tv Pandoras Promise CNN November 7, 2013 6:00pm-8:01pm PST
the industry is a death industry. it's a cancer industry. it's a bombing industry. it's killing people and will for the rest of time. why doesn't president obama know this? he's the intelligent man. he's got two little girls he loves. what the hell does he think he's up to supporting the nuclear industry? it's wicked. >> do you mind if i use the f word? can i use the f word? we have all these [ bleep ] plants because we can switch to solar wind, ocean thunderstorer that energy is available today. we can shut the nuclear plants, all the coal, all the oil, all the gas plants, we can shut them down. we have technology. it called solar topia.
>> as a life-long environmentalest, i'm against nuclear, but what if what i've been thinking all this time and what my friends have been thinking all this time is wrong? >> it's been interesting to see how people respond to my pronuclear power position because they respect me for my books about nuclear weapons. they know that i'm a liberal democrat, and they are puzzled. >> i was against nuclear power. all i had to say atom i can bombs, atom make weapons, my mind was made up. i needed a lot of input. research i did, scientists i interviewed. going and visiting and seeing
for myself. >> i was under no doubt that my whole career and my whole reputation as an environmental activist, was at risk if i talked publicly about having changed my mind about nuclear power. that would have been much better advice to keep my mouth shut but i couldn't do that. whenever you change your mind so radical radically, you are like what was i thinking? was going on? the more you peel that onion, the more strange things you figure out. ♪ ♪
possible to have. >> reactor number three -- >> in my first blog entry within the first two or three days of it happening, i didn't know what the scale of the reduatiadiatio release was going to be. i didn't know the number of people injured. the fact this was happening live on tv and explosions, this was a nuclear power station blowing up. clearly, the situation was out of control. >> asked the residents of tokyo not to horde bottled water. >> you have these awful images of total devastation from a tsunami, and the story was a nuclear power accident. it all got muddled together. >> some people on the west coast of the quiunited states worry t radiation -- >> i hadn't been pronuclear that long before the fukushima plant melted down. it hard to watch that happening
and not question whether this is an energy source that's safe. >> radio active isotopes will likely reach california but experts say those levels are so low they certainly fall within safe limits. a large network of radio monitors is keeping close tabs. >> the effect obviously still to be determined. >> i thought i've got to keep high head, you know, i could completely lose it here and i could just panic.
>> what do you think, mark? >> i feel like a bit of an idiot, actually. >> why? >> i don't know, because it's so -- i'm wearing radiation clothing. shouldn't be necessary. must be absolutely awful to have your town wiped out by a tsunami and earthquake and you can't come back and rebuilt because the place is contaminated by ra radiation. even if it's not massively contaminated, it shares the shit out of you. nobody can look you in the eye and say you shouldn't be worried. you know, there is no other
energy source that does this, that leaves huge areas contaminated and by this strange and visible presence, which you know is potentially deadly, you know, everything has draw backs, everything has risks but this is something that the unique here. i guess i can understand why people are scared. you know, it's -- it's kind of erie, so, yeah, i would say i'm having a wobble. you can see why you would want to do without nuclear power, you really can. >> this parking lot is the hottest spot in the whole exclusion. this place got some serious fallout, i think.
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to start the chain reaction, all we need is one neutral. i think you can see what is going to happen. watc watch. >> my first introduction to nuclear power was quite nice. it was a disney movie called "our friend the atom." the atom was going to bring about a wonderful revolution in the way we got our energy. and i was in a nuclear power submarine and us kids were enthusiastic about that and then when i was in myerly teens, i heard a speech and my dad knew i was interested in science, so he took he. >> watch the control rods come out as the control rods come out, the reactor starts.
the water starts encirculating through here. >> he was a wonderful speaker and inspiring about american technology and the future and talked about new clear energy being used to light up cities, not just run submarines. so it was a generally positive noti notion. >> i got into the nuclear business in early 1948. prior to that, i was working on engines for the automobile. everything we had done up until that time to produce energy was by burning something. the enticement in the nuclear business was the fact it was a new source of energy, the new way to generate heat. but the equivalent is huge.
one pound of you are rafer rainn release the equivalent of 5 million barrels on oil. that to me is amazing. i worked at argone national laboratory which was the headquarters of the world for nuclear power at the time. we were building this first in the world experimental reactor. it was an experiment just to prove it's a concept that made sense scientifically. the reactors were rnn't critica. you have enough uranium to
generate heat. the end product is steam and it's the same whether you generate electricity in oil, coal or gas, just as long as you have a source of heat. so we generated electricity and then we hooked up four light bulbs and lit the lightbulbs with atom make history. no one else had done it before but the fact the whole nuclear business, atom i can energy was started with a bomb and used as a bomb and i think that put the negative side on it. >> i'm just old enough to have conscious memory of world war ii and the ending of world war ii. nuclear bombs were not just a weapon. they were a little window into
some kind of armageddon. the photographs and the films and the stories that came out, those things cut pretty deep. so you had this very strong residue of this is not primarily an energy source, this is primarily a weapon that we feel very badly about. ♪ ♪ >> and then the testing went on and on. you're hearing about the radiation from it and then the
russians were doing tests. the chinese were doing tests. and before it really slowed down, there were over 2,000 test nuclear weapons. i grew up having nightmares that my hometown was bombed and i was the only survivor. us kids were in school doing duck and cover routines under the desks and the backyard fallout shelters and all this stuff made it all pretty personal. ♪ ♪ stacy's mom has got it goin' on ♪ ♪ stacy's mom has got it goin' on ♪ ♪ stacy's mom has got it goin' on ♪
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i grew up in an anti-nuclear family. they were born in the 60s, to believe in nuclear power was by definition to be a dupe. i actually visited a nuclear power plant with high buddies in high school. and we knew enough to have a very sarcastic sarcastic attitu the tour they gave us. they would say it a clean source of energy, it's really safe.
it doesn't have to do with nuclear weapons. we would laugh, tools and stewings of the nuclear industry and the propaganda campaign. of course, that gets reinforced with people of my generation with the simple tons. >> warning, problem in sector 7 g. >> 7 g? whose the safety enspect tore there. >> the evil character is the ceo of the evil power company and homer simpson is bum belling while the whole thing is melting down. you have a sense nuclear power was something spinister, something that was a lurking danger. i was against nuclear power because i was an environmentalists. i am an environmentalest and
they go together. certainly that always seemed to be the case. looking back, i suppose you could say i was a hard core activist. it almost like being in a battle zone. an experience most people never have. you're battling the forces of evil on a day to day basis. evil being the big corporations, those that headache promake pro this destruction. the slogan was no compromise in defense on mother earth. that was the original first slogan and it's one that i still subscribe to in a very deep level, i think. well, i mean, nuclear power was evil. no doubt about it. >> crimes against future generations. >> i was writing for national magazines many years ago.
writing articles about the dangers of nuclear power, and i had the standard point of view that i think many journalist still have, that it must be bad. i came to realize they basically avoided looking at the whole picture and only looked at the questions that seemed to prove to them that nuclear power was dangerous, as i had, too. the only reason i changed my mind is that i talked to expertexperts who were the pioneers of nuclear energy and one by one explained to me again and again until it finally got through my head, why it wasn't what the anti-nuclear activists thought it was,
believed it was. >> i was right there at the beginning of this. it was my chance to do something for humankind. this, after all, was an unlimited source of energy. i assumed that all electrical power, if we were successful, would be generated by nuclear means. in the '50s there were two kinds of reactors being developed. the breeder reactor, which neither one was a prototype for and the light water reactor. the breeder reactor breeds p
platonium. the light water reactor is much simpler but produces more waste. it was chosen by rick over to be the reactor for the submarine. there are many things to be said for light water reactors and there is something to be said against them. but with rick over's influence, the light water reactor became a principle reactor around the world. >> we developed water reactors but we looked at that as a near term short raised stepping stone to real new clear power, the breeder reactor. that's what we consider to be the most likely real long range for nuclear power. but the water reactor that is marketed at first.
>> this was partially a commercial move on our part in the early 1950s. we were concerned that the soviet union that kept pace with us in the development of nuclear reactors for power would steal a march on us and get the commercial business in europe. so president eisenhower decided to share the benefits of nuclear energy with other countries. it was called a ed atoms for pe >> we have 50 years of water reactors, 400 roughly around the world and produced a heck of a lot of waste we didn't anticipate. you know, you mention 100,000 years of stuff you keep isolated from the rest of the world. that's enough to sckar scare a
people. that was perhaps the price we paid for commercialization in the sense we didn't look ahead. nuclear power was developed as a kind of a boutique energy source by utilities executives who really didn't know very much about it. i talked to people who said well, i heard about it on the gulf course from the guy that runs the plant down the road. he's going to build one so i thought i should, too. the first come herbmercial nucl power plant built in the united states was built in shipping port, pennsylvania. it was a modified version of a
large submarine reactor. one of the major reasons the power company wanted it, was because there was a lot of coal pollution in pittsburgh and new clear energy looked to people to be as it is a clean form of energy. the first power reactors were fairly small, but the push by the power and light companies in america was to scale them up as quickly as possible. safety instead of being inherent in the design of the reactor it self-had to be enagain neared around it. you had to have multiple core cooling systems that had to be added on to anticipate possible bre breakdowns of various kinds. the odds of x happening or y happening were very small but unlike the smaller reactors they
couldn't say it was impossible. >> like today officials in washington summarized briefly what caused the property. first a pump in the generator system broke down at 4: 00 a.m. yesterday. it shut down. they opened the valves and released radio active water. that may have been the wrong thing to do. when the emergency core cooling system came on, an operator turned it off. that, too, apparently was a mistake. then high levels of radiation were released inside the containment building and not until three hours later was it realized that radiation was being released and in fact, penetrating to the outside. >> island happened and the first thing i thought of is are those rays coming out of three mile island going to come to new york
and harm my daughter? i remember standing in my apartment thinking, what can we do? >> we have a serious condition. you get everybody into safety areas and make sure they stay there. >> of course, two weeks earlier, the china syndrome had come out. so i was already prepared to be terrorized by this event. >> the china syndrome. >> the who? >> it's exposed for whatever reason -- >> the idea behind the china syndrome is that the nuclear power plant would melt down. it would burro a hole all the way to china, never mind china is not actually on the other side of the earth as the united states, but that was the idea, the worst-case scenario would be epocoliptic. >> not to mention the cancer that would show up later.
>> that's when i think i began to conflat nuclear power with nuclear weapons. we don't want a radio active waste land whether from a bomb or plant. that is probably the sort of thing i would have answered. it just seemed like okay, nuclear anything is a bad idea. >> i want to just say a few words about "the china syndrome" my movie" the china syndrome." if we continue to place our health and safety in the hands of executives whose main goal in life is to maximize profits, then we will see more harrisburgs, we'll see more leaks and we'll see an increase in the cancer epidemic that is already running ramped in this country. >> no more nuke, no more nuke. no more nuke. [ cheers ] [ applause ]
>> stopping atomic energy is fighting cancer. stop pg atomic energy is stopping inflation. stopping atomic energy is helping this country. ♪ give me the reckless power of the wind, give me the comforting glow of the wood fire ♪ ♪ but please take all your atomic poison power away ♪ if yand you're talking toevere rheuyour rheumatologistike me, about trying or adding a biologic. this is humira, adalimumab. this is humira working to help relieve my pain.
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in the 1980s, my husband and i were living in the's end of long island and word gets out that this nuclear plant is going to start up. and this is, of course, right after three mile island. that's very much in people's minds. the local environmental people, and i would be one of those, just said yes, we got to stop them however we can. >> every day the plant operates, radiation will be coming out of the plant, right, and it will get into the food.
>> women may be hard wired to protect our families, and it's just a natural impulse. if something looks like it's bad, we're holding our hand and saying no, no, please, we can't have that. i remember these big scare ads in the papers getting people to organize rallies against it. there were many things i didn't know at that time that i learned since. for one time, it turns out the ads were placed by the oil delivery industry, the companies that deliver fuel to people in long island and sure, the oil companies can say go solar because they know it's never
going to replace oil heat. you cannot turn on the sun in the winter and hope to warm up your house. good luck. solar. >> solar not nuclear. >> yeah. >> it was sponsored -- >> no problem. yeah, you don't need a furnace, just have solar panels. this is the criticism of the fossil fuel industry. >> it was actually finished and started up and immediately shut down by the government of the state and mouth balled. it was this immense investment in a reactor that would have been of great use to new york city but people are so afraid of it that they simply said, shut it down. and today it's a mossaleum.
they said nuclear power wasn't needed. this, i think is one of the fundamental tragedies of the anti nuclear movement to be anti-nuclear is basically to be in favor of burning fossil fuels. i had finally to change my mind, and i have seen friends of mine change their minds, one of them bei bei being gweneth gravins who wrote a book about the ben pefits of nuclear power. >> the difference now is in the scale of the damage we are doing. we're seeing a vast increase of the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere.
it is man kind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet and damaging in dangerous ways. change to the sea around us, change to the atmosphere above, leading in turn to change in the world's climate, which could alter the way we live in the most fundamental way of all. that prospect is a new factor in human affairs. it's comparable in implications to the discovery how to split the atom. indeed, it results could be more far reaching. we can't just do nothing. >> one of the key arguments that client and i use, climate is a
>> having children has made me even more concerned about the future. it deepened my commitment to tackling global warming. loving your children is about loving the future and loving the world they will inherit so you got to make sure that's right. i had a sneaking suspicion nuclear was going to have to be part of the solution simply because it doesn't produce carbon dioxide. i didn't want to go there? >> why? >> i was too scared. i mean it's pathetic really looking back, but, yeah, you don't want to make enemies of your main allies by tackling something which is difficult, controversial.
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we really accepted most of the basic ideas of the environmental movement and i think over time we, you know, became gradually disillusioned with the approaches to climate change. >> it's my assessment that we have no consensus in 2010 we'll go for the protocol. it decided. >> people would tell you that oh, everything is going to change. the world is going to implicate the treaty on global warming. it was a very seductive narrativ narrative. >> it adopted. we understand that there is agreement on d, e, f and g. >> the idea was that he was going to sign kioto and all the
countries in the world would ratchet down emissions year after year like they did in excel spread sheets. the problem these were propels on making fossil fuels more expensive. i think it >> the adoption of this protocol to the conference by unanimity. >> the united nations treaty process has basically run aground. we just walked away being like, nobody has a clue as to how to do this. so we wrote this essay, "death of environmentalism" that argued that if environmentalism is that kind of small bore, then we need something beyond environmentalism. >> modern environmentalism with all its unexamined concepts and
exhausted strategies must die so that something new can live. >> i would suggest thought will take more than dead penguins and melting ice caps to get americans to fundamentally get involved in this political transformation of our energy economy. >> we still didn't think we needed nuclear power. it really took us getting clear about how big the gap was between fossil fuels and renewables for us to take a second look at nuclear. >> part of the problem is intermittensy. that hasn't been involved. it's not always sunny and not always windy. there are a long periods of time where renewables wouldn't put any power at all into a grid. they have to have natural gas backup. so what you end up getting with
renewables is a pretty big expansion of natural gas. i'm sure people had told me that, and i didn't believe them. >> we're building these all over the country, and one of the questions we ask, we need about 3,000 foot in altitude, we need flat land, we need 300 days sunlight and near a gas pipe. because for all of these big utility scale power plants, whether it's wind or solar, everybody is looking at gas as the supplementary fuel. but the plants that we're building, the wind plants and solar plants, are gas plants. >> i end up feeling like a sucker. i ended up feeling like i was a sucker. the idea that we're going to replace oil and coal and natural
gas with solar and wind and nothing else is an hallucinatory delusion. you find yourself feeling -- i found myself quite disappointed in myself and honestly quite angry at others who were propagating that myth. >> this light bulb when everybody's got them is a qaudruple efficiency bulb that will displace two dozen power plants. this thing for fluorescent lights will displace 60 big power plants. this motor controller chip and about ten other things you do to motors save 70 big power plants. just these three big things. there goes every nuclear power plant we have. >> i had gotten the religion in college when i first read emory levins. he's still taught in every liberal arts class in america. article after article explaining why solar and wind are cheaper
than fossil fuels and why you don't need to build nuclear plants because we can use energy efficiency. it's a very appealing, seductive message. >> they're getting smaller. here's a little osram 11 replacing a 50. >> i bought it. my parents, my family bought it. really everybody i know believed thi this. >> the standards of green environmentism has been that we can all use less energy, so we can be renewable, we can go for energy efficiency. the idea that humankind is simply wasting and using too much. now i havehave a lot of time fo argument. but you can't keep using less energy forever. >> most people tend to think that somehow we're going to be
reducing our energy consumption. actually we just find more and more uses for it. if you look at all the energy that is used by an iphone, not just to make it and to power it but also to power all the servers, all of the stuff that you don't see that the iphone is connected to, it uses as much energy as a refrigerator. united. [ indian accent ] which airline, sir? [ passenger ] united. whoa taxi! [ british accent ] what airline, then? [ passenger ] united. all right. [ spanish ] what airline? [ passenger ] united. ♪ [ mandarin ] which airline? [ passenger ] united. [ arabic ] which airline? [ passenger ] united. [ italian ] where are we going? [ passenger ] united. [ male announcer ] more destinations than any other airline. [ thai ] which airline do you fly? [ passenger ] united. [ male announcer ] that's great, big world friendly. ♪
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there's a direct correlation between the amount of energy available to a civilization and that civilization's quality of life. unless you want to condemn more than half the population of the earth to poverty and sickness and short lives, we're going to have to produce more energy. >> regions that don't have electricity or very little electricity, the life span is much shorter. clinics, schools, refrigeration, all of these things rely on
electricity. and just a few watts make a big difference. as soon as you get electricity you can improve people's lives. but that's human life. first of all we're talking about human -- just quality of life. and if you look at the countries with the best quality of life, they are the countries that consume the most electricity. rain or shine, 24 hours a day, a steady stream of power. >> global south is pretty warm. they would like air conditioning. and up until now they've not been able to afford it but now they can. they're getting out of poverty. and they need grid electricity to run their air conditioners.
of course, various environmentalists freak out at that point. but on the other hand, if you could have vast quantities of really really clean energy in the developing world in the next decade or so, that is such an improved world it takes your breath away. >> assuming that the world continues to develop, and that china and india and brazil become rich countries over the next half century or century, how much energy is the world going to use? when you start running those numbers, it's a sobering exercise. and you may not be able to get that number exactly right, but you realize we're going to basically double the amount of energy we con seem by 2050.
probably triple it or qaudruple it by the end of the century. meanwhile, if you want to stabilize emissions at some reasonable level, almost all of that energy has to be clean energy. you've got to not only create a clean energy infrastructure to replace the fossil fuel infrastructure we have but create another one or two of them by 2050 or 2100 in order to stabilize emissions to stabbize the climate. that is just nothing that anybody has really been talking about or dealing with over the last 20 years. >> it comes as a shock to a lot of environmentalists to hear this, but coal is not only the most widely used source of energy in the world, it's also
the fastest-growing source of energy. its use is accelerating worldwide. fast than natural gas, faster than renewables, faster than anything else. >> when i have spoken to women's groups, none of them knew how bad coal was. they didn't know it killed people! if you add up all fossil fuel combustion in the united states, just from power plants, the fine particulates alone kill 13,000 people a year. worldwide, 3 million people die a year from air pollution from fossil fuel plants. >> one of the big surprises for me when i started looking into the mortality data, the death
rates associated with each energy technology per amount of energy they make is that nuclear is the second safest after wind. and in fact, to add to the irony of it, nuclear power is even safer than solar panels. making solar panels is an incredibly toxic process. i thought people died at three mile island. i thought that hundreds of thousands of people died at chernobyl. i thus there was atomic waste seeping into our water systems. i believed all that stuff. i thought maybe fit was getting better or if the problems of it were exaggerated a little bit by my fellow environmentalists it was still a risk that we didn't need to take.
>> there hasn't been a single death from the operation of commercial nuclear reactors in the united states. not one death. in the history of nuclear power in this country. and vermont yankee, which anti--nuclear people are trying shut down, protesters keep saying it's posing public health problems. it's not! >> but it's leaking tridium. >> it's leaking tridium. that's true. if you ate one banana, which have a potassium isotope that's a little hot you would get more radiation exposure than you would if you drank all the water that comes out of the plant in one day. >> banana break.
>> tridium is a natural occurring hydrogen isotope. >> we're going to ask that all those people who are willing to risk arrest remain in this safety zone. >> in new mexico where i grew up, there's radium springs. and i lad a friend who went with his geiger counter. these hippies are there soaking in the baths. he got out his geiger counter and said this is radioactive. they said, yeah, man, but it's natural. >> it's true to say that we're all bathed in natural radioactivity. it's affecting all of us all the time. comes from the rocks, the air,
and even from space. it's in our food, in our water, in our teeth. so radiation isn't dangerous in an everyday sense. and there's enormous variation in different parts of the world. >> do you have any numbers just to put that into kind of a context? >> the units are difficult. it's rays and milligrams and all this kind of thing. the numbers are not familiar to people in any way shape or form. if i said to you the mi radioactivity is only 400 more millisieverts that wouldn't mean anything to you. >> reporting radiation levels are as confusing as they could possibly be. >> has just about 0.7 rem. you have to get up to 50 to 75 rem. >> we hear rem, microrem,
millirems, a lot about millisieverts. you're looking is that a large number. is that a number i should worry about? compared to what? >> what's the background radiation level relative to all this? >> i didn't even know there was such a thing as natural radiation, actually. i'd assumed that radiation was something which humans had artificially introduced into the environment which was doing us harm. there's background radioactivity affecting all of us all the time, which is many many times more powerful than artificial radioactivity in terms of how we're affected. so zero tolerance of radiation doesn't make any sense. radiation increases with altitude. so people who live at high altitude get a higher dose than
people who live in low-lying areas. and if you're traveling on an airplane set to be going from new york to tokyo, you'll get 20 times the average background level during that flight. for example, on a beach in brazil, the natural background radiation there is way above permitted levels in terms of what the public can be exposed to. and that's what's coming out of the soil that's on the beach. >> you're asking why he does this? [ speaking in foreign language ] >> he has body pains. >> and this helps? >> it helps. >> and what's really striking is that there's no correlation between levels of background radioactivity which vary by such enormous amounts and high levels
of cancer. cancer is something which is the greatest fear of most people in rich countries because it kills 20% of people, anyway. we all know people who have died of cancer. and so this idea that radioactivity is a cause of cancer is probably the number one reason why people are scared of it. it's lots of things. all waking up. connecting to the global phenomenon we call the internet of everything. ♪ it's going to be amazing. and exciting. and maybe, most remarkably, not that far away. we're going to wake the world up. and watch, with eyes wide, as it gets to work. cisco. tomorrow starts here. cisco. if yand you're talking toevere rheuyour rheumatologistike me, about trying or adding a biologic.
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you can't go to chernobyl and not re-examine your core beliefs about nuclear power. you would have to be really thick-headed not to look at that and look at the damage that was done and say, all right. when it goes wrong, we know we do everything we can to make it go right. but when it goes wrong it can go really very wrong indeed. chernobyl was a real world experiment what happens when you irradiate a really very large population. but 1986 was a long time ago. to have got the perspective and distance to be able to assess what the the real impacts of that were. and they're nothing. nothing like what was expected. the reactor that exploded in
chernobyl in april 1986 was actually reactor number 4 of a whole set of them. no one really realizes it. the three other units which were in the same building carried on operating and generating electricity right up until the mid 90s. and people just went to work there every day. isn't that amazing? >> outside of the old soviet union, we didn't use the reactor design that chernobyl had. among other things, the chernobyl reactor had no containment building. it was in virtually a quanset hut. so when there was a fire and an explosion, there was nothing to contain it. >> chernobyl was a different kind of reactor. it was inherently unsafe. it was primarily designed to
make plutonium for bombs. no chernobyl-style reactors were ever built in the west. but if you could then point to other nuclear power stations and say each of those could be a chernobyl then you've got a pretty powerful argument against nuclear power. the city nearby called pripiek, the entire place was evacuated when chernobyl blew up. it's just fascinating to see some place which is frozen in time at the very end of the era of the soviet union. it's an extraordinary place. i really can't even describe it. >> it's a bit like the fukushima thing in the sense you're tramping around on this debris of broken glass and broken everything, and it's almost as if the explosion at chernobyl had somehow caused this. of course it didn't.
it's just the decay of time and things have been broken. >> obviously what people are concerned about is the radioactivity. i never knew until i went to chernobyl that there were places full of people who have just decided to ignore the restrictions and just move back to their houses. and you can go to this old church and you can meet them. ♪ >> ask him when and why did he decide to come back. and how many people came with him.
think many people expect. i followed the studies that have been done by international experts in radiation and oncology that followed the damage at chernobyl for all the years since. the damage that was caused to people by the fallout from that worst of all nuclear power accident has been remarkably limited. you could look at the evidence. it's all been published. it's been certified by the united nations and the world health organization. >> what's so striking is just for go read the original world health organization documents then read the public health reports. >> was that a shock to you? >> it was complete shock to me. i mean, there was a period where
i'm reading all the chernobyl stuff, and i kind of am not believing it. because it was so out of sync with what i had come to believe. >> literally hundreds of thousands of people were involved in the clear up operation, known as liquidators. they got really significant bursts of radiation. their health has been studied ever since. and even in that large number of people who were very heavily radiated, 40 or 50 people have died so far and a few thousand may have shortened life spans due to cancer in future decades. and there have never been any children born deformed from chernobyl, according to the best authorities of science we've got from the united nations. so people have substantially been fed an urban myth really about what the impacts of
chernobyl actually were. >> i've got books full of it. a million people dying right now or have died because of chernobyl. and that's only 25 years ago. how many millions more will chernobyl kill? 40% of the european land mass is radioactive. will be for hundreds of years. >> in order to believe that more than 56 people were killed at chernobyl or more than the maybe 4,000 who would eventually die of cancer, in order to believe it a million people were killed by chernobyl which is what green peace and helen caldicott and a number of other people claim, you have to believe there was a coverup of just massive proportions by the world health organization, by the united nations, by literally hundreds of the world's top public health experts. it's so absurd of an idea. and it's exactly the same thing global warming deniers think. >> what do you think is the
motivation for the united nations to perpetuate in such an appalling coverup? >> i don't know. i'm not privy to their motivations. >> but the difference between 50 people and 1 million people is so extreme. i think people are confused about what to think. >> well, they should look at the literature. this is the most important study that's ever been done. >> how do you explain it? >> this is the biggest coverup in the history of medicine. >> the tactics and the arguments that have been used by the environmental groups against nuclear power are exactly the same tactics and arguments that are useded by climate skeptics. >> the united nations, that's where all this started. it was ipcc in the united nations said that the world's going to come to an end because of the emissions of co2. >> so cherry picking of scientific data, the nurturing of scientists who happen to believe your ideological position and production of reports which are actually just
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we think of hiroshima, those pictures horrible after the event that happened. >> no radiation is safe. but generally speaking, americans don't have anything to worry about. >> we have on this map here and we're showing obviously the path some 5,000 miles first to the aleutian islands. >> you can't reassure people. people are so terrified that everything you say, because they don't have that background context, that understanding of what radiation is and what it means, they can't actually decide for themselves what's safe and what risk they want to bear. and i think that's one of the real problems of fukushima. there's no way for the experts to actually communicate what is safe to the general public. [ speaking foreign language ] >> if you were exposed to the
fallout from fukushima, then according to the world health organization, the u.n. generally, the increased risk of getting cancer is estimated to be so infinitesimally small given the large population, you'll never be able to identify this impact epidimialogically. >> i just want to say this particular weed here is more radioactive than the beach. so what have we got? 44? >> now we've seen what the worst is that can happen with a 1960s air remar era western designed reactor which doesn't have the structure fukushima did. but this isn't something you can brush away. this was not supposed to happen to a reactor.
>> back in the 80s, it was clear to me that something had to be done. something better than present day about safety. and it wasn't only in safety, it was in matters of waste as well and in the proliferation matters. and over all of those things, the matter of economics. you can't make the plant and possibly expense of making it
too complicated. >> go up to the main parking lot. >> all right. thanks very much. >> so in 1980s, i was given the job of directing the entire program of advanced reactor development at argonne national laboratory. our goal was to design a new type of reactor where the very physics of it would be such that it could withstand almost any type of accident that nuclear plants can be subject to. it was called the ifr. the integral fast reactor. the budget was about $100 million a year. 1500 people, scientists, engineers, supporting staff. this was a very big development program. but you've got to test it. calculations don't tell you everything. you've got to have the big
facilities that say, if we have an accident of this kind, what will happen? >> we will now start to set up for the test. >> we did two experiments to demonstrate some unique safety features that reactor has that others don't have. we invited people from all over the world to come and witness it. >> t minus two minutes. >> station blackout is a term that's used by nrc, the safety folks, to describe the situation where one loses all ac power. you assume you lose all site power. assume you're getting no ac power from your own turbo generator. you assume your first diesel started up and failed to start up. the second one started to start up and it also failed. you end up in the water with no ac power. >> this experiment was almost a direct parallel to what happened at fukushima. it was eerily similar.
we ran the reactor at full power, disabled the shutdown system so the operators had no ability to shut the reactor down. and we shut off the cooling system. didn't extract the heat. so things got hotter. in most reactors you can't do it. no reactor that i know of could survive that accident. you have a meltdown. >> the international audience were watching the temperature going up like that, straight up. they turned around like some to see if i was or the argonne guys are running. and by the time they looked up again, the trace had turned like so and it was on its way down and the reactor just quietly shut itself down. no action required of the operators. no action required of the safety systems. nothing. you could just stand back like this, watch the dials if you wished, and the reactor shut
itself down. >> 30 seconds until test time. >> well, in the afternoon we started the reactor up again and carried out the conditions responsible for the accident at three mile island. >> 5, 4, 3. >> we shut off the pumps. just shut off the pumps. all major reactor accidents happened because of one thing. inadequate cooling. the ifr type reactor, which ebr 2 was a prototype for, if you cut it off from the steam system so it cannot reject its heat, it will just shut itself down. >> so it can't melt down. >> no, it can't melt down. honestly, i'm a little old fashioned.
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reactor system, not the reactor itself but also the facilities for treating the spent fuel, for treating the waste, would all be an integral part of the same system. what this enables you to do is you can take the spent fuel, chop it up, back it goes into the reactor again. you can recycle the fuel again and again until the end of plant life. the other thing that needs to be said about all of this technology is that this is not a dream. this is not somebody's calculations on a piece of paper. this is real. we know how to do these things. >> now, let me frame this debate, if i may, by reading a letter from the president of the
united states sent to me yesterday. "thank you for your letter supporting our decision to terminate the department of energy's advanced liquid metal reactor program, including the integral fast reactor. i want to assure you that this administration does not support the ifr and will oppose any efforts to continue the funding for this reactor project." >> democrats have gotten themselves on the wrong side, in my opinion, in this issue, being opposed to nuclear power. for i think no good reason other than that it's very high on the list of what republicans like. >> we know that nuclear energy is clean. we know that it doesn't pollute the air. we know that it doesn't damage the ozone. we know thought is a tremendous producer of energy in a clean sense. and our only problem is that we cannot come to political terms on how to handle the waste
stream. >> we're talking about what it's going to cost if we go that far and continue our obsession with nuclear power. >> ifr waste streams lose their radioactivity to background level in about 800 years. light water reactor in nearly 10,000. >> i share with my colleagues some of the public opinion on this. "the "washington post"" "the oregonian" give up nuclear breeder dream. the "san francisco chronicle" saying no. >> the ifr program was shut down. the project went down the black hole of government politics.
>> it was by chance that in about the year 2000, i think, i wound up in the desert on a visit to yucca mountain. america's planned nuclear waste repository, 100 miles north of las vegas. a hole in the ground where ten plus billion dollars were spent on vastly expensive experiments trying to prove this place is going to be absolutely safe quote for the next 10,000 years. so it just felt like, wait a minute. this is nuts! among other things, have you even thought we are professional futurists many of us on this trip, what exactly is this world 10,000 years from now that we're
trying to protect? science fiction is what we were playing out at vast expense at yucca mountain. the kind of experiments they were doing in that mountain -- it's not a mountain, just a ridge -- certainly didn't persuade anybody. for political reasons, nyucca mountain was not opened and will probably never be opened. then i started to look at, well, what actually is the amount of hazard that comes from nuclear waste. the first thing i found out is what people who are actually doing with the nuclear waste which is being generated all this time by every nuclear power plant turns out to be pretty good. they put it in this pretty simple but very workable dry cask storage. and they park it out back of the parking lot. and you can go there and see it. there's the nation's nuclear
waste. is it causing any problems? no. the other realization for me -- and it took awhile to get through -- is by not putting it in the ground you've got the option to use it as fuel in forth fourth generation reactors. wow, we can take this waste from the nuclear plant and recycle it into fuel by reprocessing or having a new kind of reactor that uses this fuel. that looks very much like a renewable resource. >> people are always talking about nuclear waste. the accumulation of nuclear waste -- i think it's around 70,000 tons have accumulated of used fuel in the united states. i thought the quantity was staggering. in fact, all the spent nuclear
fuel from commercial nuclear plants in the united states could fit in a single football field if you stacked the fuel rods to a height of about three meters. that's it. but of that, only a very small fraction may make plutonium. by long-lived i mean would still be hot thousands of years from now. still be highly radioactive. >> volumetrically, nuclear produces tiny amounts of waste. the entire waste production from france's 50 nuclear power stations which produce 80% of the country's electricity, compare that with the billions of tons of waste produced by coal-fired power stations. it completely blows away most of
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humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. make the most of every moment. ask your dermatologist about humira, today. clearer skin is possible. i got this. [thinking] is it that time? the son picks up the check? [thinking] i'm still working. he's retired. i hope he's saving. i hope he saved enough.
one of the most inspiring stories anywhere is the story of france. it was a country in the early 70s that is burning oil for electricity. doesn't have coal reserves. doesn't want to be dependent on gas from northern europe and russia. but when the oil shocks happened and the prices went up dramatically, the french realized they needed to get serious about a different source of energy. >> they said, this is serious. and it has to do with national security. so they focused on making sure that they had the best nuclear engineers and the standard design for the reactors and just
roll it out. >> what's so significant about what the french did is that they did it so quickly. they scaled up almost exactly at the pace that we need to scale up nuclear power globally. >> they now have 80% of their electricity coming from nuclear. their trains are electric-powered. they have clean air. they have the cheapest energy in europe. they're selling it to everybody else. and they are greener than green denmark greener than green germany. >> i didn't know what french per capita carbon die carbon dioxi emissions were. they're about five tons per person a year. germany is about ten tons a
year. germany has much higher per person emissions of carbon dioxide than france because germany is trying to get out of nuclear. >> when we look at nuclear, we have to understand that we're making a long-term investment. now, it's a big up front capital cost, but these are plants that are going to last 60, 80, maybe even 100 years. much of the other infrastructure that's being built will last longer than that. and when you really look at it that way, there's just really no question. it's a much more economical alternative to very expensive solar panels or very expensive wind turbines that require backup power. >> the current generation of reactors we're building now are third generation reactors.
this technology is much safer. but fourth generation reactors, like the integral fast reactors, can use the waste from the first three generations as fuel. the great philanthropist bill gates has put money and time into a traveling wave reactor that you basically stick in the ground and it goes through its body of fuel over a period of 60 years. you don't need to refuel it. there's a thorium reactor the same group is working on. other fourth generation coming along with small module reactors. they look exactly like the kind of local power source that environmentalists have increasingly been saying we should have. so there's a renaissance in reactor design, that those are just the first glimpses of. >> for some people who perhaps
accept most of these arguments in favor of nuclear power, the ultimate argument is but knowledge of this technology is also the kind of knowledge you can use to make nuclear weapons. and that's quite true. it is. there are by the cia's estimate about 37 countries in the world today that if they wanted to could develop nuclear weapons. they have the technical and scientific infrastructure to be able to do that. how many countries actually have nuclear weapons? none. which i think begins to point out the fundamental flaw in the concern. we won't get rid of nuclear weapons by forgetting how to make them. we will get rid of nuclear weapons by deciding we don't want them around anymore.
>> turns out that the united states has been buying up nuclear warheads from the russians for over ten years now. 16,000 nuclear warheads. and we're recycling all these nuclear warheads into energy, electricity, nuclear power. and so nuclear power is doing more to denuclear weaponize the world than any other thing that we do. poetically it's rather beautiful. the very things that were designed to blow up our cities are now lighting up our cities. and basically 10% of american electricity, half of our nuclear power, comes from reprocessed russian warheads.
ideally, every single nuclear weapon in the world eventually can get turned into electricity. is a daily game of "what if's". what if my abdominal pain and cramps end our night before it even starts? what if i eat the wrong thing? what if? what if i suddenly have to go? what if? but what if the most important question is the one you're not asking? what if the underlying cause of your symptoms is damaging inflammation? for help getting the answers you need, talk to your doctor and visit crohnsandcolitisadvocates.com to connect with a patient advocate from abbvie for one-to-one support and education. yeah. i heard about progressive's "name your price" tool? i guess you can tell them how much you want to pay and it gives you a range of options to choose from. huh? i'm looking at it right now. oh, yeah? yeah.
the environmental movement that came of age in the 60s will never change, i feel very confident that the next generation will. are going to understand the challenges they face in an energy-hungry world. and they're going to put nuclear in its proper context. we can have a world of 7, 8, 9, even 10 billion people that are living high energy, resource intensive modern lives without killing the climate. and that's exciting! >> i have a sense that this is the beginning of something the beginning of something really beautiful. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
>> you actually feel like this is the beginning of a movement. good evening, everyone. welcome to our special report "nuclear power the fallout from fear" you've just seen the film "pandora's promise". i want to deepen the discussion with nuclear power and the central question about it. namely is it evolving into a plus for the environment or do the risks still outway the benefits. will me is director rob stone director of "pandora's promise" and former nuclear power plant operator joins us as well. you say this film is completely one-sided. explain. >> i was really disappointed to see almost no coverage of any
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