Planet Waves FM :: The Nuclear Deception, part one

Go to Part Two of this interview

In tonight’s special edition of Planet Waves FM, I interview Prof. Karl Grossman, one of the few journalists who has devoted his career to exposing the dangers, and the deceptions, of nuclear power and atomic weapons.

Prof. Karl Grossman

His Wikipedia entry includes a succinct introduction to his contribution: “Karl Grossman is a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. For more than 45 years he has pioneered the combination of investigative reporting and environmental journalism in a variety of media. He is the host of the nationally aired television program ‘Enviro Close-Up’, the narrator and host of award-winning TV documentaries on environmental and energy issues, the author of six books and writer of numerous magazine, newspaper and Internet articles.”

Here is his most recent article from Common Dreams, about a plan to create nuclear powered drone aircraft.

Tonight’s edition includes the first half of the interview, most of which covers the history of nuclear power in the United States. It is a rare to find, succinct summary of that topic, as told by one of its best informed historians. I will post the second half next week.

If you participate in the anti-nuclear movement, please post this link onto your discussion groups and Facebook forums. Here is the short link, for your convenience to cut and past:

This edition is about one hour and five minutes. Here is your program in the old player, where you’ll find the full archives and a downloadable zip file.

Thanks for tuning in.

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9 thoughts on “Planet Waves FM :: The Nuclear Deception, part one”

  1. Mandy — I know. This is ridiculous. For every reason, from the prevalence of the phenomenon, to the culture of hush-hush that it reveals. The solution of course is that everyone is crazy, and this sets the bar on what is acceptable to perceive.

    Marsh gas. Weather balloons. Right…!

  2. Karl was deposed as an expert witness when I sued NYS. I just got those files back — I hope I can find the transcript. Imagine this guy you’ve just listened to in this interview, sitting there being questioned by a top flunky of the state attorney general, Judith RATner (assistant chief of the trial division), who is trying to prove that I’m not a journalist. That was the state’s whole case. We’ve called Karl as a witness to explain why I am. And no matter what she says to him, he won’t admit that I’m not really a journalist. He’s sitting there in the president’s office at this HUGE oak table, while I’m off to the side studying the court cards in the Crowley Tarot (I had all 16 on the table, which I was looking at in groups — all the knights, all the watery cards, etc.), and RATner is asking him question after question and he’s answering politely with a little smile on his face, not giving an inch. No matter what she says, he won’t say I’m not a journalist, RATner is getting angrier as the deposition goes on — she’s visibly frustrated. The longer this goes on, the more fun Karl is having, not doing anything special — just explaining that what I do, and the way I do it, is journalism. Note, I had no idea who he really was that particular day — I had just met him, and he was recommended by my lawyer. That’s how we met. Now knowing what he’s done with his life, no wonder he thought I was a journalist!

  3. Eric,
    Thank you for posting this particular piece at this particular time. Thank for helping us to understand the fundamental dilemma in terms we can relate to (like how quickly cursive writing has become an alien concept Vs. the immense half-life of hazardous waste). Thank you for helping us to know Karl Grossman as you know him (complete with large cat) so that we can understand him as you do – frank, earnest, and real. Looking forward to the next installment.

  4. comment received via email

    During your conversation with the Professor you both registered dismay that the majority of nuclear power plants were extended the rights to continue for 60 years. My understanding, not scientific but poetic, is that once begun a nuclear plant cannot be stopped.

    Seems to me, that is the root of the impotence we feel when confronted with nuclear power. There is no equivocal power. Unless we find one, we are in a state of victimhood in perpetuity.

    While I was on a death vigil for my father who lay dying in the V.A.Hospital, Aspinwall, PA, I witnessed a cable TV show that was a part of the private VA feed. The show was dedicated to discoveries. The veteran featured found a process that turned nuclear waste into simple sugars. This was November 23, 2008, mid-day as close as I can reconnoiter. Never heard a word about this – Darth Vader must have thrown a blanket over the whole affair.

    Look forward to next week’s continuation of this interview.

  5. I’ve read Challenger’s name mentioned in reference to the North Korean satellite rocket launch failure from the other day….Somehow I don’t think it was accidental but there’s really no way of knowing. I just find it highly suspect that the rocket got its big toe just past the demilitarized zone and it was a goner! Add to that a bunch of vitriolic military salvos thrown out there by all the US-allied neighbouring countries. Add to that the fact that the North Korean military test precision weapons morning, noon and night – I mean just look at ’em go…

    Either way, it still proves your point….even if the risks are minimal, the fact that they exist at all should be the talking point and focus and why aren’t people more scared of this? So much complacency on this issue. The North Koreans are digging some kind of tunnel to test another nuclear weapon underground….another thing I wish they and everybody else would stop doing. This is going to sound stupid….but how do you get them or anybody else to stop? By threatening them with YOUR nuclear weapons? It’s a little too late to throw all these evil perpetrators of this weapons mess into the Large Hadron Collider for a time out…so as much as I’d like to know and be a part of the answer/solution…

    ….there doesn’t seem to be a workable one when it comes to weapons threats. Nations like Israel are about to complicate things even further as they are poised to become the nuclear point-man for America in the Middle East. I wish I knew the answer.

    Remember that “space umbrella” thing from Reagan era? Nuclear weapons were just supposed to ping off it….Maybe that idea should be revisited again…lol.

    Okay, that’s my two cents for today…I enjoyed listening to that interview and look forward to Part II…

  6. Out of curiosity I Googled Karl Grossman’s appearances on Planet Waves, and came up with this — from the time of the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion.

    I got through to Karl Tuesday morning. I asked him how he responded when he heard the news. He said that he was sitting in the same chair reading articles in recent editions of Space News and LA Times about an expanded space nuclear program that NASA is now promoting. It is called the Nuclear Systems Initiative, and its purpose is to RTGs as well as nuclear-powered propulsion systems for rockets. It is old wine in new bottles; these are old ideas that are being given new life under the current Bush administration.

    I asked about the possibility of an RTG aboard Columbia.

    “There is no way to know for sure,” he said. As for the loss of the ship, “It is a lesson in what can happen when something reenters the atmosphere.”

    The near-perfect safety record of NASA belies a deeper reality, he explained. “Before the Challenger they were claiming that risk level was 1 in 100,000,” he said. “Then they lowered it into 1 in 76. NASA projects an image that it’s perfect. In many ways it’s the gang who can’t shoot straight going into space. They crucified a guy like [Don] Nelson who is trying to be an honest man. Then you mix in a bumbling bureaucracy of both corporations and the government, then to that mix you add plutonium.”

    Karl said that when he saw Challenger explode in 1986, he wondered what that craft’s next mission was scheduled to be. It turned out to be lofting a satellite into orbit that would have been powered by an RTG plutonium battery.

    “When NASA was founded in 1958, it was a 50/50 military/civilian operation. After the man on the moon program, because they were desperate for funding, NASA started working closer and closer to the military,” Karl explained.

    In this respect, it’s my view that everything done on board the Shuttle is either an indirect rehearsal or direct preparation for some kind of military project in space, and many of its experiments have been directed at the effects of space on humans — it furthers its own cause. We might ask what that is.

    The Space Shuttle program falls under the authority of something called the United States Space Command, part of the Air Force. Much of the work that happens aboard the Shuttle is classified, leaving much to the imagination. Several years ago the Air Force published a report called New World Vistas. It reads, in part, “In the next two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict. These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills.”

    General Joseph Ashy, then with the Space Command, put it this way. “It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen. Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but — absolutely — we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space.”

    So much for the final frontier.

  7. Germany has spearheaded the phasing out of it’s nuclear program by 2022:

    I wonder if the other industrial giants will feel the same compulsion sooner rather than later…

    “Nuclear pinocchios”…*lol*… It’s pretty easy to muddle up the argument of weapons proliferation, especially observing operators like this guy:

    The “New START” talks weren’t ambitious enough in reducing arms in a credible way…So I agree, when nobody wants to play fair or clean – the whole thing should be completely scrapped globally. But somehow, I don’t think any of the current nuclear powers will every give up their claims to that right…

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