Because of Nuclear Hotseat, I deal with some of the worst of the nuclear information every day. Japan, Fukushima, Chernobyl, the struggle at India’s Koodankulam, radiation releases, food chain anomalies, radioactive rain-outs, earless bunnies and other nuclear nightmares — just another day on my computer.
The nuclear prognosis for California, where I live, is not good. Radioactive cedar pollen has been found with Cesium 134 and 137. UC Berkeley School of Nuclear Engineering keeps testing milk from the San Francisco area and finds ever-increasing levels of radiation, most recently at 150% of EPA’s maximum contaminant limit. Kelp beds off the Southern California coast are discovered to have contained both Iodine 134 and 129. And of course, San Onofre and the safety-phobic numnutz who run it pose a never-ending threat to the sanctity of our lives.
Then there’s the flotsam from Fukushima, heading towards us with expected landfall next year. It doesn’t take a brainiac to project its impact: decimation of our entire beach culture (with resulting loss of tourist dollars), real estate values, fishing, shipping — and that’s without considering how radioactive it might be.
Add in the likelihood of a major accident at San Onofre that contaminates the food chain, the water, destroys our agriculture and poisons our entire genetic future — well, let’s face it: sooner rather than later, the Golden State is screwed.
I see this slow motion “tsunami” of destruction heading our way. I speak of it, warn of it — but am I prepared to do anything within my own life about it? I have family back east that I could stay with. But would I be willing to give up 35+ years of life in one place, my friends and support groups, familiar rituals of daily life, my storytelling group, Scrabble jam sessions, the majesty of Sequoia only a short drive away? At 62, am I prepared to relocate my life to hopefully escape the first wave of radiational disaster before it hits?
I am haunted by thoughts of a Nazi Germany I never experienced first-hand, but grew up hearing about. Most of my relatives left Eastern Europe before WWI, but a few stayed behind, too comfortable to move, thinking they’d be safe in their neighboring country. They ended up digging their own graves, climbing in and getting shot. In hindsight, their deaths were inevitable, but they didn’t realize it until too late.
I’ve often wondered: if I’d lived back then and saw a holocaust of hate coming my way, would I have had the foresight, the resources, the guts to leave everything behind in the name of saving my life? Or would I have been lulled into thinking naaaah, it wasn’t that bad, surely it wouldn’t be dangerous for me… and ending up with a shovel in my hands while standing before an implacable enemy?
That’s what the radiation from Fukushima and nuclear reactor leaks represents to me: an implacable enemy.
I feel resistance to even considering the possibility of moving from California. This is home, dammit! I don’t want to be forced out, not even by the truth! And yet, I see what is coming, inevitably, into our world, this neighborhood, my life, perhaps (if I’m not careful) my lungs, and I wonder — when is enough enough? When will I move from passively watching this shit come ever closer to seeking a way out, even if it’s only a temporary reprieve? Will I be smart enough, motivated enough to get out of California with my health intact before some nuclear Kristallnacht takes that option away, forever? Or will I find myself in the not too distant future with a metaphoric shovel in my hand, filled with regrets, unable to stop what’s going to happen?
Would I have gotten out of Germany in time? Will I?
Don’t know; I’ll keep you posted.