West Coast Scientists: Many animals on sea floor looking sick or dead — “Everything’s dying… Dead, dead, and dead” Meanwhile Barrier is not holding at Fukushima….Multiple plumes now along west coast… Will be coming “for century or more”

Fukushima Power Plant

A video image taken by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) shows the spent fuel pool of the unit four reactor at the tsunami and earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant on May 7, 2011

Seattle Post Intelligencer, Nov 11, 2014 (emphasis added): Mike Priddy, supervisor of Washington’s Environmental Sciences Section [wrote] in an email exchange today: “… if the water has radioactive material in it at any level, coming into contact with it will cause the contamination to transfer. That said, the levels… pose no real health affects… whether you come in contact with the water or somehow casually ingest it. The levels I have seen in seawater are interesting from a scientific point of view, but well below health concerns.”

KHUM, Nov. 12, 2014 — Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (10:00 in): In winter time… offshore waters might move inshore… I’m hoping to get samples… as this plume moves its way maybe on to shore.

Take Two Show, Nov. 14, 2014 — Host: The thing that I read that did do a good job of reassuring me was a comparison to a dental x-ray. Maybe tell us that one? Buesseler: We’re comparing to a dental x-ray because that’s something people experience and choose to do… The risk is never zero, any additional radioactivity can cause additional cancers… There’s really very little we can do once its in the ocean. Fukushima was an unprecedented event… God forbid something happens today, it’s pretty unstable off Japan.

Santa Rosa Press Demiocrat, Nov 11, 2014: [Dan Sythe, CEO of International Medcom] shares Buesseler’s concern that the federal government is not monitoring… Some people are “on edge” about the prospect of Fukushima radiation reaching them, he said. The radiation now reaching California is at the front edge of the plume, and Buesseler said the concentration is expectedto increase [for] the next two to three years. But it’s worrisome, he said, that what’s happening now in Japan will reach North America in about three years.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Current Results:

  • Nov. 10, 2014 — Sample F#5049 (offshore Calif.):Cs134 @ 0.8 Bq/m³; Cs137 @ 6.9 Bq/m³
  • Nov. 15, 2014 — Sample F#5049 (offshore Calif.):Cs134 @ 1.7 Bq/m³; Cs137 @ 6.9 Bq/m³

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, Radio Ecoshock, Oct. 29, 2014 (23:30 in): [In addition to the radioactive plume off the Canadian coast], there’s also another plume heading a little bit further south, down near Oregon coast into California… We are not at the peak, it’s still coming, and it will continue to come as long as Fukushima continues to bleed into the Pacific, we’re seeing the beginning of this… The problem is that the fish that live in that water bioaccumulate that material.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, Nuclear Hotseat, Nov. 12, 2014 (31:45 in): [Fukushima is] going to bleed for decades, if not centuries [into the Pacific]… There will still be a huge residual amount of radiation in the soil and in the groundwater so that the site will continue to bleed into the Pacific a century or more.

Nuclear Hotseat interview here | Radio Ecoshock interview here

Mainichi, Nov 18, 2014 (emphasis added): Attempt to stop water flowing into trench at Fukushima plant fails… TEPCO determined that the leak must be continuing… critics have pointed out the possibility of it escaping into the ocean… TEPCO planned to freeze the water… However, the water was insufficiently frozen to stop the flow, and while an effort continued until Nov. 6 to fill in the gaps in the ice with special cement, this effort also failed… While the water remains in the trench, TEPCO cannot create a planned underground wall of frozen soil around the No. 1 through 4 reactor buildings

NHK, Nov 18, 2014: Officials… say a barrier designed to prevent radioactive water from entering underground tunnels is likely not doing its job… highly-radioactive water from tunnels under the facility… leaks to surrounding soil… Monday, workers removed 200,000 liters of water, estimating that water levels in the tunnels would drop by 80 cm. However, the levels went down by only 20.

NHK World (original): Officials [at] the Fukushima plant have another problem… Officials concluded more water was likely entering the tunnels from the reactor building than was being pumped out… Officials say workers [plan to fill tunnels with cement] carefully to prevent contaminated water from overflowing.

NHK World (updated): The aim is to prevent the water from leaking into the surrounding soil but the barrier is not holding back the water… Officials concluded more water was likely entering the tunnels from the reactor building than was being pumped out.

Japan Times, Nov. 19, 2014: Tepco unable to halt tainted water flowing… from the No. 2 reactor building to underground tunnels at [Fukushima Daiichi,] officials said. Tepco has injected cement… but water levels suggest the effort has remained unsuccessful… The company began the cement injections after failing to create an “ice wall”… Tepco pumped 200 tons of tainted water out of the tunnels Monday… [If] completely sealed, water levels would have fallen roughly 80 cm [yet levels only dropped 20 cm], the officials said, indicating the possibility that contaminated water is still flowing into the tunnels. The officials also noted the possibility that groundwater may be flowing into the tunnels. However… the amount of radioactive materials in the tunnel water is very high, an official in the Nuclear Regulation Authority said. “Concentrations should have been lower if large amounts of groundwater are really flowing in”

Jiji Press, Nov. 19, 2014:The tunnels are believed to contain some 5,000 tons of tainted water. Some observers believe the water may be leaking into the ground and reaching the Pacific.

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

NBC News (emphasis added): Scientists may have fingered the culprit responsible for a mysterious epidemic that has killed millions of starfish… the disease was a relatively common parvovirus found in invertebrates that rose to epidemic levels due to overpopulation, a genetic mutation or other unknown environmental factors.

PBS: Scientists… said it’s a virus that’s different from all other known viruses infecting marine organisms [and] don’t yet know what sparked the seemingly benign virus to transform into the perpetrator of what’s considered the largest marine disease outbreak ever…

National Geographic: The virus [is] quite common. [Cornell professor Ian Hewson, lead author of the study, said] “It’s been around for 70 years [and] probably present all over the world.”… Why such a pervasive virus is suddenly killing millions of animals is still up for debate… Previous events [were in] one or two species, but the virus is now infecting 20. It’s unusual for a single type of virus… But mutations in a key part of a viruscan help the infection spread to more species, the study authors write…

Hewson: “It is very peculiar to find a virus [infecting] such large numbers of species.”

Reuters: The researchers detected it in… specimens from as early as 1942. They said it may have been present at low levels for years and only recently became a large-scale threat due to some kind of viral mutation, environmental trigger, starfish overpopulation or other factor.

AP: Hewson adds they don’t know yet what triggered the outbreak of the virus… He said it could be related to… a change in the virus, or changes in the environment.

National Geographic: [Hewson] suspects that the virus may not actually cause the symptoms… [it may] disrupt the sea stars’ ability to control the bacteria that they normally co-exist with… Why is the current outbreak… so dramatic when [virus] is actually an old presence?

  • Dr. Pete Raimondi, study author: “Something may have happened recently that caused[virus] to go rogue, because we’ve never seen anything like current outbreak
  • Amanda Bates, Univ. of Southampton: “[The virus] has been living with sea stars for over seven decades without causing the large-scale mass mortality of the past two years… we still don’t know why such a large number of sea stars over such a wide geographic area have succumbed to this disease. Has the virus changed to be more virulent, or deadly?Perhaps something in the environment has shifted.”
  • Dr. Mike Murray, Monterey Bay Aquarium: “It provides a… place to start and say, ‘OK, we found this virus in lots of sea stars. What was the trigger? What started it all off? Are there other problems in other species? [This] may or may not have a human basis”
  • Dr. Ian Lipkin, Columbia Univ., pathogen discovery specialist: “The authors… note themselves, there is much more work to be done before we will know whether the densovirus they describe is necessary and sufficient to cause disease.”
  • Vincent Racaniello, Columbia Univ. virologist: “The crucial experiment that remains… is to… inoculate [the virus] into sea stars, and show that it causes wasting disease.”
  • Drew Harvell, Cornell ecologist: “The million-dollar question in all this: Why now? What is it that changed that created the conditions for this outbreak? And we don’t have the answer to that. But certainly a viral mutation would be one explanation.”
  • Carol Blanchette, Univ. of Santa Barbara: “It is likely thatenvironmental causes… have played an important role [and the virus] may only be one part of the story.”
  • Harvell: “Their disappearance is an experiment in ecological upheaval the likes of which we’ve never seen.”
  • Watch an interview with lead author Hewson here

National Geographic, Nov 17, 2014 (emphasis added): Urchins and cucumbers seemed to have escaped the ill effects of the virus until now. But in recent weeks, reports have started to come in that they too are dying along beaches in the Pacific Northwest, Hewson said… [He and his team are] studying the urchins and sea cucumbers that are already dying to see if the same killer is responsible.

Dr. Bill Bushing, kelp forest ecologist, Nov 2, 2014: I’ve mentioned before that [in Southern California] our starfish and sea urchins have been dying… I’ve recently seen sea cucumbers that appear to be diseased as well… I’ve also observed strangely colored sea hares (big shell-less snails) in the park. The red algae they normally eat seems to have died out… Divers also report seeing far fewer of the sea hares this year.

Ronald L. Shimek, PhD, marine biologist, Nov 10, 2014: Jan Kocian, diving photographer extraordinare… has been actively surveying several marine subtidal areas in northern Puget Sound for some time… [During a Sept. 18] dive… on Whidbey Island, Washington… he started seeing things he had never previously observed.… there were many animals lying exposed on the sandy sea floor, looking limp, sick or dead. Red sea cucumbers were flaccid and dead… Aleutian Moon snails were in odd postures… pink/yellow worms [were] another rare or unusual sight…. Nuttall’s cockles were on the sediment surface with their siphons out, instead of being buried… 22ndSeptember, the area containing dying animals was not only still present itwas spreading; whatever seemed to be the cause was still doing its dirty work… 25th September [many] red sea cucumbers… were lying fully exposed, and apparently dead… 29th of September… A few living Cucumaria were acting oddly, not quite dead, but just slightly responsive to touch… Numerous green sea urchins were found with their spines in abnormal postures, definitely not looking healthy… The full extent of the dead area, and the reason for the mortality, remain indeterminate.

Captions to photos taken by diver Jan Kocian: (3) Death of the sea urchins; (4) [Red sea cucumber] Cucumaria miniata dying and decomposing [alt text on photo: “Everything’s dying”]; (5) Dead, dead, dead, and dead – or dying

See all of the published photos from the dive surveys here

Follow-up to: “Emergency” at US Nuclear Facility, Uranium Gas Release–Witnesses: “There’s the plume… moving across highway… Chemical taste in mouth… I could smell it!” (VIDEO)

NRC, Nov. 13, 2014 (emphasis added): NRC inspection found that Honeywell did not recognize that the HF [hydrogen fluoride gas] released… warranted an emergency classification of ALERT. Honeywell agreed with the NRC findings and subsequently reported their failure…  The NRC has reviewed Honeywell’s calculations on the amount of HF released and their subsequentplume estimateweekly radioactive air monitoring reports for the fence line and nearest residence [show] the activity results were within the Honeywell license limits.

NRC, Oct. 27, 2014: An operator noticed on the room monitor video screen a haze in the air… This haze indicated a UF6 leak… public outside the plant reported a cloud emanating from the building for five minutes before the mitigation spray towers were activated… Region II received initial notification of this occurrence by public inquiry

NRC, Nov. 12, 2014: Hydrogen fluoride gas… was visible emanating from the building.

ABC 3, Oct. 28, 2014: A leak… has residents concerned for their safety… Company officials say there’s nothing to be worried about, but neighbors and plant union workers think it’s more serious than they’re letting on… Heather Cremeens lives less than a block from the plant… Throughout the years, she’s seen a few releasesbut nothing this big.

Heather Cremeens, lives a block away: “I have lived here for 30 years and I have never seen anything like that before in my life… We grabbed our child… and we took off, we didn’t know what to do… I was shocked they didn’t let us know.”

NBC 6, Oct. 30, 2014: A spokesman tells us the release was contained… But people that live nearby are trying to figure out what was that large cloud blowing awayGary Cameronsays the hour-long release Sunday night was different.

Gary Cameron, 30 years living a mile away: “It’s ridiculous, they have these leaks and they say it’s contained every time. It’s not contained — everybody stood there and watched it.”

John Smith, worker: “Water’s heavier than air [and] going to sink… HF vapor is lighter than air, it’s going to move up, the cloud leaving the facility was definitely moving horizontal and up

ABC 3, Oct. 28, 2014: Neighbors have reported there was a heavy metallic smell in the air.

Stephen Lech, union president: “Smoke [was] billowing from… the building… 7 minutes after the release started, the mitigation towers began… An impossibility [the cloud was water]. The spray towers [are] large, they look a lot like a fire stream… Honeywell’s explanation is that fog [is] water vapor… that’s just not a possibility. We expect Honeywell to come clean.”

Lech: “The company refused to warn the community and told responders that the release was contained to their building and the cloud was water… We believe this video shows that the release was out of control and went on for almost 6 minutes before the spray towers were activated (5:46 in the video). We believe Honeywell has lied to the community.”

Watch the video here

Sante Fe New Mexican, Nov. 15, 2014 (emphasis added): The combination [of neutralizer and wheat-based organic litter] turned the waste into a potential bomb that one lab chemist later characterized as akin to plastic explosives, according to a six-month investigation by The New Mexican. [Los Alamos National Lab] then shipped [the waste] to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant… Feb. 14… the drum’s lid cracked open… Temperatures in the underground chamber soared to 1,600 degrees, threatening dozens of nearby drums… Documents and internal emails show… officials downplayed the dangers… and withheld critical information.

Patented Explosives

  • LANL chemist Steve Clemmons [found] the drum’s contents match the makeup ofpatented plastic, water-gel and slurry explosives… “All of the required components included in the patent claims would be present,” Clemmons wrote… “I am appalled that LANL didn’t provide us this information!” [wrote DOE official Dana Bryson]… On May 27, when they learned of the memo about patented explosives… WIPP abandoned plans for the next day to sample the area where the breach occurred, fearing it was too dangerous. “In a phone call withLANL, they indicated that there is a possibility that any sampling of the kitty litter/drum contents could cause another event,” [wrote] David Freeman, Nuclear Waste Partnership’s chief nuclear engineer… “We have a formal letter on LANL letterhead implying there is a real and present danger in the WIPP underground,” Bryson wrote.

Up to 55 more drums of waste ‘destabilized ‘

  • The intense underground flare may have destabilized up to 55 more drums of waste [near the one that ruptured], calling into question whether they, too, had become poised to burst. “[The high heat event] may have dried out some of the unreacted oxidizer-organic mixtures increasing their potential for spontaneous reaction,” the report said. “The dehydration of the fuel-oxidizer mixtures… is recognized as a condition known to increase the potential for reaction.”

Over 5,000 more waste drums a threat

  • LANL began treating waste with assorted varieties of organic kitty litter as early as Sept. 2012, spawning thousands of drums of waste that hold the same organic threat… [It] may have been mixed in up to 5,565 containers of waste at LANL.

LANL (pg. 21 of pdf): [The team] evaluated the effect of a heat generating event on the adjacent waste containers [that] could have chemically or physically changed the waste and introduced a reaction hazard. Unreacted drums of nitrate salt waste stream… continue to pose a potential reaction hazardReactions may have occurred within some of these drums at levels insufficient to lead to detectable visible evidence.

KOB, Nov. 16, 2014: Nuclear waste so volatile, it’s been called a potential bomb by experts… Greg Mello, former nuclear waste inspector for LANL: “The drum in question was basically kind of a time bomb.”… [A WIPP] assessment… estimates over 5,000 drums of waste may contain the volatile organic kitty litter that caused the one drum to split open.

Watch the broadcast here

Two Detroits, Separate and Unequal

By Laura Gottesdiener

In late October, a few days after local news cameras swarmed Detroit’s courthouse to hear closing arguments in the city’s historic bankruptcy trial, “Commander” Dale Brown cruised through the stately Detroit neighborhood of Palmer Woods in a Hummer emblazoned with the silver, interlocking-crescent-moon logo of his private security company.

Brown rolled down the window to ask a middle-aged woman walking her dog whether everything was okay (it was), and whether she had seen anything out of the ordinary (she hadn’t). Satisfied, he continued on, guided by a futuristic tablet map of the neighborhood’s languid streets. These had become even more impenetrable last year when the bankrupt city paid for and constructed a series of traffic barriers on the community’s edges. On his right, he pointed out, was the Bishop’s Residence, a 30-room Tudor Revival castle originally commissioned by a family of fabulously wealthy automobile pioneers who later sold their company to General Motors.

“This is the part of Detroit that most people are not aware of,” Brown told filmmaker Messiah Rhodes and me. And indeed, the turreted neighborhood did look far more like something you would find in Detroit’s mostly white suburbs than deep inside the city itself.

Brown is the founder of Threat Management, a private security company hired by the Palmer Woods’ neighborhood association to provide 24-hour protection to this elite enclave. He knows the two sides of Detroit more intimately than just about any of its residents. After a stint as an Army paratrooper, he moved to the city’s East Side in the mid-1990s and into a neighborhood dubbed “crack alley.” There, he started running free security for his neighbors and a few adjacent apartment buildings with only a rifle, a dog, and psychological tricks like heavily pocketed vests, since “pockets represent the unknown.” Next, he worked at a nightclub, enforcing such a strict no-beating-women-on-the-dance-floor policy that the joint soon had a regular stiletto-heeled line out the door.

Two decades later, Brown’s officers, with their distinctly paramilitary aesthetic, are among the most recognizable of a burgeoning number of private security personnel and surveillance systems scattered across neighborhoods in the former Motor City that people with money have decided are worth protecting.

But the future of the rest of the sprawling city — once the symbol of American industrialization and working-class power — remains at best insecure, physically and financially. In the 1940s, President Franklin Roosevelt declared Detroit, then the nation’s fourth largest city, the “great arsenal of democracy” for churning out bombers for the Allied powers, as in peacetime it rolled out cars for the consumer economy. Then the auto giants began closing their urban factories and reopening their plants in white suburbs. In the same era, the industry, national unions, and the FBI all cracked down on the labor organizations founded by radical black workers.

The foreclosure crisis of this century, fueled by racially discriminatory predatory lending, forced hundreds of thousands of residents out of the city. The governor’s office placed the public school system and then the entire local government under emergency management, suspending the democratic process in the “arsenal of democracy.” And now, after seven decades of these slow-moving storms, including acts that are almost impossible to see as anything but retribution against the city’s predominantly African American population, Detroit is often viewed from afar as a cautionary tale, a post-industrial dystopia of vacant buildings and dormant factories.

The truth, however, is more complicated. On the brink of a new, post-bankruptcy beginning, Detroit is really two cities. One is comprised of wealthy enclaves like Palmer Woods linked to a compact, rapidly redeveloping downtown. The other is made up of the rest of the 139-square-mile urban expanse, populated by longtime residents who have fought for decades to survive in an environment that has become increasingly uninhabitable.

In the first Detroit, private security is common and the living is relatively safe. In the second, running water has systematically been cut off from at least 27,000 households this year alone, the latest in a series of government-enacted policies that have made daily life an increasingly desperate battle. Rather than growing closer in the coming post-bankruptcy era, many residents fear that these two Detroits — already so separate and unequal — will have increasingly divergent futures.

Prophecy Fulfilled

On November 7th, a federal judge approved the city of Detroit’s plan to exit the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. That bankruptcy, the need for which was hotly contested by residents and leading economists, was only the latest in a series of controversial steps that included Governor Rick Snyder’s imposition of an unelected emergency manager to oversee the city’s finances.

After 16 months of wrangling, city and state officials expressed cautious optimism about the bankruptcy deal, which eliminates more than $7 billion in long-term city debt and includes cuts to the pensions of city workers, a violation of the state constitution. Creditors and insurance companies agreed to accept less than full repayment of the debts owed by the city, in some cases as little as 14 cents on the dollar. The plan also frees up $1.7 billion for Detroit to reinvest in essential city services like the fire department and the rebuilding of its system of streetlights.

The new debt readjustment plan is not, officials cautioned, the solution to all the city’s problems but at least they consider it a good start. For Wayne State law professor Peter Hammer, however, lurking in the bankruptcy plan is a potential future that’s far more sinister than anyone is advertising. As Hammer explained, Detroit has become a blueprint for the creation of a “self-acknowledged, self-defined second-class city,” one where the state guarantees only the most basic services to most of its inhabitants: “some police,” “some fire protection,” and “a bulldozer department” to raze abandoned houses, while the remaining essential services will be available only on a private basis for those who can pay.

That Detroit is a more than 80% African American metropolis makes the idea of its rise from bankruptcy with second-class status all the more problematic. As Hammer explains, the plan for Detroit bears an eerie back-to-the-future resemblance to the famed Kerner Commission report of 1968, issued by a presidentially appointed panel in the wake of the urban rebellions that were then sweeping the country. Its findings were that the nation was moving toward two societies: black and white, separate and unequal.

“That was viewed as a call to action, as unacceptable in 1968,” comments Hammer. Nearly a half-century later, he adds, it’s portrayed as progress. The vision of a future Detroit as a sprawling second-class black city with a small, wealthy downtown and a few elite neighborhoods surrounded by thriving white suburbs will, he projects, bring the 1968 finding to life. “The truth is, what [bankruptcy] Judge Rhodes will do when he approves the bankruptcy plan of adjustment is ratify that conclusion as prophecy.”


On a Friday in mid-October, the evening before two U.N. officials were to begin investigating whether Detroit’s mass water shutoffs constitute a violation of international human rights law, Marian Kramer was rushing around finishing up last-minute preparations. There were out-of-town guests to attend to, children who needed to be picked up from the YWCA, details to confirm for the following morning’s meeting with the lawyers.

Kramer, who has closely cropped gray hair and a stride like the snap of a rubber band, is one of the leaders of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, a union of low-income people. She and co-organizer Maureen Taylor have been fighting water shutoffs since Highland Park, an independent city enclosed by Detroit, first began disconnecting water service in the 1990s. Hers is among a collection of groups — known as the People’s Water Board Coalition — that called on the United Nations to pay Detroit a visit.

As Kramer shuttled about in her minivan, she narrated the history of the streets rushing past. Detroit is, after all, a city best understood by driving past its steepled churches, past the barbecue joint that, back when the auto factories were still open, attracted lines around the block, past the cluster of people congregating with candles on a street corner, while all around them, dusk invades the space ceded by decommissioned streetlights.

“Someone got killed over here,” Kramer murmured, surveying the small vigil. “A three-year-old girl got shot the other night. Her momma was shot, her father was shot. I don’t know what it is. Every night, every morning, we wake up and there’s pure war here.”

As the city government has receded, a lack of services has made parts of Detroit all but uninhabitable. The injustices pile up: the threat that Child Protective Services will seize custody of children who are living in waterless homes; the streets upon streets of emptied houses, their roofs caving in, their porches collapsing, their bricks blackened by fire; the all-too-common violent deaths in neighborhoods without private security, where residents must rely on a decimated public police force that clocked an average response time of 58 minutes in 2013; the charade of public school board meetings, where few decisions can be made because the school district is under the control of an unelected emergency manager the board has voted three times without success to fire; the death of a seven-year-old girl at the hands of a Detroit police officer wielding a submachine gun as his unit was being filmed executing home raids for an A&E reality TV show; the heartbreak of watching the city being disassembled and sold off as if at an estate sale — despite the fact that this Detroit has declared it will not die.

Tangela Harris, whose tap was turned off for 11 days last fall, explained that the worst insult wasn’t living with two young children in a house without water, but Detroit’s loss of control over a once-world-class water department, a stipulation of the bankruptcy adjustment plan. “There was pride in the water company,” she says. “The one piece of power that black people had in this city is now gone.”

Across this Detroit, the grief comes pouring out in town hall meetings and in the booths of diners (known locally as “Coney Islands”). Many here quietly wonder about the purposefulness of it all or, as one resident finally asked the U.N. officials during their visit: “Does this, all that you’ve heard, meet the legal definition of genocide?”

And yet, despite these injustices and the feeling of bitterness that go with them, each morning this Detroit, too, rises.

Point of Origin 

Retired city construction inspector Cheryl LaBash rarely ventures downtown any longer. The last time she did, it was to protest what she sees happening to her city. We sit together in a small park called Campus Martius, which allocates about the same amount of square footage to a ritzy restaurant and a seasonal ice skating rink ($8 for adult admission, $7 for children) as to green space. LaBash has shoulder-length, white-streaked hair and wears a t-shirt that reads, “Hands Off My Pension.” She’s also carrying her old hardhat, just as a memento. She’d worn it during one of her final jobs with the city, supervising a team of construction workers as they tore up the ground right below where we were sitting.

The objective was to move Woodward Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, in order to clear the space to build Campus Martius. During the construction process, LaBash remembers discovering that the survey marker for southeast Michigan — the point of origin from which the entire region is measured — lay underneath the new park. That only strengthened her feeling that the transformation of this space from a main public thoroughfare into a privately administered park patrolled by corporately hired security guards was a symbol of the privatization that her city had undergone.

Today, the downtown section of Detroit hums with construction projects and is dotted with surprisingly expensive parking lots. Even as much of the rest of the city is neglected, it is being rapidly transformed. Most of this change is being driven by Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans, one of the largest mortgage companies in the United States. In 2010, he moved the company’s headquarters from the suburb of Livonia, Michigan, to downtown Detroit and brought thousands of his employees into the city center with him.

Gilbert has also taken matters into his own hands when it comes to securing his rapidly expanding downtown empire. He’s organized his own 24/7 private security outfit, which patrols his approximately 60 buildings on foot, on bikes, and in cars. He’s also had hundreds of closed-circuit cameras installed in the area. Gilbert’s men monitor the feeds from those cameras (along with the social media accounts of residents and community groups) around the clock in the surveillance center in the basement of the Gilbert-owned Chase building.

“You feel like you’ve got into a deep room of the Pentagon,” says law professor Hammer on the surveillance room, which he recently toured with his students.

For new downtown residents, the rising levels of security and surveillance are considered a welcome — if sometimes perplexing — phenomenon. Patrick Klida, a young lawyer from the suburbs who moved downtown a few years ago, tells of an early morning call he received from Gilbert’s men last summer.  His car, he was informed, was being broken into.

“The high-def cameras had found someone throwing a rock through the car window,” he explained. Within minutes, Gilbert’s security monitoring team had run the car’s plates, discovered that it was registered to his mother, located her number, called her at five in the morning, gotten his number, and called him.

To Cheryl LaBash, however, this new private security set-up isn’t just a byproduct of downtown gentrification; it’s yet another threat to Detroit’s crippled democratic process and the ability of its residents to express political dissent. Last February, private security guards stopped LaBash and a handful of other demonstrators from pamphleting and gathering petition signatures inside Campus Martius, which she believes is an encroachment of her First Amendment rights. The legality of the move may soon be contested, since Campus Martius is one of a number of Detroit parks that, while privately administered, is still officially publicly owned. As for why it seemed like the security guards were expecting the group of pamphleteers, one officer explained to LaBash, “a little birdie told us,” an apparent reference to the monitoring of activist Twitter accounts.

As LaBash sees it, the revitalization of the area isn’t part of an effort to revive “Detroit”; it’s a process meant to erase the city’s history and the vast majority of its people, including herself. She ponders the complicated ways in which such processes are so often driven by the few but executed by the many.  Gesturing toward the park, she says ruefully, “And I was part of that change.”


In a city of less than a million residents, the two Detroits nonetheless seem to collide at every turn.

The night before Halloween, known locally as Angel’s or Devil’s Night, the neighborhood association of East English Village, another of Detroit’s wealthy enclaves, hosted a potluck dinner and organized a volunteer resident security patrol. Setting vacant buildings afire on this night has become something of a grim yearly tradition in the city and a growing danger to neighborhoods that can’t afford their own privatized security forces. Although, unlike poorer areas of the city, this wealthy and well-organized community hasn’t suffered anything worse than a broken window on Devil’s night in years, it wasn’t taking any chances.

Around nine, as residents clustered in association president Bill Barlage’s driveway, drinking hot cocoa and eating chili and bacon-wrapped sweet potatoes, newly elected mayor Mike Duggan arrived.

“Does Joe Biden live here?” Duggan asked jokingly, provoking a wave of laughter.

The vice president had indeed visited Barlage’s home during a trip to Detroit on Labor Day weekend because, as Barlage put it, “The mayor wanted to show Biden a solid neighborhood.” In Barlage’s mind, the community’s success can be explained in part by its willingness to invest in private security, raise an active volunteer patrol, and generally keep its residents engaged and active. In addition, Barlage and the association promote continuing close relationships with both the city police department and the mayor’s office.

“We watch houses, we log houses,” he said.

A few blocks from his house, however, East English Village resident Andrew Cox has had quite a different experience in the neighborhood. For the last two years, he and his fiancée have been living in East English Village in the same way that thousands of poor residents elsewhere in the city have survived the economic turmoil: by occupying a vacant house, fixing it up and paying utilities. Like others in their situation, he and his fiancée were also putting a percentage of their monthly income into a bank account administered by a community group in order to collectively pay costs like property taxes.

A handsome thirty-something with a navy blue cabbie hat cocked at an angle on his head, he said he hadn’t found East English Village particularly welcoming. Earlier in the year, he explained, someone broke into the house and destroyed much of the kitchen, removing doors from their hinges and knocking out part of a wall. The break-in happened despite the community’s tight-knit watch group or perhaps — and this was his suspicion — because of it; because, that is, he and his partner didn’t fit the neighborhood’s profile and some members wanted to see them go.

Mostly, he was glad that the intruders hadn’t taken his great grandmother’s King James Bible, which the family had brought up from the South with them decades ago. In the wake of the break-in, he had received an eviction notice, which he wasn’t going to fight, since the state had recently enacted laws that made squatting a felony.

“I’m not going to jail just to have a roof over my head,” he said. “If they want the house so bad, they can have it.”

Back at Barlage’s place, the mayor was shaking hands and preparing to leave. “Well, looks like the neighborhood is safe,” Duggan declared to another round of laughter as he and his men strode down the driveway.

Eyes Don’t Cry

That Sunday evening, Marian Kramer’s weekend of work was almost over.

The town hall meeting for the visiting U.N. officials had ended after dozens of testimonies on what it meant to live without running water. Although there hadn’t been enough time for everyone to speak, people were now filing out of the atrium of a local community college, heading home to prepare for another week.

Some, however, were staying for the buffet of chicken, rice and beans, salad, steamed vegetables, and sheet cake. “Commander” Brown and his wife, also a security officer with Threat Management, were keeping a close eye on the two U.N. officials, accompanying them in line and even to the bathroom.

Finally, after the dinner was over and the guests had been thanked for investigating the water shutoffs, Stevie Wonder’s “My Eyes Don’t Cry” filled the large room. Dozens of people began heading for a corner that quickly became a makeshift dance floor. Soon, just about everyone fell into step: Maureen Taylor and the U.N. officials, out-of-towners and locals, a public school teacher, a school board member, and a man who had recently parked his wheelchair in the middle of a street to block the water trucks from heading out to turn off some more taps.

Despite the hours of testimonies over that weekend by residents living without water, by mothers fearful of losing their children and careful to conserve every drop of moisture — “I don’t cook rice, beans, anything that would cause evaporation,” explained one woman — a sense of joy and relief, mixed with the heady sweetness of chicken, pulsed through the crowd. One resident broke into a smile as she pivoted in her chair and surveyed the cluster of people calling out the steps and moving together, as if there were no kitchens without running water, no private surveillance cameras, no bankruptcy, no emergency manager, no emergencies at all — as if, for a moment, there were not two Detroits, separate and unequal, but just one city, hell-bent on survival.

“This is why they can’t kill us,” she said.

And these words summed up, perhaps more than anything else, the history of this side of Detroit — and whatever promise may lie in its future.

Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist based in New York City. The author of A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, her writing has appeared in Mother Jones, Al Jazeera, GuernicaPlayboyRollingStone.com, and frequently at TomDispatch. She is currently working with Zuccotti Park Press on a book about climate change and displacement. She’s especially grateful to filmmaker Messiah Rhodes for his collaboration on this article.

This article first appeared on TomDispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project,

Massive radiation spike at Fukushima: 40,000% increase below ground. Experts: Amount entering ocean “increasing by 400 tons daily”. Washington had radioactive aerosols 100,000 times normal

TEPCO: Monitoring at the East Side of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1-4 Turbine Buildings:

Groundwater pumped up from the well point (between Unit 1 and 2)

  • Cs-134 @ 920 Bq/L
    Up over 40,000% in 10 days
    Previous record @ 110 Bq/L
  • Cs-137 @ 3,000 Bq/L
    Up over 40,000% in 10 days
    Previous record @ 250 Bq/L
  • Mn-54 @ 110 Bq/L
    Up over 2,000% in 10 days
  • Gross β @ 3,200,000 Bq/L
    Up over 1,000% in 10 days

>> Nov 3, 2014:

  • Cs-134 @ ND (MDA=2)
  • Cs-137 @ 6.3 Bq/L
  • Mn-54 @ 5 Bq/L
  • Gross β @ 230,000 Bq/L

Underground water observation hole No.1-17 (near well point between Unit 1 and 2)

See also from today: TV: Attempt to stop flow of highly radioactive liquid at Fukushima “in doubt” — AP: Much of it is pouring in trenches going out into Pacific — Experts: Amount entering ocean “increasing by 400 tons daily” — Problem “so severe” it’s consuming nearly all workers at site — Top Plant Official: “Little cause for optimism” (VIDEO)

NHK, Nov. 13, 2014 (emphasis added): Radioactive water may still be entering tunnels — [TEPCO] faces another challenge in its effort to address radioactive water at the complex. It says highly contaminated water may still be flowing from reactor buildings into adjacent underground tunnels even after a work to stem the flow ended. The water in the tunnels is believed to be leaking into the sea… the firm began work in April to stem the flow of radioactive water between the reactor buildings and the tunnels… TEPCO finished the work on November 6th. But workers found that water levels in the reactor buildings and the tunnels are still linked

ITAR-TASS, Nov 14, 2014: Radioactive water discharge from Fukushima Daiichi NPP into ocean continues; According to specialists, the volume of contaminated liquid that is leaking into the ocean is increasing by 400 tons daily— The repair operations… aimed at preventing radioactive water discharges into the ocean have yielded no result, the NPP operator [TEPCO] reported on Friday. The water… is still leaking into the NPP drainage system even after last week’s operations to stop the leak… [D]ue to the major damage of the plant’s infrastructure most of the water that is poured inleaks into the drainage system and gets into the ground waters and then into the Pacific Ocean… The radioactive contamination level in the ground waters, according to TEPCO, is very high…

AP, Nov 12, 2014: Japan’s nuclear cleanup stymied by water woes… nearly all the workers are devoted to a single, enormously distracting problem: coping with the vast amount of water that becomes contaminated after it is pumped into the reactors to keep the melted radioactive fuel inside from overheating… The water becomes contaminated upon exposure to the radioactive fuel, and much of it pours into the reactor basements and maintenance trenches that extend to the Pacific Ocean.

The Guardian, Nov. 13, 2014: The man in charge of cleaning up the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has admitted there is little cause for optimism… The water problem is so severe that [Tepco has] enlisted almost all of their 6,000 workers… to bring it under control… “ I have no intention of being optimistic” [Fukushima Daiichi’s manager Akira Ono] told the Guardian… large quantities [of contaminated water] find their way to other parts of the site, including maintenance trenches connected to the sea… “The contaminated water is the most pressing issue – there is no doubt about that,” Ono said… “I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect.”

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s “Big Science Blog” by Jake Ellison, Nov. 13, 2014 (emphasis added):Tiny amount of Fukushima radiation reaches West Coast; does it worry you? A water sample taken in August from about 100 miles west of Eureka, California, has been found to contain a small amount of radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster… Basically, scientists say it’s nothing more than a curiosity or confirmation of models… but the rumors and fears surrounding radiation contamination are hard to dampen. This is the second time radiation from Japan has shown up on our shores. In March [2014], we reported: “A bit of cesium-134… has been detected in a soil sample taken from the beach… in British Columbia”

Some may recall that radioactive material from Japan has shown up on the shores of the Pacific Northwest even before March 2014 — actually about 3 years before:

The University of Texas at Austin — Cockrell School of Engineering: The amount of radiation released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was so great that the level of atmosphericradioactive aerosols in Washington state was 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than normal levels… “I think the conclusion was that this was a really major event here,” said Cockrell School of Engineering Associate Professor Steven Biegalski of the Fukushima disaster… Biegalski was on a faculty research assignment at [Pacific Northwest National Laboratory] in Richland, Wash… “As the measurements came in sooner and at higher concentrations than we initially expected, we quickly came to the conclusion that there were some major core melts at those facilities,” Biegalski said. “I remember being in the lab thinking, ‘Wow, if this is all true we have a far more bigger accident than what we’re hearing right now.”

Washington State Department of Health: Releases from… Fukushima showed that a radiological event can happen anywhere, anytime, and affect conditions thousands of miles from the source.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen interviewed by Alex Smith of RadioEcoshock, Oct. 29, 2014 (at 21:30 in): “We found gardens in Vancouver that had… a clear signature of Fukushima radiation. We’ve seen that as far north as a little bit north of Vancouver, all the way down to Portland, Oregon… So clearly the West Coast was nailed.”

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen interviewed by Libbe HaLevy of Nuclear Hotseat, Nov. 12, 2014 (at 44:30 in): “I would expect that as a result of these hot particles that have blown all over Japan and Seattle and Vancouver and PortlandI would expect and increase in lung cancer.”

Nuclear Hotseat interview here | Radio Ecoshock interview here

Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s “Big Science Blog” by Jake Ellison, Nov. 13, 2014 (emphasis added): Tiny amount of Fukushima radiation reaches West Coast; does it worry you? A water sample taken in August from about 100 miles west of Eureka, California, has been found to contain a small amount of radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster… Basically, scientists say it’s nothing more than a curiosity or confirmation of models… but the rumors and fears surrounding radiation contamination are hard to dampen. This is the second time radiation from Japan has shown up on our shores. In March [2014], we reported: “A bit of cesium-134… has been detected in a soil sample taken from the beach… in British Columbia”

Some may recall that radioactive material from Japan has shown up on the shores of the Pacific Northwest even before March 2014 — actually about 3 years before:

The University of Texas at Austin — Cockrell School of Engineering: The amount of radiation released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was so great that the level of atmospheric radioactive aerosols in Washington state was 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than normal levels… “I think the conclusion was that this was a really major event here,” said Cockrell School of Engineering Associate Professor Steven Biegalski of the Fukushima disaster… Biegalski was on a faculty research assignment at [Pacific Northwest National Laboratory] in Richland, Wash… “As the measurements came in sooner and at higher concentrations than we initially expected, we quickly came to the conclusion that there were some major core melts at those facilities,” Biegalski said. “I remember being in the lab thinking, ‘Wow, if this is all true we have a far more bigger accident than what we’re hearing right now.”

Washington State Department of Health: Releases from… Fukushima showed that a radiological event can happen anywhere, anytime, and affect conditions thousands of miles from the source.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen interviewed by Alex Smith of RadioEcoshock, Oct. 29, 2014 (at 21:30 in): “We found gardens in Vancouver that had… a clear signature of Fukushima radiation. We’ve seen that as far north as a little bit north of Vancouver, all the way down to Portland, Oregon… So clearly the West Coast was nailed.”

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen interviewed by Libbe HaLevy of Nuclear Hotseat, Nov. 12, 2014 (at 44:30 in): “I would expect that as a result of these hot particles that have blown all over Japan and Seattle and Vancouver and Portland… I would expect and increase in lung cancer.”

Nuclear Hotseat interview here | Radio Ecoshock interview here

Gov’t abandoned us… Japan is clearly going insane… Nothing has gotten better” (VIDEO)


IMDb – Kakusei: The Fukushima End (2014), Blondion Productions: Today the Japanese government assures its people of Fukushima’s safety and urges residents to move back. However, citizens are not convinced… Through the experiences of five individuals, this documentary reflects upon how culture has influenced the choices citizens make everyday, and how those have changed.

Closing scene from ‘Kakusei’:

  • Hikaru Abe, student in Soma, Fukushima (40 km north of Fukushima Daiichi) who stayed behind after his mother and younger brother evacuated: “Nothing has gotten better… The government was incapable to deal with issues, covered up information we needed and even put pressure on us. While many human errors were seen, people in Fukushima worked hard to move on with the support from all over the country. Fukushima is in the process of recovery. Our government abandoned us. Anyone, please, please save the lives of Fukushima people and children. Japan is clearly going insane. It seems like we are about to get killed. Please lend your strength to Fukushima.”

The documentary is extremely well produced. Its thoughtful subject matter, eye-catching cinematography and excellent sound design will hopefully soon be seen by millions. According to thefilm’s official trailer posted last year, “We are currently in need of funding to complete and distribute the film. Please lend your support and donate: http://www.blondion.com/support.”

This letter by Tomoko Hatsuzawa, a mother in Fukushima City, expresses sentiments similar to those shared by Hikaru. Hatsuzawa gave the letter to Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times, who also translates: “To people in the United States and around the world, I am so sorry for the uranium and plutonium that Japan has released into the environment. The fallout from Fukushima has already circled the world many times, reaching Hawaii, Alaska, and even New York. We live 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the plant and our homes have been contaminated beyond levels seen at Chernobyl… But the government will not help us. They tell us to stay put… I was eight years old when the Fukushima Daiichi plant opened. If I had understood what they were building, I would have fought against it. I didn’t realize that it contained dangers that would threaten my children, my children’s children and their children. I am grateful for all the aid all the world has sent us. Now, what we ask is for you to speak out against the Japanese government. Pressure them into taking action. Tell them to make protecting children their top priority. Thank you so much.”

Watch the Kakusei pre-screener here

Japanese doctors threatened for revealing data on how bad Fukushima-related illnesses have become. Gov’t refuses to disclose miscarriages or stillbirths around Fukushima.


Fukushima: A woman leaves after a brief visit to Futaba

Excerpts from Nuclear Hotseat w/ Libbe HaLevy, Nov. 12, 2014 (at 33:15 in):

  • Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education: We have firsthand knowledge from at least a half dozen Japanese doctors… who have said they have been threatened… if they speak frankly to their patients about the health effects that they’re experiencing; or if they frankly speak in public about their fears — and, in fact, measurements — of how bad radioactive illnesses really are. So we know of at least a half a dozen doctors who are being ‘sat on’, and if 6 are, you can be certain that many more are as well. It’s a pressure that’s being applied up and down the spectrum… [You would now expect] exactly what we’re seeing — earlier cancers and thyroid nodules. Then over the next 15 to 20 years, increased organ cancers as well as muscular cancers… The fact of the matter is, we’re going to see cancers in that 4 to 30 year time span. And I still stand by what I’ve been saying now for 3 years. I think there will be a million extra cancers as a result of Fukushima Daiichi.
  • Gundersen: For Asahi Shimbun, a major newspaper, to basically call on people to [move] back home based on the [claim there’s no increase in birth defects]… is absolutely absurd. The number they’re not giving us is how many stillbirths and how many miscarriages there’s been in relation to the rest of Japan — and those are radiation-induced. You’ll get a stillbirth or you’ll get a miscarriage when a fetus is deformed or it is already developing cancer… The Japanese are not reporting stillbirths and miscarriages in Fukushima… That’s a much better indicationThere are 35 million people in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area [and] their homes are contaminated… We had two women, sisters, both pregnant at the same time — one with twins, and one with a single baby. Two of the kids were stillbirths. The other was born with a deformity. They had the metallic taste in their mouth as the babies were in [the womb]. They lived in Tokyo, 130 miles from the accident. They’re people, they’re not statistics… and they’ve got no place to run…. no place to go.

Download the full interview here

Better Dead Than Different

Our visions of the future are defined, like the film Interstellar, by technological optimism and political defeatism

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 12th November 2014

“It’s like we’ve forgotten who we are,” the hero of Interstellar complains. “Explorers, pioneers, not caretakers … We’re not meant to save the world. We’re meant to leave it.” It could be the epigraph of our age.

Don’t get me wrong. Interstellar is a magnificent film, true to the richest traditions of science fiction, visually and auditorally astounding. See past the necessary silliness and you will find a moving exploration of parenthood, separation and ageing. It is also a classic exposition of two of the great themes of our age: technological optimism and political defeatism.

The Earth and its inhabitants are facing planetary catastrophe, caused by “six billion people, and every one of them trying to have it all”, which weirdly translates into a succession of blights, trashing the world’s crops and sucking the oxygen out of the atmosphere. (When your major receipts are in the US, you can’t afford to earn the hatred of the broadcast media by mentioning climate change. The blight, an obvious substitute, has probably averted millions of dollars of lost takings).

The civilisational collapse at the start of the film is intercut with interviews with veterans of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Their worn faces prefigure the themes of ageing and loss. But they also remind us inadvertently of a world of political agency. Great follies were committed but big, brave things were done to put them right: think of the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps(1). That world is almost as different from our own as the planets visited by Interstellar’s astronauts.

They leave the Earth to find a place to which humans can escape or, if that fails, one in which a cargo of frozen embryos can be deposited. It takes an effort, when you emerge, to remember that such fantasies are taken seriously by millions of adults, who consider them a realistic alternative to addressing the problems we face on Earth.

NASA runs a website devoted to the idea(2). It claims that gigantic spaceships, “could be wonderful places to live; about the size of a California beach town and endowed with weightless recreation, fantastic views, freedom, elbow-room in spades, and great wealth.” Of course, no one could leave, except to enter another spaceship, and the slightest malfunction would cause instant annihilation. But “settlements in earth orbit will have one of the most stunning views in our solar system – the living, ever-changing Earth.” We can look back and remember how beautiful it was.

And then there’s the money to be made. “Space colonization is, at its core, a real estate business. … Those that colonize space will control vast lands, enormous amounts of electrical power, and nearly unlimited material resources. [This] will create wealth beyond our wildest imagination and wield power – hopefully for good rather than for ill.”(3) In other words, we would leave not only the Earth behind but also ourselves.

That’s a common characteristic of such fantasies: their lack of imagination. Wild flights of technological fancy are accompanied by a stolid incapacity to picture the inner life of those who might inhabit such systems. People who would consider the idea of living in the Gobi Desert intolerable – where, an estate agent might point out, there is oxygen, radiation-screening, atmospheric pressure and 1g of gravity – rhapsodise about living on Mars. People who imagine that human life on Earth will end because of power and greed and oppression imagine we will escape these forces in pressure vessels controlled by technicians, in which we would be trapped like tadpoles in a jamjar.

If space colonisation is impossible today, when Richard Branson, for all his billions, cannot even propel people safely past the atmosphere(4), how will it look in a world that has fallen so far into disaster that leaving it for a lifeless, airless lump of rock would be perceived as a good option? We’d be lucky in these circumstances to possess the wherewithal to make bricks.

Only by understanding this as a religious impulse can we avoid the conclusion that those who gleefully await this future are insane. Just as it is easier to pray for life after death than it is to confront oppression, this fantasy permits us to escape the complexities of life of Earth for a starlit wonderland beyond politics. In Interstellar, as in many other versions of the story, space is heaven, overseen by a benign Technology, peopled by delivering angels with oxygen tanks.

Space colonisation is an extreme version of a common belief: that it is easier to adapt to our problems than to solve them. Earlier this year, the economist Andrew Lilico argued in the Telegraph(5) that we can’t afford to prevent escalating climate change, so instead we must learn to live with it. He was challenged on Twitter to explain how people in the tropics might adapt to a world in which four degrees of global warming had taken place. He replied: “I imagine tropics adapt to 4C world by being wastelands with few folk living in them. Why’s that not an option?”(6)

Re-reading his article in the light of this comment, I realised that it hinged on the word “we”. When the headline maintained that “We have failed to prevent global warming, so we must adapt to it”(7), the “we” referred in these instances to different people. We in the rich world can brook no taxation to encourage green energy, or regulation to discourage the consumption of fossil fuels. We cannot adapt even to an extra penny of tax. But the other “we”, which turns out to mean “they” – the people of the tropics – can and must adapt to the loss of their homes, their land and their lives, as entire regions become wastelands. Why is that not an option?

The lives of the poor appear unimaginable to people in his position, like the lives of those who might move to another planet or a space station. So reducing the amount of energy we consume and replacing fossil fuels with other sources, simple and cheap as these are by comparison to all other options, is inconceivable and outrageous, while the mass abandonment of much of the inhabited surface of the world is a realistic and reasonable request. “It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger”, David Hume noted(8), and here we see his contemplation reified.

But at least Andrew Lilico could explain what he meant, by contrast to most of those who talk breezily about adapting to climate breakdown. Relocating cities to higher ground? Moving roads and railways, diverting rivers, depopulating nations, leaving the planet? Never mind the details. Technology, our interstellar god, will sort it out, some day, somehow.

Technological optimism and political defeatism: this is a formula for the deferment of hard choices to an ever-receding neverland of life after planetary death. No wonder it is popular.



  1. http://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/5392

  2. http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov

  3. http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/

  4. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/01/sir-richard-branson-space-tourism-project-doubt

  5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10644867/We-have-failed-to-prevent-global-warming-so-we-must-adapt-to-it.html

  6. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/james-blog/2337458/climate-adaptation-lobby-is-reckless-dangerous-and-partly-right

  7. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10644867/We-have-failed-to-prevent-global-warming-so-we-must-adapt-to-it.html

  8. https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hume/david/h92t/B2.3.3.html

Radiation levels spike 7,000% at US nuclear site


AP, Nov. 6, 2014 (emphasis added): A pair of air samplers at [New Mexico’s WIPP] nuclear waste repository detected low levels of radioactive contamination after workers restarted one of the fans… workers took shelter inside buildings before restarting the fan…

Carlsbad Current Argus, Nov. 10, 2014: A new small, but measurable amount of radiation was detected… [Tim Runyon, of WIPP Recovery Communications said] officials were expecting a small radiation leak…

US Dept. of Energy – WIPP Air Sampling for Station B (The amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere –Source), Nov 6, 2014:

  • Oct. 21-22, 2014: Alpha @ 72 dpm
  • Test results over the previous 6 months have averaged below 1 dpm
  • Levels haven’t been this high since the initial days of the Feb. 14 WIPP disaster

WIPP Town Hall, Nov. 6, 2014:

  • Tammy Reynolds, Nuclear Waste Partnership: On the 21st, we put that fan back in service… We wanted to make sure we were prepared if there were some particles that came lose… We were very pleased with the results… Less than we actually anticipated… much less than any person would ever be… impacted from.
  • Russell Hardy, Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center (created by DOE funds): We did see a small amount of Americium-241a few hundred feet from Station B… This filter could have been… folded up and put in someone’s lunch bucket, that’s how small this is… It’s measurable [but] it does not pose any concern to public health. (Public health refers to the population as a whole, not the individual –WHO)

Nuclear Hotseat w/ Libbe HaLevy, Oct 21, 2014 — Don Hancock, Southwest Research & Information Center (at 22:30): Their analysis… showed the starting of that fan, it’s a different fan than the one that’s been operating most recently… could trigger some additional radiation coming out… Because the site is contaminated, there’s constantly the possibility that additional contamination can be released… This is an ongoing problem, and will be… unless the site is closed up… The DOE is proposing many activities that are very likely to release a lot more radioactivity than [the fan restart]… People are correct to be concerned… We’re talking about this going on for years into the future if DOE’s plans are approved.

Watch the WIPP town hall here