Warm and Fuzzy Nuclear Power

I went to a hearing at the Massachusetts DEP (Dept. of Environmental Protection) to give testimony about the importance of the GWSA (Global Warming Solutions Act) passed in 2008 and then not acted on efficiently by the state.  Various people stood and offered the panel clear evidence of the need for action, suggested priorities and offered ways to enforce the act.  A smiling young woman, with a warm engaging air, wearing jeans, her hair in an easy pony tail, stood and introduced herself as nuclear scientist.  I kept looking for unseemly mutations, like horns or a third leg, but none were visible.  She spoke to the necessity of using nuclear power as one of the arsenal of carbon neutral alternatives that must be employed if we are to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels.  She was sitting with three other young  (Under 35) scientists, all hailing from MIT who spoke to the safety and necessity of nuclear power.  They were all engaging, enthusiastic, and charming.

As a die hard member of the Clamshell Alliance, a civil disobedience based organization that tried, with all its might, to stop the building of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, I was leery.

When the hearing concluded, went over to chat with the scientist, and asked if I had been sleeping while they’d discovered a safe way to dispose of the plutonium.* With great excitement a cell phone emerged and almost in unison they told me that I had to watch ‘this.’

It was a video of a jet plane ramming what they identified as a containment vessel. “See, it’s still completely in tack.  You can’t destroy it.”  Kept at the nuclear power plant sites, they are eventually ‘geologically disposed.’  That means they are buried in rocks. Problem solved!

Their authentic excitement and passion for the technology was endearing, and from the vantage point of MIT research labs, logical.  Then I flashed on Homer Simpson in the control room.

What they can’t promise is that the owners and staff of these plants will all do their jobs with complete integrity.

What they cannot promise is that radiation will not leak from the power plants.

What they can’t promise is that uranium tailings will be safely disposed of.

What they can’t promise is that these highly expensive facilities are economically more logical than growing solar and wind power capabilities.

What they can’t promise is the safe decommissioning of these highly dangerous facilities.

What they can’t promise is that in our increasingly unstable environment, featuring extreme weather events won’t create another Fukushima.

I admired the passion and ambition of these nuclear scientists, but would like them to keep this technology in the laboratory.  What do you think?

*Plutonium emits alpha radiation. It enters the bloodstream via the lungs, then moves throughout the body and into the bones, liver, and other organs. It generally stays in those places for decades, subjecting surrounding organs and tissues to a continual bombardment of alpha radiation and greatly increasing the risk of cancer, especially lung cancer, liver cancer and bone sarcoma. One isotope of plutonium, Pu-239, has a half-life of 24,100 years.  Can you understand my concern?

All Too Familiar: Weimar Germany and 2016 USA

In Canton, MA, at the Galvin Middle School, they have an annual ritual, a day of learning and reflection about the Holocaust.  I have been a presenter for over 15 years at this event, telling a story about a young Hungarian woman, Gieselle Hirsch.  Her family endured anti-Semitic insults, avoidance/isolation, discrimination, violence and deportation to  a… Continue Reading

Using The Champ to Your Community

RETIRING THE CHAMP: A Story About Life’s Last Big Bout Retiring the Champ touches on many issues that participants will want the opportunity to explore. They include but are not exclusive of: -Denial Is Not just a River in Egypt:  As we travel from the role of child to the parent in our relationship with… Continue Reading

The Civil War and the Climate!

Where William Lloyd Garrison and Climate Disruption Intersect During the week of July 19, 2016, I brought Lucy Stone to the Ashland, Ohio Chautauqua for their Voices of Freedom week.  An old friend, Ilene Evans*, gave us a breathtaking Harriet Tubman. Fredrick Douglas**, Mary Chestnut***, and Clara Barton all made appearances.  These are all people… Continue Reading

My Republican Neighbor

A couple weeks ago, while participating in the TEDX talks in the Berkshires, I was able to listen to a local legislator who was singing a homage to the unique and special people of Berkshire Country.  Those of us not from the neighborhood grumbled, “Hey, aren’t we special too?”  The truth is that wherever we… Continue Reading

Stray Dogs and Shtreimels: Want Does Istanbul and Mea Shearim Have in Common?

The hat you are looking at is called a shtreimel.  It is worn by married Haredim (ultra orthodox Jews).  Adorning oneself in luxurious fur might not feel like an act of Halacha (religious laws). It isn’t exactly ‘modest.’ However, when the Jews of very cold climes in Eastern Europe saw the aristocracy in these hats, they considered, especially… Continue Reading


ISTANBUL, NOT CONSTANTINOPLE I just returned from a journey to Turkey and Israel.  My husband is the kind of Jew who eats ham and cheese sandwiches on the synagogue steps on Yom Kippur.  So, when he muttered, “I think Ineed to go to Israel,” I said “hold that thought” and got planning.  Always wanted to… Continue Reading

Stories To Change the World

Stories To Change the World Have you ever noticed that the grander the aspiration, the less effective a story is?  Often the more desperately I want to influence my listeners, the less authentic, more didactic, and thus, less useful is my tale  Yes, Virginia, irony is the driving force of the universe. Many years ago… Continue Reading

Good Teaching Lives On

From My Mouth To Your Ears A bi-monthly blog by Storyteller, Judith Black   (I promise that going forward they will be shorter!) “Turn to your neighbor and when I make the sound, take turns, and each of you say your name.  Now turn to another neighbor and when I make the sound, take turns… Continue Reading