Friday marked a big day for environmental progress and hope for our future as a species.
Gulliver (nuclear energy) finally began recognizing that the threads holding him down are breakable. The so-far gentle and polite giant has also begun to recognize that the petty aristocrats who have spent so many years wrapping him up in a tangled mess of individually weak bonds — like “the waste issue”, wild predictions about cancers or mutations caused by “radiation,” or the scary-sounding word “proliferation” — have not been acting with good intentions.
The visible event — the March for Environmental Hope — telling me that Gulliver is beginning to find the power of his voice and the strength of his head, arms and legs happened in San Francisco in a variety of venues.
Led by Michael Shellenberger, Kristin Zeitz, and Heather Matteson with celebrity appearances by Richard Rhodes, Robert Stone and Gwyneth Cravens, a happy group of rabble rousing pro-nuclear environmentalists sang songs, wore brightly colored tee shirts, carried signs, chanted slogans, locked arms and marched. They demonstrated at the headquarters of the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the NRDC.
Not every marcher could be there at every venue, so the group variously expanded and shrank with estimated participant numbers in the range of 40 to 100. As might be imagined, people wearing shirts that said “Split, don’t emit” and carrying signs saying “Save Diablo Canyon,” “Replace Fossil, Not Nuclear,” and “Nuclear For Our Future” captured the attention of many on the streets and mass transit systems of San Francisco.
It is a bit rare — so far — for passionate, happy and environmentally concerned individuals and families to give up personal time to march around proclaiming their support for nuclear energy. It will become less rare in the future.
Some of the participants were so excited about the event’s historical significance that they mistakenly proclaimed that their march might be the first pronuclear demonstration march ever. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. There’s readily available documentation of pronuclear street/sidewalk demonstrations with tee shirts and signs in Vermont and San Luis Obispo, but the March for Environmental Hope was most likely the biggest, loudest, best organized and largest pronuclear environmental demonstration so far.
On Friday evening I spoke with David Walters, a pensioner with a long history of labor activism and environmental demonstrations, on Friday afternoon.
David was pumped up and overflowing with excitement about the event. He told me he “could not believe” how well organized it was. He called Kristin and Heather “treasures for our cause.”
He described how disappointed Michael Shellenberger was that he could not get himself arrested for interfering with people going into or out of the Sierra Club headquarters. There was no one coming and going who could complain and call the police; apparently the Club asked its people to take the day off, knowing that the march was coming.
David told me how much fun it was to sing new songs about the atom to tunes that were familiar from his past activities. David was so excited about telling me the stories of the day that I finally had to interrupt his effusive commentary to tell him I had to hang up because my dinner was ready.
I also received a written “boots on the ground” report to share with you.
Boots on the Ground March Report:
Yesterday we protested the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the NRDC. At Sierra Club, the guards insisted that they closed the office and no workers were there. A couple Berkeley Nuke Students decided to do a recon mission to check while we were outside chanting “Split Don’t Emit!” and “We’re on a mission, to Stop all Emissions!”. Our suspicions were confirmed-the Sierra Club workers were up on the 13th floor the whole time. We took a vote and decided to force our way in (in probably the most polite way possible — saying we just wanted to sing a song!). We packed two elevators, rode to the top, had one of our intrepid Berkeley agents get the locked door open, and poured into their main office and national headquarters. The conversation? “We’re all lifelong environmentalists. Many of us have given money to your organization. We appreciate much of the good you’ve done, but you’re wrong about one thing and it’s endangering future generations. Nuclear energy. Now we’re going to sing you a song.” The Battle Hymn of the Atom rang throughout their office and after we were done, we left at threats of being trespassed and arrested (we still had to get to Greenpeace and NRDC after all.)
We marched to the train station, chanting the whole way. Chanted on the subway to Greenpeace. Pulitzer Prize winning Author Richard Rhodes met us there, along with Oscar Nominated Robert Stone, Michael Shellenberger, and Author Gwyneth Cravens. Our March had swelled from 40 to 80, with several passersby joining the cause and chanting as loud as anyone. We locked arms in front of the entire building in a show of civil disobedience. Sang again and continued our March to the NRDC. New chants emerged of “NRDC: No Respect for Diablo Canyon” “NRDC:No receiving dirty cash!”. Here Kristin and Heather of the Mothers for Nuclear, Michael Shellenberger, and Jim Becker (former Diablo Plant Manager) spoke. Our final Battle Hymn of the Atom rang throughout the halls and our protest completed with several people blocking the doors in symbolic civil disobedience.
This was the first fight in a war of ideas that must be fought and won for the future of our species. –EGM (Eric G. Meyer)
Bill Gloege, a leader of Californians for Green Nuclear Power, was also there and provided a report. I’ve got a pending request to him for permission to share that report with you; I received a copy from someone else and don’t want to assume it’s okay to share it more widely.
Here are some additional photos of the event.
The march is continuing during the weekend and will climax with a visit to the California Lands Commission meeting in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 28. The marchers want to make sure that the Lands Commission hears their strong support for a full 49 year renewal of the state-owned tidelands under the cooling water infrastructure that connects Diablo Canyon to the world’s largest and most capable heat sink — the Pacific Ocean.