The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Verbal dueling of neighbors continues


To The Eagle:

You can tell that Howard Brawn is back in town. He's barely got his dogs back into their kennel and he's already poking holes in my little shibboleths with that sharp pen of his. Some neighbor. I'd never sneak onto his property and toss pebbles at his hounds. He ought to show more respect for the creatures I've spent years nurturing, preening and polishing. I feed my shibboleths an organic diet, comb their coats daily and give them plenty of exercise by trotting them out and around for other people to admire as frequently as possible. Yes they get tired, so I tuck them into their bunks and then along comes hyper Howard, debunking them, again.

So. Nuclear power. Is bad, no? The safest nuclear reactor we have is the sun, 198 million miles away, apparently because there are no politicians living on the sun throwing monkey wrenches into it. Ends up that after digging a little deeper I'm conceding this one to the Brawnmeister. Apparently France recycles its spent nuclear fuel. The French energy industry ditty is "no oil, no coal, no choice." Spent fuel rods are cooled off in ponds for 24 months, then recycled as reconstituted reactor fuel. Unusable waste is encapsulated in glassine logs.

Turns out, the 1977 Carter administration mandated that it was safer and cheaper to bury nuclear fuel waste and too expensive and dangerous to recycle. Yet 40 years later, we haven't buried any. Our taxes have been spent preparing geologically stable containment sites such as Yucca Mountain but Nevada state n.i.m.b.y's have managed to shut down the site before it could even open. And yes, we have the technology available to safely and economically reprocess reactor fuel.

However, radioactive contamination from Fukashima pollutes the Pacific and drifts toward us. Chernobyl: uninhabitable for centuries. Industrial safety? Many more people have been killed mining coal than ever have been in the nuclear power industry, yet if a railcar full of coal spills over, it does not cause a billion dollar public health and cleanup crisis or render the tracks unusable for thousands of years. Radioactive fuel waste disposal and recycling remain problematic but not unsolvable. So, Howard. Not fear. Responsible concern.

DDT. Another problem of legacy pollution. By 1969, mosquito resistance to DDT and the resistance of the Malaria parasite itself to the treatment drug of choice, Chloroquine caused a malarial resurgence. It was that perfect biological storm and not the Stockholm Conventions that killed millions. The signatories at Stockholm, malarial nations all, agreed to inhibit the use of legacy insecticides in agriculture and to resume the restricted and carefully controlled use of DDT in households to eradicate new generations of mosquitos. Africa has had to resort to poisoning its environment to control a disease because many inhabitants can't afford even the cheapest antimalarial drugs.

Ah yes, Venezuela. Hugo Chavez killed the Venezuelan economy by ruining that country's principal industry. His version of "nationalizing" the petrochemical industry was to replace its technologists with his own untrained loyalists, sealing its failure.

Chavez, Mao, Pol Pot and Stalin have in common being murderous demagogues protected by an equally vicious palace guard, starving, killing, deceiving and ruining entire populations in order to retain personal power. Nothing to do with the ideals of Socialism or Marxism, whatsoever.

So, my shibboleths, a little tired and ragged around the edges like many clichés and truisms, persist like the facts that gave them life.

J.B. Bouchard

Puget Island


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