Beyond Nuclear International

Fashion conscious

Runa Ray Is Using Her Fashion Design To Spread Environmental And Social Justice Awareness

Editor’s note. Ray will be a featured guest on a forthcoming zoom event, presented jointly by Beyond Nuclear, Goethe-Institut and Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America on Tuesday, December 7 at 6:30pm Eastern Standard Time US. This will be the second in our series, Cultural Resistance, and also features artist Mary Lou Dauray, who we previously profiled here, and theatre director Jessica Grindstaff, whose Fukushima-themed performance piece we featured here. Click here to register.

By Megan Valle

At five years old, Runa Ray won an art competition for UNICEF to have her painting printed on postcards and distributed worldwide. Decades later, she stood before the United Nations as a fashion designer and environmentalist, advocating for climate change and the effects of the fashion industry on the environment.

As a young girl growing up in India, Ray found herself most comfortable using art to express herself. It was obvious to Ray that she would eventually work in a creative field. Still, she was at a crossroads when it came time to pick a field of study in college. 

She could either become a doctor or go into the arts. Her mother was pivotal in helping her decide which path to take.

Runa Ray, kneeling center, goes beyond her brand and her art, to advocate for peace, especially between her native India and Pakistan. (Photo: courtesy of runaway.com)

“She said, I think you should take up the arts because I think you could make a difference in this field,” Ray said. 

This decision began Ray’s long and successful career of sustainable fashion design and environmental and social justice advocacy. 

“When I took up the arts, I found that it was very natural to me,” she said. “I completely loved it and that’s when I joined fashion.” 

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Keep Takoma Park truly nuclear-free

City’s Sustainability Task Force must not fall prey to nuclear power propaganda

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Normally, we do not use these pages for what might be considered strictly “local” news. But in light of the inadequate ending to the COP26 climate conference — where the words Not Good Enough are its only fitting epitaph— it is important to remind our own communities that we are past time to return to the past. We cannot afford to do anything now, such as clinging onto slow, outdated and unaffordable energy technologies like nuclear power, that would make climate change worse.

Our community, Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, is a “nuclear-free city.” A number of months ago, many of you were drawn into a struggle — at our invitation — to preserve the Nuclear-Free Takoma Park Committee, a group of citizens tasked with upholding the city’s storied nuclear-free zone ordinance. Takoma Park was one of the first US cities to become a Nuclear-Free Zone, doing so in 1983.

After a protracted battle, the committee survived, for now, but with a giant caveat. Both its existence and purpose would be reviewed by a newly-established city entity comprised of nine Takoma Park residents — a Task Force on Sustainable Banking and Investments. The Task Force is primarily charged with defining and identifying “steps to implement sustainable banking and investment policies that fulfill both the City’s nuclear-free and climate change goals”.

Takoma Park’s rather battered nuclear-free zone signs have mysteriously disappeared from city streets. So, too, might its commitment not to purchase nuclear power, a decision now in the hands of a Task Force.

But the Task Force has also been asked to “Review and recommend updates to the implementation specifics of the nuclear-free ordinance, to best fulfill the purposes of the ordinance and to coordinate with the city’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and other priorities.” Why go there at all?

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More of the same on nuclear weapons?

Biden’s plan includes replacement of first strike ICBMs

By Joseph Gerson

In the dangerous Trump era, the Pentagon pronounced that “There is no higher priority for national defense” than to “replace [the country’s] strategic nuclear triad and sustain the warheads it carries.” The estimated cost for upgrading the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal and replacing all its nuclear warhead delivery systems—intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers—was $1.7 billion.

Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review, the guidelines for nuclear war fighting, and maintenance and acquisition of the weapons required for genocidal or omnicidal war, reaffirmed the country’s first-strike nuclear war fighting doctrine, and it increased U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons. This included their possible use in response to cyber and other high-tech attacks on U.S. infrastructure.

As we now know from Bob Woodward’s new book Peril, General Milley, others in Pentagon leadership, and their Chinese counterparts thought it imperative to act secretly to prevent Trump from sparking a nuclear war on the eve of the 2020 presidential election and within days of the failed January 6 coup attempt. 

The Trump incited January 6 riot at the Capitol had General Milley and others fearing the outgoing president could start a nuclear war. (Photo: TapTheForwardAssist/WikimediaCommons)

Tragically, despite widespread high hopes for change, in the existential realm of potentially omnicidal nuclear war preparations, the Biden administration has signaled more continuity than change. True, it acted quickly to extend the New START Treaty with Russia, which limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear weapons—enough to inflict the planet with nuclear winter. It is also engaged in exploratory talks with Moscow over establishing “strategic stability” between the two nuclear powers. While these talks are important, as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs,  General Hyten, recently told a Brookings Institute audience, China—not Russia is the “pacing military threat” that now drives U.S. military planning.

The sad and dangerous truth is that the nuclear weapons budget President Biden submitted to Congress differs little from Trump’s nuclear weapons “modernization” commitments. Despite Biden’s election year and earlier statements that the “sole use” of nuclear weapons that he could imagine was in response to a nuclear attack against the United States, the budget he submitted to Congress includes funding to replace the country’s entire arsenal of first-strike—use them or lose them—ground based ICBMs.

So, too, the budget Congress will be voting on includes funding to produce 80 plutonium pits (the fissile core of a nuclear warhead) per year—each one of which with the destructive capability to devastate cities as large as Shanghai, Karachi and Moscow. Biden and his Pentagon also expect to win funding for the extremely destabilizing “more usable” tactical (roughly Hiroshima sized) B-61-12 bound for Europe, the nuclear air-launched cruise Long Range Standoff Weapon, and new warheads for submarine launched missiles, all designed to hold China hostage to a U.S. first-strike attack.

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Precious waters

Tribes, Indigenous groups, conservation organizations file petition to strengthen federal mining rules

By Earthworks

Tribes, Indigenous groups and conservation organizations filed a rulemaking petition on September 16 with the U.S. Department of the Interior to improve and modernize hardrock mining oversight on public lands. The proposed revisions aim to safeguard critically important lands across the West and Alaska, including sacred lands and their cultural resources, vital wildlife habitat, and invaluable water resources.

“It’s long past time to reform the nation’s hardrock mining rules, end generations of mining-inflicted injustice to Indigenous communities, and chart a new course for public lands stewardship toward a sustainable, clean energy economy,” the petition states. “For far too long, mining companies have had free rein to decimate lands of cultural importance to tribes and public lands at enormous cost to people, wildlife, and these beautiful wild places of historic and cultural significance. The harm is undeniable, severe, and irreparable. Reforming these rules will prevent more damage, help us transition to green infrastructure, and leave a livable planet to future generations.”

The petition seeks to significantly update hardrock mining regulations, a need the Biden administration has also identified, to avoid perpetuating the mining industry’s toxic legacy. Current regulations disproportionately burden Indigenous and other disenfranchised communities with pollution and threaten land, water, wildlife and climate. New mining rules would help protect these resources and minimize the damage from the mineral demands of transitioning to a cleaner energy economy.

The Unalakleet River is one of the precious water sources where salmon could be pushed into collapse by hard rock mining pollution. (Photo: by mypubliclands/Creative Commons

“Our community is entirely dependent on subsistence from the North, Unalakleet and Nulato Rivers. Yet, due to a combination of climate change and commercial by-catch, these rivers had dismal returns for King, silver and chum salmon this summer,” said Doug Katchatag, president of the Norton Bay Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. “People are scared. Basically, if virtually unregulated mining, as under the current law, is allowed in these watersheds it will combine with these other impacts to push our salmon runs into collapse. This threatens the very existence of our community.”

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Hidden agenda

The unspoken argument for more nuclear power

By Linda Pentz Gunter

So here we are again at another COP (Conference of the Parties). Well, some of us are in Glasgow, Scotland at the COP itself, and some of us, this writer included, are sitting at a distance, trying to feel hopeful.

But this is COP 26. That means there have already been 25 tries at dealing with the once impending and now upon us climate crisis. Twenty five rounds of “blah, blah, blah” as youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg, so aptly put it. 

So if some of us do not feel the blush of optimism on our cheeks, we can be forgiven. I mean, even the Queen of England has had enough of the all-talk-and-no-action of our world leaders, who have been, by and large, thoroughly useless. Even, this time, absent. Some of them have been worse than that.  

Not doing anything radical on climate at this stage is fundamentally a crime against humanity. And everything else living on Earth. It should be grounds for an appearance at the International Criminal Court. In the dock.

Will the COP26 be more “blah, blah, blah” on climate change, as Greta Thunberg (pictured at a pre-COP26 event) has warned against? And will nuclear power slither under the door as a bogus climate solution? (Photo:  MAURO UJETTO/Shutterstock)

But what are the world’s greatest greenhouse gas emitters consumed with right now? Upgrading and expanding their nuclear weapons arsenals. Another crime against humanity. It’s as if they haven’t even noticed that our planet is already going quite rapidly to hell in a handbasket. They’d just like to hasten things along a bit by inflicting a nuclear armageddon on us as well.

Not that the two things are unconnected. The civilian nuclear power industry is desperately scrambling to find a way into the COP climate solutions. It has rebranded itself as “zero-carbon”, which is a lie. And this lie goes unchallenged by our willing politicians who blithely repeat it. Are they really that lazy and stupid? Possibly not. Read on.

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Renewable not radioactive

Our shared energy future should serve human needs

Joint organizational statement released prior to the COP26 Climate Summit

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report highlights the growing climate crisis and the energy challenges we face. We need an urgent global shift to clean and renewable energy and national governments need to actively facilitate and manage the transition from reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear to renewable energy.

This global transition to clean, safe, nature-friendly renewable energy is already underway and is generating employment and opportunity. Growing this based on principles of environmental and social justice, equity, diversity, resilience and the rights and interests of communities and our environment will provide skilled and sustainable jobs, economic activity and reliable electricity access around the world.

Every dollar invested in nuclear power makes the climate crisis worse by diverting investment from renewable energy technology. Nuclear is increasingly unsafe and unreliable in a warming world with more frequent shutdowns and an inability to operate safely under changed climate conditions. 

An increasingly storm-ravaged world needs to shift quickly to renewables. Nuclear power is totally unsuited to such conditions. (Photo by Ray Harrington on Unsplash)

From nuclear weapons tests to radioactive waste facilities the nuclear industry has a history of displacing, disrupting and damaging the health and rights of workers and communities. Indigenous peoples face a disproportionate burden and risk from the nuclear industry as mining and waste storage primarily affects their lands and they are often not consulted, compensated or respected.  

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