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


The Greened House Effect

The Greened House Effect

By Jeff Wilson

With greater public awareness of the need for energy independence, the issue of how we can make our existing homes more resource efficient is becoming ever more critical. Residential buildings make up a large fraction of our energy needs, largely due to heating and air-conditioning. So it's no longer enough to simply do the small stuff, like switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, or turning down the thermostat at night.

In The Greened-House Effect, author Jeff Wilson brings his twenty-five years of construction experience and knowledge of home building to bear on making our current houses cleaner, greener, and healthier. Think of a deep-energy retrofit (DER) as a "home makeover" - one that represents a significant investment, but that saves money from the get-go by capturing the energy you "drop on the ground" every month, every year, through inefficiency, poor design, or simply living in a typical older home.

Using his own family's DER of their 1942 home as a prime example, Wilson weaves a readable narrative at a practical, hammer-and-nail level. He presents the solutions to our building and energy problems, making them seem possible for average homeowners and small contractors by offering the right set of information, skills, and materials.

More technical information is presented in sidebars and graphs, and numerous color photos illustrate the process, including:

  • Testing the energy efficiency of your home and learning where improvements need to be made
  • Issues of local building codes and regulations
  • Financing and paying for a DER
  • Major components of the DER, such as roofs, exterior walls, basements, and home systems

Wilson's building experience, along with his lifelong passion for energy issues, all come together to form an inspirational, can-do approach to making our neighborhood, our community, our nation, and our world a better place - one home at a time.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Greened House Effect

Jeff Wilson

Paperback $29.95

A Sanctuary of Trees

A Sanctuary of Trees

By Gene Logsdon

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

A Sanctuary of Trees

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95

The Woodland Year

The Woodland Year

By Ben Law

Packed with stunning color photographs, The Woodland Year is an intimate month-by-month journey through Ben Law’s yearly cycle of work, his naturally attuned lifestyle, and his deep understanding of his woods. The Woodland Year provides a fascinating insight into every aspect of sustainable woodland management, including the cycles of nature, seasonal tasks, wild food gathering, wine making, mouthwatering and useful recipes, coppice crafts, round-pole timber-frame eco-building (pioneered by Ben), nature conservation, species diversity, tree profiles, and the use of horses for woodland work.

This is a profound book that is both practical and poetic. It describes a way of life that is economically and ecologically viable and sets a new standard for managing our woods in a low-impact, sustainable way. As such, it holds some of the fundamental keys to how we can achieve a lower-carbon society.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

The Woodland Year

Ben Law, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hardcover $39.95

Dreaming the Future

Dreaming the Future

By Kenny Ausubel

Few would deny that we are entering a period of great change. Our environment is collapsing. Social disruption abounds. All around, it seems, we are experiencing breakdown. But out of this chaos comes the opportunity for breakthrough-the opportunity to reimagine our future.

In Dreaming the Future, Kenny Ausubel leads us into that possible new world and introduces us to the thinkers and doers who are-sometimes quietly, sometimes not-leading what he calls "a revolution from the heart of nature and the human heart."

In a collection of short, witty, poignant, even humorous essays, Ausubel tracks the big ideas, emerging trends, and game-changing developments of our time. He guides us through our watershed moment, showing how it's possible to emerge from a world where corporations are citizens, the gap between rich and poor is cavernous, and biodiversity and the climate are under assault and create a world where we take our cues from nature and focus on justice, equity, diversity, democracy, and peace.

Even those steeped in the realities of a world gone wrong and efforts to right it will find refreshing, even surprising, perspectives in Dreaming the Future. It will come as no surprise to readers that Ausubel is cofounder of Bioneers-which foreword author David W. Orr describes as "one part global part catalytic organization."

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Dreaming the Future

Kenny Ausubel, David W. Orr

Paperback $17.95