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Together for sun and freedom (written already some years ago)


The idea of freedom and the use of sun-power instead of the risks, that accompany atomic power stations, this is in short the basic concept of our group.

Europe is seeing a time of great changes. Not everybody is happy about them, and there could be named of course enough reasons for that. We however thought, that as the Chinese word for "risk" can be translated as "chance" as well, that we ought to take this idea and do our best, so that the changes, that take place in Europe and do have some influence in other regions of this planet, are being directed exactly into something, that does deserve this translation as "chance".

One of the big questions being discussed in Europe is, how are we going to organise our society along democratic lines? And at the same time, how can we secure a prosperous and healthy life for men and nature in this region.

We believe that this is possible. But it needs the courage and commitment of lots of people on the bottom of the social pyramid. People have in many discussions and political attempts tried to participate more in the decision-making process. In former times there were only a few people empowered to decide for the rest. And a lot of energy was necessary for the common person to get the right as voter, to participate in elections. And as we see from the Swiss example, it took even in Europe centuries, until for example women were accepted as voters. So we see that things, that we may now consider as something completely normal, were unbelievable at other times. What we try to do, is, to find out, what was and would be best for society and nature in different places and periods.

There were two words in the text above, that we find essential in this respect. They are "democratic" and "energy".

Democracy made a big step forward in the year of 1848, when at least in Central-Europe it became possible, that people elected their representatives on the administrative level of their city or village. Of course there were backlashes, two wars brought terrible developments across the whole planet. Globalisation actually happened already in 1914. Bertha von Suttner, the Austrian Nobel-Prize winner of 1905 called her famous book "The weapons down". And after the war people said: never again! And still, there was an again. And it was even worse. One of the many reasons for these conflicts always was, however little discussed in public, the question of how to secure enough energy resources and raw materials for the industrial development. Only in the second half of the twentieth century it became obvious, that this development of increasingly more production and consumption can't go on for ever like this. The Club of Rome in the seventies was an impulse for the discussion about the ecological perspective of our planet. The first oil-crises then forced people in the industrial world to cut down on their habits. Governments tried to solve the problem by introducing a so called "car-free-day" per week. Energy was suddenly considered again as a very valuable good. As by-product of the second world war the use of nuclear power became popular. Since it promised to produce lots of electricity at low costs and what became more and more important, comparatively "clean", there were few voices critical of this development. Günther Anders and Robert Junk, two writers originating in the German speaking area, who both spent many years in the USA, then began to report about the negative and tragic effects of this new technology. The interview with the pilot of the aeroplane, that dropped the Atomic-bomb on Hiroshima respectively Nagasaki, is one of the most touching documents the 20. century has to offer, as are interviews with the affected victims in Japan and the scientists, that suddenly began to fight against the danger deriving from a technology, they themselves had developed some years before. Albert Einstein was one of them.

The increasing awareness about ecological questions led to different movements, which found their highlights in 1978 in the Austrian referendum against the starting up of the Atomic power plant in Zwentendorf near Vienna, in 1986 in the tragic accident in the Ukraine, when the Atomic power plant Tschernobyl exploded and contaminated most of Europe, and of course in the decision of the German red-green government about step by step finding a way out of the nuclear business.

For Austrians, who 130 years after establishing democratic structures on the communal level in their country (1848) made again use of a new instrument in the political process, when people decided in the 1978- referendum not to start up the completely finished nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf, the accident in 1986 in Tschernobyl was like a final confirmation of their referendum eight years before.

So when they got to know about the project of Temelín about 60 km north of their national borders in, what was by then the communist ruled Czechoslovakia, they started to look north with increasing scepticism. And when after years of stagnation it seemed to become clear, that the government in Prague is committed to continue and finish with the plant, more and more people and groups in Austria pressed on their politicians to do something against that. So when in the fall of the year 2000 in spite of protests the nuclear reaction was started, the Austrian public reacted shocked. Still the Austrian media had informed very detailed about technical problems, that again and again turned up in course of the project. The Czech public was much more prepared to accept the plant in Temelín. Lots of people in the Southern Bohemian region found directly or indirectly their work there. And the argument, that almost 4 000 000 000 $ had been invested already, was a very strong one. Historical resentments in Austria as well as in Czechia against the other nation had been conserved over the period of the "Cold-war" and suddenly seemed to brake out again in a very indelicate form.

The first protests on the Austrian-Czech borders in the beginning of September in the year 2000 were seen as surprising and maybe desperate act of the people living in the Austrian border region. When the traffic across the border then was blocked by tractors and people for several days and weeks, partly at border-stations next to each other, many people in the Czech Republic saw in the Austrian activities something like a non-justified attack on Czech National interests.

Historically both countries lived in one state for centuries. The perception of the own role in this process however is quite different.

While in the Czech subconciousness there are still very strong tracks of the 1415 burning of Mr. Jan Hus, a Czech priest who criticised negative development in the Catholic Church and was therefore murdered in the church- council in Constants, although he had been promised by the Emperor Sigmund, that he could return safely. And this feeling, that the German speaking neighbour, together with Catholic interests does not have positive intentions with the Czech Nation, this state of mistrust towards the "enemy" so to say, is met with a similar mistrust in Austria and Germany, where many older people still remember the end of World War II, when lots of the German speaking inhabitants, whose families had been living in the Czech lands for centuries had been forced out of the country, as revenge for what Hitler and the Nazis had done before and their partly support of that. And this "throwing out" of the German speaking population was often enough a very bloody thing. This negative approach that people in Austria and Germany partly have, if it comes to the common history with the Czechs is, and that is also due to the Cold War and the language barrier, for many people the only "information" they have about the Czech culture, that has, if being studied correctly, to offer a tremendous lot of heroic resistance against an "evil" suppresser. And above all that, there is a big difference in the fact, how history is seen in both countries. While the Czech subconciousness does not hesitate to look back in history for centuries and has heroes like, Jan Hus, Jan Amos Comenius, Frantisek Palacky, Bozena Nemcova, T.G. Masaryk and others, the Austrian subconciousness is much more dominated by a lack of such figures, so that a real National identity in its present form has been growing actually only from the year 1945, when it started with zero after the war, where Austria was part of Hitler's "3. Reich". With these preconditions the situation in winter 2000/2001 between Austria and Czechia was in a difficult phases. Austrians blocked the roads to Czechia as protest against the starting up of Temelín, the Czech Prime- Minister Milos Zeman reacted very arrogantly as did lots of other Czech politicians, there were even outbreaks of nationalistic hate on the personal level. Czech nurses working in Austria saw their and only their Czech cars damaged. On the other hand the Czech Communists organised as a revenge a blockade of an Austrian Petrol Station in Czechia or business people stopped serving Austrian Visitors.

In this situation I tried to find a way out of this discussion about the Nuclear power plant in Temelín. On the one hand I generally do not like the Nuclear power plants, as I am sure, that there would be enough means of how to produce energy with renewably energy resources, and as we saw in the terrorist attacks in the USA, the bigger the targets of those terrorists are, the bigger the losses.
On the other hand I however didn't agree with some forms of the opposition against the project. I am very sure, that the ecological movement has to stay open for support, if it wants to be successful. And it has to respect democratic principles. So if there comes in Nationalism there is a great danger of abuse of the "good cause". Since I knew the political and social Structure in Austria quite well (between the years 1991 and 1999 I was for the greens a member of the city council in the little Austrian border town of Sandl), and at the same time knew the situation in Czechia better (have been working as German-language teacher in the Southern Bohemain City of Ceské Budejovice) than most of my Austrian friends fighting against Temelín, I thought about, how to find a bridge, where it would be possible to bring together those people from both countries, who would rather prefer a life without nuclear power plants.

On April 27. 2001 then there started the project "Together for sun and freedom", when I put the first 1000 Austrian Shillings on the account 2001-04-27 in the Raiffeisen Bank in Sandl (BLZ 345 48). This money is supposed to stay on the account, until Temelín will definitively be stopped. So the point is, that it should be clear also to the promoters of Temelín, the people from CEZ and the Czech government and the international Atomic lobby, that the resistance against Temelín will not diminish, even if Temelín one day does manage to work without bigger problems, what is by far not yet clear. On the other hand it should be made clear, that the protesters are not motivated by Anti Czech feelings and are not driven by a specific Austrian Nationalism. And we are not paid by potential Buyers of the CEZ-energy- company, so that we should with our protest lower the course of the stock exchange value of CEZ, what sometimes is falsely reported in Czechia. No, on the other hand, we are prepared to help, so that renewable energies in Czechia make their way easier. Psychologically there are two differences between our two countries. The development of renewable energies in Austria has a history of already about 30 years. So people in Austria already do not have doubts about the possibility for a country to prosper without nuclear power. That is still different in Czechia. The second thing is, that the catastrophy in Tschernobyl 1986 left some kind of trauma in Austria, while it stayed almost unnoticed in Czechia due to the Communist information policies. And that is again something, what is not so much reflected in Austria, where many activists just saw that the Czech population reacted completely different to what was expected. So the mutual misunderstanding became quite big.

Anyway, our idea, to prove, that we are not driven by the second thought, how to harm Czech National interests, seems to have hit the point. People from both countries donated their amount of money, the donators are listed in the internet (www.energiepartnerschaft.org) and contacts across the border again start to be something normal.

According to the regulations of our group, the collected money is to be used to support renewable energies and energy saving measures. As long as Temelín is not stopped, the money stays on the account. Only the interests and anonymous donations are being used once a year around the Tschernobyl day for one similar project in Czechia. In the end however, the 1000 Shilling, that were given from an Austrian, will be used 50% in the city of the donator in Austria, 50 % in a Czech Partner-City. If there has not yet been established such a partnership, the Czech amount will be used for one project in Czechia. Donations from Czechia (1000 Czech Crowns which equal about 400 Shillings) will stay completely in the Czech City of the Donator. After 1.1. 2002 there will be a rate of 75 Euro for Austrians and 25 Euro for Czech Citizens the norm.

By this we think, that it will be possible on the one hand to stop Temelín, on the other hand to support the development of renewable recourses and thirdly to intensify the human contacts across the borders.
Our activities concentrate of course on the Austrian- Czech area, but we see it necessary to have a world-wide network of similar initiatives.
So contacts are welcome all over the world.
And as the sun shines all around the world for free, we can together do a lot to substitute harmful, hazardous and expensive technologies in favour of cheap, safe and clean technologies.


Bernhard Riepl
b.riepl@eduhi.at
download here details - Minutes Works

Workshop
Network phasing out the nuclear age
An alliance of 800 French organisations
Download our presentation document


GATHERING TOGETHER TO CREATE A NUCLEAR-FREE FUTURE
The Network 'SORTIR DU NUCLEAIRE' is currently the main French antinuclear coalition, with a membership of over 700 organisations and more than 14,000 individual subscribers. It is completely independent, entirely funded by donations and the subscriptions from its members.

Our mission is to unite everyone concerned with phasing out nuclear power. Only by combining our efforts can we build up enough strength to achieve concrete results.

Our goal is to convince France to phase out nuclear power generation by :
  1. rethinking its energy policy
  2. improving the efficiency of electricity use
  3. developing alternative and sustainable generation scenarios.
The Network SORTIR DU NUCLEAIRE :
  1. supports actions for phasing out nuclear power, whether local, national or international,
  2. launches petition and information campaigns,
  3. is a resource center for nuclear power and sustainable alternatives : information, documents, access to experts and lecturers,
  4. informs the public about the dangers of nuclear power and solutions for phasing it out thanks to its website, its quarterly magazine Sortir du Nucléaire and the publication of thematic documents aimed at the general public,
  5. has a PR policy and close contact with the media for nuclear-related issues,
  6. aims to inform elected representatives, local decision-makers, trade-unions, associations about all nuclear related issues.
Why phase out nuclear power ?
  1. A nuclear accident provokes countless victims and leaves vast tracts of land uninhabitable for thousands of years. Is such risk morally permissible ?
  2. There exists no possibility of rendering nuclear waste harmless. It remains a hazard for tens of thousands of years and more.
  3. The real cost of nuclear power is very high if all the expenses are honestly taken into account : public scientific research, decommissioning of nuclear power facilities, endless management of nuclear waste … Part of the radioactive material produced in nuclear reactors has the potential and is used for hostile military use and for atomic bombs.
  4. It may be that nuclear power contributes only small amount of greenhouse gases, but its waste contaminates the earth for millions of years. There is no choosing the lesser of two evils. The goal of a responsible, sustainable energy policy should be : no to nuclear, no to greenhouse gases.
  5. The large component of nuclear energy in French power generation is an exception : we are the only country in the world to make such a confident bet on nuclear power. Neighbouring countries such as Italy, Germany, Belgium have already chosen to phase out nuclear power. Therefore it is also possible to do so in France.
How can we phase out nuclear power ?

Nuclear generation is not the only way to produce electricity. Firstly, a sustainable transition period should rely on clean coal-fired or gas-powered plants, industrial cogeneration, fuel cells…with an emphasis on the least polluting and most efficient options. Then, the potential of clean and job-creating renewable energy options should be intensively developed. Solar, hydro and wind opportunities are sustainable and permit genuine self sufficiency These are tomorrow's reliable safe energy options which must be implemented straight away. Nuclear power currently monopolizes more than 90% of public research funding. Why invest so much in such problematic dangerous energy ? Research budgets must be rethought to benefit alternative technologies and enhance their efficiency and competitiveness. Only in this way will they be able to fully play their role in the foreseeable future.

Do we really need to use so much electricity to live comfortably ?

There are many ways of consuming less energy. According to a European study, electricity bills can be cut by half without giving up our comfort - just by using energy-efficient appliances and eliminating hidden consumption (for example, switching off unnecessary standby appliances). Using energy-saving building techniques will also contributes. But we must look further : if we wish for a fair, sustainable and peaceful world, it is high time we realized how precious energy is. Our future depends on choosing more energy-friendly and socially benign lifestyles which do not waste resources that belong to our future generations.

Everywhere, in France and all over the World, organizations and people get mobilized for a nuclear-free future. Since 1997, more than 700 organizations have joined our Network "Sortir du nucléaire".
  1. Get informed! The Network offers a daily updated Internet site, a quarterly magazine and widely distributed documents (all in French for now) about nuclear power and alternative energy options. You can help by passing on this information.
  2. More than 25 "foreign organizations" are members of our network, join the one closest to where you live.
  3. Your organization can become a member of our Network, simply signing our Charter. You may want to contact us to propose mutual cooperation for an international campaign or other exchanges.
  4. Last but not least, don't forget the Network " SORTIR DU NUCLEAIRE " owes its independence to donations and the subscriptions from its members. Your contribution will help further our actions and the spreading of our information.
International contact :
André Lariviere : andre.lariviere@sortirdunucleaire.fr

List of civilian nuclear accidents




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