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D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e    May 2008

 

Glowing Reviews

 

Henry Lightcap's article ("No Nukes Is Bad Nukes," April) highlighted how politics and emotion have stalled the true answer to the majority of our power generation needs. Currently over 50 percent of our electricity is generated using coal — cheap but dirty (but getting cleaner) and requiring mining. Estimates are that most future generating plants will be using natural gas instead of coal. Nuclear power? While only 20 percent of our power is generated by our operating nuclear plants, Lightcap pointed out that France has quietly converted 75 percent of its power needs to nuclear, with no problems.

Easily overlooked is the fact that the US Navy currently has 10 aircraft carriers (two reactors each) and over 60 nuclear submarines operating around the world, again with no nuclear-related problems.

While it is high time we revitalized our nuclear power industry, this will have no effect on our dependence on foreign oil to power our automobile industry. Alternate fuels are promising on paper, but all will have flaws (look at the impact subsidized corn production for ethanol is already starting to have on food prices) that will make it almost impossible to replace the oil industry, which is firmly embedded in our economic engine. The answer is still, for the short term, to increase domestic oil production and fuel efficiency of vehicles

Bert de Pedro

via email



There are many reasons I enjoy my Desert Exposure, but one of them includes the regular exposure to large doses of Common Sense from several of DE's columnists. Henry Lightcap's column touting the planet-saving virtues of more nuclear power plants is a great example.

My sister lives in France, where she has been married to the son of the man who used to run France's national nuclear power industry. So, thanks to family talk and independent research of my own, I happen to know that Henry is correct.

The French nuclear power program does indeed provide about 75 percent of France's national energy needs. Their reactors are the safest in the world, with no reactor misbehavior in the 30-plus years of the program. The French have built such a good safety record precisely because they did think about how nuclear power through fission could yield reliable energy with no immediate pollution of the air, water, land or the planet. They set forth a basic "fail-safe" reactor design, then required its use by anyone in France who chose to build a reactor — instead of the American idiocy of a half-dozen different reactor designs.

Yes, nuclear waste is a longterm problem — but there are plausible solutions. For example, we can make use of Planet Earth's own natural recycling methodology. That method is called Plate Tectonics. Humans can drill miles-deep boreholes into the near-magma area located along every tectonic plate, then inject liquefied nuke waste into Earth's own recycling heat engine. Once injected into the tectonic zone lines, nuke waste will not resurface in its condensed, highly radioactive form. So this approach takes care of that nuke waste that cannot be recycled in "breeder" nuclear reactors, in medical devices, or in space probe isotope power piles that produce electricity through the heat of simple half-life decay.

Finally, for those who like to "look backward" at what did go wrong with nuke power plants, the disasters at Three Mile Island and at Chernobyl were both the product of intentional human operator error. In Russia, in the middle of the night, all safety devices were shut off so a local commissar's pet idea on high-running nuke reactors could be tested out. It failed, nastily. On Three Mile Island, the graphite control rods did not sink fully into the reactor due to heat expansion caused by an overheated reactor; that then boiled off most of the moderating water, causing a partial meltdown. But even there, the concrete dome containment building stayed intact and kept most radiation from spreading into the countryside — unlike the Chernobyl event.

The French reactors are designed with simple failsafe controls whereby water and control rods automatically dump and/or fall into place once the power fails or something else goes wrong. It's the reverse form of a deadman switch.

Thanks, Henry, for pointing out the silliness of good intentions not well thought out.

Tom Jackson King

Silver City



Volunteer Action

We wanted to thank you very much for the excellent article on Mary Hotvedt and Bob Garrett and the Chishawasha School in Zambia, Africa ("A World of Good," March). It was very comprehensive and one of the best articles written to date about the school and the Zambian Children's Fund projects and objectives there.

Jan Brumagin

Executive Assistant, Zambian Children's Fund

Tucson



Reaching a Nader

The editorial nixing Nader ("Unsafe at Any Speed," April) may not be a good solution to our problems. Not that I'm a Nader fan; every Corvair owner I ever knew seemed quite happy with the car, so I think he's fallible.

However, Ali Bush and his band of thieves used 9/11 to stampede the country into Iraq box canyon and then looted the whole country. Additionally, most of our educational, justice and medical systems seem to be operated solely for the financial benefit of the ruling cliques in each "empire."

So far I've heard nothing from the candidates from either party to indicate they even live on the same planet I do; they certainly do not understand the life I and my acquaintances know. I think things are pretty broken down in this country and I haven't heard anyone with any ideas to fix what looks broken to me.

So as far as I'm concerned I am still listening to anyone who wants the job. If I find anyone who looks capable to drain the cesspool we're in, I want to be able to vote for that person.

Charles Clements

Las Cruces


In your curiously anti-democratic rant against signing a petition for Ralph Nader, you cling to the self-destructive myth that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore and McCain's traveling companion, Joe Lieberman, the 2000 presidential election and embellish it with two others — that Nader promised to campaign only in states safe for Democrats (like Tennessee?) and that Al Gore ran as a serious environmentalist in 2000. Each statement is false. Your stated source: New York Times blogger and Democratic party operative Ron Klain, Gore's former chief of staff. Didn't your readers deserve to know your source's direct connection to Gore? I was there in 2000 and 2004.

The "Blame Ralph" excuse was trotted out after the disastrous 2000 campaign to allow well-rewarded campaign advisors like Klain and Carville to guide the equally inept 2004 Democratic campaign. Both campaigns avoided winning domestic and foreign policy issues defined by Nader (see votenader.org/issues) by keeping Nader out of the debates and out of the public eye, but still blamed Nader for attracting voters with those same issues. Gore won the popular vote in Florida but his advisors asked for no statewide recount and went back to their corporate clients while the Republicans stage-managed a Florida victory.

Nader had promised to campaign in every state (including Alaska) in 2000 and 2004 and did so, unlike Gore or Kerry. Al Gore kept silent on global warming in the 2000 campaign and stood with Clinton 's lackluster record on mountaintop removal in West Virginia and indifference to the Exxon Valdez spill (this even when I presented him with a bottle of crude from the Prince William Sound shortly before the 2000 campaign). A hard-nosed position on destruction of the Florida everglades (like Nader's) late in the campaign would have won Gore Nader's votes. Gore became an environmentalist again after his defeat. Quoting Klain, you write, "Nader told the Times. . ." Say what? The Times refused to meet with Nader in both 2000 and 2004 and used Judith Miller-style interpretations of his platform and motivations, denying Nader a chance to respond. His 2000 sold-out Madison Square Garden rally got back-page coverage. Only Nader consistently advocated universal health care in 2000, 2004 and 2008. When Nader stood alone in his 2004 opposition to the war, Democrats fought against an anti-war (Nader) vote in every state, safe and unsafe. Nader pressed Gore, Kerry and now the latest candidates to take on his issues of living wage, impeachment of Bush, immediate Iraqi withdrawal, thereby, earning his votes. Gore, Kerry and now Hillary-Obama take progressives for granted and seek an ever- illusionary middle ground. This drives independents into the arms of Republicans again and again and again but keeps the Klains and Carvilles employed — so long as you blame Ralph. Nader's petitioners gathered more than 6,000 New Mexican signatures. Ralph will earn votes by taking on positions New Mexicans applaud.

Steve Conn

Former Nader campaign staffer

Las Cruces




Editor's note:
The New York Times did in fact interview Nader, and that Nov. 1, 2000, story by reporter Melinda Henneberger, "Nader Sees a Bright Side to a Bush Victory," was the source for information about Nader's view that, for example, "A bumbling Texas governor would galvanize the environmental community as never before." Statistics showing, among other things, that Nader drew nearly three times Bush's victory margin in New Hampshire — whose four electoral votes would have swung the election to Gore even without Florida — came from CNN.com



Let us hear from you! Write Desert Exposure Letters, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email letters@desertexposure.com Letters are subject to editing for style and length. Deadline for the next issue is the 18th of the month.



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