By Amitabh Pal on September 17, 2012

By Amitabh Pal

There is good news—sort of—from Japan on the nuclear front.

“Japan said Friday that it would seek to phase out nuclear power by 2040—a historic shift for a country that has long staked its future on such energy, but one that falls far short of the decisive steps the government had promised in the wake of the world’s second-largest nuclear plant disaster last year,” reports the New York Times. “Although the long-awaited energy policy was named the 'Revolutionary Energy and Environment Strategy' by its authors, it extended the expected transition away from nuclear power by at least a decade and includes caveats that appear to allow some plants to operate for decades past even the new deadline.”

Even then, the Japanese government’s decision is a welcome step. And it is a testament to the steadfastness of the Japanese people, who have never relaxed their pressure on the authorities in the year and a half since the Fukushima catastrophe. Protesters have regularly besieged the streets of Tokyo, with their numbers reaching into the tens of thousands a number of times. They compelled Japan to briefly go off of nuclear power this summer, and let their displeasure be known when the government restarted a couple of reactors soon afterward. The demonstrators are still not happy with the tardy transition timeline.

“They’re ignoring the terror that many of us feel toward nuclear power,” Kumi Tomiyasu, a protesters at a rally in front of the Japanese prime minister’s office, told the New York Times. “By sticking with nuclear for so long, the government has put the interests of power companies and big business above those of the Japanese people.”

By making even a tentative move toward denuclearization, Japan has joined a number of other countries. Germany, Switzerland and Italy have all committed themselves against nuclear energy. And The Guardian reported some months ago that there have been only two new nuclear projects in the past year worldwide, as compared to thirty-eight in the previous two years.

Even in bastions of nuclear power, things are starting to shake up. In France, a country heavily dependent on nuclear energy, the Socialist government has, in a significant concession to the Greens, the junior coalition partner, hastened the decommissioning of a nuclear generation plant. And in North America, the nuclear industry has suffered a couple of setbacks.

“A new government in Quebec will shut Gentilly II,” writes activist Harvey Wasserman. “In California, new reports on the cold San Onofre 2 & 3 indicate deep problems that make a re-start more doubtful than ever.”

The nuclear march has also slowed in the global giants. China took a time out from new nuclear construction in the wake of Fukushima. And protests in India (predictably met with harsh repression) have put in question the government’s plans to dramatically expand nuclear generation.

But more needs to be done, and citizens need to be mobilized and educated. That’s why a coming rally in the United States is an encouraging sign.

“Riding the wave of anti-nuclear news is a September 20-22 series of D.C. events organized by the Coalition Against Nukes,” Wasserman informs us. “With activists convening from around the United States and Japan, the gathering promises to lend the No Nukes movement new focus.”

The time to transition away from nuclear power and fossil fuels to clean renewables is now—and people around the world need to let their governments know that.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Murders in Libya are Unconscionable."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter

 

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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