Potential EnergyPosted: August 24, 2011
Le Barp, August 24
Day 30 of the March on Brussels. From Sanguinet, 26 km.
When moral is really low and people start talking behind each others’ backs, then suddenly something happens that brings the group back together, something that makes us realise we have a big responsability. It makes us realise that people are counting on us and that we can’t let them down.
Yesterday evening the whole group was invited to dinner at an organical farm outside Sanguinet. It was exactly what we needed to release the tension and the stress that had been accumulating for days. Personal antipathy, individualism, disorganisation, free riding, fatigue and sleep deprivation had created an explosive environment. But thanks to all the great people at the farm this negative energy found a positive outlet. A country style fiesta, with lots of home grown food, real bread, beer, biological wine, music and laughter.
The rain put an end to it. Thunderstorms raged all night. When they finally stopped in the morning, it turned out that not all of the tents had resisted.
Except for our petty internal troubles we haven’t yet been challenged by any real problems. Last night’s thunderstorm was a warning sign. Summer is advancing, we are walking north every day and soon autumn will set in. Already people are complaining about the fatigue, about the crazy distances we have to cover. But we can count our blessings. Ever since we entered the Basque country the weather has been on our side. We haven’t yet suffered neither the rain, nor the cold.
It’s time we start acting as a group again, and prepare ourselves mentally and materially for every possible challenge. For now, we have only had some drizzle during the day. But in the current situation, if the real rain would strike down on us, it would be a disaster.
We have been walking for days on the small roads through Les Landes, this immense wood production territory. Today we arrived, as a group, at the nuclear factory of Laser Mégajoule for a symbolic action.
Laser Mégajoule is a top notch facility for nuclear weapons research. It recreates the conditions of hydrogen fusion, through the use of concentrated lasers. The lasers are pointed at a small pellet containing the hydrogen isotopes of deuterium and tritium. The energy of the lasers makes the pellet implode evenly so as to reach such immensely high temperatures that hydrogen fuses into helium, which is the same reaction that happens inside the sun under the influence of gravity.
Nuclear fusion is the energy of the future. It has unlimited potential and it hardly creates any nuclear waste, but the Laser Mégajoule facility has explicit military purposes. This is what we denounced. Apart from that we denounced the use of depleted uranium ammunition. This had nothing to do with the plant, but it is worth mentioning.
Depleted uranium is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process needed for nuclear fission plants and the production of nuclear warheads. DU is used in ammunition because it helps bullets to penetrate armour plating. It was used in Yugoslavia and Iraq. The effects on the environment and public health are devastating. It contaminates the soil, the water and the food chain. It leads to horrible terminal illnesses and malformations of foetuses. Research into the health effects of the use of DU ammunition is regularly covered up by the responsible governments. This goes all the more for the health risks of the home population as a result of weapons testing in France and the US itself.
I will not go into this in depth. We are constantly reminded that nuclear fission as an energy source has been an enormous mistake, even though some people still want to repeat this mistake by building new nuclear power plants. The waste they create is tremendous, it takes thousands to millions of years to lose its radioactivity. And the risks, as we well know, are enormous.
Nuclear fusion on the other hand provides a perfect solution, but there are still a lot of practical problems to overcome before it can be used as an energy source. The fact that a small country like France is doing research into nuclear fusion, not for it’s potential energy, but for it’s potential for destruction, is complete madness.