Chelsea Green Publishing

Nuclear Roulette

Pages:320 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603584777
Pub. Date October 25, 2012
Paperback: 9781603584340
Pub. Date October 25, 2012

Nuclear Roulette

The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth

By Gar Smith
Foreword by Ernest Callenbach and Jerry Mander

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 25, 2012


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 25, 2012


Nuclear power is not clean, cheap, or safe. With Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, the nuclear industry's record of catastrophic failures now averages one major disaster every decade. After three US-designed plants exploded in Japan, many countries moved to abandon reactors for renewables. In the United States, however, powerful corporations and a compliant government still defend nuclear power-while promising billion-dollar bailouts to operators.

Each new disaster demonstrates that the nuclear industry and governments lie to "avoid panic," to preserve the myth of "safe, clean" nuclear power, and to sustain government subsidies. Tokyo and Washington both covered up Fukushima's radiation risks and-when confronted with damning evidence-simply raised the levels of "acceptable" risk to match the greater levels of exposure.

Nuclear Roulette dismantles the core arguments behind the nuclear-industrial complex's "Nuclear Renaissance." While some critiques are familiar-nuclear power is too costly, too dangerous, and too unstable-others are surprising: Nuclear Roulette exposes historic links to nuclear weapons, impacts on Indigenous lands and lives, and the ways in which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission too often takes its lead from industry, rewriting rules to keep failing plants in compliance. Nuclear Roulette cites NRC records showing how corporations routinely defer maintenance and lists resulting "near-misses" in the US, which average more than one per month.

Nuclear Roulette chronicles the problems of aging reactors, uncovers the costly challenge of decommissioning, explores the industry's greatest seismic risks-not on California's quake-prone coast but in the Midwest and Southeast-and explains how solar flares could black out power grids, causing the world's 400-plus reactors to self-destruct. This powerful exposé concludes with a roundup of proven and potential energy solutions that can replace nuclear technology with a "Renewable Renaissance," combined with conservation programs that can cleanse the air, and cool the planet.



"Journalist Smith (editor emer., Earth Island Journal) has responded to the Fukushima disaster with an avalanche of condemnation of everything nuclear with zeal and sometimes enthusiastic overkill. Nuclear power advocates will be challenged and opponents will be encouraged by the documented hazards related to nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. Many major oversights and bad decisions have contributed to health concerns and loss of life. Smith vividly demonstrates that nuclear power plants require NASA-type engineering and well-trained operators. He discusses how the military's use of uranium-235 left a legacy of high-level nuclear waste and a proliferation of plutonium for weapons. He also addresses the problems of nuclear waste storage … . Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations."

"It will be an auspicious start to our new century if we can encourage a revitalized movement to stop all nuclear production and immediately close down every nuclear facility-military and civilian. Then we can dedicate our skills and resources to finding true solutions to the real challenges of our time: evolving a sustainable, energy-wise, and peaceful society."--from the foreword by Jerry Mander

Nuclear Roulette is an act of love and reason for Mother Earth. We’ve had five decades of poisonous decision making in the face of millennia of life. Now is the time to safeguard our generations yet to come. Gar Smith’s powerful writing tells the stories that inform our good work.”--Winona LaDuke, indigenous rights activist and author of All Our Relations and Recovering the Sacred 

Nuclear Roulette by Gar Smith is a timely and necessary book. Nuclear energy is  unaffordable by every measure—by the measure of financial costs, of safety, and of the destruction of democracy. We are witnessing this in India where the US-India nuclear agreement is imposing a ‘nuclear renaissance’ by creating a police state in Koodankulam and in Jaitapur. Nuclear Roulette should be in the hands of everyone who cares for life and freedom.”--Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology

"This powerful solartopian screed leaves no doubt that the experiment with atomic energy is the most dangerous and expensive technological failure in human history. Gar Smith writes with extraordinary power and clarity on an industry whose failure threatens the future of our species—ecologically, economically, and in terms of biological survival. Nuclear Roulette is a strong signpost pointing straight to a green-powered world, where we get our energy cheaper, safer, cleaner, community-owned, and quicker. Take this book with you next time you’re out shutting a nuke or opening a wind farm."--Harvey Wasserman, author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, and editor of

“A thoroughly brilliant work. Extraordinary! Gar Smith cuts through the lies of the nuclear promoters to document the deadliness of atomic power.”--Karl Grossman, professor of journalism, State University of New York College at Old Westbury, and author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know about Nuclear Power

"If ever there was a book that people need to read at this moment in the history of the world it is Nuclear Roulette. Comprehensively referenced, it is not only an encyclopedia of the nuclear age related specifically to nuclear power, it is a potent warning of the almost incomprehensible dangers that lie ahead, as well as the damage that has already contaminated portions of our beloved planet beyond repair. I highly recommend this wonderful book to all who care about our children, future generations, and the thirty million other species that cohabit this earth with us."--Dr. Helen Caldicott, pediatrician, founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and author of Nuclear Madness and Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer

Kirkus Reviews-
An impassioned case against the use of nuclear power. 
In his debut, Earth Island Journal editor emeritus Smith gathers together several arguments against nuclear power into a concise yet detailed package. He forcefully asserts that nuclear power plants are not only unsafe—with severe accidents at nuclear plants in the United States, Russia and Japan serving to ‘illustrate the ultimate insanity of the nuclear option’—but also polluting, costly and inefficient. He gives several examples of nuclear-plant and government officials downplaying potentially serious risks to the public, and, in a compelling chapter, enumerates the failings of what he calls ‘five of the worst U.S. reactors.’ He examines a host of health and safety issues at plants all over the country, including the much-criticized Indian Point plant north of New York City. Smith concludes with several recommendations for alternatives, advocating for heightened energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power. The author comes at his subject from an environmentalist point of view, with an explicit desire to ‘pull the plug on this dangerous technology,’ and some readers may be skeptical of his concluding vision of a ‘sustainable compassion economy.’ Many of the arguments will also be familiar to veterans of the nuclear-power debate. Nonetheless, Smith lays out an impressively researched narrative, drawing on facts from a wide range of sources, and makes a strong case that will be hard for even nuclear-power advocates to dismiss out of hand. For casual readers, the book presents a well-written introduction to the anti-nuclear-power position. 
A penetrating argument against today's nuclear age.


  • Runner-up - ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award (Ecology & Environment)


Gar Smith

Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal, a Project Censored award-winning investigative journalist, and cofounder of Environmentalists Against War. He has covered revolutions in Central America and has engaged in environmental campaigns on three continents. He lives a low-impact, solar-assisted lifestyle in Berkeley, California.


Nuclear Roulette: Countdown to Extinction


Reinventing Fire

Reinventing Fire

By Amory Lovins

Oil and coal have built our civilization, created our wealth, and enriched the lives of billions. Yet, their rising costs to our security, economy, health, and environment now outweigh their benefits. Moreover, that long-awaited energy tipping point—where alternatives work better than oil and coal and compete purely on cost—is no longer decades in the future. It is here and now. And it is the fulcrum of economic transformation.

A global clean-energy race has emerged with astounding speed. The ability to operate without fossil fuels will define winners and losers in business—and among nations.

In Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute offer a new vision to revitalize business models, end-run Washington gridlock, and win the clean-energy race—not forced by public policy but led by business for enduring profit. This groundbreaking roadmap reveals market-based solutions across the transportation, building, industry, and electricity sectors. It highlights pathways and competitive strategies for a 158%-bigger 2050 U.S. economy that needs no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, and no new inventions.

This transition would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual—without counting fossil fuels’ huge hidden costs. It requires no new federal taxes, subsidies, mandates, or laws. The policy innovations needed to unlock and speed it need no Act of Congress.

Whether you care most about profits and jobs, national security, health, or environmental stewardship, Reinventing Fire charts a pragmatic course that makes sense and makes money. With clarity and mastery, Lovins and RMI point out the astounding opportunities for enterprise to create the new energy era.

Drawing praise President Bill Clinton, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, and a host of others, Reinventing Fire has piqued the interest of world leaders, business leaders, and political strategists.

The paperback will carry a new preface detailing the response from China and beyond.

Available in: Paperback

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Reinventing Fire

Amory Lovins, Marvin Odum, John W. Rowe

Paperback $29.95



By Mark Schimmoeller

Why a unicycle? Why a cross-country trip? Why leave a prominent New York magazine and return to the simple life in Kentucky?

Reminiscent of classic literary travelogues, Mark Schimmoeller’s Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America takes readers on an inward, emotional journey as he inches across landscapes and communities from North Carolina to Arizona.

Schimmoeller became inspired by his unicycle as an adolescent. It taught him that rushing—whether down the driveway or toward adulthood—would cause a fall, and so, instead of accepting the speeding, straight line that de-fines modern American life, he adopted his single wheel’s wayward rhythms.

Written with poise and humor, Slowspoke is more than a cross-country trip on a unicycle; it’s a meditation on a playful, recalcitrant slowness that is increasingly rare in a culture obsessed with acceleration. At times ach-ing and other times joyful, Schimmoeller intersperses recollections of his journey with vignettes of his present-day, off-the-grid homesteading with his wife in Kentucky and their efforts to save an old-growth forest.

Schimmoeller’s personal journey will resonate with anyone who has slowed down to experience life at a unicycle’s speed or who longs to do so, who has fallen in love or searched for it, or who has treasured tall trees or mourned their loss.

Slowspoke: A Unicyclist's Guide to America is also available as an audio book! Browse and download the book here >>

Available in: Paperback

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Mark Schimmoeller

Paperback $17.95

Death & Sex

Death & Sex

By Tyler Volk and Dorion Sagan

On DEATH . . .
What is shared by spawning Pacific salmon, towering trees, and suicidal bacteria? In his lucid and concise exploration of how and why things die, Tyler Volk explains the intriguing ways creatures-including ourselves-use death to actually enhance life. Death is not simply the end of the living, though even in that aspect the Grim Reaper has long been essential to natural selection. Indeed, the exquisite schemes and styles of death that have emerged from evolution have been essential to the great story from life's beginnings in tiny bacteria nearly four thousand million years ago to ancient human rituals surrounding death and continuing to the existential concerns of human culture and consciousness today. Volk weaves together autobiography, biology, Earth history, and results of fascinating studies that show how thoughts of our own mortality affect our everyday lives, to prove how an understanding of what some have called the ultimate taboo can enrich the celebration of life.

. . . and SEX
In Sex, Dorion Sagan takes a delightful, irreverent, and informative romp through the science, philosophy, and literature of humanity's most obsessive subject. Have you ever wondered what the anatomy and promiscuous behaviors of chimpanzees and the sexual bullying of gorillas tell us about ourselves? Why we lost our hair? What amoebas have to do with desire? Linking evolutionary biology to salacious readings of the lives and thoughts of such notables as the Marquis de Sade and Simone de Beauvoir, and discussing works as varied as The Story of O and Silence of the Lambs, Sex touches on a potpourri of interrelated topics ranging from animal genitalia to sperm competition, the difference between nakedness and nudity, jealousy's status as an aphrodisiac and the origins of language, Casanova and music, ovulation and clothes, mother-in-law jokes and alpha females, love and loneliness. A brief, wonderfully entertaining, highly literate foray into the origins and evolution of sex.

Two books in one cover, Death & Sex unravel and answer some of life's most fundamental questions.

Available in: Hardcover

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Death & Sex

Dorion Sagan, Tyler Volk

Hardcover $25.00

Worms Eat My Garbage

Worms Eat My Garbage

By Mary Appelhof

A new edition of the definitive guide to vermicomposting--a process using redworms to recycle human food waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. Author Mary Appelhof provides complete illustrated instructions on setting up and maintaining small-scale worm composting systems. Internationally recognized as an authority on vermicomposting, Appelhof has worked with worms for over three decades. Topics include: bin types, worm species, reproduction, care and feeding of worms, harvesting, and how to make the finished product of potting soil.

Available in: Paperback

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Worms Eat My Garbage

Mary Appelhof, Mary Frances Fenton

Paperback $12.95