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Page added on May 13, 2018

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Why is your teenage sibling trying to kill you?

Why is your teenage sibling trying to kill you? thumbnail

In the process of spring cleaning I happened across a cardboard binder with a yellowing, handwritten sticky label reading “An Older View Regarding Inalienable Rights.” Inside was a xerox copy of a 69-page document dated January 9, 1979 from an administrative proceeding before the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC-SECY-78–560) in the matter of the petition of Jeannine Honicker for emergency and remedial action.

Specifically, my client, Mrs. Honicker, the mother of a leukemia survivor, had petitioned to close the federal nuclear fuel cycle on constitutional grounds after learning that leukemia had been administratively deemed a necessary concomitant of the program, along with cancer, birth defects and numerous diseases that resulted in shortened lives for many citizens living downwind or downstream of licensed facilities. Include yourself there. In the course of the proceedings the NRC had stipulated to a number — 1.7 million — for fatalities from routine, “permitted” operation over the next 25 years.

There was no legal authority under the Atomic Energy Act for the agency to make that decision, so we had filed a proceeding to suspend all the licenses that had been issued illegally. Fortunately there was no requirement to post a bond against potential damages to the licensees from the shutdown, because what we were doing is called administrative rulemaking. Nonetheless, the industry took us seriously enough to send a limo full of lawyers to the front gate of The Farm to receive instantaneous service every time we made another filing. I was a billion-dollar liability.

Put aside the arguments of the petitioner, later backed by the courtroom testimony of our experts, that the number used by NRC was at least 10 times too low, that it did not account for accidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima, that it did not look out beyond 25 years, or that it did not account for the unknowns (at that time technetium and the isotopes of carbon were unaccounted for). The lowball number they gave sufficed for our purposes. In Mrs. Honicker’s view, one would have sufficed.

Flipping through the 69 pages of the “Comments of the Petitioner’s staff on the NRC staff response to her petition for emergency and remedial action,” we came to what was really the core disagreement. The NRC staff’s position — the position they urged upon the five Commissioners who would ultimately decide and whom the US Supreme Court would later, on four occasions, decline to second-guess — was that:

“Even if low-level radiation can induce cancer and genetic effects, future discoveries in the prevention and cure of cancer and genetically related diseases and genetic engineering may negate many of these effects.”

As we read it now, 39 years later, the words strike a familiar chord. That’s what we are being told about climate change, or to paraphrase:

“Even if climate change can induce catastrophic warming of 4 degrees or greater this century, ending mammalian life on Earth, future discoveries in renewable energy and negative emissions technologies may negate many of these effects.”

The view we espoused in our response document was fundamentally at odds with that view. I wrote:

“The NRC Staff suggests that genetic engineering may be the answer to the radiation problem we created. It is irresponsible for this generation to require future generations to submit to genetic engineering in order to have normal children. This kind of tinkering with life is symptomatic of the attitude with which the NRC has approached the entire question of large-scale biological experimentation on the people. The nuclear fuel cycle is already compulsory, random, genetic engineering. But there must be a right not to be genetically engineered, certainly as a matter of freedom of religion, and also as one of the rights reserved to the people by the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution.

“Loss of life is certainly avoidable. One need only refrain from conduct that increases the loss of life by one’s own hands….”

***

“In equivocating risks, making them seem inconsequential, the NRC Staff is attempting to make present schemes of planned civilian deaths seem consistent with congressional intent and the Supreme Court’s holdings that risks are to be allowed when there is reasonable assurance of public safety. But the standard established by Congress for taking risks as a society included establishing a Nuclear Regulatory Commission to protect and preserve public health.”

***

“These are rational, reasonable and timely objections. They are questions that should have been addressed before the present nuclear fuel cycle was embarked upon. Is any human life insignificant or terminable by government license for ever-greater electric power production?”

We knew back then, even as we see now, we were talking past each other. This exchange of formal comments that would form the basis for review by no fewer than 23 federal judges over the next several years represented the collision of separate worlds. In his latest masterpiece, The Wizard and the Prophet, Charles C. Mann expresses that dilemma better than most:

“Prophets look at the world as finite, and people as constrained by their environment. Wizards see possibilities as inexhaustible, and humans as wily managers of the planet. One views growth and development as the lot and blessing of our species, the other regards stability and preservation as our future and our goal. Wizards regard Earth as a toolbox, its contents freely available for use; Prophets think of the natural world as embodying an overarching order that should not casually be disturbed.

“The conflict between these visions is not between good and evil, but between different ideas of the good life; between ethical orders that give priority to personal liberty and those that give priority to what might be called connection.”

***

“These arguments have their roots in long-ago fights. Voltaire and Rousseau disputing whether natural law truly is a guide for humankind. Jefferson and Hamilton jousting over the ideal character of citizens. Robert Malthus scoffing at the claims of William Godwin and Nicolas de Condorcet that science could overcome limits set by the physical world. T.H. Huxley, the famed defender of Darwin, and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce of Oxford, contending whether biological laws truly apply to creatures with souls. John Muir, champion of pristine wilderness, squaring off against Gifford Pinchot, evangelist for managing forests with teams of experts. The ecologist Paul Ehrlich and the economist Julian Simon betting whether ingenuity can outwit scarcity. To the philosopher-critic Lewis Mumford, all of these battles were part of a centuries-long struggle between two types of technology, “one authoritarian, the other democratic, the first system-centered, immensely powerful, but inherently unstable, the other man-centered, relatively weak, but resourceful and durable.” And all of them were about, at least in part, the relationship of our species to Nature — which is to say, they were debates about the nature of our species.”

We knew in 1979 that, in our dialogue with NRC staff, we were speaking past each other. We had tactical awareness of this impasse and to whatever extent possible we tried to bridge the gulf. We challenged the wizards on their science, not their religion. We used catch phrases and framing that might better resonate with their worldview, not ours. We spoke of personal liberty rather than connection to the natural world. We spoke of the bedrock rights of free men in voluntary association being carelessly discarded without adequate scientific study of likely consequences, such as erosion of liberty. We were searching for the tendrils of common language from which we could enlarge the discussion and possibly illuminate the dark areas of their thinking, and ours.
Later in Wizard, Mann inserts nearly whole cloth his award-winning 2012 essay for Orion, The State of the Species. With it he profiles the late gaian theorist Lynn Margulis, who took a jaundiced view towards both techno-cornucopians and enviro-Luddites. Mann writes:

In 2000, the chemist Paul Crutzen gave a name to our time: the “Anthropocene,” the era in which Homo sapiens became a force operating on a planetary scale. That year, half of the world’s accessible fresh water was consumed by human beings.

Lynn Margulis, it seems safe to say, would have scoffed at these assessments of human domination over the natural world, which, in every case I know of, do not take into account the enormous impact of the microworld. But she would not have disputed the central idea: Homo sapiens has become a successful species, and is growing accordingly.

If we follow Gause’s pattern, growth will continue at a delirious speed until we hit the second inflection point. At that time we will have exhausted the resources of the global petri dish, or effectively made the atmosphere toxic with our carbon-dioxide waste, or both. After that, human life will be, briefly, a Hobbesian nightmare, the living overwhelmed by the dead. When the king falls, so do his minions; it is possible that our fall might also take down most mammals and many plants. Possibly sooner, quite likely later, in this scenario, the earth will again be a choir of bacteria, fungi, and insects, as it has been through most of its history.

It would be foolish to expect anything else, Margulis thought. More than that, it would be unnatural.

Since those long ago days when I was a young attorney crusading for justice on behalf of Mrs. Honicker, much has changed but much has not and likely never will. There are those that like to cast the difference between human tribes in terms of liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, peace-lover or warmonger, Stewart Brands or Derrick Jensens. These battles rage, sometimes even violently.
It is a talent of our species to have this range of checks and balances — instincts of protection to rein in our penchant for reckless adventure; a cautious optimism to counteract the remorse of our eventual demise, individually and collectively. We need all sides heard, that we become whole.
These days I think of it more as though our species has been going through adolescence. We are a very young mammal, evolutionarily speaking — 200,000 years since walking upright out of Africa, 100,000 years of vocalizing our thoughts (perhaps after communing with mushrooms), 70,000 years since the Toba near-extinction event forced our retreat to caves and clothing — our species is but a blink of the eye for older fellows like snapping turtles, sharks and dragonflies.
Like all teenagers we chafe at boundaries, push the limits, make unreasonable demands and fail to connect the dots between our conduct and its consequences. That part of our brain that sees into the future is still only crudely formed — unshaped clay-dough.
To my way of thinking the Wizards are our wild younger siblings. The Prophets, and I rank myself among them, are at least aware enough to grok how much we don’t know. Will we survive our feckless teenage siblings’ wreckage? It’s still too soon to say.
The Great Change by Albert Bates


26 Comments on "Why is your teenage sibling trying to kill you?"

  1. Duncan Idaho on Sun, 13th May 2018 5:36 pm 

    “Will we survive our feckless teenage siblings’ wreckage?”
    I taught these clueless train wrecks.
    I have had a few working on the ranch (creative types, actors and models from Oakland) who are smart, but little real time experience.
    They will be the first fodder tossed to the microbes and rats.

  2. Duncan Idaho on Sun, 13th May 2018 5:40 pm 

    “to grok how much we don’t know”
    grok? Are you a right wing nutcase like Heinlein?

  3. makati1 on Sun, 13th May 2018 7:18 pm 

    Hey MM! Did you only hit your mom up for a twenty today instead of a fifty and wish her a happy mother’s day?

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-12/happy-mothers-day-america-12-million-millennials-age-24-36-still-live-their-mums

    LMAO

  4. Mad Kat on Sun, 13th May 2018 7:56 pm 

    Everyone here should read this article if you are a serious prepper.

    “Unfortunately, you have to realize there isn’t a lot you can do to convince others that preparing is vital. People have to come to their own realizations, just the way you did. You have to accept that constantly harping on preparedness will do nothing more than to drive a wedge between you and those you love. Sometimes, you have to know when to give up.
    But that isn’t the worst of it. Remember back in the intro to this article, that casual statement that makes every prepper grit his or her teeth?

    “I don’t need to prep. I’ll just come to your house.””

    https://www.theorganicprepper.com/how-to-convince-loved-ones-to-prep-and-when-to-give-up/

    ^_^

  5. MASTERMIND on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:09 pm 

    Madkat

    You are outnumbered by the unprepared by a thousand to one. You will not last one day without the rule of law and a prosperous society in place. You obviously failed math class… Typical dirty and ignorant construction worker.

  6. MASTERMIND on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:28 pm 

    Trump could hit Europe with sanctions for doing business with Iran: Bolton

    https://nypost.com/2018/05/13/trump-could-hit-europe-with-sanctions-for-doing-business-with-iran-bolton/

    Europe you’re on notice!

  7. Mad Kat on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:42 pm 

    MM, no, it is YOU who are outnumbered by about 100,000 to 1 in the Us. Most of the Ps population, and certainly my new neighbors, are already preppers, even if they do not know it. They are all mostly independent of any globalization or even banks. Most of their food is grown locally. Many are not even hooked up to electric and almost zero have commercial water. Not a problem where it rains most everyday and totals about 120 inches a year and never gets even close to freezing.

    Sure, those in the cities will have to adjust by leaving and going back to their rural family farms and land, and the foreign workers/students will have to go home to their native countries, but they will have to do that anyway. Not me.

    You do not seem to understand, or refuse to, that here in a tropical climate food grows year round and is everywhere. The only way you could starve is if you were unable to walk or blind. On my bus ride from Manila last week, I saw thousands of coconut trees loaded with fruit, Guava trees in various fruiting stages, bananas of all kinds and stages of fruiting, bamboo shoots everywhere and cassava growing like dandelions in the Us. This is typical of most of the land cover in the Ps not used for farming or buildings. Food will NOT be a problem here, unlike in the Us.

    Reverting to your 9 year old persona when you cannot debate with facts? Typical! LMAO

  8. Makati1 on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:43 pm 

    How did my tag get changed? Switching back…

  9. MASTERMIND on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:51 pm 

    Madkat

    Your island will be taken over by a stronger country. And your people will be turned into slaves and your woman brutally raped.

  10. MASTERMIND on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:52 pm 

    Madkat

    Where do you think all the people living in cities will go when the food runs out? And good luck guarding a farm…You are dead meat…You know, I know..you are deluding yourself.

  11. Davy on Sun, 13th May 2018 8:59 pm 

    3rd world, we could give a shit about your irrelevant country. Go apply to a tourism ad agency or something. We talk about real subject matter here not the marketing of a 3rd world country.

  12. Makati1 on Sun, 13th May 2018 9:59 pm 

    MM, you are very uninformed about the rest of the world and how it actually works. You and Davy have a very deluded view of the rest of the planet outside your narrow neighborhood. You keep saying that we will starve when I just told you why we will not. Drugs or just low IQ MM? or both?

    The Ps is already ‘owned’ by the Chinese. How many times do I have to tell you that before it sinks into that drugged up, brainwashed mind? Google the names of the rich here or the owners of the banks, corporations, condos, etc. About 20% of the residents in my condo tower were Chinese. Manila has the oldest Chinatown in the world. They have been here for centuries.

    BTW: When you share you do not have to protect. But Americans do not know how to share. So be it. You are scared shitless because your Dream America does not exist, MM. It is already 3rd world but covered up with blatant lies. Our neighbors know we will share all we have as we are doing it already. They are friends, not just the people who live next door.

    You and Davy cannot accept that fact. Too bad. Then suffer! I’m in a much safer and more prepared place than you can ever be in the Us. You’re denying it does not change the fact.

    And, Davy, I’m glad you do not care. I like it when the Ps is not in the news. Maybe the Us will just leave and peace can come back. Duterte knows what blatant liars and how corrupt the Us is and how the Us wants to start a war here and not on the Us mainland. That is why he is turning to Russia and the Chinese. He is more intelligent than Trumpet. He knows where his bread is buttered.

    Do some research before you shoot off your uneducated mouth and save us all more displays of your ignorance.

  13. Makati1 on Sun, 13th May 2018 10:14 pm 

    MM: “Where do you think all the people living in cities will go when the food runs out?”

    See my 8:42 AM comment. And think about it.

  14. Jef on Sun, 13th May 2018 11:22 pm 

    I know that my comment will pass unheard and un commented on due to the Incestual bickering that dominates here but …..I would recommend shooting the people who refuse to acknowledge and act upon scientific evidence of possible human extinction in the face….with the promise that in the future we will be able to cure their shot to the face whereby negating the action.

  15. Makati1 on Mon, 14th May 2018 12:29 am 

    Jef, I concur. I get tired of reading articles about some magic cure, alternate path, renewable resource, that defy the laws of physics, finance or even common sense. We are on the slope to extinction. We are committing species suicide and ecocide on a huge scale. Only the timeline is unknown.

    Most have no clue that those articles are written for a paycheck or to promote some agenda or both. Distraction/disinformation/delusion, nothing more. At least from my observation. Most are afraid to state the obvious so they end with a ‘unicorn’ maybe: “Will we survive our feckless teenage siblings’ wreckage? It’s still too soon to say.”

  16. Davy on Mon, 14th May 2018 4:58 am 

    “MM, you are very uninformed about the rest of the world and how it actually works. You and Davy have a very deluded view of the rest of the planet outside your narrow neighborhood. You keep saying that we will starve when I just told you why we will not. Drugs or just low IQ MM? or both?”
    3rd world, do you have examples? I mean look at you and your travels. You have been to the P’s and a few Asian airports. Your comments tell it all. You are just an uneducated construction worker. Nothing wrong with that until you start acting like a know it all.

    “BTW: When you share you do not have to protect. But Americans do not know how to share.”
    Nonsense. Americans are some of the most generous people on the planet. Part of it is because of how religious Americans are good or bad because the bad side of that is skydaddy mentality creeping into places it does not belong.

    “You and Davy cannot accept that fact. Too bad. Then suffer! I’m in a much safer and more prepared place than you can ever be in the Us. You’re denying it does not change the fact.”
    3rd world, you are pushing 80 in a 3rd world country without health insurance and no family. That is not a “much safer” situation in my book. Sounds like a ticket to an unmarked grave or a trip to the pigs.

    “Duterte knows what blatant liars”
    Now that is a crazy loon just like you. No wonder you like the guy.

  17. deadly on Mon, 14th May 2018 5:00 am 

    The US,Russia, and Saudi Arabia together produce about thirty million barrels per day.

    Three countries combined produce more oil than the rest of the world.

    The other countries will have to find oil on their own, those three countries shouldn’t be expected to provide one-third of the oil for the other seven billion people.

    The US does its part in making sure there is oil.

    No good deed will go unpunished and the beatings will continue until the morale improves.

    Just leave seven billion to fend for themselves and they can find their own oil.

    The US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia need all of those thirty million barrels, the rest of the world needs to stand on its own two feet and stop depending on the US for every little thing.

    Then, with condescending scorn, they berate and belittle the US for being nice to them, it’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham.

    The US could bomb the rest of the world into submission in about an hour, then they would be a bit more humble. A cry for help could be heard.

    Eating crow always helps the insolent goofballs who never ever offer a thank you to anybody. All they want is more and don’t care where it comes from.

    It is understanding that allows Americans to tolerate the rest of the world.

    Americans are able to raise awareness and tolerances whereas the rest of the world always points with pride and views with alarm.

    Then again expect the US to lend a helping hand just to bite the hand that feeds them one more time, it just never stops.

    Then it’s Yankee go home.

    The rest of the world needs to grow up and act like adults, not spoiled brats expecting anything and everything from the uS and her industrial prowess.

    So there.

    And if you want oil from the US, you are going to pay more for it from now on just for being arrogant fools.

    lol

  18. Davy on Mon, 14th May 2018 5:02 am 

    “I know that my comment will pass unheard and un commented on due to the Incestual bickering that dominates here”
    Jef it is called debating and moderating extremism. What are you looking for kumbaya?

    “but …..I would recommend shooting the people who refuse to acknowledge and act upon scientific evidence of possible human extinction in the face….”
    Sounds pretty simpleton and who determines the science? You sound like a Nazi.

  19. Davy on Mon, 14th May 2018 5:07 am 

    “Jef, I concur. I get tired of reading articles about some magic cure, alternate path, renewable resource, that defy the laws of physics, finance or even common sense. We are on the slope to extinction. We are committing species suicide and ecocide on a huge scale. Only the timeline is unknown.”
    Of course you concur 3rd world you are war lusting uneducated pig. You are near your end days so you want others to die along with you. You act like Asia is rising and the west dying without consequences for Asia. You are one are senile old man the world would be better off with gone. It is a good thing you are getting near the end anyway

    “Most have no clue that those articles are written for a paycheck or to promote some agenda or both.”
    Most 3rd world? No, many articles are from people very much interested in solutions but you on the other hand don’t want solutions you want pain and suffering. You want people to die. You think Asia is the solution already and the West the reason for all the world’s problems. You then call others delusional.

  20. Davy on Mon, 14th May 2018 5:10 am 

    “Three countries combined produce more oil than the rest of the world.”

    I would check you math again

  21. deadly on Mon, 14th May 2018 5:10 am 

    Oops, I’ll correct it.

    The US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia produce about thirty-two million barrels, the rest of the world produces the other sixty-eight million each day.

    The US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia produce the lion’s share, though.

  22. MASTERMIND on Mon, 14th May 2018 6:40 am 

    Applebee’s to close 163 locations in 15 states, blames millennials

    http://journalstar.com/business/local/owner-of-lincoln-applebee-s-declares-bankruptcy-owns-locations-in/article_592961ab-6e74-5230-bae5-34de559d7c09.html

  23. diemos on Mon, 14th May 2018 9:27 am 

    Yeesh.

    They assert that one death is enough reason to shut down the industry.

    But 30,000 americans die on the roads every year and the only response is to yawn and break out the spatula to peel their corpses off the road.

    Holy double standard batman!

  24. deadly on Mon, 14th May 2018 12:13 pm 

    God I hope we can all get a life, move out of mom’s basement. The place is getting old.

    So the analogy is the big kid on the block is always being picked on by the wannabe American humans and yet resent Americans.

    You want your cake and you want to eat it too.

    The rest of the world, the sibling who wants to beat the shit out of American brothers and sisters is full of shit right up to their ears, when the truth be told.

    The rest of the world will learn to get along with America, the North Koreans see the light, finally, it is to be a friend, not obstruct the human condition.

    All everybody wants is peace.

    All the rest of the world has to do is get along and everything will be fine.

    If not, somebody will be kicking ass somewhere, shooting first and asking questions later.

    That is how humans roll.

    Quit wanting to kill your American sibling and you might get some respect.

    North Korea lost a lot of credibility when the mountain collapsed from a nuclear explosion.

    The rest of the world needs to darken America’s door, hat in hand, and ask for forgiveness, be contrite, know they have been a bad rad sibling and Americans are willing to forgive and forget. Let bygones be bygones.

    If you won’t forgive and forget, look out. The oft-beat red-headed step child of the human race, the Americans, the deplorables, won’t forget.

    There might be hell to pay for being so damned dumb.

    The didactic? Bullies get theirs in the end, so why be a bully? A bully is not a friend.

    Can’t we all just get along?

    lol

  25. energy investor on Mon, 14th May 2018 5:40 pm 

    I am always intrigued that while we only have records of humanity since about 6,000BC, we seem to presume that the Pleistocene era ended at the beginning of the latest interglacial period and we are now in a new time slot, where apparently we humans control nature. This is perhaps the ultimate arrogance of our species.

    Geological records tell us that the Pleistocene was 2.5 million years of successive ice ages and interglacial periods. Yet we have somehow stopped that in the last 80 years according to the 30,000 strong pack of IPCC nutjobs. They only see back 100 years for some reason. Oh yes, that is because their members had no records of weather then. So obviously we will superheat the earth and destroy ourselves? More likely the coming Grand Solar Minimum will see you Northern hemisphere folks freeze as the next cooling cycle begins.

    The only thing that differentiates the Pleistocene from either the Holocene or the Anthropocene eras is the hubris and cupidity of the human scientific community. But they are not particularly unique. After all, they represent our universal desire to both have our cake and eat it.

    The fact that some resources are either scarce or finite means that we will never be able to entirely trust our neighbors. Anyone sensible and sober enough to watch 20 years of China using freshly printed US dollars to buy up the world’s resources and the allegiance of both 3rd world and modern countries, will understand the game. It is an ongoing resource grab to rival that of US multinational corporations during the 20th century.

    So we will never get along. Certainly not in a world full of 7.5 billion selfish ass-holes.

    And UN bureaucrats plan to change the climate? Yeah right!

    After failing to take any notice of the lessons of history, how do the powers that be expect to avoid making the same mistakes that caused WW1 and WW2?

    Oh, I know. Let’s outlaw oxygen next. Better still, fresh water.

    What a good idea.

  26. diemos on Mon, 14th May 2018 11:13 pm 

    “More likely the coming Grand Solar Minimum will see you Northern hemisphere folks freeze as the next cooling cycle begins.”

    Wake me when the glaciers start growing again. That should give me enough time to stock up on thermal underwear.

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