Posted by: Curmudgeon Oct 30 2017, 11:56 AM
Sixty plus years ago, I used to help my older brother with his newspaper route. Two "young ladies" (as they preferred to be called, "Aunt Alice" was from the class of 1887.) lived in a second floor apartment, but could no longer navigate stairs. As I carried their paper up to them daily, we became friends. When life became too violent, their home was a place of refuge. I have often said they did more to raise me than my parents did. When they entered a nursing home, they gave me their Bible which had one bookmark, and one verse circled in red:
QUOTE( King James Version)
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/pruning/
They were both "War Widows." waiting for their husbands to return from war or be notified of their deaths... I have been a pacifist for as long as I can recall.
In the late 1960's, I wrote a number of letters to newspapers and legislators in opposition to the construction of a Nuclear Power Plant adjacent to a large chemical manufacturing complex. A small group of us felt there was no safe way to dispose of the radioactive waste. When I was told repeatedly that nuclear reactors "consume less than a pound of waste per year," I wrote to NASA suggesting that all of the nuclear waste could be loaded into a single rocket and fired at the far side of the sun where it would evaporate and disperse into outer space. NASA replied that with all the rocket fuel and rockets the world could produce, there was not enough capacity to dispose of just the waste stored onsite at nuclear reactor sites...
Over a period of about twenty years, I learned that the only safe way to keep a nuclear reactor cool enough to prevent meltdowns was by cooling the generated steam by converting the heat to electrical energy. The amount of mass converted to energy as Uranium is converted to Plutonium is miniscule. Plug 454 grams of mass into Einstein's formula and you would generate enough calories (454 grams X 9 followed by 20 zeros) to boil all of the water off the planet.
I am still looking for that safe way to dispose of nuclear waste... Watching the History Channel, I learned that as the continents shift toward each other, the Tectonic Plates sink into the Mariana Trench until they melt into the molten core of the Earth.
Nuclear weapons have been used twice in the history of the world, both times by The United States. When Russia and The United States built up large arsenals of nuclear weapons, the concept was that M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) would prevent any rational world leader from starting a nuclear war. That was the Prima Facie case for an international buildup. Trump's Cabinet, it is rumored, has agreed to tackle Donald Trump if he reaches for the nuclear football. Who will be there to tackle him when he reacts to a Tweet at five AM? Kim Jong Un in North Korea, according to news reports, has told his people that someone will survive World War III and a hardened group of North Koreans can then take over the world according to news reports.
I have begun a letter writing campaign to seek an International Treaty whereby every nuclear power would agree to dispose of radioactive waste by dumping all of our nuclear waste and weapons into the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot in the world's oceans where gravity, corrosion, and time would force it into the core of the planet.Questions for debate:Can you envision a safer way to dispose of nuclear weapons and waste?Do you see a rational reason to continue building a weapons system that no one has been willing to use again in combat since 1945?Can we really continue to justify 16-25 Billion Dollars annually (http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/us-nuclear-weapons-budget-overview/) to maintain a weapon system we hope will never be used?
Posted by: AuthorMusician Oct 31 2017, 07:07 AM
Can you envision a safer way to dispose of nuclear weapons and waste?
I cannot, which is why in the 1970s I became a fan of renewable alternative energy sources. Efficiencies and attitudes have improved since then, which is hopeful. Then there are those in power who seem to be not only willing but eager to use nukes again. However, our justice system might be able to oust these people out of power before it's too late, and so there's still hope. Just less of it until uncertainties work out over time.
Do you see a rational reason to continue building a weapons system that no one has been willing to use again in combat since 1945?
Only the MAD thing, which is crazy but all we've got until war becomes obsolete. WW I showed a lot of people that war had already become obsolete, since nobody won anything for all those wasted lives. But a lot of other people are very slow learners, and they either have nukes already or want them very badly. This leads into the idea that war will become obsolete once the human species becomes extinct. The problem is that the next dominant species will likely have the same self-defeating weakness, and so it could be just the way things are.
Can we really continue to justify 16-25 Billion Dollars annually (link) to maintain a weapon system we hope will never be used?
Yep, we humans can justify anything. And we are very good at that. The high cost of maintaining a nuclear arsenal is partly due to how the nukes degrade over time. For example, without regular maintenance, plutonium turns extremely dangerous from it becoming spontaneously flammable.
Well, more dangerous than usual. The act of maintaining plutonium is also dangerous, as is its very existence. The solution at Rocky Flats was lots and lots of concrete -- cover it up like a cat.
Another thing humans are good at is changing for the better. That might happen before it's too late, assuming it isn't already, aka hope.