LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – On October 9, 2012, the legislature of Albany County, New York approved a proclamation calling upon Congress to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, cut the U.S. military budget, and use the savings to fund vital public programs at home.
DAVID SWANSON – Three years later a Soviet Lieutenant Colonel acted out the same scene, with the computer glitch on his side this time. Then in 1984 another U.S. computer glitch led to the quick decision to park an armored car on top of a missile silo to prevent the start of the apocalypse. And again in 1995, the Soviet Union almost responded to a U.S. nuclear attack that proved to be a real missile, but one with a weather satellite rather than a nuke. One Pentagon report documents 563 nuclear mistakes, malfunctions, and false alarms over the years â€” so far.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Itâ€™s often said that nuclear weapons have protected nations from military attack. But is there any solid evidence to bolster this contention? Without such evidence, the argument that nuclear weapons prevented something that never occurred is simply a counter-factual abstraction that cannot be proved.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – On February 8, 2012, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act (H.R. 3974).
TOM MURPHY – In this post, I offer a rosy vision for what I think we could accomplish in the near term to maximize our chances of coming out shiny and happy on the tail end of the fossil fuel saga.
SUSI SNYDER – The European Union, as a key actor in global non-proliferation and disarmament discussions, and charged with facilitating dialogue with Iran over its nuclear program, bears a specific responsibility to encourage a peaceful negotiated solution based on mutual trust and respect for all parties.
SEBASTIAN BLANCO – EVangelist Peder Norby, who has been having more fun driving and writing about his Mini E than anyone at BMW probably thought possible, recently wrote a most interesting post comparing electricity usage to produce gasoline to the electricity needed to drive an electric car. The short version: “It takes more electricity to drive the average gasoline car 100 miles, than it does to drive an electric car 100 miles.”
PETER BERGEL – Recently my email brought two items on the same day which, when I put them together, seemed like a strong message for Independence Day.
JOHN LAFORGE – Last May the Obama administration promised $80 billion to the nuclear weapons establishment for â€œmodernizingâ€ the arsenal. Three large H-bomb laboratories will share about $10 billion annually to â€œupgradeâ€ U.S. warheads, and they will get equal sums for the next 10 years. The funds are for a new $4.5 billion â€œChemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacementâ€ complex at Los Alamos, New Mexico; a new $3.5 billion â€œUranium Processing Facilityâ€ at the Y-12 lab in Tennessee; and a couple billion more for a replacement â€œKansas City Plantâ€ in Missouri that will make nonnuclear parts for the warheads. With the buildup, the U.S. will be able to quadruple its current warhead production capacity from 20 to 80 per year, according to Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
LAWRENCE A. WITTNER – The discussion of the Tucson tragedy should be familiar, as we witness similar massacres in U.S. schools, shopping centers, and other public places played out periodically. Each time, the NRA and other gun apologists tell us that the easy accessibility of firearms, including assault weapons, had nothing to do with it. Indeed, they argue that the key to our safety is to obtain more guns. But does the fact that nearly 100,000 Americans are shot with guns and nearly 10,000 Americans are killed with them each year really have no connection to the remarkable availability of guns in the United States?
CLIFF BOYER – A great New Yearâ€™s resolution would be to take the 5% Solution pledge to reduce your carbon footprint 5% in 2011. Scientists say that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe limit to support human life on earth. Right now we are at 388 parts per million (check out Bill McKibbenâ€™s web site at www.350.org for more information). The need to act is becoming more urgent every day. We canâ€™t rely on the federal government to address this issue meaningfully anytime soon. It is up to each and every one of us to take the steps necessary to change our behaviors and make conscious and deliberate choices about how we individually impact the environment.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – With U.S. Senate ratification of the New START treaty on December 22, supporters of nuclear disarmament won an important victory. Signed by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last April, the treaty commits the two nations to cut the number of their deployed strategic (i.e. long-range) nuclear warheads to 1,550 each â€” a reduction of 30 percent in the number of these weapons of mass destruction. By providing for both a cutback in nuclear weapons and an elaborate inspection system to enforce it, New START is the most important nuclear disarmament treaty for a generation.
MICHAEL MARIOTTE – Citizen lobbyists sent more than 15,000 letters to Congress in December and made many, many phone calls to stop $8 billion in taxpayer loans for new nuclear reactor construction. And the final government funding bill, signed by President Obama, contains not one dime for new nukes!
The Senate was forced to pull the “Omnibus” funding bill it had proposed, which included the $8 billion in taxpayer loans for the nuclear industry, and instead a “Continuing Resolution” was passed that funds the government through mid-March.
DON KRAUS – The United States Senate has agreed to the New START Treaty. The bilateral nuclear arms treaty passed with bipartisan support by a 71 to 26 margin. The roll call vote came after months of highly partisan debate and despite a packed Senate schedule.
SPACE MART STAFF — Billed as the world’s first mass-produced electric car, this month’s launch of the Nissan Leaf is expected to send a jolt through an auto industry racing to build greener vehicles. The Leaf — short for Leading Environmentally-friendly Affordable Family car — has enjoyed a crescendo of industry buzz, last month becoming the first electric vehicle to win European Car of the Year.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In Oregon, the Nuclear Freeze movement was led by Citizen Action for Lasting Security, one of the organizations that later merged into Oregon PeaceWorks. As we end one year and begin a new one, it is encouraging to look back at historian Lawrence Wittnerâ€™s chronicle of that exciting movement. – Editor
Thirty years ago, Randall Forsberg, a young defense and disarmament researcher, launched the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Designed to stop the drift toward nuclear war through a U.S.-Soviet agreement to stop the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons, the freeze campaign escalated into a mass movement that swept across the United States. It attracted the support of nearly all peace groups, as well as that of mainstream religious, professional, and labor organizations.
PETER BERGEL – Former U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford wrote in his journal on March 20, 1990, â€œArtists and peace workers are in it for the long haul and not to be judged by immediate results. Redemption comes with care.â€ Seeing the results of last monthâ€™s election, it would be easy to get discouraged. Thatâ€™s why Staffordâ€™s words are important. It reminds us that to deserve the name â€œpeace worker,â€ we must take a long view, dedicating ourselves to a lifelong challenge.
BY LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this December on ratification of the New START Treaty, Republican legislators appear on the verge of producing an international disaster. From the standpoint of logic, there are excellent reasons to ratify the treaty. This agreement between the U.S. and Russian governments provides that each of the two nations would reduce the number of its deployed strategic nuclear warheads from 2,200 to 1,550.
MICHAEL MARIOTTE – By now you’re probably as sick of election news, results and analysis as we are, but since we haven’t seen anything useful specifically on the election’s impact on nuclear power, we hope you’ll bear with us. We’ll keep it short!
JOSH ROGIN – According to top officials the administration is working hard to secure a floor vote for the New START nuclear reductions treaty with Russia during Congress’s post-election lame duck session. “We are looking to pursue a final vote on the floor before the end of the year and we think it’s very important to continue working very hard in that direction,” said Rose Gottemoeller, the treaty’s lead negotiator and Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. “Every day that goes by is another day we do not have inspectors on the ground in the Russian Federation… We’re going to continue to do everything we can over the coming weeks to see it ratified and entered into force this year.”
LAWRENCE WITTNER — One of the ironies of the current international situation is that, although some government leaders now talk of building a nuclear weapons-free world, there has been limited public mobilization around that goal â€” at least compared to the action-packed 1980s.
PETER BERGEL — Best-selling author John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Hoodwinked) spoke to a large, enthusiastic audience at Willamette Universityâ€™s Smith Auditorium in Salem on Tuesday night, kicking off a month-long series of peace visioning events called the MyPeace Project.
ERIK LINDBERG — The August issue of â€œThe Progressiveâ€ featured a series of essays on â€œthe Big Spillâ€ in the Gulf of Mexico, with the intention, I believe, of bringing our oil addiction into the foreground of political dialogue. In his article, â€œEnergy Extremism,â€ Michael Klare thus asks a vital question about the end of the oil age. It is a question that has been painfully absent from any sustained dialogue: â€œHow, then, should progressives respond to the current [energy] crisis?â€
SUZY KIST — Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), an industry leader in tidal, river and deep-water ocean current energy technology and projects, announced on August 18 that its Beta Power System, the largest ocean energy â€œpower plantâ€ ever installed in U.S. waters, has successfully generated grid-compatible power from tidal currents at its Cobscook Bay site in Eastport, Maine.
WINSLOW MYERS — Two strategic goals of the U.S. are an apparent desire to control Middle East oil and the expressed commitment to help keep Israel safe. This requires the U.S. to refuse the laudable vision of the Middle East as a nuclear weapons-free zone, which would demand that Israel dismantle its nuclear arsenal. Instead, news reports indicate that Israel may be gearing up for a pre-emptive attack on Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities.
MICHAEL MARIOTTE — The flagship project to build a new nuclear power reactor in the United States â€” the one that provided the economic model for most new reactor proposals since â€” is in serious trouble and likely will collapse of its own weight before construction can even begin.
RUSSELL VANDENBROUCKE — Every August, as the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach, comments resume about American decisions at the end of World War II. Despite the passage of 65 years, heated opinions are repeated as fact and myths become immortalized as truths. Beyond distorting the historical record, wishful thinking about it leads us to repeat past mistakes in new ways against new enemies.
MICHAEL BURNHAM — Westward pioneers halted their wagons in Portland, OR 150 years ago, but today’s politicians and planners aim to make recession- battered Portland the starting point for green-economy trailblazers. Mayor Sam Adams and General Electric Co. executives are forging a first-of-its-kind partnership that will include retrofitting drafty buildings with energy-saving technologies and helping local startups sell their clean-technology products abroad.
SARAH HODGEDON — There is no doubt that the human race must wean itself from dependence on oil if it is to survive and avoid the worst aspects of global warming. The Sierra Club has devised an imaginative way to bring this message to Congress as an Independence Day celebration. Read more…
CHRIS NELDER — As the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster continues to unfold, the peak oil community has a â€œteachable momentâ€ in which it can illuminate the reality of our energy plight. The public has had a crash course in the challenges of offshore oil, and learned a whole new vocabulary. They are more aware than ever that the days of cheap and easy oil are gone. What they do not yet grasp are the challenges in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables.
LAWRENCE WITTNER — For some time now, it has been clear that nuclear weapons threaten the existence not only of humanity, but of all life on Earth. Thus, Barack Obama’s pledge to work for a nuclear weapons-free worldâ€”made during his 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in public statementsâ€”has resonated nicely with supporters of nuclear disarmament and with the general public.
CARRIE ADAMS — If you have ever visited the Oregon PeaceWorks office in Salem, you have seen our display of peace merchandise. If youâ€™ve never had that opportunity, you no longer need miss out. OPW has launched its online Peace Store which you can visit with a mere mouseclick.
JOHN MICHAEL GREER — It has been nearly four decades now since the limits to industrial civilizationâ€™s trajectory of limitless material growth on a limited planet have been clearly visible on the horizon of our future. Over that time, a remarkable paradox has unfolded. The closer we get to the limits to growth, the more those limits impact our daily lives, and the more clearly our current trajectory points toward the brick wall of a difficult future, the less most people in the industrial world seem to be able to imagine any alternative to driving the existing order of things ever onward until the wheels fall off.
PHIL CARVER — The Senate is now considering the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, titled the American Power Act (APA). It has several improvements over H.R. 2454, the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House in June 2009.
SARA STROUD — Carsharing is on the rise, but it must be more scalable to have a real impact on easing traffic congestion and cutting carbon emissions, according to cleantech investor Sunil Paul. Thatâ€™s the idea behind Spride Share, a San Francisco-based carsharing startup that came out of stealth in late April and is backed by Paulâ€™s early-stage venture fund Spring Ventures, which has funded cleantech startups such as Nanosolar and algal fuel company Solazyme.
UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS — Ask a Scientist: S. Tompkins from Charlotte, NC, asks “How does the global warming pollution from cars compare to other major sources such as a coal power plant?” and is answered by Clean Vehicles Senior Engineer Jim Kliesch.
DINA FINE MARON – The Pentagon announced April 30 it is dropping its opposition to the development in eastern Oregon of what’s being touted as the world’s largest land-based wind energy project.
ROGER VALDEZ — Itâ€™s not often that I actually see an energy efficiency program at work on the ground. But last Friday I got the chance to visit a family in Portland whose home had been retrofitted through the Clean Energy Works Program.
J. MATTHEW RONEY: Even in the face of a worldwide economic downturn, the global wind industry posted another record year in 2009 as cumulative installed wind power capacity grew to 158,000 megawatts. With this 31 percent jump, the global wind fleet is now large enough to satisfy the residential electricity needs of 250 million people. Wind provides electricity in over 70 countries, 17 of which now have at least 1,000 megawatts installed.
PHYSORG.COM: A new University of California, Davis, study by a top ecological forecaster says it is harder than experts thought to predict when sudden shifts in Earth’s natural systems will occur — a worrisome finding for scientists trying to identify the tipping points that could push climate change into an irreparable global disaster.
JUDITH LEBLANC AND KEVIN MARTIN — Barack Obama is undoubtedly the U.S. president most committed to nuclear disarmament since Kennedy. People all over the world have cheered President Obama’s commitment to move toward nuclear disarmament.
PETER BERGEL: Measured by the satisfaction expressed by attendees during the event and afterwards, Give Peace a Dance 2010 â€“ which took place on April 17 — was a grand success. It also raised well over four thousand dollars to keep Oregon PeaceWorksâ€™ projects moving forward.
I have been thinking about a verse from Leonard Cohenâ€™s oft-recorded country song Bird on a Wire, a lot recently. Written in 1968, this simple, if depressing, song has been covered by artists as varied as Cohen himself, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, The Bobs, Dave Van Ronk, k.d. laing and the Neville Brothers, to name a few â€“ a sure sign that it speaks to many kinds of people.
One of the most popular muckraking American journalists of the late twentieth century, I.F. Stone, once remarked: “All governments lie.” Even a prominent government official — Andrei Gromyko, the veteran Soviet diplomat — once admitted, in a weak moment: “Governments are never sincere.” This gloomy assessment appears all too true when it comes to national security policy, and particularly so with respect to nuclear weapons.
NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW: The New York Times’ lead editorial on Sunday, February 28, 2010 laid out some of the major nuclear issues very well.
LAWRENCE WITTNER: Does the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on April 8, really provide a beginning toward a nuclear-free world? That’s what Obama implied in a statement two weeks earlier. Speaking to reporters at the White House, he described the treaty as an historic step toward “a world without nuclear weapons.”
INTERNATIONAL COALITION TO BAN URANIUM WEAPONS: A draft bill that would ban the use of uranium in all non-nuclear weapons in Ireland has received a positive cross-party response from senators during its Second Stage reading in the Irish Senate.
RALPH NADER: A generation of Americans has grown up without a single nuclear power plant being brought on line since before the near meltdown of the Three Mile Island structure in 1979. They have not been exposed to the enormous costs, risks and national security dangers associated with their operations and the large amount of radioactive wastes still without a safe, permanent storage place for tens of thousands of years.
ENERGY NEWS: Google Energy is now fully authorized to buy and sell energy at market rates. Are you going to be able to buy power from Google? Not exactly, butâ€¦
RAY LAHOOD: Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning.