« Electric lighting, by unlearning us to see in the half-light, to be at home there, steals all the thoughts and feelings of things that would have found to take shape there, to be discerned there soon; to be nuanced and ramified within us into other impressions and imaginations and memories by the play of correspondences, into phosphorescences so tenuous that the artificial light renders them invisible to us and perhaps nonexistent; just by flipping the switch. »Baudouin de Bodinat, At the bottom of the gas layer
This text was inspired by a recent public meeting about wind turbines organized in Aubusson, in the Creuse department. At this event, a woman asked this question which the hosts refused to answer: « If we are against nuclear power and against industrial wind turbines, what do we propose? Here is an attempt to answer this question which seems to me essential…
NUCLEAR POWER IS NOT A CLEAN ENERGY…
It is a warlike invention that has caused the death and suffering of millions of people. Since its inception, in the United States with the Manhattan Project(1), thousands of Americans have served as guinea pigs before being abandoned in indifference. Then, at the end of it, the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced the first horrors. France, too, during 50 years of testing, has taken its share by irradiating populations and their lands, which had not asked for anything. It continues in Niger, to feed its power plants, the contamination and despoliation of Africa, begun with colonialism. Today, we still do not know what to do with all kinds of radioactive waste, but the worst thing is that we do not know what will happen to the 58 reactors located on the territory that we do not know how to dismantle(2) and many of which, because of their age, represent a very serious threat. Moreover, a Macronist minister publicly admitted this summer that the government had no horizon in the face of the drought that was then raging in the territory. She spoke about the very low level of the rivers in Loire-Atlantique which seriously threatened the operation of some reactors. We were only a few centimeters away from the threshold that would impose the closure and complete shutdown of the sites under penalty of very serious damage. Finally, let’s not forget the unlucky ones who live near a reactor or work inside one. They are the sacrifices of the Republic(3).
WIND TURBINES ARE NOT A RENEWABLE ENERGY…
…they are, just like nuclear power, the product of a destructive industrial society that has been devastating the Earth and humans for nearly 200 years and that we can now see, with climate change and disproportionate social injustices, with the drastic loss of biodiversity and the alienation of all from screens, that it offers no prospect for the future. To manufacture a machine the size of a wind turbine, you need huge machines that require an adapted infrastructure that only globalized and savage capitalism can provide. It is necessary to extract minerals, metals and rare earths by ransacking the places that have them in their subsoil and annihilating the people who have the misfortune to live above them. In order to do this, we have to burn a lot of oil and manufacture toxic chemicals in Seveso factories in very large quantities. This extraction also uses gigantic quantities of water while we are about to run out of it. It pollutes rivers and water tables and exploits, without any qualms, a large and sacrificed workforce. No, this does not look like an energy that respects the environment and human beings… Moreover, we do not know what we will do in fifteen years with the colossal waste that the dismantling of these monsters will impose. Let’s not forget all the people living near wind turbines who suffer from all sorts of ailments, the birds that are impaled in number and the ugliness of our countryside. And what can we say to the seaside walkers about this horizon, dear to the poets, completely spoiled by this aligned metallic monstrosity?
Photovoltaic has the same characteristics as wind turbines: multiple destruction and pollution, endless waste production, ugliness of fields and cities, proliferation of toxic plastics… Oil and coal, like gas, have already polluted the planet enough since even the group of experts at the service of Western governments, the IPCC, screams to leave these hydrocarbons in the ground. This is where the shameless hypocrisy of our elected officials lies. Indeed, without oil to turn the oversized machines and to drive the trucks of all kinds, neither nuclear power, nor windmills, nor photovoltaics would exist.
WHAT DO WE HAVE LEFT?
Nothing, and the vertigo of nothingness overwhelms us. Unless, unless an idea, a candlelight… opens a door. Then it will be up to us to enlighten our minds with a double consciousness.
On the one hand, the transfer of human capacities to increasingly sophisticated machines, as it has been going on for more than a century and whose completion seems to be the advent of connected portable screens, has left the richness of our souls on the side of the road, because it does not fit into the standardized computer boxes. The following have been eliminated: sensitivity, reflection, memory, patience, agoras and collective decision making, the human measure, the anchoring to the earth…, among many other things. This substitution leaves us empty of ourselves and orphaned from the taste of collective effort, the one that generates joy and life. On the other hand, if coal and oil are destroying the Earth, let’s keep in mind that the only dignified energy is human and animal energy, when it is part of a common impulse.
So, if we do not want to go to the chaos of which we now perceive the beginnings, we will have to re-enchant a life in which electricity will be only an old memory… This may seem unimaginable and unattainable because we were born, except for the oldest, in a world where electricity flowed and where water ran without ever stopping But precisely, let’s look at how social life and subsistence economy(4) looked in our regions before the land consolidation, the green and chemical revolution and the invention of alienation by modern electric comfort. It is obviously not a question of a desire to go back in time, which, in view of the innumerable destructions and dislocations that have occurred since that time, is impossible. It is a question of reflecting on the lessons of the recent past in order to try to envisage a re-foundation of our ways of making society and of living in the worldin the state it is in today. It’s a big task, but it can be cheerful and fulfilling and it could restore, probably, a meaning to our stricken lives…
» But all this is inaccessible, untraceable and moreover entirely removed from the imagination with the light on: it is really that we are prisoners with the animated images, the chatter and the music coming out of the loudspeakers, that we are walled up alive with the ventilation, or, if you prefer, as if under the effect of a neurosis of collective constraint that does not allow any contact with the interior. « (5) (To be continued)
- Jean-Marc Royer, Le Monde comme projet Manhattan, Le passager clandestin, 2018.
- Voir le DVD Brennilis, la centrale qui ne voulait pas s’éteindre, de Brigitte Chevet, Vivement Lundi, 2008.
- Ceux qui veulent absolument des chiffres peuvent se référer à une étude de l’INSERM, intitulée Géolap du 28 novembre 2014. Mais il n’y a pas besoin d’experts, d’études et de chiffres pour comprendre que vivre à proximité d’une telle puissance radioactive irradie gravement les riverains.
- Référence ici à un terme employé et développé par Ivan Illich.
- Baudouin de Bodinat, Au fond de la couche gazeuse, Fario, 2015.