The stories we hear in the news present a troubling view of the state of our town, county, state and country. We wonder, “What can I do to make a positive difference?” The answer lies in changing how talk to and about one another.
We dehumanize those around us by shaming, labeling, ignoring, yelling, overprotecting, excuse making, sarcasm, hitting, and failing to provide consistent boundaries. The way we react produces behaviors that include people pleasing, guilt, manipulation and rebellion.
We have the power to do things differently. We can learn to incorporate specific language into our vocabulary that honors the essence of who we really are: people born with gifts of character. Using specific virtues-based language to acknowledge right behavior when it is exhibited connects the individual to themselves in an authentic way: “You were patient during class today, Tommy” honors a usually squirmy child for paying attention. Just watch his eyes light up with recognition.
Another way we can make a difference is when discipline is needed. We can choose to see the person as separate from their behavior and without their label. We can see something positive and ask for the specific virtue needed at that moment. Try asking: “What would help you to be peaceful or patient now” and “What have learned from this?” and see the difference!
These techniques work all over the world: in prisons, schools (to prevent bullying and internalize character), government agencies, place of business and at home. To learn more visit: www.communitycharacter.com or www.virtuesproject.com.
Community Character Consulting
EROI is the key
When Bob Berman strays from astronomy to nuclear power, he’s in the wrong galaxy.
Tobe Carey’s letter (Oct. 28) provided many references showing that there were serious health effects and a cover-up on Three Mile Island. Berman provided only unsubstantiated nuclear industry talking points. Trashing opposing perspectives as belief in “space aliens” is not good form for a “scientist.”
Bob is very wrong when he states long-lived radionucleides are “not the waste generated.” Nuclear fuel is about 90 percent uranium-238 (half life 4.5 billion years), and 10 percent U235. Some of the U238 is converted to plutonium-239 (half life 24,065 years), and the deadliest stuff on earth.
Nothing is more misleading than pretending nuclear power is carbon neutral. All energy sources must be evaluated on “energy return on investment” (EROI). PV solar panels need one to three years to recoup embodied energy, but last decades. Solar thermal, especially passive, has a much higher EROI. The substantial fossil inputs to the nuclear fuel cycle give nuclear a low EROI, and make it a major greenhouse contributor. Two-thirds of the energy is waste heat. Brush up on your second law of thermodynamics and the Carnot cycle, Bob! Just how do “fourth-gen” nukes get around that? Factoring in the energy to rocket millions of tons of waste into the sun, given Earth’s 7.1 miles/second escape velocity, and we’re talking real kerosene!
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS.org) estimates that 1,500-2,000 nukes ($6-$10 billion a pop) replacing coal plants could theoretically cut carbon 20 percent, but by precluding renewables, would increase carbon. Easily extractable uranium would soon be depleted, forcing mining of lower-grade ore, and even higher emissions. If one reactor were built bi-weekly (they currently take six to 10 years) it would take 60 years to build 1,500 reactors. So much for “near term”! The waste would require many huge waste dumps, to be guarded in virtual perpetuity. By contrast, Con-Ed (!) just broke ground on a 20 Megawatt solar farm in New Jersey that will be on line by Spring. (Daily Freeman 10/21).
It is disingenuous to pit nuclear against coal, (or shale gas hydrofracking). All these obsolete technologies are polluting, deadly, greed-driven, and limited by the same thermodynamic restraints.
Scientific American (Jan. 2008 cover article) showed our energy economy could become largely solar by 2050. Obstacles are political, not technological. Enough solar hits the U.S. in one half hour to meet our energy needs for a year. Any civilization that squanders savings while discarding income is doomed to extinction.
Conservation, like the “Passiv Haus” (Habitat for Humanity is building such a house in Northern Vermont), eliminates seven times as much carbon per dollar as nuclear. Wind about twice as much. These are conservative estimates. Just one major accident or terrorist attack would dwarf any nuclear greenhouse mitigation.
As for The New York Times Editorial Board, Obama, and other high-flying opinion shapers promoting nuclear, just follow the money. On what other boards do they sit? Who buys their advertising, funds their political campaigns? And is Berman’s axe to grind in this arena purely science-based?
The energy elites who helped funded the Republican and teabag election victories are drooling over full on nuclear, “clean” coal, and hydrofracking. If you care about sustainability, just say “know.”
Bob Berman replies:
By questioning whether I have ulterior motives and am being secretly funded — and this letter writer has suggested this in other venues too — he crosses the line to personal affront. By suggesting the same of our president and The New York Times, he’s essentially saying that no honest person could find benefit in a limited use of nuclear power. His case is biased and ignorant, and I have no interest in this sort of low-level name-calling. Let me repeat: Interested parties should look at all sides. Google: Benefits of Nuclear Power. Get all sides. Do your homework. I’m not asking anyone to believe me in any way. This is our planet, our future, and we all deserve real facts, not anyone’s paranoia. You decide. I’m finished with this guy.
Getting elected is not enough
I am saddened that the fossil fuel Industry dollars have made a mockery of democracy in America, polluting not only our air, water and communities, but nearly every political campaign. I learned that the coal and oil industry barons, like the Koch brothers, spent millions of dollars this year to elect representatives who will support their destructive profit motives. So I wrote to Senator-elect Schumer to ask why he accepted over $200,000 from corporate polluters during this election cycle? And ...will he represent the people in New York State or the “dirty energy” companies? The response letter was passivizing.
Getting elected is not enough! If the newly elected are truly committed to fiscal responsibility, they should slash the billions of taxpayer dollars wasted every year in handouts for wealthy coal and oil companies. Here in Ulster County it is not common knowledge that we the tax payers are actually subsidizing this industry by the millions to lobby and subvert our democracy.
No matter where it comes from, we need leadership to defend our environment from what are sure to be vicious industry attacks in the coming years.
This election doesn’t change the fact that we all depend on clean air and water, and that our leaders should side with the people they represent, not corporate polluters. I will personally opt to buy renewable energy, not to spite the old industry but because it’s integral to having a clean air and water future.