Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quakers Take A Stand Against Nuclear Energy

Please give the folks at Quaker Earthcare Witness a look. They have given a tremendous amount of thought, and prayer to the issue of Nuclear Energy, and have come out with a position paper against it. We here at Green Nuclear Butterfly feel their Minute on the issue is important enough to reproduce in its entirety here.

October 28, 2007

Dear Friends:

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 Burlington, Vermont, affirming that it cannot support nuclear power as a part of the solution to the problem of harmful climate change. The full Minute is attached, below.

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,

Hollister Knowlton

Clerk, Quaker Earthcare Witness

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

The context for our actions as Friends and members of Quaker Earthcare Witness at this critical juncture of planetary history is multifold – spiritual, economic, political, and biospheric. John Woolman was alert to the seeds of slavery and war in everyday economic actions. Today, slavery comes from that state of misguided human greed in which all of nature is enslaved to our industrial society and global capitalism. In an era when the bottom line is profit and the side effect is destruction of the planet in the form of greenhouse gases and other toxic wastes, the overall moral issue is how we care for the web of Creation. It is stewardship in an era when our numbers are overwhelming Gaia, multiplied by an extravagant lifestyle.

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 U. S. fiscal policies, including almost uncontrolled public and private debt and the Federal Reserve's inflationary response to that debt, we may face an overdue global recession, making efforts to address energy difficult.

Thus, we need to adopt radical simplicity in our personal lives, build local community, and exhort our political leaders to adopt powerful, globally-binding economic restraints on carbon emissions, while safeguarding the health of the biosphere and humans.

Bob McGahey and Roy C. Treadway, for the QEW Steering Committee

Quaker Earthcare Witness Minute on Nuclear Power
Approved by the Steering Committee of Quaker Earthcare Witness in session, October 14, 2007, Burlington, Vermont.

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.

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