Cover image for Fallout : disasters, lies, and the legacy of the nuclear age / Fred Pearce.
Title:
Fallout : disasters, lies, and the legacy of the nuclear age / Fred Pearce.
Author:
Title Variants:
Disasters, lies, and the legacy of the nuclear age
ISBN:
9780807092491
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, 2018.
Physical Description:
viii, 255 pages ; 24 cm
Abstract:
"Environmental journalist Fred Pearce travels the globe to investigate our complicated seven-decade long relationship with nuclear technology, from the bomb to nuclear accidents to nuclear waste. While concern about climate change has led some environmentalists to embrace renewable energy sources like wind and solar, others have expressed a renewed interest in nuclear power as an alternative source of carbon-neutral energy. But can humanity handle the risks involved? In Fallout, Fred Pearce uncovers the environmental and psychological landscapes created since the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Traveling from Nevada to Japan to the UK to secret sites of the old Soviet Union, he explores first the landscapes transformed by uranium and by nuclear accidents--sites both well-known and little known. He then examines in detail the toxic legacies of nuclear technology, the emerging dilemmas over handling its waste, the decommissioning of the great radioactive structures of the nuclear age, and the fearful doublethink over our growing stockpiles of plutonium, the most lethal and ubiquitous product of nuclear technologies. How, Pearce asks, has the nuclear experience has changed us? Is nuclear technology indeed the existential threat it sometimes appears? Should we be burdening future generations with radioactive waste that will be deadly for thousands of years? Fallout is the definitive look at humanity's nuclear adventure, for any reader who craves a clear-headed examination of the tangled relationship between a powerful technology and human politics, foibles, fears, and arrogance"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

An investigation into our complicated 8-decade-long relationship with nuclear technology, from the bomb to nuclear accidents to nuclear waste.

From Hiroshima to Chernobyl, Fukushima to the growing legacy of lethal radioactive waste, humanity's struggle to conquer atomic energy is rife with secrecy, deceit, human error, blatant disregard for life, short-sighted politics, and fear. Fallout is an eye-opening odyssey through the first eight decades of this struggle and the radioactive landscapes it has left behind. We are, he finds, forever torn between technological hubris and all-too-human terror about what we have created.

At first, Pearce reminds us, America loved the bomb. Las Vegas, only seventy miles from the Nevada site of some hundred atmospheric tests, crowned four Miss Atomic Bombs in 1950s. Later, communities downwind of these tests suffered high cancer rates. The fate of a group of Japanese fishermen, who suffered high radiation doses from the first hydrogen bomb test in Bikini atoll, was worse. The United States Atomic Energy Commission accused them of being Red spies and ignored requests from the doctors desperately trying to treat them.

Pearce moves on to explore the closed cities of the Soviet Union, where plutonium was refined and nuclear bombs tested throughout the '50s and '60s, and where the full extent of environmental and human damage is only now coming to light. Exploring the radioactive badlands created by nuclear accidents--not only the well-known examples of Chernobyl and Fukushima, but also the little known area around Satlykovo in the Russian Ural Mountains and the Windscale fire in the UK--Pearce describes the compulsive secrecy, deviousness, and lack of accountability that have persisted even as the technology has morphed from military to civilian uses.

Finally, Pearce turns to the toxic legacies of nuclear technology: the emerging dilemmas over handling its waste and decommissioning of the great radioactive structures of the nuclear age, and the fearful doublethink over the world's growing stockpiles of plutonium, the most lethal and ubiquitous product of nuclear technologies.

For any reader who craves a clear-headed examination of the tangled relationship between a powerful technology and human politics, foibles, fears, and arrogance, Fallout is the definitive look at humanity's nuclear adventure.


Author Notes

Fred Pearce was born and educated in the UK. He studied Geography at Cambridge University and has since reported on environment, science and development issues from 54 countries. He is a regular broadcaster on radio and TV, with interview credits from Today to Richard and Judy to the Open University. Fred is married with two children and lives in London.


Table of Contents

A Note on Unitsp. vii
Introduction: Anthropocene Journeyp. 1
Part 1 The Destroyer of Worlds
Chapter 1 Hiroshima: An Invisible Scarp. 9
Chapter 2 Critical Mass: MAUD in the Nuclear Gardenp. 16
Chapter 3 Las Vegas: Every Mushroom Cloud Has a Silver Liningp. 22
Chapter 4 Pacific Tests: Godzilla and the Lucky Dragonp. 29
Chapter 5 Semipalatinsk: Secrets of the Steppep. 38
Chapter 6 Plutonium Mountain: Proliferation Paradisep. 45
Part 2 Two Cold War and Hot Particles
Chapter 7 Mayak: "Pressed for Time" Behind the Uralsp. 53
Chapter 8 Metlino: Even the Samovars Were Radioactivep. 61
Chapter 9 Rocky Flats: Plutonium in the Snake Pitp. 71
Chapter 10 Colorado Silos: Uncle Sam's Nuclear Heartlandp. 80
Chapter 11 Broken Arrows: Dr. Strangelove and the Radioactive Rabbitsp. 88
Chapter 12 Windscale Fire: "A Cover-Up, Plain and Simple"p. 91
Part 3 Atoms for Peace
Chapter 13 Three Mile Island: How to Rum a Power Plantp. 103
Chapter 14 Chernobyl: A "Beautiful" Disasterp. 114
Chapter 15 Chernobyl: Vodka and Falloutp. 124
Chapter 16 Chernobyl: Hunting in Packsp. 134
Chapter 17 Fukushima: A Scorpion's Discoveryp. 139
Chapter 18 Fukushima: Baba's Homecomingp. 144
Chapter 19 Radiophobia: The Ghost at Fukushimap. 152
Chapter 20 Millisieverts: A Dose of Reasonp. 160
Part 4 Cleaning Up
Chapter 21 Sizewell: The Nuclear Laundrymanp. 171
Chapter 22 Sellafield: Stone Circles and Nuclear Legaciesp. 178
Chapter 23 Hanford: Decommissioning an Industryp. 186
Chapter 24 Gorleben: Passport to a Non-Nuclear Future?p. 192
Chapter 25 Waste: Out of Harm's Wayp. 201
Conclusion: Making Peace in Nagasakip. 209
Glossaryp. 217
Acknowledgmentsp. 219
Notesp. 221
Indexp. 240

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