December 11, 2014 by Guy Crittenden
This will not only be my final online article (blog) for 2014 (I’m about to go on holiday) but my last article written as Editor of HazMat Management magazine (and sister publication Solid Waste & Recycling magazine). I notice that I’ve posted almost 400 online articles on this site over the years!
As was announced previously in a news story and a blog entry, I’m moving on to pursue fresh interests and will no longer preside over the day-to-day editing and management of these publications as Editor. (I do plan to write in this space from time to time in future, so I’m not gone completely!)
Naturally I feel a bit wistful as both a 25 year job and the current year comes to an end. Not a lot of people nowadays stay in the same job for a quarter-century. End-of-year articles are popular among journalists, who like to wax philosophical about the year that’s passed and the issues facing the looming New Year.
I’m no exception but will keep this entry brief. Instead of a long article about what transpired in 2014 and what may be ahead, I’m going to offer readers three items that I feel strongly they should watch (or read) that have made a deep impression on me recently; these are “must watch” items for anyone interested in helping our species avoid peril from environmental degradation.
The first is a 30-minute video clip on YouTube that I implore you to watch. Make the time when you have a quiet moment, and share the link with family and friends.
The video assembles different pieces of information about the deteriorating status of things at the destroyed nuclear plant at Fukushima, Japan. I know this sounds depressing but you have an obligation, really, to be aware of conditions there. Note that this is not sensationalized stuff about radiation spreading to the west coast of North America via the oceans. The short documentary focuses instead on the very real and present threat from the hundreds of highly radioactive rods in the destroyed cores of the reactors, as well as things like the storage of contaminated water in hastily-built, rusting containers.
This is serious stuff: the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wrecked the plant led to an actual meltdown of the reactors — real China Syndrome stuff — as had been assumed would never likely happen in a modern reactor. The situation is exponentially more dire than Chernobyl, as it’s going to be almost impossible in the wrecked buildings to selectively remove the rods for safe containment without having them contact one another and trigger a fire, the consequences of which would be unimaginable. We’re talking mass extinction around the world, especially in the northern hemisphere. Yet most people have forgotten the situation and think of it only as a local Japanese problem. (It’s only a matter of time before another earthquake or tidal wave triggers such an event, and these rods will remain volatile for centuries.)
Here’s the link to that video:
The next item is a short but good article from The Daily Beast (the online version of Newsweek) about the risks we humans pose to the environment, causing species decline not seen since the last global disaster many millions of years ago. Here’s the link:
In case you think I only want to depress you, I offer below a link to a wonderful short talk by the famous lecturer on comparative religion and eastern philosophy and spirituality, Alan Watts. This lecture, deliver in the 1970s, is the best summary I’ve encountered of “the situation” humans find themselves in, in terms of finding meaning in their lives and the related “big questions.” There are many lectures on YouTube from Alan Watts that I encourage you to seek out, as well as my other favourite speaker on these matters, Terence McKenna (not the Canadian historian but rather the social and psychedelic commentator from the USA who, sadly, passed in 1999 at age 54 — the same age I turned in October). This video — only 12 minutes long — will put you “on track” for how to cope with the other chilling items I’ve linked to above.
Here’s the YouTube link:
So, there you go. Merry Christmas everyone! And Happy New Year!