Published on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
Why Anti-Nuclear Belongs in All of Our Movements
The stakes are getting higher by the day in the radioactive roulette playing out at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. On Monday the Japanese government finally widened the evacuation zone and is raising the threat level from five to seven, the same level as the 1986
While it’s tempting to sit back and wait for an antinuclear movement to rekindle in the
The answer lies in finding points of convergence. After all, nuclear power, waste and weaponry threaten us all, as well as generations to come. The nuclear accident in
In each of our movements, then, we need to make a space for antinuclear activism. Here are just a few of many possible points of convergence
Nuclear power is a reproductive rights issue. Among other serious side effects, exposure to radiation can increase the risk of sterility, birth defects and genetic mutations that can affect the reproduction of generations to come. Plutonium, a by-product of nuclear power and a key component of atomic bombs, is the most potent manmade poison on the planet, with a half life of 24,000 years. It crosses the placenta and is stored in male testicles.
Nuclear power is an environmental justice issue, from uranium mining on indigenous lands in the southwest to locating reactors in poor African-American rural communities in
It’s a climate justice issue. Don’t let them fool you. Nuclear power is not a clean substitute for dirty fossil fuels. For one thing, the government and industry have no idea of how or where to safely store the waste. Moreover, nuclear is hardly emissions-free when you factor in the mining, transport and enrichment of uranium as well as the leakage of the potent greenhouse gas CFC 114 from cooling pipes. The money spent on nuclear development should instead flow to the development of safe renewable energies and conservation.
It’s a labor rights issue. As we’ve seen at
It’s a peace and security issue. The notion of ‘atoms for peace’, first trumpeted by President Eisenhower in the 1950s, has always been a sham. Nuclear power fuels the atomic weapons industry, facilitates nuclear proliferation, and increases vulnerability to terrorist attacks. In a profound irony, it helps legitimize the national security state as necessary to protect us from nuclear threats of the state’s own making.
Nuclear power is a basic democracy issue too. Why does President Obama support nuclear power? Because the nuclear lobby supported his candidacy. If we want clean renewable energy, we need clean elections. And we need local control. Right now the brave state of
By including opposition to nuclear power in all of our diverse struggles, we can start to build an effective antinuclear politics that could spawn a broader movement. But even if it doesn’t, we won’t have stood by passively as the threat level mounts. While the Republicans play at shutting down the government, what really needs shutting down is the nuclear industry. We all need to help in that fight.
Betsy Hartmann is the Director of the Population and Development Program and Professor of Development Studies at
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs