Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Wouldn't it be better to have windmills, solar power, and public mass transit rather than an endless war for oil in the Middle East and Central Asia? Why can't the public begin to demand the conversion of the military industrial complex? After all, it is our money.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the extent that Iraq is a "war for oil" (it most assuredly is, just not in the simplistic way you seem to see it), perhaps you should look at your own philosophy and the actions it motivates as part of the underlying cause.

Where will you put these windmills and solar power collectors, Bruce? More to the point, where will your fellows in the environmental movement *allow* you to put them -- if they don't block their construction entirely, regardless of place, on environmental grounds (e.g.: opposing wind farm construction in large swaths of the country in the name of protecting migratory birds)?

Any change proposed as true step forward in energy production -- that is, changes that will support economic growth and not thwart rising standards of living, which windmills and solar power alone cannot do -- is invariably opposed by those in your own camp, Bruce. We are dependent on foreign sources of oil because we are dependent on oil in the first place, because you leave us with no *viable* alternatives.

If you were really serious about converting the "military industrial complex" you so often fret about, and about eliminating the stimulus for war you complain about here, you'd support a massive expansion of nuclear power. This is why I cannot take you or most other environmentalists seriously -- the solution is in front of you, but you reject it in favor of "alternatives" which are little more than handwaving and magical thinking.

6/26/05, 12:28 AM  
Blogger Sheila Baker said...

Anonymous' negative attitude blocks change. Jobs working with windmills are safe while nuclear power employment involves safety risks, which the nuclear industry readily admits. When Rancho Seco nuke plant closed in Sacramento, citizens planted 1000 trees since summer heat is an issue for them. Sacramento citizens closed their nuke plant, not DOE officials since the citizens created SMUD, Sacramento Utility Municipal District. Sacramento folks realized that nuke power gave them a small percentage in the 'mix' and was just not worth it.
Anonymous may want to identify himself or herself to encourage healthy debate. Your opinions are hardly persuasive since they are without substance.

Sheila Baker
San Luis Obispo County, California, home of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

6/26/05, 9:21 PM  
Blogger Vic Jacobs said...

My negative attitude blocks change how, exactly? I am advocating change...to more nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. Because of their inherent failings as energy sources and the physical limitations on our ability to make use of them, wind and solar are not viable alternatives on a large enough scale to make a dent in fossil fuel energy production. That is not just some guy's armchair opinion, that is inherent in the technology, economics, and intangible factors (such as bird kill rates, siting issues, etc.) involved.

As for safety, stating that the nuclear power industry "readily admits" that employment in that industry involves safety risks is meaningless, since they would be fools to suggest otherwise as you do with windmills -- every human activity involves risk, every industry entails its own particular set of risks. Workers on windmills take on a great deal of risk when they climb to the top of a tower to perform maintenance, for example, so to imply as you do here that that industry is absolutely safe is nonsense.

Personally, I doubt that the decision to close Rancho Seco was made primarily on economic grounds (being a "small percentage of the mix" and "just not worth it"), but rather motivated by the irrational fear of nuclear power cultivated by the environmental movement over the past thirty years. But it's the Sacramento citizens' right as owners of the utility to handle its assets as they see fit, and if they see trading 915MW of cheap, environmentally friendly electricity for a thousand trees and a performing animal rescue park as a beneficial tradeoff, well, I guess that's none of my business since I don't live in Sacramento and don't have to deal with the consequences.

7/1/05, 1:58 PM  
Blogger Vic Jacobs said...

Sheila? Have you changed your mind about wanting a debate?

7/7/05, 8:21 AM  
Blogger Vic Jacobs said...

Earth to Sheila...Come in, Sheila...

7/9/05, 12:15 AM  
Blogger Carl C said...

I suppose Sheila is out planting trees, and too busy to reply. There’s certainly nothing wrong with more trees, though I fail to see what it has to do with closing a nuclear plant. Maybe, in her world, vague or erroneous statements constitute “substance”, something your posts clearly lack, Vic. Try inserting some bold inaccuracies, like Sheila does. Refer to nuclear power as a “small percentage of the ‘mix’”, when it is in fact about 20%, dwarfing solar panels and bird choppers.

Also, consider Sheila’s suggestion that you adopt a more positive attitude, so there can be a healthy debate. A positive attitude, by the way, means not expressing opinions that challenge Sheila’s lefty ideology, and not confusing her with “facts”. We all need to agree first, then we can have an interesting and positive "debate" that will make us feel really good about ourselves.

And while you’re at it, get one of those cute little black berets, like Comrade Bruce wears, so we’ll all know we can trust you.

Carl C
Houston, TX
Environmental Engineer

7/9/05, 9:58 AM  
Blogger Vic Jacobs said...

Well, Carl, I'm sure that if Sheila were to reply, she would counter that solar panels and windmills are only about 0.15% of total US electrical generation because they don't get enough subsidies. Or that the 30% capacity factor for wind power (vs. 95% for nuclear) is just because we don't respect the spirit of the wind. Or that we could have full-spectrum, full-conversion photovoltaic solar generation instead of the 20% efficiencies we have now, and we could have it 24/7, if it weren't for the oil companies like Halliburton suppressing the needed technology and making the sun disappear for half the day.

But I really shouldn't speak for Sheila, I'm sure she'll show up here soon, armed with facts and figures for the debate she asked for.

(Are you actually mocking Bruce's beret? I think it looks quite smart, myself.)

7/9/05, 9:35 PM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

Y'all might be waiting a good bit for Sheila to come back. Private correspondance with the lady has demonstrated that she is interested in preaching to the choir but not interested in debate, or in a valid exchange of ideas.

Which is sad. Closing yourself off from debate with someone merely because they have a different viewpoint is not the way to get things done. It's doubly odd because the lady is supposed to be an activist. How can you actually hope to get anything done if you don't try and understand the other guy's point of view?

But that might apply to Bruce as well. He blogs, but doesn't respond to posts. I've sent him email about his group and his goals and that there might be a way to work together and I'm rejected out of hand with a pithy reply the summation of which is "drop dead".

7/12/05, 7:28 AM  
Blogger CarlC said...

Hey Brian, Bruce commented under the "Touring in Michigan" post, so you are just wrong, wrong, wrong. Go ahead and check it out if you don´t believe me. Go ahead -- I dare you.

Wait, could this be a sign that the end really is near?

Crap.

7/13/05, 11:20 PM  

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