Earth: 6,000 years old, so not at risk from nuclear power (AZ Senator), w/ video

from Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen :

I can‘t say enough how it‘s time that we get beyond and—and start focusing on the technology we have and move forward into the future, so that our grandchildren and—can have the same lifestyle we have.

And—and this earth‘s been here 6,000 years.  …  It‘s been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws.  And, somehow, it hasn‘t been done away with.

And we need to get the uranium here in Arizona, so this state can get the money from it and the—the revenue from it.  And it can be done safely, and you’ll never even know the mine was there when they‘re done.

I am for this.

Personally, I don’t think I know enough about the technology, the risks, the trade-offs, etc. to form judgments on my own about nuclear power vs. the alternatives. On matters like this, I need to rely on people I can trust who do have the required knowledge and education. So this post is not about the substantive policy questions. It’s about the qualifications of people who don’t hesitate to actually make policy decisions who are even less qualified than I would be.

The reactions that I’ve seen to this state senator’s remarks have pretty much been limited to her reliance on the belief that the earth is just 6,000 years old.

But that’s only the beginning of her nonsense. For example:

  • … her implicit assumption that the only risk worth thinking about would be a risk to the existence of the planet. But the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl posed no risk to the existence of the planet — does that mean that any possibility of other such incidents should be of no concern to us?   or
  • … the logic of her thinking that the relevant trial period is the time span of the earth’s existence, rather than the half-century that humans have had use of nuclear technology. (First, I thought that the minuscule time that we humans have been here in comparison with the age of the earth would be a problem with her reasoning; then I realized that she thinks humans missed only the first five days or so of earth’s existence.)

Other problems: Well, to start with, how does somebody even believe in nuclear energy if they don’t believe in the theory that also gives us carbon dating?

I guess the bottom line is that, like many climate-change deniers, this woman thinks that nothing really bad can happen to God’s creation unless He’s the one who’s doing it — you know, like the flood in Genesis.

But can there really be a legislative district anywhere in this country that would want somebody like her making the decisions? What does that tell us about the state of education in this country?

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One Comment

  1. Elizabeth
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting the video and sharing your thoughts. I like the holes you poked in her argument.

    Admittedly, I also do not have any content expertise on this topic…However, I think it is scary that she wants “our grandchildren” to have the same “lifestyle we have.” Not only is this impossible due in part to the very initiative that she’s recommending, but why do we or would we want our children, grandchildren, or any new generation to have the same “lifestyle” as us? And, which of the various ‘American’ lifestyles is she referring to?

    [Imagine a voice dripping in sarcasm] Sure, I want my kids or my neighbors’ kids to grow up and be easily persuaded by scare tactics in order to vote in an unfit president to a second term of office…that’s the country I want the children of our future to live in. I’m sure that country will provide an environment conducive to a healthy, happy lifestyle!

    You asked, “But can there really be a legislative district anywhere in this country that would want somebody like her making the decisions? What does that tell us about the state of education in this country?” The answer to your first question, which I’m assuming is rhetorical, is “yes”…which says a lot about our state of education…

    Here are a few things that come to mind:
    She was presumably educated in America and
    1.) lacks some fundamental content knowledge about the history/science of the world
    2.) is incredibly ego/ethnocentric in her thinking and lacks the ability to see beyond her own generalizations about human needs, wants, and desires
    3.) lacks the ability to formulate an argument rooted in fact or use any type of persuasive rhetoric to persuade listeners

    More disturbing…
    Assuming some listeners find her “argument” compelling our education system has obviously not only failed this particular speaker but also failed to help listeners
    1.) identify counter-examples
    2.) think beyond cliched phrases intended to tug heart strings
    3.) distill what is being said into basic language and then take pause to question what was actually being communicated (identify the dots and connect them)

    In my view, education/educators/learners/teachers/parents/neighbors/communities need to drastically switch gears from mile-wide superficial content coverage to in-depth, individualized and community conversations and experiential explorations…home and abroad. Unfortunately, my stomachache starts when I think about funding for education and how money is allocated…where higher “performing” schools get more money and lower “performing” schools get re-districted…and “performance” = regurgitated content knowledge in few subject-areas.

    Thanks again for sharing the video and your thoughts and thanks for allowing me to share mine.


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