Albert Einstein, presented the Annus
Mirabilis ("Wonderful Year") Papers, in which he explained the
mass�energy equivalence formula, E = mc2, which led to the development of
a few days before his death, Einstein together with Bertrand Russell issued the
Russell-Einstein Manifesto, highlighting the dangers posed by nuclear weapons,
and calling for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international
the paragraphs in the manifesto reads: "We shall try to say no single word
which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in
peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may
collectively avert it."
2007 has been a "Wonderful Year" in the quest for nuclear supremacy.
While as �global citizens� we have been distracted by the dangers of a
nuclear-armed Iran, the possible failed state of Pakistan, and the push for
disarmament by North Korea, our political and economic leaders have been making
aggressive moves towards reinstating the forgotten supremacy of Nuclear Energy.
the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl and the end of the nuclear arms race of the Cold
War, it looked like the use of nuclear energy would fade away and be replaced
with alternative sources of energy, both for military and civilian purposes.
However, it seems apparent now, that the opposite is taking place and as wars continue
to spread, together with terrorism and failed states, the global race is on for
nuclear domination. As President Bush said on 20 of December; "[Nuclear
plants] are the best solution to making sure we have economic growth and at the
same time be good stewards of the environment."
19 the Washington Post told us; "Nuclear power is on the verge of a
renaissance in the United States." The fact is that there is a global
renaissance thirsty for nuclear proliferation, and this time Washington is not
its sole promoter. The main problem is that as �global citizens� we don�t
understand the true implications of this choice. In 1953 Edward Teller
"the father of the hydrogen bomb" and an early member of the
Manhattan Project, charged with developing the first atomic bombs, addressed
the issue in a letter to Sterling Cole, Chairman of the Joint Committee on
Atomic Energy. Referring to the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes he
said, "It is clear that no legislation will be able to stop future accidents
and avoid completely occasional loss of life . . . Power production can,
however, be conducted in such a manner as to produce militarily useful
this "occasional loss of life" matter at the beginning of the 21st
century. We learned a few days ago at the French National Assembly's economic
affairs committee, that Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of Areva, the world's
largest nuclear power group, is saying that "between now and 2030 we
believe there could be 100 to 300 (nuclear reactors built around the
this aggressive uranium rush, Umberto Quadrino, chief executive of Edison,
Italy�s second-largest utility, is calling for a substantial increase in
Europe�s nuclear power capacity: "A nuclear programme at a European level
has to be taken into consideration." A move which deems irrelevant the
research released on December 8 by physicians and health researchers from the
University of Mainz in Germany, which clearly states "that the risk for
children under five years of contracting leukaemia grows with proximity of
their homes to nuclear power plants."
countries seek to invest in nuclear energy, no importance is given to the
dangers of promoting investment in nuclear development in such a volatile
world. "The open secret of the nuclear age is that the line between
civilian and military programs is extraordinarily thin . . . Indeed, the most
difficult part of building a bomb is . . . the process that is also crucial to
civilian nuclear power � producing the fuel." [New York Times, December
civilians allow this path to be pursued and all governments want to be active
participants of this dangerous club, a new United States law was signed last
week which directs the secretary of energy to provide $20.5 billion for nuclear
energy, $18.5 billion for nuclear reactors and $2 billion for uranium
enrichment. Coincidently, there is also a plan backed by the UK government's
chief scientist to build a �1bn fuel processing plant at Sellafield capable of
turning the UK's 60,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste into reactor fuel.
in China, there are plans to increase the country�s nuclear power capacity to
40,000 MW by 2020 and an agreement has already been reached for the
construction of six third-generation reactors. Russia, on the other hand has
announced that in 2008 a nuclear-energy university will be established in
Moscow, based at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, and coordinated in
unison with the Russian Education Ministry.
year came to a close, while observing these rapid moves towards a more nuclear
world, I was drawn to the prediction made in 1909 by the British chemist
Frederick Soddy, who believed atomic power would "make the entire world
one smiling Garden of Eden." Sadly, I am confident that honest analysis
will reveal that 2007 was the "Wonderful Year" in which doctrines of
arbitrary authority, with their innate contempt for freedom, and belief in the
necessity of violence and the morality of war were promoted side by side with a
thriving nuclear complex. In this real life scenario, it seems to me that
collective common sense holds the key to a non-terrorized society, which today
stands far away from this mythological "Smiling Garden of Eden."
Pablo Ouziel is a sociologist and a freelance
writer based in Spain.