WHAT IS FUSION ABOUT?
In my opinion, the most important thing about the fusion ‘breakthrough’ is the misrepresentation of the nature of the research as energy-related rather than weapons-related. Its rationale is fundamentally military, as is the purpose of the entire National Ignition Facility located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a long-standing weapons lab.
As Frank von Hippel pointed out in a recent letter, “The National Ignition Facility is currently funded by the nuclear weapons program. The deal with the weapons labs in 1993 was that they would get as much money if they stopped insisting on doing nuclear test explosions as they were getting for testing and developing new weapons. They agreed and the US has not tested since 1992.
“Each lab got to choose what research tools they would like Livermore chose the National Ignition Facility. Its purpose is to test the nuclear-weapon design codes with small nuclear fusion explosions produced by implosions by lasers rather that the X-rays produced by the first stage explosion of a nuclear warhead.
“But the labs are insatiable and Livermore is notorious for its hype. Remember the dream of bomb-powered X-ray lasers that were promised to shoot down Soviet warheads, which persuaded Reagan to launch his ‘Star Wars’ program?
“So, Livermore is now touting its $3 billion toy as the energy technology of the future. Anything is conceivable but that is such a huge extrapolation that no one but a fraudster would make it.”
In the context of climate, the big difference between solar and fusion is that one works and one doesn’t. Moreover, the one that works is predicated on helping humankind achieve a sustainable future while the one that doesn’t work is largely dedicated to perfecting weapons of mass destruction.
When I invited Mr. Bolton to address my class (‘Energy and the Environment’) to talk about his work with the Tokamak fusion reactor at Varennes (just south of Montreal) I asked him whether there was any military interest in his work.
He seemed surprised by my question and said, “No, certainly not. My research on fusion energy has nothing to do with the military.”
“But a week later, when I spoke with him on the telephone, he confided to me that he had thought about my question and was surprised to realize that the only other scientists who had expressed any interest in his work over the years were folks who worked at weapons labs in the US and elsewhere. When General Groves supervised the World War II Atomic Bomb Project it was under the auspices of the US Department of War. The military learned the political power of euphemisms and re-named it the Department of Defence. Meanwhile the Nuclear Weapons department is euphemistically called the Department of Energy.”
Both fusion and fission advocates hope to grab much of the trillions of dollars being made available by governments around the world for fighting climate change, so they too use euphemistic language and promotional hype, dubbing their favorite research projects ‘clean’, ‘renewable’ and ‘promising’ technologies that may be ‘essential’ to deal with the climate crisis. This takes money away from proven technologies such as solar and wind, which are faster, cheaper to deploy, and useful for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030. Neither new fission nor new fusion will have any discernible effect by 2030. So, the can is kicked down the road for a few more decades. The International Energy Agency has predicted that, over the next few years, 90 percent of the new electrical capacity worldwide will come from these two renewable and proven technologies—which nuclear proponents routinely deride.
Democracy in Brazil is being threatened by the electorally defeated Jair Bolsonaro, who calls socialism the real danger. Before the election, he had publicly stated that if he lost, it would be due to electoral fraud. Sound familiar? But unlike Trump, Bolsonaro reportedly has the support of most of the Brazilian police force, and he’s busy getting the military on side as well.
He’s the same despot who’s let the Amazonian rainforest be razed.
During a wildfire three summers ago, the Evangelical Christian Bolsonaro claimed that his presidential power (and presumably all the environmental damage he inflicted with it) is somehow divine: ‘I am fulfilling a mission from God.’ Ironically, Christ’s teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism: Do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty.
Frank Sterle Jr.
White Rock, B.C.
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