I have recently made a new friend via the Internet. He is a Czech Republic citizen who is living and working in the United States. One of the great things about having friends from other countries is that you get the opportunity to view your own country through different lenses and experiences. It provides a perspective that is useful if your goal is to figure out suggestions for improvement – which, by the way, does not inherently mean that one subscribes to a “blame America first mentality”. (I have heard that phrase used several times by certain members of the “conservative” media to dismiss people who disagree with their point of view. I hope that someone uses that in conversation with me someday and we will compare service records.)
Another great thing about international friendships is the opportunity to learn about really interesting new movements long before they get the attention of any kind of main stream media. My Czech friend has begun helping some friends of his back home with a neat project that they call “Start Zwentendorf”.
As I have recently discovered, Austria, which borders on the Czech Republic, built a nuclear power station at Zwentendorf in the 1970s, but decided not to start it up when it was completed. Apparently a vote was taken, and a small majority of the people decided that operating the plant was not in the best interests of the people. I have no idea how the options were worded or what the people thought they were doing, but at the time there was a strong and active anti-nuclear movement throughout Europe that managed to place a number of initiatives on ballots that often gave people little information or real choice.
The Start Zwentendorf movement has decided that they should try some humor to gain attention, so they have structured their efforts as a parody of a vocal and active Austrian sponsored movement called Stop Temelin, The Austrian movement has been holding rallies and protesting for years about the operation of the Temelin Nuclear Power Station in the Czech Republic, and the Czechs that support nuclear power think that turn about is fair play.
It has taken me some time to really get where this movement is going, but I think they are on to something. I guess part of the reason for my slow understanding is that I take nuclear power so seriously, but there really is some room for humor to share a message about failed initiatives, especially one that has such absurd consequences.
As I recently learned by following some links from the Start Zwentendorf page, Austria gets most of its power from hydroelectric dams (there is some indication that the owner and operator of the dams provides resources to the Stop Temelin group). For a long time, those dams provided enough power so that Austria was a net exporter of electricity, but domestic growth has caught up with and now exceeds that electricity supply capacity. In the near future, Austria is going to need at least 3,000 MW of new electrical generating capacity. There is little doubt that the only real choices for that quantity of power are fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
It would certainly be better for the region’s air quality for Austria to abandon its anti-nuclear stance and Start Zwentendorf as the first step in providing that new electrical power needs as cleanly as the hydro electric dams that have kept its air so clean for so many years.
I hope you visit the Start Zwentendorf site and soak up the humor. Learn about the group’s border “blockades” which seem to entail a lot of beer drinking good fun. Have a laugh and then recognize that this effort is parody with a necessary message.