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22 November 2010

Mud Brick Oven

Mud Brick Oven

Posted by Nutloaf

This is the little oven we built with take-away containers and old
beer bottles. And mud.

19 November 2010

Moving to Alice Springs

So I finally decided to move to Alice Springs. I found a job with Life without Barriers that sounds pretty great. I sent an email yesterday saying I would start in January next year. For the moment I think I'd feel useful enough to possibly justify the stupendous quantity of resources consumed maintaining us white people in our luxury desert lives. Although still not really.

So I'll probably be a bit stuck here for some time, because I'm still not going to fly and it really is a terribly long way from anyway. Even driving 3000km to Sydney isn't particularly low-impact living. However, I am going to drive back to my old home and collect my corporeal life into the back of a ute or camper.

I am slightly devastated to be leaving Sydney, because I quite loved my lives there. There are so many dear dear loves that I will not be able to sit about with anymore. Perhaps I will have some sort of Ahoy There and Goodbye party.

There are already some vegans in Alice Springs. They are the hardcore separatist sort, so I will have to lift my game a tad.

I'm not sure where I will live yet. But I think I want to build a house. It will probably be made of mud. Like the oven I built perhaps. Except the house would be less dome-shaped and more house-shaped. And with bigger bricks. Chinese take-away containers make pretty good brick moulds for oven bricks, but maybe not good house bricks. Quite small bricks. I will plan a bit of a house over summer, when it is too hot to leave our carbon-fired cool bubbles. And then build it next autumn and winter. I have dreams of a 12v solar house, with no bore water connection at all. That is my dream. Tough dream I reckon. But we will see.

Crunch and I are also applying for a town camp community centre coordinator job. It would be pretty great I think. I also think we won't get it. You can quickly get pulled into the Alice Springs utopia of endless opportunities for under-qualified, under-achieving white folks powered by Indigenous money that the government seems desperate to avoid actually giving to anyone Indigenous. Want to try to avoid that. Probably won't but.

I am happy to move here. It is a nice place except for the racism and horrific, crying, miserable stories of what people do and have done here.

And it is beautiful. The mountains don't judge any of us.

3 November 2010

Print Quaility

Print Quaility

Posted by Nutloaf

Could you live with less?

Could you live with less?

Posted by Nutloaf

1 November 2010

Effects of Chernobyl

I'm reading about nuclear fuel supplies, nuclear accidents and the consequences of Chernobyl. I'm basically opposed to nuclear energy due to doubts about its costs and the risk that such concentrated energy represents either as a fuel or as a weapon. The number of accidents in the industry make me doubt our capacity to manage very dangerous things safely, although this applies to plenty of industrial technologies besides nuclear.

So far it seems that there are few deaths attributable to nuclear accidents. Excess deaths from Chernobyl appear to be around 20,000, but this is based upon assumptions about total global radiation exposure and the increased likelihood of a deadly cancer per unit of radiation exposure. In the total context of industrial destruction even 20,000 people dying over 40 years of an industry is not very many. However, for that many people to die from one accident doesn't inspire me to support a massive expansion of that industry.

While reading a particularly pro-nuclear article, I came across this:

Bad administrative decisions made several million people believe that they were “victims of Chernobyl” although the average annual dose they received was only about one third of the average natural dose. This was the main factor responsible for the unnecessary economic losses, estimated to have reached $148 billion by 2000 for the Ukraine and to reach $235 billion by 2016 for Belarus.

His basic argument is that while there were massive side-effects from Chernobyl they all could have been avoided. Perhaps they could have, however I think these costs still need to be attributed to the industry. The uncertainty and fear about the nuclear industry is real and is largely due to the unique aspects of nuclear technology. There will never be a concentrating solar thermal accident that costs an economy $235 billion, regardless how much its effects were to be "irresponsibly exaggerated". Nobody could create or foment the same sort of fear towards the solar industry, because the technology is fundamentally more predictable and transparent. The widespread opposition to the nuclear industry is certainly not arbitrary. Economic costs due to uncertainty and fear are real costs.

There were 28 fatalities among rescue workers and employees at the power station due to very high doses of radiation, and 3 deaths due to other reasons. Otherwise, the only real adverse health consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe among approximately five million people living in the contaminated regions were the following: acquired psychosomatic afflictions that appear as diseases of the digestive and circulatory systems, and other post-traumatic stress disorders such as sleep disturbance, headache, depression, anxiety, escapism, “learned helplessness,” unwillingness to cooperate, overdependence, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicides.

Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Minimal Radiation Effects

It's hard to imagine a harsher interpretation of these health consequences. Even if you agree that they entirely attributable to "radiophobia" (a term which is very reminiscent of 1960s government pro-nuclear propaganda), they are real effects upon real people. Perhaps these effects would be less if there was another equivalent disaster, but for all we know they could be greater. Most of a continent lived under a toxic cloud for several days. Our science and statistics are not good enough to tell us how much danger it actually represented or even how toxic it was. But again, that is fundamental to the type of toxicity. It affects people over decades, which makes it incredibly hard to measure. The resulting uncertainty can't be dismissed.

I probably have much more critical things to say about the nuclear industry, but my only real point here is that you can't exclude negative impacts of something just because you hypothesise that they could have been avoided. In the case of this article he brings up these negative (and rather enormous) consequences as a criticism of the "hysteria" following the meltdown. But even if you believe there was an element of hysteria, the ultimate cause of these effects was the meltdown itself.

US and USSR Nuclear Stockpiles

In some ways the end of the Cold War looks like a good thing.

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