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Fukushima: A Month of Media Disinformation

By       Message Karl Grossman     Permalink
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Among their schemes, too, has been using plutonium as fuel in nuclear plants for the same reason plutonium was turned to by the Manhattan Project: limits of high-grade uranium.   Manmade plutonium has been seen as the fuel for what's called "breeder" reactors.

Meanwhile, amid all the disinformation   about radioactivity there has been the effort by most of media to frame a debate between nuclear and coal--chpose your poison. In fact, the energy debate is between nuclear, coal and oil, on one side, and safe, clean, renewable energy technologies, led by solar and wind, on the other.

But you wouldn't know that from media reports over the past month. The New York Times, for example, devoted part of a long "Science Times" article on March 29 to what the subhead stated: "Alternatives Carry Risks Too." It said: "Radiation is a real threat, nuclear physicists say, but not as great as many people believe it is, and not as great as other threats. Indeed, every energy source comes with dangers, from mine or wellhead or the smokestack or tailpipe." The piece went on to discuss coal-mining accidents and gas pipeline explosions. There was not a mention of the safe, clean energy technologies such as solar and wind.

Editorial cartoonist Walt Handelsmann in Newsday on April 4 went even further, drawing a picture of two pieces of wood with the caption: "Looking for cheap, risk free, all-natural, abundant energy"Start rubbing." That's not the choice.

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As Lester Brown, president of Earth Policy Institute, concludes in his new book, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse--as have many studies and reports--solar, wind and geothermal energy can provide all the energy the world's needs. He dismisses nuclear power as too expensive and dangerous.

It not only can happen, it is happening, emphasizes Brown. "The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Despite the global economic crisis, this energy transition is moving at a pace and on a scale that we could not have imagined even two years ago."

But the real energy choices were largely not being discussed by media through the past month of Fukushima disinformation.

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The classic book on disinformation on nuclear technology is Nukespeak, published in 1982. It is dedicated to George Orwell, author of 1984, and written by Stephen Hilgarten, Richard C. Bell and Rory O'Connor.

It opens by declaring that "the history of nuclear development has been profoundly shaped by the manipulation through official secrecy and extensive public-relations campaigns. Nukespeak and the use of information-management techniques have consistently distorted the debate over nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Time and time again, nuclear developers have confused their hopes with reality, publicly presented their expectations and assumptions as facts, covered up damaging information, harassed and fired scientists who disagreed with established policy, refused to recognize the existence of problems"claimed that there was no choice but to follow their policies."

In the first month of the Fukushima disaster, there's been an explosion of Nukespeak by the nuclear power establishment aided and abetted by a compliant media.

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Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up.

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