Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Hippies Unite!

By Dennis Hinkamp

Time forgranola types to get real and deal with nuclear waste.
socIt doesn’t matter if the President can’t pronounce it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. Just like queer, it’s here and we better get our heads out of our bongs and like, deal, man. Nuclear power and waste are already here and will stay pretty close to forever.

You may drive a Prius, you may ride a bike, you may eat lots of tofu and boycott cheap-labor Nike, but you are going to have to serve somebody. Okay, so Nike doesn’t really rhyme with bike and you may not even remember the Dylan song (written during his Christian phase) that I’m alluding to, but you may get the point. Maybe leaving no trace isn’t such a good idea, maybe protesting nuclear waste storage is just a little too late.

Look, I love(d) being a hippie. I’m stroking my gray pony tail and adjusting my twice-resoled Birkenstocks right now. The trouble is no matter how much we protest for peace and march against nukes, the rest of the world is yawning. We ought to be getting what’s left of our collective brain cells together and come up with a safe way to store nuclear waste.


It doesn’t matter what we do here, the rest of the world is going to sally forth down the black diamond nuke run whether we leave the ski lodge or not. Since this radioactive stuff infects the whole planet, our only chance for survival is giving everyone a safe way to store it. Twenty percent of our national power supply comes from nuclear energy; our peace-keeping submarines and aircraft carriers are nuclear powered. It certainly seems like we are in it for the long run in this thing.

Once the rest of the world starts going nuclear, we are not going to be able to stop it at the border any better than we have stopped drugs and illegal immigrants. Unless that 700-mile fence on the border is about 50 miles high and made of 10 inches of lead, we are not going to keep radiation from crossing the border.

Think of it like sex. Nobody in their right or left minds thinks we are going to stop young people from having sex, so we really, really ought to invest in good protective contraception. Although we have been building nuclear bombs and power plants for more than 60 years, the rest of the world is still adolescent in the process and is prone to dangerous experimentation just like all adolescents. We are old, sedentary and spent on the subject but it is our obligation to help them experiment safely.

Dennis Hinkamp does not own any fissionable nuclear materials, so rest easy.

This article was originally published on December 31, 2006.