Those of us who recall the 1970s, then the 1980s, recall campaigns against the mining of uranium remember there were environmental issues – the problems of radioactive waste – and the nuclear cycle that includes nuclear weapons. The threats were made clear in Chernobyl, Three Mile Island – as now Fukushima.
We learned about the threat of nuclear winter which would destroy all life on the planet.
Apart from threat, is there a theological way into this question of nuclear power? I think it is fair to say that the question of the planet’s future takes us to eco-theology. And we may recall the mandate given to humans in Genesis – to care for and till the earth (Genesis 2); even the notion of human ‘dominion’ (Genesis 1) may be reclaimed as the task of protecting the earth, preparing for the life of future generations.
We have seen the impact of modern power; the burning of coal, the impact of CO2, the threat of acid rain and the deterioration of the ozone layer. The production of power did not have the safety or life of the planet as its prime goal.
Is there another way in here? Consider Jesus who came not to be served but to serve; and gave power away. He instructed his male followers to be different from the ‘Gentiles’ (Mark 10) who dominate. He welcomed children into the centre of his community (Mark 9), and also women – excluded from the usual Rabbis disciples – and the weak, poor and ill. In contrast to power that dominates, Jesus offers a power that sustains life. What if we were to produce power that learned from him, learning also the way the planet has evolved and sustains life – solar, wind, wave and geo-thermal. This would make urgent the task of resisiting uranium as a source for power; it makes urgent the task of finding a production of power that gives priority to children , and to the poorest members of our world community. That is, it is urgent to find the means of producing power that will be life-giving, without leaving as its legacy the threat to life.
18 November 2011