18. All states shall prioritize the long-term control and safe storage of radioactive wastes, with public review.

Rapporteur: Metta Spencer


First, we should clarify what we mean by “radioactive wastes,” as distinct from some risks that are addressed in other planks of this platform.

Radioactivity can cause a lot of human misery. For one thing, under certain circumstances it can explode. Hence we devote planks 1 and 2 to measures intended to prevent the creation of nuclear bombs and certainly their detonation in a nuclear war.

But radioactive substances can also explode, not as bombs, but in nuclear reactors that are meant to generate electricity. So plank 17 focused primarily on the need to prevent nuclear reactors from exploding and melting down.

Finally, even without any explosion, the radiation from fissile elements can damage living cells. Ordinarily we want to avoid contact with radiation, though occasionally physicians deliberately irradiate cancer cells precisely to destroy them. This plank, number 18, will address these non-explosive effects of radioactivity.

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17. All states shall shift rapidly to effective generation of electricity by using renewable energy.

Rapporteur: Metta Spencer

Project Save the World aims to prevent six global threats, only two of which are distinctly existential risks to humankind: global warming, and war and weapons (i.e. militarism, especially nuclear).

Considered as separate problems, our four other global threats (famine, pandemics, radiation exposure, and cyberattacks) appear manageable, for none of them seems likely to kill a billion people in a short interval. But what if they occur, not separately, but in combinations? In such a case, each one of them can multiply the effect of others. And, because all six risks are causally connected as a single system, such connections must be expected. This article will explore the causal links among three dangers: radiation exposure from nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons, and global warming.

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Overview: Radioactive Contamination

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Author: Richard Denton, MD

Disclaimer: I am a medical doctor and will concentrate on the medical aspects. I have no conflict of interest as some nuclear physicists might who are paid by the nuclear industry.

Radiation is one of the six crises that this Platform addresses; each one could annihilate civilization as we know it. Radiation could do so in either an acute or chronic manner. The acute effects would come from a major accident, miscalculation, or terrorist attack or an actual nuclear war. The chronic effects are killing by inducing cancers and other medical conditions.

Radiation exposure is of course related to the other five global threat scenarios. Radiation is interconnected as part of a nuclear war that would immediately kill millions from radiation. A nuclear bomb is not just a bigger better bomb but emits radiation that kills locally and at a distance over time. Because of its power, it would put dust and smoke into the stratosphere that would cause a decrease of the sun’s penetration. A “nuclear winter” would result, causing death of millions by famine. Some people suggest that nuclear power is “green” —even the answer to climate change. But nuclear power plants could be a target of terrorists using cyberwarfare or crashing an airliner into a reactor.

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