News Release

*Blackout * New Nuclear Weapons

LLOYD J. DUMAS
Dumas is the author of Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies and is a professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas. He said today: “The massive failure that knocked out power to the Northeast and Midwest U.S. and Canada looks like the disastrous blackouts of 1965 and 1977. Once again we are reminded of our technological vulnerability and the impossibility of eliminating failure. Electric systems were connected together to make blackouts a thing of the past. In 1965, when part of the grid failed and the rest took over, the strain caused more to fail. The system designed to prevent blackouts triggered a progressive collapse that blacked out the entire Northeast United States. We thought the problem was fixed — until another snowballing power failure blacked out New York City in 1977, leading to widespread arson and looting. No technological system ever designed, from the wheel to the space shuttle, is immune to catastrophic failure as a result of technical error, human error or sabotage. This is as true for technologies, such as nuclear power and weapons of mass destruction, whose failure can kill tens of thousands, as it is for the electricity grid. The power failure is yet another warning that we humans cannot live with these most dangerous technologies without eventually triggering catastrophe. We must get rid of them.”
More Information

HARVEY WASSERMAN
Author of The Last Energy War, Wasserman said today: “We’ve had 40 years to build a system that is not vulnerable to these disasters. The big East Coast blackout of 1965 should have been the watershed event, after which society should have moved to build an electrical supply system that cannot crash. Such a system must be built on renewable technologies, which are by nature decentralized. Buildings should have their own solar power sources, with increased efficiency, to make themselves as self-sufficient and grid-free as possible. This time, there seems to be no evidence of terrorism. But the real ‘terrorism’ is that we are still burning fossil and nuclear fuels, which are both dangerous and polluting. And that we still depend on a grid that is profoundly — and unnecessarily — vulnerable.”
More Information

JACQUELINE CABASSO
Yesterday, the New Scientist (UK) published an article entitled “Gamma-Ray Weapons Could Trigger Next Arms Race.” Cabasso is executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation and co-author of the report “The End of Disarmament and the Arms Races to Come.” She said today: “This weapon being researched by the Pentagon potentially could make it possible for a relatively small warhead to deliver a hugely powerful explosive blast that would blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons. But the gamma-bomb is just the tip of the iceberg. The Bush administration is seeking to overcome the taboo against nuclear weapons use by exploring the development of nuclear weapons that will be more ‘useable’ in current battlefield scenarios than those in the Cold War arsenal. While the U.S. government insists on the disarmament of some nations, it is working on a wide variety of advanced weapons concepts with only one goal — to create newer and fancier means of inflicting death and destruction anywhere on earth. This as the Bush administration is reserving for itself the right to act against ’emerging threats before they are fully formed,’ including potentially with nuclear weapons.”
More Information
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167