Posts Tagged ‘nuclear power’

Nukes

January 16th, 2010 by Collin Canright | 1 Comment | Filed in History, Political Economy

This post is part of the Collin’s 50th! series, in which I look back as a way of moving forward.

In writing about my 1981 article, “The High Impact of Low Level Radiation,” in the post Political Economy, I recalled my time as an anti-nuclear protester, in marches for the Bailly Alliance, a group dedicated to stopping the Bailly Nuclear 1 plant, to be located on the shores of Lake Michican near Chesterton, Indiana. The promise and perils of nuclear energy have been in the news lately–the debates in Northwest Indiana in the late 1970s are again relevant today.

Needless to say, this was a topic of great interest in a highly populated and environmentally sensitive region of the country. My family, publishers of The Chesterton Tribune, spent a lot of time and effort covering the plant’s planning and approval process, including several trips to Washington, DC, for Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearings on plant approval. My own reporting contribution included a report on an NRC headlined “NRC to require state Emergency Action plans.”

My father, John, the paper’s editor, initially supported the plant in editorials, and coverage was generally neutral. That led to some conflict within the paper because my cousin Dave, who completely opposed the plant, was a Bailly Alliance member, as were a number of other staff and me.

With the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, coverage took a turn. What seemed promising years earlier was now a potential nightmare. The journalistic turning point came in heading writing. My dad was careful to always use the formal name of the plant in articles: “Bailly Nuclear 1” or “Bailly N1.” As opposition mounted, and it became apparent that the plant construction would not be approved, we all decided just call it a “nuke.” For more, see the sidebar to the low-level radiation article, “Burn-Out at Bailly: NIPSCO’s Nuclear Fizzle.”

The questions surrounding nuclear power are far from resolved and are generating (heh, heh, heh) increasing interest. Current plants happen to be working quite well, and were it not for the continuing problems of nuclear waste disposal and nuclear proliferation, nuclear power may well provide a solution to future energy generation. “The nuclear option should be retained precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power,” states MIT’s study on The Future of Nuclear Energy, updated in 2009.

Two leading magazines covered nuclear power in December 2009 issues, with The Economist reporting on “Nuclear’s next generation,” a readable report on the pros and cons of six new designs for nuclear power plants. Wired magazine weighed in with its preferred nuclear alternative in “Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke.”

Maybe. Wired made a great case for nukes in February 2005, in “Nuclear Now! How clean, green atomic energy can stop global warming,” and I believe it’s the best alternative for mass energy production in the future.

Yet a nuclear milestone last week gives pause, with stories about the death at 93 of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only survivor of the nuclear blasts at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I still have the No Nukes T-shirt I silk screened for the Bailly Alliance just in case.

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Political Economy

January 15th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Journalism, Political Economy

This post is part of the Collin’s 50th! series, in which I look back as a way of moving forward.

At some point, like many young journalists, I dreamed of being a foreign correspondent. Not enough to actually do it, but I studied political science, economics, history, philosophy, and sociology so I’d know more about how politics and economics worked.

My favorite classes were on media and society, and I had two hard-nosed political reporting professors from which I learned the art and science of political and economics reporting. From J. Herbert Altschull at Indiana University, I learned about analytical reporting in the style of the New York Times magazine. From Steve Weinburg at the University of Missouri, I learned about detailed reporting and, in particular, clear writing.

The following articles represent my most politically and economically informed articles. Some focus on political process and others on larger economic questions.

As a student of Prof. Altschull, I wrote a long article on the Polish revolution of 1981. A portion of that article was published in The Bloomington Free Ryder, the then “underground” publication in Bloomington, Indiana, as Money Can’t Buy Me Love: A Report on Poland’s Economy.

My editor at The Ryder, Paul Sturm, signed me up to write political and economic articles. Next, we published “The Ailing Past of the New Federalism,” which covered the history of the term and ongoing tension between the federal and state governments, brought to the fore by the Reagan Administration. In our time of private and public organizations looking to the federal government for solutions (or bail outs), those questions seem almost quaint.

Paul also published my article “The High Impact of Low Level Radiation,”which originated as a paper from a class with Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, a physicist who in the late 1960s conducted controversial research on the ill effects of low-level radiation. I was fortunate to have the chance to conduct a demographic study in one of his classes similar to those in his book SECRET FALLOUT: Low-Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island.

In the summer of 1982, I worked as an internship at The Hammond Times, now The Northwest Indiana Times. My editor loved my music reviews and gave me a dream project: to write an article on the business of rock and roll in the Chicago area. I interviewed musicians, recording studio owners, and record executives for “The Business of Rock” and “Rock music a morass.”

Working with Steve Weinberg on an independent study project, I wrote my most complete examination of economic development and the political forces that help and hinder it. In “Ebb Tide for a Shipping Dream,” I looked at the present and the past of the Missouri River, which was called “one of the most underutilized rivers in the U.S.”

The piece looks at how transportation promotes economic development and how neglect of basic infrastructure can hinder it. The arguments for river transportation are strikingly similar to what you hear at an Federal Communications Commission hearing on broadband development, as are the questions today about nuclear power similar to those in the 1980s.

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