The purpose of this "blog" is to make my essays that have been
published online accessible in one place. Current essays are on
top and older pieces farther down, though they are not presented
in strict chronological order. The postings or "blog archive" list
serves as a kind of index. Since most of my essay links were posted
at once in May of 2009, click "2009" under the blog archive column
and a list of essays will appear. Each essay is briefly described and a
link provided.

My formative writing experiences were as a grassroots organizer
and activist in campaigns to make polluters accountable. I wrote
newsletters, pamphlets, press releases, op-ed pieces, and statements
to be read at hearings, debates, and panel discussions. I did hundreds
of interviews for outlets as diverse as NPR, CBS, BBC, and CNN.

During this time I was also a library manager and administrator.
Although one might not suspect so, the role of the librarian and
the role of the activist share much in common. Effective activists
provoke public dialog. Effective librarians invite such dialogue.
Although they employ different methods, the ends are the same.

Eventually, I wrote two books about my political adventures,
Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West (Verso,
1999) and Hope's Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the
American Land(Island/Shearwater, 2004).

We spent the last two centuries learning how Nature can create wealth.
We will spend the next century learning how Nature creates health.
Ultimately, as we learn to live in reciprocal and sustainable
relationship with the ecosystems that sustain us, we will replace
the cultural language of wealth that both expresses and guides our
behavior today with a new language of health.

I am not talking here about mere words. I mean the way we see the
world, the way we express our values, and the way we make choices
together. The difference between those two ways of seeing and being
in the world are profound.

Wealth says more; health says enough.
Wealth says accumulate;
health says flow. Wealth says compete and win; health says
reciprocate, integrate, reconcile. Wealth says manage and
measure; health says jam and dance. Wealth assigns value; health
assumes it. Wealth adds, subtracts, and divides; health makes whole.

To learn this new language, we begin by listening. When we translate
what we learn into behaviors, we are practicing what I call ecological
citizenship. Ultimately, the health of our natural/physical
environment is directly related to the vitality of our civic
environment. And if you dig deeper, environmental crises are
also about our disconnection from nature and from each other.
And so we confront not only entrenched powers and their
destructive interests, but a culture that enables us, even
encourages us, to think and feel and act as if we live apart from
nature. As I try to explain in the essays that follow, nature is
embedded in us as we are embedded in the ecosystems that sustain us.

Chip Ward

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whose Nuclear Renaissance Is This? and Why Nuclear Power is Not an Energy Solution

Whose Nuclear Renaissance is This?

This was an op-ed piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Times. In the winter of 2010, President Obama endorsed billions of dollars in loans and subsidies for new nuclear power plants as part of a package that could make his energy agenda palatable to congressmen beholden to the nuclear industry for campaign largess. The part of the piece that gets quoted often is my comparison of the credibility of the nuclear industry over the first 50 years of its existence :

" Let me bring the choice we are making down to earth. Say you’re buying a car. The salesman has a long history of telling lies, covering up mistakes, and breaking promises. He is trying to sell you a car that doesn’t exist yet, so he’s not sure what it will look like. It is likely to cost at least two and maybe three times what it says on the sticker. It will almost certainly take him much longer to deliver it than he says it will. The fuel for that car – let’s call it a battery – wears out constantly, is deadly-dangerous and will be for thousands of years. You have to store that stuff in your basement because nobody wants it and there’s no place for it to go. Oh, and some powerful and distant authorities will tell you when and where you can drive it. Still interested?

Whose nuclear renaissance is this?"

Why Nuclear Power is Not an Energy Solution to Global Warming

This essay was written for Catalyst Magazine and is reprinted at the HEAL Utah (Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah) website at the link below. HEAL Utah grew from Families Against Incinerator Risk (FAIR) and I co-founded both grassroots organizations. HEAL has won numerous campaigns to keep Utah from becoming a nuclear dump.

The shysters who propose building a massive new set of nuclear power plants tout them as "emissions free," ignoring the large carbon footprint from mining and processing uranium and from building a massive and complex infrastructure for both power generation and waste storage. They also gloss over the intractible problems of a dangerous and long-lived radioactive waste stream. Plus nuke plants are exceedingly expensive. Plus their governance is inherently distant, undemocratic, unresponsive, and inaccessible. Well, read the essay and you'll get the full picture...

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