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What do you think is potentially more destructive: global warming or massive nuclear catastrophe?
Caldicott: Well, it's sort of like going from tobacco to crack. You don't cure one evil by inserting another evil...The answers are all there, and the people in Silicon Valley know that because they're making millions of dollars. They call green energy green not because it's green but because it makes lots of greenbacks.
Do you see so much attention to green business, both in the sense of making money and being ecologically sound, as a positive sign?
Caldicott: It's enormously exciting, and 31 U.S. states now are taking the lead and moving on green energy. It's happening despite the White House and the administration, despite the nuclear and coal companies, but not fast enough.
The output of CO2 increased 3 percent in the last four years...Normally it would be 1 percent. That's because of China and India. Things are in a state of high crisis. If America wakes up, it can take the lead. If it doesn't, one-third of the species on Earth could be extinct in 50 or 100 years.
Do you think such a massive extinction could be prevented?
Caldicott: Only if we stop driving cars and burning coal. If you look at it clearly, we have to stop creating CO2 now. People think, oh well, 10, 20 years. It's now. Things are so urgent. And that means no more SUVs, it means covering the parking lots of America with solar panels, creating electric cars powered only by solar?
Are there practices you've changed personally in the past several years or decade for keeping your carbon output in line?
Caldicott: I've got a Prius car. I've got a solar hot water energy system. I've switched to green energy with my electricity bills...I'm about to plant a vegetable garden and try to live on the vegetables. I'm going to be living near a river with lots of fish in it...I've got a pontoon and am going to be eating fish for dinner at night. I turn off every single light in the house except the room in which I'm in.
Are there any political or cultural leaders who are getting some of your points across?
Caldicott: Al Gore should run for president...I don't see anyone else sticking their necks out and speaking the truth in broad, pungent terms the way he is...There are 30,000 H-bombs in the world, and Russia and America own 97 percent. We need someone to step up and say we've got to disarm bilaterally. The precedent is set because Reagan and Gorbachev almost did it...I don't know if Gore would do this, but he might.
When you spoke with Ronald Reagan, did you find him receptive to what you were saying?
Caldicott: No, he wasn't...He didn't understand what I was saying. But he had no knowledge of his own...He was a nice old man, I have to say; he did have a heart. And I think retrospectively I did influence him. He started to say nuclear war must never be fought and can never be won. And he did then work cooperatively with Gorbachev to end the Cold War.
Can you talk about your new book, War in Heaven?
Caldicott: It was written with Craig Eisendrath. It's about the history of outer space, how when Sputnik first went up and the Americans became paranoid thinking Russia was ahead, and the space race began, it was seen from two perspectives, one from a peaceful perspective. Now we know that all our global communications, our cell phones, ATM machines, global commerce, GPS systems, are totally dependent on space and satellites. And on one hand, it's been wonderful the way we've explored the universe.
On the other hand, the military simultaneously, all the way along, has been interested in using space for war...It's called full spectrum dominance and it's the most frightening thing I've ever read about. That's what the book is about.
You've said you talked with scientists from the Manhattan Project who later regretted their work.
Caldicott: They felt extraordinary guilt about vaporizing 220,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and they thought they could harness atoms for peace using nuclear power. But they knew deep in their hearts that plutonium was manufactured in these reactors, as are 200 other radioactive elements, all of which are carcinogenic.
So they tried to salve their guilt by instigating nuclear power... Oppenheimer put it best when he said, at the end of the Manhattan Project..."the physicists have known sin." And in truth, they've been sinning ever since in the nuclear area.
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