As an engineer, I have worked and studied in the fields of oil & gas and nuclear energies. The topic of energy has always been dear to me, growing up in the oil town of Houston, Texas. It’s the chemical energy in the food we eat that lets us live; it’s the energy in the gasoline that makes our cars move; it’s the energy produced by power plants that keeps the lights on at home and at the factories. Energy gives us the ability to make the world a better place and aid our fellow man, but it also has the potential for disastrous consequences. The major questions I hear about nuclear energy are: “Is nuclear energy safe? Will the radiation hurt me?” or “I’ve heard nuclear energy doesn’t have emissions, but is it actually clean?” or “Uranium isn’t renewable, is nuclear energy a viable long-term option over oil?” I will attempt to answer these three questions at a very high level for you today, so that you can be better informed in what energy policies you support.
An important fact that most people do not know: every moment of every day you are receiving radiation (or “being irradiated”). This everyday radiation is known as “background radiation” and is harmless. Radiation is measured in “rem” or “Sv” and we receive in the US on average about 300 mrem (3 mSv) per year. High levels of radiation are linked with an increased risk of cancer, but the increase in risk of cancer for 10 rem/yr is 1 in 1,000,000, and there are some places in Brazil and France where the background radiation is above 10 rem/yr(1). The point I want you to understand is that not all levels of radiation are dangerous, but getting massive doses of radiation—like the people who responded to the Chernobyl disaster did—is dangerous.
The worst nuclear energy disaster was Chernobyl. The effects of it are still devastating for the immediately surrounding area. But are nuclear reactors any safer now? Yes, they are. The Chernobyl reactor was designed to produce more power the hotter the reactor got—this led to an uncontrolled reaction which the reactor could not handle leading to a major meltdown and release of
The previous table got at one measure of cleanness—the life-ending effect of a bad environment—but that is not the only measure. Most people are used to comparing carbon emissions. When a nuclear plant is running, it does not produce any emissions to the environment at all by the nuclear process. All of the by-products of the nuclear process are contained within the fuel that is in the reactor. But there are environmental costs to building the large nuclear plant. After including construction costs, wind energy and nuclear energy have the smallest carbon footprints with only 15 grams of CO2 emitted per kWh of energy, which is 1.7% of coal’s 900 g/kWh. One of the complaints about nuclear energy is that it has a nuclear waste problem. I ask: what is the problem? Who is having their health hurt by the spent fuel? Who is getting lung cancer from the emissions and dying? No one. People also say “But Uranium and other materials have such a long half-life, they will be around for billions of years before they are gone!” as if that is a bad thing. What they have really said is that the nuclear waste gets less and less toxic over time, whereas other wastes from other industries are stable and do not become less hazardous. Nuclear waste is one of the few wastes that gets less dangerous over time. I’d also like to bring up that the reason nuclear waste is dangerous is because it is so concentrated: instead of spewing the waste into the atmosphere, it is all stored within the fuel rods and kept on site or at a geological repository. The nuclear process produces so much less waste than fossil fuels because uranium has so much more energy within it than any chemical process. To illustrate this I have included a comic from (4):
Currently we mine uranium ore to power our reactors. It is estimated that this should last us over a hundred years, but clearly, that is not sustainable. However, there are two additional major sources of nuclear energy not being utilized: breeder reactors and uranium in seawater. Breeder reactors use a quirk of the nuclear process to make more nuclear fuel than they consume! Breeder reactors “breed” fuel by turning U-235 (the typical fuel) into energy and neutrons (and fission products), which then go on to turn U-238 into Pu-239 which is also a fuel. By the end of the reactor’s life, there is more energy in the Pu-239 than there was at the start in the U-235. However, to get the Pu-239, a complicated reprocessing procedure is required, which was made illegal. Reprocessing would also reduce the radioactive content of the existing spent fuel to lower levels. The other source of uranium is from seawater. Uranium is naturally occurring in seawater, just like it is naturally occurring in soil. Some processes have been developed which would open up a new and larger source of uranium than we have ever had on land(5).
Nuclear energy is safe, clean, and sustainable as long as the appropriate technology is applied. The energy that we get from the nuclear process can be used reliably to power our world and improve the lives of everyone in it without forcing someone else to deal with our emissions. Fear of the unknown has led to major political setbacks for nuclear energy, but we can educate people in order to promote the use of this good fuel.
Enriched Uranium-235 has a half-life of 700 million years, give or take, oh, a couple million years. If one is exposed to enriched uranium, there’s a tremendously heightened chance they’ll get cancer and, well, die. So…we’ve built nuclear power plants to use this highly dangerous fission reaction to generate energy and nuclear weapons. What’s more, the containment vessels to hold the nuclear waste won’t last as long as the nuclear reaction.
This makes me wonder if we are stuck on stupid?
Nor would, maybe, the people living downwind from Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant after the meltdown caused by the tsunami. (Tsunamis happen in the darndest places, like earthquakes, tornadoes, and the occasional terrorist bombing…just sayin’.) Of course, this couldn’t happen in America, except for Three Mile Island and Davis-Besse.
In our campaign travels, we happened to be in
And frankly, how any parent can get behind an initiative (nuclear energy) that does this to kids so the parents can continue on being as comfortable as possible with their central heating, central air conditioning, running a bunch of unnecessary appliances, etc., is a huge conundrum to me.
What’s even more perplexing (yet nonetheless understandable given our fallen natures) is the highly complex set of rationalizations – read: rational lies – that we use to justify this nuclear madness. The next wave, of course, being that the next generation of nuclear power plants will be much safer.
Maybe so, but it remains that, while safer, the plants are still managing and containing extremely toxic radiation that: HAS A HALF-LIFE OF 4.5 BILLION YEARS! Have I mentioned that before? Oh, and one other thing. It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist from, say, MIT, to know that to make nuclear weapons you need nuclear power plants. Right now, we, worldwide, have enough nuclear weapons to blow the planet up hundreds, if not thousands, of times over, and it’s not just nuclear missiles. For instance, we used depleted uranium ammunition (bunker busting missiles, bullets…) in Iraq.
The ASP holds to Just War Principles, including not putting innocent civilians in harm’s way. These kids in Iraq are innocent civilians. The ASP calls for an end to nuclear weapons. The U.S., alone, has more than 2,700 deployable nuclear weapons. (And while we spend $50 billion on them a year, some 24,000 people starve to death every day in the world, according to UN figures. This would be like a limited nuclear explosion going off, every day!) corrosion had chewed a hole into the reactor head. Only 3/16th of an inch of steel remained in this spot. No big thing if this kind of corrosion/rust is on my 2004 Equinox. It’s a whole other thing, however, if it’s eating away at a gigantic NUCLEAR REACTOR HEAD! The result if it had eaten all the way through (which wasn’t that much more)? Um, a catastrophic nuclear meltdown and a massive release of radioactivity.
If that had happened and the wind was blowing south from Port Clinton, Ohio, our family, living an hour south in Bluffton, Ohio, would have been right in the middle of the radiation fall-out zone.
And my children, most likely, would have looked like the kid from the Ukraine who comes here yearly. That is, they would have looked “ashen white.” How do I know this? Because on the other side of the state, in Northeastern Ohio, I interviewed a couple who is involved with the Children of Chernobyl Project. Kids living in the radiation fall-out zone of Chernobyl are brought over here for the summers by benevolent families “…so their immune systems can replenish themselves” because of the continual exposure to the radiation in the zone. Have I mentioned the 700-million-year thing? This couple told me the boy they sponsor (his parents have already died of cancer) is always ashen white when he gets off the plane, but by the end of the summer, some of his color returns—only to have to go back.
I often tell the press, and anyone else who will listen, that I’m running for president as a “concerned parent.” And I’m not just concerned about my children, but everyone’s children.
And the ASP calls for being good environmental stewards. The U.S. currently has 98 nuclear reactors, with another 50 or so in the works from Obama-era plans.
So if you boil down the whole ASP platform into What Would Jesus Do? (which, I mean, c’mon, that’s what it basically is), does anyone think for a minute (the Doomsday Clock, incidentally, is at two minutes—to midnight) that Jesus would get behind a technology that could leave children ravaged with severe kidney disease, many forms of cancer, and/or horrendous birth defects? Do we honestly think Jesus would get behind a technology that would open the door for mass annihilation of His planet? And short of mass annihilation, does anyone seriously think Jesus would get behind a technology that, say, in various geographic regions, would leave His natural handiwork irradiated FOR 700 MILLION YEARS?
Note: What about taking all the technological smarts being funneled into new nuclear plant designs and, instead, funneling it into developing much better green technology, much better home insulation strategies per region, much better energy conservation methods in general?
For decades, there has been a cry for the creation of a third party that will represent the hopes and dreams of the average American. In the 1990s, there was a brief respite from the two-party duopoly when Ross Perot founded the Reform Party, which was able to both receive federal funding and win a significant race (the governorship of Minnesota), but like the fears of the Y2K bug, that effort eventually fizzled by the end of the century. While many parties which predate the founding of the Reform Party have tried to fill that void, none has been able to achieve the type of success that would truly make them viable contenders for the presidency or Congressional seats.
Personally, I believe the ASP can succeed; not just because I believe in the principles and platform, but because I believe that the ASP is a true-to-life grassroots movement that has support from the common man. To succeed, the ASP must learn from the mistakes of both our predecessors and our contemporaries in order to refine our strategy.
The ASP must strive to become a national community of local movements rather than a national organization that tries to win over locals like many parties are today. To this end, with the support of the ASP and my local team, I have decided to run for city council in my city of Inkster, Michigan. I originally planned to run for mayor, but due to my lack of experience I decided to make the change. This city of Inkster is a city that has been failed by both parties over the decades, and if action is not taken, it may be taken over with its local representatives stripped. Our platform, I believe, empowers people by building their character from within by our Christian principles and by acting together so that we can be sure that our God-given rights are secure. Using the ASP platform, Inkster can be the shining example of the ability of the people to reform and transform their communities, and, by extension, our nation.
The ASP is an answer to the prayer of many who cannot identify with either of the mainstream parties. I know, because I was one of those who saw through the flaws of the mainstream parties. In the year 2012, I was someone looking for a party that could express my Christian worldview for caring about the lives of both the unborn and post-born. Unfortunately, it seemed as though this was an impossible task, as the Democrats were committed to abortion and the malignant secularization of our great country; the Republicans, it seemed, cared little for the poor and marginalized, and only seemed interested in advancing the profits of the rich. While I searched agonizingly online for something different, scouring through the independent parties, my search came to a halt when I saw what at the time was called the Christian Democratic Party – USA; now called the American Solidarity Party. To say this was a relief would be an understatement.
With the discovery of the ASP, I could finally represent the values of my community—and, more importantly, my faith, which I have held dear to my heart since the age of 15. The ASP has empowered me to not compromise on what I believe, but rather to focus what I believe toward real achievable goals. I believe that this is the power of this movement: that it takes the power of faith and ideology, and puts it into real concrete action if one is willing to put in the work.
I grew up a young man in a poor neighborhood knowing how hard it is for many to escape the cycle of poverty. Today I am an IT Tech at a small but growing logistics firm, but I haven’t forgotten the struggle of many Americans to find a way to provide for their families. Therefore, I am running for city council in Inkster under the ASP banner: an uncommon political party dedicated to the common good of the people.
Me? Run for office? This was my stunned reaction when asked to run for my local town council. In the mid 2000s, I had been attending some local council meetings where a redevelopment project that concerned me was being discussed.
I had a number of reasons NOT to run. I was not a politician. Certainly, the elected officials knew more than I did—didn’t you need to understand law to be in office? But I’d been good at getting the word out about the redevelopment. I had a team of volunteers who put flyers out on doorsteps informing residents of upcoming meetings. I spoke to people in town about the project, and asked what they thought about it, but I had no idea how politics worked.
However, I had a strong position on the issue, one I came to after thought and research, and I had been hoping “someone” would be a voice for those of us opposed to the project—that someone would run as an opposition candidate. When I was asked, I realized I could either be that someone, or do what many others did—just be another person waiting for someone.
So I ran. I ran as someone who knew little about HOW to run. What I knew was how to listen to people, how to speak to people, how to be a voice for their concerns. And isn’t that a major part of what politics should be? I found, in that run, that I knew far more than I had realized. I didn’t win that election, but I lost by a very small number of votes. And even in that loss, I brought attention to the redevelopment plan, which resulted in a lot more involvement by residents in the process. The redevelopment did not go through. So I lost—but we won. And the following election, our little “opposition” team ran another candidate, another person who was not a pro. We’d learned from my run. And this time, by just a few votes—we won.
I learned something—you don’t have to be a “pro” to run. You don’t have to be a pro to win. Fast forward 10 years. Disillusioned by the major parties, unable to compromise my views on pro-life issues (especially, though not limited to, abortion and euthanasia), I discovered the American Solidarity Party. I was looking for someone other than the two major-party candidates to vote for. I knew the Solidarity Party did not have a chance of winning the presidency. But I wanted, for once, the opportunity to vote for other than the lesser of two evils. I wanted to vote my conscience, and because Mike Maturen and Juan Muñoz were willing to put themselves out there to run in a “hopeless” race, I could do that. I read the party platform—I loved the party platform—and I voted.
Did Mike and Juan expect to win? No, but by running, they gave ME a voice, and I am very grateful for that. They also did another vitally important thing. They let many people know that there WAS a choice. They could vote for a party that was pro-life for the whole life– a party that valued the dignity of every human being. And this value led to pro-life positions on abortion, euthanasia, the environment, workers’ rights, etc. Did Mike and Juan know how to run for president? Did they understand all the filing requirements, the work involved for ballot access, and the ins and outs of national politics? Some, they did. Some, they and their team learned. But they also knew that even without the knowledge of professional politicians, they had to step forward.
Our party has grown in leaps and bounds since that “impossible” run. Did we win in 2016? I’d say we did. We are showing disillusioned members of both major parties that there is another way. Those who had given up on their party truly standing for the dignity of every human person, at every stage of development, in every condition, had a home, a choice, a voice. Since then we’ve run a number of candidates for office (in NJ and California), learning more along the way and getting the word out about our party. We have one party member who holds public office. And we have the ability now to run candidates who will not only put word out about the party, but who can win—and bring the life-affirming views of the party into the political sphere.
Do you believe in our platform? Do you really wish there were “someone” who would step up and run for office in your area, who was pro-life for the whole life? Maybe the someone is you. Maybe you don’t know enough about politics. Maybe you don’t stand a chance of winning the election—maybe your chances are as slim as a reality star becoming president. (I mean, that could never happen.) But put that foot forward, be a voice for the voiceless, offer a hand to the powerless, and you never know where it will lead. If you provide the option that Mike and Juan provided for many of us in 2016, no matter the vote count, we win.
Welcome, the American Solidarity Party blog is under construction. Our archived blog can be found here.