TODAY: The growing influence of the nuclear lobby on education
It’s one thing for the nuclear lobby to pour money into universities in the USA and UK, to set up prestigious-looking nuclear departments. That’s one way to gain the respectability, approval and awe that the nuclear priesthood crave.
The original scientists of the Manhattan atomic bomb project enjoyed adulation (for a while) when everyone was encouraged to think that their brilliant device saved the world from Hitler. But that adoration faded as it transpired that Japan would have surrendered anyway, and the war in Europe was over, months before the “wonderful” bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
To assuage their guilt, most nuclear scientists enthusiastically embraced “Atoms for Peace” – and off and away went the public story that nuclear power is so good. The nuclear priesthood, being highly technical and male – developed a mindset, a reductionist point of view – the idea that technical achievement is all-important, and side issues like radiation effects, biology, environment, ecology, health, economics, history, criminal connections, are – well – just side issues.
But dammit! Those side issues just keep on coming up. Perhaps this is because the universities have been teaching too much of that other girlie “soft” stuff. So we need not just more more Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – but Nuclear Science now too!
Australian journalist Liam Mannix, covers this new nuclear lobby push in his article ‘Cherish’ the power”, and points out that the uranium and nuclear industries have much more money to push for their interests, than do those “more socially constructive areas”.
The previous government in Australia determinedly downgraded humanities studies. Perhaps this is a worldwide trend. Anyway there is a saving grace for increasing STEM education – it gives girls and women that necessary knowledge – traditionally reserved for males. They, and men who can think, can gain the knowledge they need, to better evaluate pro nuclear propaganda.
Perhaps the world does need more nuclear scientists – there will be much need for them, in the marathon tasks of dismantling the toxic nuclear power/nuclear weapons industry. But we surely need also more humanities education, to understand and face the crises coming upon the world.
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