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News Link • Japan - Earthquake Tsunami Radiation

Unlearned lessons from Chernobyl and Fukushima

Does anyone still read Schumacher's "Small Is Beautiful"? It came out nearly 40 years ago, but it might as well have been written last year for its relevance today. Its central thesis is that we have allowed economics to overtake philosophy, religion and morality as the dominant ideological force in our world. Does it make sense to do X or Y? The answer will be found in the numbers, in the bottom line. No other concerns need be considered. Do we collectively care about our planet, our home, this Earth, or don't we? If we've spent our whole life in the concrete jungle and don't know what mountains, lakes and forests truly are, it may be hard to know just what exactly there is to care about. As long as the refrigerator runs and the lights go on when you flip the switch, you may never stop to ask where all that power actually comes from. Last year I went to Chernobyl to visit one place that was demonstrably treated "as if people did not matter at all." At the time Schumacher was writing his tract against economics as philosophy, a nuclear power station was being built in Ukraine that the Soviets hoped would become the largest in Europe. But just 13 years later, while its fifth reactor was being built (out of an expected total of eight) the fourth one blew up. Cesium, strontium, uranium, plutonium and untold amounts of other radioactive material were spewed out. A 2,000-ton slab of concrete was shunted from horizontal to vertical by the force of the blast, like a piece of balsa wood. A column of blue light shone into the sky for two days — ionized air. Locals left their houses to gaze at the sight, not knowing they were exposing themselves to tremendously high doses of radiation, having been assured by authorities that nothing had gone seriously wrong at the plant.

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