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Aliens or Nuclear Energy –That’s Your Choice

Fitting the quotidian into the eternal can be a heavy lift, as demonstrated by this article in the Huffington Post:

He spoke about Fukushima and how we do not really know how much radiation has already or will in the future rain down on us. Fukushima is still unstable yet we hear very little about it anymore. Sungjand Rinpoche said, « Fukushima releases a lot of radioactivity in the sky and it can fall on America, Alaska, China, Russia and Europe. We should end all nuclear energy because even that can be like a nuclear bomb. It will kill everybody. The main point is in society we have to change the insatisfaction [sic?] and selfishness to Love ».

Well, no, it isn’t releasing a lot of radioactivity in the sky and nuclear energy has no capacity to kill everybody. But you know, if you do believe that, you may as well set your cap on changing selfishness to love. That’s certainly a good goal.

He repeated that we were destroying the future for our children, destroying the planet, and bringing about destruction which in Buddhist teachings is usually left to unkind, technologically advanced aliens travelling to Earth to bring about the Shambalic [ed: I think the author means Shambhalic] ending of this world.

What does one say to this? Holding views sincerely don’t make them more correct.

This plain-speaking young man in his deep red and gold robes, praying with such intent for all of us, a living Buddha in his own right, expressed a deep compassion for the suffering of the entire planet and all of the living beings on it as he spoke of the nuclear threat.

Rinpoche is described as “the reincarnation, by the Dalai Lama, of the 4th Ngawang Drakpa, the disciple of Je Tsong Khapa who founded the school of Dalaï-lamas in the 15th century.”

Let’s let one of the commenters at the Huffington Post weigh in:

Perhaps Fukushima is being forgotten because radioisotopes are extremely easy to detect and track, and to date there are no deaths, and the total projected impact on human health is certainly smaller than the number of lung cancer cases caused by coal activities every hour. Yet, it is not being forgotten, because it is constantly being brought up as some sort of catastrophic extinction event by anti-nuclear activists. I work with nuclear and particle physics on a daily basis at Los Alamos, am trained and educated in the impact of radiation and the ways radioisotopes can reach humans, and know enough details of fundamental reality to be able to filter the comments of a Buddhist. Carbon Dioxide is the real enemy, don't ever forget it, and don't mistrust nuclear: its actually here to save us from ourselves.

This fellow identifies as Joey 03. “Catastrophic extinction event,” even by anti-nuclear advocates, seems an extreme characterization, but Sungjand Rinpoche believes it can lead to such. Although he holds some of the same views as an anti-nuclear activist, I would put him in a different class.

I think we can call Rinpoche wrong about Fukushima and nuclear energy without dismissing the positive qualities ascribed to him and expressed by him – and which are positive and life-affirming even if more readily accessible to Shambhala Buddhists. He isn’t primarily a pundit and, in a way, I wish the article had been on other subjects because focusing on nuclear energy probably sells Rinpoche short.

The least we can do is provide Rinpoche reading material. NEI posts its Fukushima update each week on its Safety First web site. The latest edition is here.

Comments

Kit P said…
“and the total projected impact on human health is certainly smaller than the number of lung cancer cases caused by coal activities every hour. ”

Zero compared to zero. This Los Almos worker may not be as well trained as he claims.

Why do nukes whine about junk science and then jump on the anti-coal junk science bandwagon. Smoking presents a significant risk factor for lung cancer but living near a nuke or plant does not having any significant health risk.
jimwg said…
The Huff Post twice trashed my rebuttals. Can NEI or any nuclear professional organization use the weight of their title and get on that blog and teach them a few nightmare-busting facts? I HATE to see off-the-wall FUD go totally unchallenged anywhere, even in the lair of anti-nuclear protesters. We pay for it by the growing ranks ranks of their gullible anti-nuke converts and a fretful public in their wake.

James Greenidge
Queens NY
Edward said…
This is what the EPA says about coal and oil power plants,

"Power plants are the largest remaining source of several toxic air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, cyanide, and a range of other dangerous pollutants, and are responsible for half of the mercury and over 75 percent of the acid gas emissions in the United States."

New EPA power plant emissions rules are estimated to prevent 4,200-11,000 premature deaths, 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks ANNUALLY.

http://www.epa.gov/mats/health.html

The EPA rules are much needed, and will reduce emissions by 60-90%. But even though emissions will be reduced, coal plants will still be emitting pollutants that will cause death and disease.
Kit P said…
@Edward

It looks like you think that if you read something on the internet it must be true. Actually the Obama EPA anti-coal campaign is an example of an organized lie.

However, the subject was radiation exposure. The NRC regulates exposure from a nuke plant under normal conditions to a factor of 100 below background because it is possible to release higher levels without engineering controls on nuclear power plants. However, it is not possible to get those levels from a coal plant. Therefore, the NRC does not regulate coal plants.

An example of EPA junk science is Radon. The EPA multiplied the dose from radon from uranium decay in the geological repository by the number of people on the planet. Of course radon has a short half live and putting 9 billion people in a geological repository seems a bit impractical.

There is a systematic approach of applying science to evaluating risk from environmental hazards. The EPA is not following it.
Mark said…
So are you saying that coal plants don't emit mercury and several other dangerous pollutants? Cause thats pretty well documented. Or is your argument that these pollutants are actually healthy to humans? Cause while there may be junk science out there I am pretty sure that no one is on the fence about arsenic and mercury being good for you. It must be that you don't think that these chemicals build up in certain areas of the biosphere? But that also seems to be well documented with most pediatricians recommending staying away from eatting certain fish species during pregnancy due to elevated levels. No one on here said that CO2 from coal is the issue, which I would say is up for debate they simply said that several known carcenogens are emitted from coal plants and we could take steps to stop that. That isn't junk science it's just a fact.
Kit P said…
Mark

I am saying that mercury, arsenic, and radiation are natural. Harmful levels are well defined. It is the dose that makes the poison.

Eating fish is good No one is being harmed in the world by environmental mercury.

Yes, they 'build up in certain areas of the biosphere' but do not blame coal plants. Past practices in gold mining, copper smelting, paper pulping, ect were the problem. We used a systematic approach and solved the problem so that mercury is no longer a problems.

Eating fish is good for children. Mark's ignorant fear monger is causing harm. Go over to the CDC and do some reading. The CDC does a great job of monitoring various things in the environment.

“several known carcenogens are emitted from coal plants”

As do nuke plants! Yes, it is junk science when you fail to document the exposure relative to a limit.

Shall we start a list of irrational fear mongering idiots with an agenda? Dr Caldicott, Dr Lovins, Dr Hansen, ect. None of these people make electricity or protect the environment.

The power industry does a very good job of protecting the public, workers, and public. Those of us who work in commercial nuke industry should give a little thought to the possibility we are part of a team that provides an important public service before we accept junk science as facts.
Mark said…
Yes according to most experts Methylmercury biomagnifies in the food chain and builds up in many species, especially aquatic animals faster than it can be removed. Coal plants are now the number one source of mercury emissions to the environment.

http://oaspub.epa.gov/eims/eims.ROEreport.displayImage?graphrecno=11215

Most of these stats are based on flue gas analysis by the emitting utilities. It is clear that the emissions from waste incenerators can and have been all but eliminated over the past 10 years. Why not do the same with coal plant emissions?
Heres information from the CDC on how it effects young children and fetuses.

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/updates/thimerosal_faqs_mercury.htm

Also as to your statement that nuclear plants emit carcenogens when compared with coal plants it is on the level of comparing teaspoons to gallons. Plus that I am aware of nothing we emit builds up in the food chain to any detectable level.

My only statement is that coal plants do emit mercury. That mercury does turn into methylmercury which does build up in the food chain and is harmful to humans. So why continue to emit a harmful substance to the environment when we have already shown the it can be easily eliminated with the use of fairly simple pollution controls such as a baghouse, the use of which has the added benefit of removing several other pollutants.
Kit P said…
“Plus that I am aware of nothing we emit builds up in the food chain to any detectable level.”

I really hope the 'we' does not imply that Mark works at a nuke plant. The first thing we worry about is I-131. I can explain in detail how we protect young children from I-131.

“easily eliminated with the use of fairly simple pollution controls ”

Coal plants are adding pollution controls for mercury.
Here is a link for those who might be seriously interested in environmental pollutants.

http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/

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