults, educating yourself, like living your life, is your responsibility. It is not your parents', or spouse's, or lover's. It is not society's, or the government's; it is not the educational system's; it is not this college's. And your life is certainly not my responsibility.

But, do not become discouraged; that, too, is a weapon of the Oppressor. Education, real education, is a whole lot easier than many of our leaders believe. And reading is a great way to start.

For Example: The Union of Concerned Scientists (26 Church St., Cambridge, MA., 02238) publishes and sponsors numerous excellent papers, pamphlets and books. Started 20 years ago as an informal faculty group at MIT, the Union of Concerned Scientists now has over 100,000 sponsors and a staff of more than 30 in Cambridge, MA., and in Washington, D.C. Its activities include research, public education, and lobbying in arms control, energy policy, and nuclear reactor safety. The following are but two of their publications that deal with specific alternatives to nuclear power.

Energy Strategies: Toward a Solar Future. Kendall and Nadis, Editors. Ballinger Publishing Company: Cambridge, MA, 1980. This report by the Union of Concerned Scientists not only explains the economic and political foolishness, but also the very real and growing ecological and public health dangers of relying upon non-renewable and finite energy resources. It provides an excellent overview of the most obvious, simple and renewable power. And while numerous books exist dealing with the environmental, social and even economic benefits of government and private sector changes to renewable sources of energy, as well as conservation, (i.e., wind power, passive and active solar power, cogeneration, etc. --all of which are proven, simple technologies and practices), this book has a very useful glossary, an index for easy reference, and ample bibliographic materials.

The Energy Switch: Alternatives to Nuclear Power. Richard Munson. A report by the Union of concerned Scientists. 1987.
This brief 60 page report addresses the very specific question: Is the phase out of nuclear power in the United States possible without producing electricity shortages? And in 5 short and readable chapters, the answer is clearly YES. The report has ample diagrams, graphs, tables and annotation. The report describes the current supply and demand status of electricity in the United States' 9 electrical regions. In doing so, the report demonstrates that the United States has "142 to 165 more large power plants than needed to provide reliable service with an adequate reserve." Some utilities have so over built their capacity (at ratepayer and taxpayer expense, patch), that they have ''a reserve margin of more than 100%." In addition to already having a national excess capacity, the report details both short term (wheeling electricity, cogeneration, energy efficiency, plant retrofits, renewable energy--wind, geothermal, biomass, solar, falling water, etc.) and long term (photovoltaics, clean coal technologies, gas turbines, etc.) alternative to nuclear power.

It is all so very simple, that it is clear to me that only rank ignorance or apathy on the part of the public, manipulated by rampant greed on the part of the nuclear power industry, its toadies, etc., continues the United States along this costly, disastrous, and potentially deadly policy.

"Greed manipulating ignorance and apathy," so what else is new, huh? Well, at least we do not have to be part of the ignorant any longer. Right? But now, what about the apathy? Which leads me to . . . .

Finally (if anything can ever be said to be final), after education comes ACTION. Get involved, to the extent that your time allows. Earth First!, the Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Audubon Society, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Ecology Center of Southern California are simply a few of the already existing national or local organizations available to you, depending upon your individual political perspective. Check the 818 and the 213 area codes for a telephone listing of a local office. Tell them Jorgensen sent you. Or don't tell them. I was "yust yoking" anyhow.

Politically, there are several national and state lawmakers from this part of California of whom I consider to be worthy of your support, work, and money. Probably you know of other equally worthy, but I have been especially impressed with the following. United State Congressmen Henry Waxman, Anthony Beilson and Howard Berman all represent portions of Los Angeles and/or the San Fernando Valley. To my knowledge, few members of either party, from any state, have demonstrated an understanding of the critical environmental issues confronting us as a nation, as well as a strong commitment to their resolution. They all have local offices; check the telephone book. They can also be reached by writing House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. State Senator Gary Hart and State Assemblyman Richard Katz are two state legislators also deserving of your support, etc.

In that most unlikely event that you have managed to live as long as you have without realizing that life is very complicated and money buys power, be aware that both are even more so in United States politics. To an intelligent and informed person, no politician, no political leader is perfect. Not a one can satisfy you completely. Politics in this country has a propensity for acquiring a "grayish" hue.

Keeping the above in mind, and remembering Lynlar's bidding against "those of you without stones, casting about for some sins to throw," seek out those present and potential politicians, wherever you live (be one yourself), who need and deserve your support. Those kinds of people will not be rewarded by the rich and powerful nuclear power interests nor by the rich and powerful proponents of a "winnable," or "limited," nuclear war.

Lastly, do not become discouraged by the lack of instant victory, or by the apathy of a generally ill-informed and unsophisticated public. The nuclear industry has had billions of your dollars and nearly 40 years to mis-inform and deceive that public, as well as to purchase numerous spokespersons within and outside of the government. The task is great, and the time...well, the time is probably even shorter than the most pessimistic believe. But no one ever said that self-government would be easy.

So, now you know. Now, you have no excuse. It is your life, not theirs. It is your planet, not theirs. It is your country and your San Fernando Valley not theirs. Consequently, it is your responsibility.

Do something... And I'll see you there. --- Chuck Jorgensen, November, 1989

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