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Nuclear Family

When we learned about Chernobyl I was at primary school. I remember looking suspiciously at the water in the puddles in the playground, were they contaminated with the dust that had sped over Europe.  When I went to secondary school we read Brother in the Land. By Robert E Swindells. A post-nuclear tale of a boy’s journey after nuclear war. As part of our English and PSE (personal and social education) We looked at maps of UK that marked likely Russian nuclear targets and the intersecting circles of fall out zones, how few places could be safe. Except strangely Ashby de la Zouche. In the classroom we discussed which jobs we might have when we left school, we talked about who would be allowed into the nuclear bunker. Which job was worthy of saving, who would be needed in the post-nuclear apocalypse. (The Arts didn’t make it!)

Tomorrow’s world gave me my first taste of what a nuclear weapon might do. The shock of finding out that America had actually used them began my sense of nuclear fear at a very early age. Not the kind of gung-ho ‘duck and cover’ that  some of my friends from the US experienced, but more of a lasting cynicism and perhaps a nihilism that our lives lay with power beyond our control and that our lives as we knew it could be taken from us at any time. 

Now the weapons and minerals of my childhood nightmares have become the new saviours. No to fracking but yes to Uranium minining. No to drilling in the Arctic but yes to bigger and bigger Nuclear power stations. I didn’t know  much about the history or the politics or the science of the nuclear industry other than fear, The Simpsons and Chernobyl. But more and more frequently articles by respected writers and environmental sciences where demonstrating a resignation towards the nuclear in the face of an ever expanding population and never depleting requirement for energy.

So now as an Adult how do I come to understand this fear and fascination. I did what we always do. Put the family in the caravan and decided to tour.

 

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