A Glowing Future

Thank you for the superb reporting by Judith Lewis on the complex pros and cons of using nuclear power [“Green to the Core?: How I Tried To Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Power,” November 11–17]. One aspect of the nuclear-power conundrum is neglected by Lewis, and by everyone else, for that matter. Someday we are going to want to take very long trips through interstellar space, and interstellar spaceships are going to need long-lasting power sources. I don’t necessarily mean for propulsion; we will need power to keep crews alive over travel times measured in thousands of years. We will need nuclear power. There are other options for power production on Earth here and now; there are no other options for the future of interstellar travel.

William Slattery

Instead of exploring the positive benefits to the planet and the economy of converting this country to solar, wind and other non-polluting and renewable energy sources, Lewis wrote this defeatist rant. It reads like the slickest nuclear-industry propaganda: “Uranium is cheap, abundant and not controlled by cartels; we’ve used it in other consumer products for years; paper, Plexiglas and skin block radiation; almost anything seems better than burning more coal; anti-nuke activists don’t care about asthma sufferers near coal-fueled power plants. Then, I guess to appear balanced, we got the downside: There’s no safe disposal available for the nuke waste; producing the fuel creates huge amounts of ozone-layer-destroying chemicals; the new safer nuke plants aren’t; and we would need 7,500 new nuke reactors worldwide over the next 100 years to replace our current carbon-based energy sources. So, after weighing all the facts, and concluding that we are all screwed no matter what, Lewis concluded this: “The worst nuclear disaster is still a lot better than the worst climate disaster.” Seeking to prove this, Lewis quotes some experts from Texas who have concluded that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia has turned the surrounding region into a “robust wildlife refuge,” because all the humans have fled. Oh, what a wonderful and pristine Earth we will have after Lewis’ preferred nuclear disasters turn the earth back into a humanless Garden of Eden. And we won’t have to worry about global warming anymore. As long as we look at problems only from the perspective of those that created them, we will never find solutions.

Rex Frankel
Los Angeles

Judith Lewis concludes her article on nuclear power with the counterintuitive conclusion that the Chernobyl nuclear accident was, on balance, ecologically positive. This good outcome is a result of the exclusion of humans from the contaminated zone. In a similar vein, peace between North Korea and South Korea, when it comes, will be an ecological disaster for the non-human creatures currently living in the neutral zone that separates the two countries because humans have shown themselves, over and over, to be incapable of sharing Earth with wild species. Human greed combined with our rapidly increasing numbers and powerful technology is now the driving force behind Earth’s worst extinction event of the past 65 million years, that is, since the demise of the dinosaurs. I expect that before we are done, humans will be responsible for the most devastating extinction of species in the entire history of life on Earth.

Ben Zuckerman
Los Angeles

Judith Lewis states: “Before its atoms’ energy can be harnessed, uranium oxide has to be enriched, by centrifuge or by being turned into a gas and passed through a series of membranes, a process called gaseous diffusion.”

This is not correct. Canada operates CANDU reactors that do not need this enrichment. Canada has a vibrant nuclear-power industry without any of the enrichment processing and its military overtones.

Randal Leavitt
Ottawa, Ontario

Age Appropriate

I’m outraged by a column last week by Nikki Finke [“Deadline Hollywood: Props to You, Warren,” November 11–17]. I love it when you guys go after someone for faulty reasoning and greedy morals, but what is the point of attacking someone’s appearance? Frankly, this vitriolic attack on Warren Beatty didn’t just leave me cold, it made me think I might be victim to that new virus that causes IPV (involuntary projectile vomiting). Since when is it OK for an educated journalist to get so @#*# personal? References to his aging made me sick to my stomach.

Joyce Vinje

Credit Correction

In last week’s Considerable Town piece on Howard Bingham, we incorrectly credited the famous shot of the Liston/Ali fight in ’65. The photographer was Neil Leifer.

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