In response to the question of nuclear power, the Steering Committee of Quaker Earthcare Witness adopted a Minute at its October 2007 annual meetings in
A statement by Bob McGahey and Roy C. Treadway giving the context of the complexity of issues to be considered in addressing harmful climate change precedes the Minute. Their statement underscores the need by Friends and others to adopt radical simplicity in our personal lives, build local community, and exhort political leaders to safeguard the health of the biosphere and humans while addressing globally-binding economic restraints on increased carbon emissions.
We hope Friends will seriously consider this call from the QEW Steering Committee to find solutions to harmful climate change and to the world’s energy needs that take away the occasion for nuclear power.
May peace on and with earth be with you,
Note: More information about the perspective of Quaker Earthcare Witness on nuclear power can be obtained from the following articles:
Roy C. Treadway and Carolyn W. Treadway, Nuclear Energy and the Care of the Earth, Quaker Eco-Bulletin, Volume 5, Number 4, July-August 2005.
Angela Manno, In Friendship with the Earth: Friends Testimonies and Nuclear Energy, Quaker Eco-Bulletin, Volume 6, Number 5, September-October 2006.
Michael Rice, Why Nuclear Power is Not the Solution to Global Warming, BeFriending Creation, Volume 6, Number 5, September-October 2007, 4-5.
Accompanying Statement to QEW Nuclear Power Minute
We live in a world deeply compromised by our industrial choices, and they limit the range of meaningful response to the overarching issue of climate change. Woolman lived at the beginning of the industrial age; we live at its end. By ignoring habitat restraints, we are so overextended in population and resource use that both clamping down on further increases in CO2 and righting the scales of justice for the billions of poor may not be possible. For those who believe that we can provide enough energy by increasing renewable sources and using efficiency and conservation, profound caution is needed. Even with all these strategies, we may not be able to provide needed energy by 2050 (assuming we progressively shut down fossil fuel plants and decommission aging nuclear power plants). This is a particular challenge for developing countries.
QEW’s Steering Committee has approved the following Minute on Nuclear Power, based on our values and our testimonies. Even though we feel the imperative of immediacy, we have only begun to study the issue of energy use and policy, about which a future white paper from the Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) by Keith Helmuth is being prepared. A QEW Climate Change and Energy Working Group to further investigate these complex and timely issues has also been proposed.
As we search for ways to address energy issues, including the use of efficiency and renewable energy as urged by this Minute, we must be aware of the challenge that the world's growth-oriented economic system poses. Because of
Quaker Earthcare Witness Minute on Nuclear Power
Quaker Earthcare Witness cannot support nuclear power as part of the solution to harmful climate change.
As Friends, our peace testimony has long led us to witness against nuclear power because of its connection to nuclear war. Our deep caring for all creation leads us to affirm that witness, even in the face of growing calls for an expansion of nuclear power.
Based on everything we know about the current state of nuclear technology and our understanding of its impact and risks for people and the earth, we are strongly opposed - for moral, spiritual, and practical reasons - to current efforts to increase nuclear power. Additionally, we are strongly opposed to subsidies for funding new nuclear power plants, including proposed loan guarantees such as those in energy bills currently being considered by the U.S. Congress.
While nuclear power produces no greenhouse gases during electricity generation, in fact significant amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted when the complete cycle of nuclear power – from mining, milling, enrichment of uranium, transportation of nuclear fuel, and removal and guarding of nuclear wastes, as well as construction of nuclear power plants – is considered.
Nuclear power is extremely expensive when all costs, including subsidies, are included. We believe that funds proposed for more nuclear power plants would be far more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions if used for energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable power.
Nuclear power is closely linked to the war machine in many countries. The cumulative effects of radioactive waste from nuclear power will be lethal, carcinogenic, and mutagenic to humans and all species for hundreds of thousands of years. Finally, given nuclear power’s unique destructiveness, the risk of just one catastrophic accident anywhere in the world renders nuclear power unacceptable.
QEW also affirms that providing more energy to support unconstrained economic growth is neither inevitable nor desirable.
We accept the responsibility of working for all socially responsible and environmentally sound solutions to global climate change, including phasing-out the use of oil, coal, and gas; and increasing energy efficiency, energy conservation; and renewable sources of energy. We accept the responsibility for using less energy in all that we do and for working to make reduction of energy use a goal for society at large.