07 March 2010

I am writing this in response to Episode #40 of Paradigms, which aired Sunday, March 7, 2010.

I decided to do a show on the issue of nuclear power and whether or not it is a viable solution for electrical power generation. I found two people to interview on opposing sides of the issue. I did not disclose to either of them my own opinions until after the interview. I have a bias to be sure, but I have done my best to keep it out of the radio episode. The show has aired, and now I am exploring and sharing my thoughts and feelings.

At first, after conducting the interview with Mr. Comby, I thought of nuclear power as a wedge issue between two fundamentally different worldviews; one seeing the world as essentially mechanical, with western culture at the apex of human achievement, and one which views Earth as a living being with humanity as one of many parts of that life. In the first example nuclear power is seen as essential for the preservation and continuation of the overarching western cultural paradigm. Its cons are seen as manageable within the mechanistic framework, while its pros are seen as essential. At the root of this set of beliefs is fear of “reverting back” to a more “primitive” way of living. Once having eaten the proverbial “ fruit of the tree of knowledge,” electrically powered technology, it is believed that one cannot go back. The other world view sees nuclear power with it's environmentally destructive mining and the accompanying displacement of indigenous people, previously subterranean radioactivity released upon the surface of the Earth, and exaltation of technology, as anathema to the life of the Earth. These two worldviews, which I have oversimplified for brevity, certainly seem on the surface to be mutually exclusive.

After the second interview, with Mr. Riccio I realized that my “two worldviews” scenario was wrong. Of course there are as many worldviews as there are people. Neither Mssrs Comby or Riccio discussed aspects of nuclear power that have to do with the aforementioned mining and cultural destruction. Neither of them discussed the fundamental problems with the economic structure within which corporations and governments advocate nuclear power. And neither of them discussed the many behaviors we can change in order to live within our (energy) means. It is no accident that technological cultures on Earth are all finding themselves in debt with failing economies. The debt is what we have borrowed from the Earth by way of exploitation of “resources.”

It is clear to me, from these two interviews, that while I believe there are villains involved in the nuclear power industry, there are also people involved who are not villains. Mr. Comby was a pleasure to talk with, and clearly cares about the future of humanity. I would have to say that there are probably villains in the anti nuclear camp as well, but Mr. Riccio was not one of them. He came across as earnest and passionate and caring about the future of humanity.

What I found lacking in both interviews were statements of caring about the life of the Earth, humanity aside. Both interviewees were focused on the plight of humanity, not of life on Earth as a whole. I say this having spent 15 to 30 minutes with each of them. I imagine, with more time and deeper conversation, both Comby and Riccio would have much more to say about the life of the Earth.

Earth has been here for a while, and we are a relatively recent development. Whatever damage we may do, in geological time, it is a blip. Maybe we cannot really injure the planet. Maybe we can. I don't think anyone can know for sure.

In terms of nuclear power, if we want to continue with the mechanization of humanity, with “mind” as ruler of all, with disregard to the integrated nature of life on Earth, nuclear is the way to go. One can ignore, to a point, problems with radiation and disease, destruction of Earth to mine for uranium, and the confluence of business and government that the nuclear power industry requires in order to function. I think this solution will actually ring the death knell for civilization as we know it because it is part of a paradigm that is ever and increasingly destructive, and is clearly unsustainable. The anti nuclear power position as represented by Jim Riccio also has gaps in it. It’s not enough for us to simply say no to nuclear power. We need to critically assess the entire paradigm that allows for the kind of compartmentalization the nuclear power model calls for. In fact, there is no “environment” separate from us, to protect. There is simply Life on Earth and we are part of that life.

My vision involves some fundamental changes to how humanity operates.

1) We need to reduce the global human population to somewhere between 1 and 2 billion. The current strategy for population control involves war, manufactured diseases, and the maintenance of poverty with its accompanying short life span. We need, instead, for birth control to be available along with information about the plight of the world, to give people good reason to have less children. There are still cultures on Earth where the people depend on their children to do physical work like growing food and tending animals, and those peoples, the few left, are NOT the ones whose large families are literally eating the planet. It's the consumer societies whose disproportionate use of “resources,” gifts from the earth, that are problematic.

2) We have the knowledge and the experience within our common humanity to live in ways that demand less of the Earth. If we use what we know, we can reuse much of what we have discarded, and reduce with an aim to eventually stopping, all mining. When I refer to mining I mean digging drilling and otherwise taking from the Earth minerals and substances that we are currently extracting to form into all kinds of things.

3) It is time to end war. Besides the obvious loss of human life involved, war is one of the biggest polluters. Modern warfare involves the toxin-producing manufatcure and use of devices which cause explosions, burning, release of dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere, and radioactive munitions which damage all life forms in proximity. We already see how the use of depleted uranium munitions in the “first gulf war” has created a catastrophe in Iraq. The rate of childhood leukemia is off the charts. The use of DU during the invasion of Iraq has also caused a huge increase in birth defects.

The upshot of my vision is that it is time for humanity to grow up, to learn to live in peace, to respect the Earth, to stop greedily gobbling up everything in sight. Humanity is still, by and large, behaving like a child for whom nothing matters but it's own gratification. That is a normal developmental stage, and one that children navigate and outgrow. It is time for humanity to do the same. Nuclear power, to return to the original topic, is part of the “gimme gimme” stage of development, the narcissistic, where one believes one is entitled to whatever one wants and will take it no matter the consequences. There are clearly consequences with nuclear power. We must weigh our desires against what is viable in nature, for after all, nature was here first, we are part of nature, and the laws of nature govern humanity no matter how hard we may try to escape them. Clearly, we cannot escape the ways of nature, and in my view should not, since we are part of nature. Why try to control nature? That brings us back to narcissism.

In conclusion I would like to say that I learned a lot putting together Episode #40 of Paradigms. The main things I learned are that 1) Not all advocates of nuclear power are villains. 2) Nuclear power is symbolic of an immature humanity, one which will either grow up or not; a humanity faced with taking responsibility for our actions and their consequences, past present and future. We'll see what happens.

22 February 2010

Wow! I am definitely still feeling high from last night's Paradigms. If you haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, check it out.
Live radio is amazing. I've been doing it for some time now and I am still always a little nervous when I first go live on the air, then settle in and find my groove with whatever the show is. Last night's show was no exception but once we got going it felt good, and I think the result is a show that really has a gestalt to it. If you listen to the whole thing you get something more than if you listen to pieces of it. I listened to it in it's entirety this morning and, even though I did all the interviews, I learned a lot just listening. I am left with a lot of good feeling from the experience, and the belief that this show mattered to people near and far, and the hope that it offers something good.

18 February 2010

This coming Sunday's episode of Paradigms has been in the works for over 7000 years! We will meet Bejawi people, learn a bit about their history and their present day existence, and hear some great music from the Bejawi lands in the northeastern part of Africa. Paradigms Sunday Feb 21 8 PM EST on WBKM.org


10 February 2010

I am very happy to announce the launch of the new Paradigms website! Check it out. This is the brilliant creative work of Greg and Leah at PictMedia.

So, drumroll, if you have or haven't visited the old site, please check out the new site! http://paradigms.bz/