For a long time...
...I thought it would be great, if a real thinker of Plato’s caliber would have visited Chernobyl, for as Schopenhauer rightly said "the… moral and intellectual enormity in this world can be cleaned out only with the besom of philosophy". There is no other way to cure people of the state delusion in which governments and industries deliberately keep us. Philosophy has the power to clear our ideas and put an end to the colossal misconception that nuclear energy is safe. In this volume I will quote applicable thoughts of great minds of all recorded times. Those thinkers are the true teachers of humanity, for they are motivated by wisdom instead of greed. I will only quote thoughts which apply to problems I am discussing. Why I do it? I believe the only way to pull Chernobly out of oblivion is to hook up our wagon to a locomotive that goes through the centuries. Also, I do this, because in my work I seek the support of the highest intellectual authorities. This will help me to cement my observations and turn them into concrete that can outlive the half life of some nasty nuclear isotopes!
The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said "We live in a system in which one must either be a wheel or be under the wheels". That was true in the 19th century when Nietzsche lived, but now things are different. In the modern world, those who work for the wheel of deadly industries quite often find themselves caught under the wheel. When you tell employees of the nuclear industry that they aren't immune to cancer, leukemia etc. they just look at you with glassy eyes as if they can't understand what you talking about. Indeed, it is impossible to get them to understand something when their wages depend on their not understanding it.
All information that comes from Japan about state of the Fukushima reactors actually comes from TEPCO, the for-profit company that owns the tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant. Once in a while, they feed us bullshit videos from some camera onboard a robot vessel and telling some story about minor radioactive water leakage into the ocean. They never mention really important things such as mass die-off of adjacent fisheries in the Pacific or the state of pools with spent fuel rods, or where the nuclear fuel went. Every time TEPCO officials try to put a happy face on things or when they are attempting to seem frank and kind, it looks to me like Frankenstein trying to produce some kind of smile. As for the generosity with which TEPCO shares information with us, I am reminded of Francois de La Rochefoucauld's warning that "What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one."
When government officials with their friends from the nuclear industry are thinking of the best way to make people forget Chernobyl and Fukushima, I'd want them to think about the maxim from Michel de Montaigne: "Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it."
Chamfort wrote this more than 200 years ago: "Bodies (Parliaments, Academies, Assemblies) are difficult to deface; they maintain themselves with their bulk, and one can do nothing against them. Dishonor and ridicule skip off of them, like bullets off of a wild boar or a crocodile". This suggests that we fight a battle we cannot win. Chamfort's words tell us that everyone who stands tall against industry is wasting bullets. Well, I cannot disagree with the author, but I don't think the wild boar or crocodile particularly enjoy them bullets skipping off them. Nor do corrupt politicians and the industries they serve. They are not getting deadly wounds but at least we can make their lives uncomfortable.
Among many interesting thoughts and ideas written by Jose Ortega y Gasset I remember one where the said: "That science is incapable of solving in its own way those fundamental questions is no sufficient reason for slighting them". At least in Ortega's day science tried to solve problems whereas nowadays science is only slighting those fundamental problems without even trying to solve them.
In Voltaire time he suggested that the art of medicine consisted of amusing the patient while nature cured the disease. Well, I am not sure about modern medicine, but the art of government-paid nuclear experts is to do what doctors did during Voltaire's time. Those experts write positive reports while nature heals-up the land. The only problem is that they have to write positive reports for next 600 years.
At the time of the Chernobyl, the USSR was a totalitarian state and the government had a clear but unstated policy of hiding the truth from the people. Later, after the Soviet Union has collapsed, the people hid the truth from themselves. Telling the truth in a totalitarian state was dangerous - yet it was popular: Many were doing it, but not out of love for the truth, but because it was stylish to do so. Years later, as time went by, Ukraine was transformed from a totalitarian state into a so-called "free state" and the truth completely lost its defenders. Nietzsche explained this phenomena in his chapter "Advocates of truth" when he said: "Not when it is dangerous to tell the truth does truth lack advocates, but when it is boring to do so."
In his tales about Stalin's prison camps, Varlam Shalamov told an interesting story, which helps to understand why no one wants to see the victims of modern industrial accidents, such as those associated with Chernobyl or Fukishima. Shalamov said, that when someone was dying in one of Stalin's prisons, the cellmates would cover the dead with a blanket to make it look like the victim was merely sick. This way, a couple of dominating alpha male prisoners would receive an extra daily food ration. Prison guards knew the truth, but they didn't want to carry out the dead, because they wanted to make prison death-rates appear low. This way, everyone was interested in keeping the dead concealed beneath a blanket. This usually continued until the cellmates could no longer tolerate smell of the decomposing corpse under the blanket. Then they would call for guards and ask to carry out the poor victim of this inhumane system.
In modern times, keeping the dead and sick under a blanket helps governments and corporations harvest large profits. They are sharing the benefits between each other - but what about the rest of the population? I believe, so long as we are fortunate enough not to be the one under the blanket, we still have to live with the stench!
After each major nuclear accident our establishment telling us the same: This was a warning to mankind. Either it is Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima - they always tell that it was the last warning. It's like this Doomsday Clock. The nuclear industry always keep this clock set in warning position, a few minutes before midnight. But what kind of warning is that? After Fukushima we lost North-pacific-ocean. I guess, the atomic-clock should now be set to after midnight - for they have dealt the death blow, but no - clock still shows the same time, a few minutes before midnight and nowadays it takes 15 Nobel Laureates to keep clock's arrows from moving. Now I wonder how many Nobel Laureates will require to help with the clock, when we will lose whole continent?
P.S. The Nobel Prize was a brilliant concept originally intended to honor those who most contribute to the well-being and intellectual advancement of humanity, but governments and industries often use Nobel Laureates for their own selfish and antisocial purposes. Those Laureates who have taken part in the Chernobyl and Fukushima cover-ups are a disgrace to Alfred Nobel's idea. Observing how decent and proper aims are co-opted to support evil purposes is very depressing. We can read at Aristotle: "When something good spoils, it becomes especially foul." Shakespeare perfectly illustrates this in one of his sonnets: "For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds."
We can see on the news that they just installed 3,800 solar panels at Chernobyl, which are expected to produce a total of one megawatt of energy for the local grid. A company from China is planning to invest one billion dollars in this project. I'm sure readers of my website will find this photo quite entertaining. The juxtaposition of nuclear death and modern "green" technology is like selling health products and coffins in one shop.
You might also be wondering why a company would place a huge solar array only 100 meters from the Chernobyl reactor where radiation in the area is at its highest? On first blush, this location might seem either idiotic, or it might even look like some kind of "green" stunt! But Chinese investors are not fools, and the only "green" they are interested in is cash money. Consider, then, the "un-natural" protection this huge investment will enjoy in this location! A solar array located elsewhere would certainly see local marauders stealing the panels for their own use, or probably just scrapping them for metal. But will even desperate marauders come within 100 meters of the reactor? An inside source told me that this location was chosen precisely because of the double-guard of police patrols nearby and the extreme radiation levels that characterize this site. The Chinese investors understand that the "FLY THAT DOES NOT WANT TO BE SWATTED IS SAFEST IF IT SITS ON THE FLY-SWATTER." (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg).
"We forget our faults easily when they are known to ourselves alone." This is what La Rochefoucauld said about individuals. But in life of societies, the same principle applies: Chernobyl and Fukushima demonstrate very clearly that people forget their failings very quickly, when they keep them secretly closed by checkpoints.
Documentaries from the 1980s show liquidators (those brave souls tasked with suppressing the Chernobyl disaster) working in extremely high radiation levels.
Have you ever wondered, what could make people knowingly go into areas with such deadly radiation levels? I think, in extreme situations such as Chernobyl, humans have two preservation instincts that are in conflict with each other: First, the instinct for self-preservation, and second, the instinct to protect society.
The self-preservation instinct commands us to run from radiation, while our instinct to nobly protect society forces us to stay and do what we can for the safety of all people. The instinct to protect society explains why many liquidators say that they had no fear, and some even say that they felt like some invisible force was pushing them to complete their work and secure the reactor at any cost to themselves. Hundreds of thousands were ordered to serve as liquidators for a limited amount of time... for a period that was hoped to be "safe"... and yet many choose to stay far beyond the length of time that was required of them! They were building a sarcophagus just as resolutely an insect trying to safeguard it's eggs and provide for the brood it will never live to see.
The liquidators were caught between a rock and a hard place. On one side terrible oppression of totalitarian government, on the other natural forces pushing them towards their doom. They had to seal reactor at any costs, because it endangered life of all species and for nature life of an individual doesn't matter, it only cares of a species. Even a half million liquidators are just number of individuals so they were sacrificed to protect endangered species. In this respect Nicolas Chamfort made quite an interesting note: "Nature seems to make use of men for the accomplishment of her designs without concerning herself about her instruments, like tyrants who rid themselves of those who have been of service to them."
P.S. There was a good question, why our self-preservation instinct didn't command them to go and fix Fukushima reactor problem in Japan. It is because this problem is unfixable. No falconer will send birds to serve for unreachable chase.
Policemen as well as scappers have asked me the same question: "why are you photographers doing this? By travelling to Chernobyl you are exposed to the same risk as us, but we are making money and you are not." From my experience in dealing with scrappers and police, I now understand that they see photographers and explorers of Chernobyl in the same way prostitutes often see married women: they just do not understand why someone would do the same work for free.
Just saw in the news, that radiation levels at Fukishima were recently measured at 42 Sieverts per hour outside the foundation of a reactor. 42 Sieverts (which is equivalent to 4.789 Roentgens) will take you down like sniper round. Momentary exposure to this level of radiation means certain death. In Chernobyl, where the remains of the reactor are cold, one would not find this high radiation levels anywhere, not even inside the elephant room. At Fukushima this measurement of 42 Sieverts outside the foundations can only mean that the reactor cores are still hot and probably didn't go very deep. Still, Tepco is producing photos where they build something above those non existing reactors and make preparations for removing non-existent fuel rods from non-existent pools.
This is a situation which reminds me of a quote from Chamfort: "Before adding ruffs to shirt sleeves, you must first have a shirt." This is why it takes so long for Tepco to add ruffs to shirt sleeves - they have got no shirt.
Andrei Sakharov was the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, a Nobel Prize Winner and honorable keeper of the Doomsday Clock. When Chernobyl reactor went into the air, society was waiting for an explanation. Sakharov came up with the following: 'Chernobyl accident demonstrates that our Soviet system cannot manage modern technology,' he said.
To use a computer analogy, Sakharov believed that we were running modern software on hardware last updated many years ago. He told the people of the USSR that our stone-age mentality couldn't handle new technologies developed by brilliant minds like his.
It's as though your computer receives upgrade to its operating systems and it crushed. You want to see the techie who installed this program, but the techie tells you that his software is too perfect for you old hardware and he walks away with this explanation. But then, after Fukushima it became clear that even a technologically advanced Japanese system could not manage this deadly "modern technology" either. This time your new machine is crashed by the same software and it is obvious now, that the software you were running was really malware masquerading as software. You want to see this techie again but there is no explanation this time. He just sends you to hell. He is too busy with installing his poisonous malware on other computers.