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The Cradock Four August 16, 2011

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Film screening, History, Politics.
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The Cradock Four, a dramatic documentary about the brutal murder of four prominent Eastern Cape anti-Apartheid activists, will be shown in Cape Town at the Labia on Orange cinema on Sunday 21 August at 6:15pm, on Monday 22 August at 8:30pm and on Tuesday 23 August at 6:15pm.

On a winter’s night in 1985, an Apartheid police hit squad assassinated four young activists in the Eastern Cape. Among South Africa’s most notorious political murders, the abduction and brutal killing of Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlauli became a major turning point in the country’s history, triggering a state of emergency and eventually leading to the release of Mandela.

Having taken seven years to complete, David Forbes’ award-winning feature documentary film The Cradock Four explores who the four victims were and investigates the circumstances that led to their deaths. The murders became one of Apartheid’s murkiest and most controversial episodes and the film allows the viewer to perceive the oppressive climate of the racist regime and looks at both inquiries into the murders (in 1989 and 1992), as well as into the investigations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which denied amnesty to the killers. The Cradock Four weaves together interviews, archival footage, dramatic recreations and lyrical visual images to create a chilling story that reminds all of us of the many bloody sacrifices with which our democratic freedoms were won.

The Cradock Four is a must-see for anyone hoping to understand South Africa’s past, present and future.

Tickets are R20 and can be reserved by calling The Labia at (021) 424 5927. We strongly recommended that you reserve tickets to avoid disappointment.

This event is presented by the Labia and While You Were Sleeping, a Cape Town-based non-profit film collective committed to bringing progressive, non-mainstream documentaries with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences.

Contacts:

The Labia:
021 424 5927

Official film website:
http://www.thecradockfour.co.za

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Gasland screenings in Cape Town March 7, 2011

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Climate change, Environment, Film screening, Fracking, Global warming, Press Release, South Africa.
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Gasland, the Oscar-nominated documentary about fracking – an environmentally destructive method of natural gas exploitation that may be used in the Karoo soon – will be shown at:

The Labia on Orange cinema in Cape Town on Monday 21 March at 6:15pm, on Tuesday 22 March at 8:30pm and on Wednesday 23 March at 6:15pm

and at:

The Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg on Monday 4 April at 8.00pm, Tuesday 5 April at 8.00pm and on Friday 8 April at 8.00pm.

Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown – Gasland is the must-see documentary of the year!

The largest natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” just beneath the country. But is fracking safe?

When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled town in the neighbourhood reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country Fox calls Gasland.

This documentary is particularly relevant to South Africans because Royal Dutch Shell and other local and international oil and gas companies are about to start exploring for natural gas in the Karoo. The fracking technique that will be used for extracting this gas is extremely water-intensive and known to cause devastating groundwater pollution. Watching Gasland is a bit like watching the Karoo of the future – if we allow fracking to happen here!

The screenings will be followed by a facilitated audience discussion.

Tickets for the screenings at the Labia can be reserved by calling 021 424 5927. Tickets for the screenings at The Bioscope can be booked online at www.thebioscope.co.za or by calling 087 830 0445. We strongly recommended that you reserve tickets to avoid disappointment.



This event is presented by the Labia, http://www.fractual.co.za, a South African anti-fracking website, Earthlife Africa Cape Town and While You Were Sleeping, a Cape Town-based non-profit film collective committed to bringing progressive, non-mainstream documentaries with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences.

Contacts:

The Labia:
021 424 5927

The Bioscope:
087 830 0445
www.thebioscope.co.za

Official film website:
www.gaslandthemovie.com

Fractual:
info@fractual.co.za
www.fractual.co.za

While You Were Sleeping:
www.whileyouweresleeping.wordpress.com

Carbon Nation: a climate change solutions movie January 3, 2011

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Climate change, Environment, Film screening, Global warming, renewable energy, South Africa, Sustainable Living.
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Carbon Nation, a documentary about climate change solutions, will premier in Cape Town at the Labia on Orange cinema on Saturday 15 January at 6:15pm, on Sunday 16 January at 6:15pm and on Monday 17 January at 8:30pm.

Carbon Nation is a brand-new, feature-length documentary about climate change solutions. Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change or just don’t buy it at all, this is a compelling and relevant film that illustrates how solutions to climate change also address other social, economic and security issues.

We already have the technology to combat most of the worst-case scenarios of climate change and Carbon Nation takes us on an optimistic journey of discovery that reveals what people are already doing, what we could be doing and what the world needs to do to prevent (or slow down) the impending climate crisis.

We meet a host of entertaining and endearing characters along the way, including entrepreneurs, visionaries, scientists, business people and more, all making a difference and working towards solving climate change. Carbon Nation is an inspiring film that celebrates solutions, inspiration and action.

The screenings will be followed by a facilitated audience discussion and Q&A session with Peter Byck, the film’s director.

Tickets are R20 and can be reserved by calling The Labia at (021) 424 5927. We strongly recommended that you reserve tickets to avoid disappointment.

This event is presented by the Labia and While You Were Sleeping, a Cape Town-based non-profit film collective committed to bringing progressive, non-mainstream documentaries with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences.

Contacts:

The Labia:
021 424 5927

Official film website:
www.carbonnationmovie.com

While You Were Sleeping:
Andreas Späth
084 749 9470
Andreas_Spath@yahoo.com
www.whileyouweresleeping.wordpress.com

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price December 6, 2010

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Film screening, Politics, South Africa, Work.
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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, an acclaimed documentary film that investigates the destructive impacts of the world’s largest retailer which is soon coming to South Africa, will be shown at the Labia on Orange cinema in Cape Town on Saturday 11 December at 12:00 noon.

Walmart is infamous across the world for its attack on workers. Now it’s coming to South Africa!

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is a feature length documentary that uncovers the retail giant’s assault on America and the world by exploring the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight the goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

This event is hosted by the Cape Town branch of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), a democratic, worker-run union dedicated to organising on the job, in our industries and in our communities, both to win better conditions today and to build a world without bosses.

The screening will be followed by a facilitated audience discussion.

Tickets are R10 and can be reserved by calling The Labia at (021) 424 5927. This is a once-off screening and we strongly recommended that you reserve tickets to avoid disappointment.

This event is presented by the IWW, the Labia and While You Were Sleeping, a Cape Town-based non-profit film collective committed to bringing progressive, non-mainstream documentaries with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences.

Contacts:

The Labia:
021 424 5927

IWW:
iww-ct@live.co.za

While You Were Sleeping:
Andreas Späth
084 772 1056
Andreas_Spath@yahoo.com
www.whileyouweresleeping.wordpress.com

Empty Oceans, Empty Nets November 2, 2010

Posted by Andreas in activism, Cape Town, Environment, Film screening, Sustainable Living.
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Empty Oceans, Empty Nets, an acclaimed documentary that explores the deepening crisis of the world’s marine fisheries, will be shown at the Labia on Orange cinema in Cape Town on Tuesday 9 November at 6:15pm.

This event is brought to you by the Marine Stewardship Council, the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling program for sustainable seafood, which works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood.

Empty Oceans, Empty Nets explores the marine fisheries crisis and the pioneering efforts of fishermen, scientists and communities to sustain and restore these fisheries and our oceans. The film begins with a sequence of stunning images that reveal the immense volume and diversity of fish caught in a seemingly limitless ocean. From Indonesia to Japan to the Bering Sea, the cameras document an ever-growing, high-tech fishing effort that yields over a hundred million metric tons of seafood each year. These marine fisheries provide food, income and employment for 200 million people worldwide, but how long can the massive hunt be sustained?

There are signs that the ocean’s bounty may well have reached its biological limit. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, 15 of the world’s 17 major ocean fisheries are either depleted or over-exploited. A long-term, comprehensive study conducted by a team of marine scientists concluded that 90% of the large fish species in the world’s oceans (such as tuna, swordfish and cod) have been fished out in the last 50 years.

Yet the news is not all bad: Empty Oceans, Empty Nets documents some of the most promising and innovative work being done to restore marine fisheries and to protect essential fish habitat. These efforts include new market initiatives that now give consumers a powerful vote in deciding how our oceans are fished.

A welcome drink and snacks will be available on arrival.

The screening will be followed by a facilitated audience discussion.

Tickets are R20 and can be reserved by calling The Labia at (021) 424 5927. This is a once-off screening and we strongly recommended that you reserve tickets to avoid disappointment.

This event is brought to you by the Marine Stewardship Council, the Labia and While You Were Sleeping, a Cape Town-based non-profit film collective committed to bringing progressive, non-mainstream documentaries with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences.

Contacts:

The Labia:
021 424 5927

For further information about the Marine Stewardship Council contact:

Michael Marriott

Tel: 021 551 0620

Michael.Marriott@msc.org

http://www.msc.org

While You Were Sleeping:
Andreas Späth
084 772 1056
Andreas_Spath@yahoo.com
http://www.whileyouweresleeping.wordpress.com

The Most Dangerous Man In America October 18, 2010

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Film screening, History, Politics, Society, South Africa.
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Documentary about freedom of information to be shown in Cape Town

Are you worried about the Protection of Information Bill currently before Parliament? Join the Right2Know Campaign for a screening of The Most Dangerous Man In America, a documentary which illustrates the dangers of restricted public access to information – even in a democracy – and was nominated for an Oscar in 2010.

The Most Dangerous Man In America will be shown at the Labia on Orange cinema in Cape Town on Monday 25 October at 6:15pm.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and leading Vietnam War strategist, concludes that the war is based on decades of lies and leaks 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to The New York Times, making headlines around the world. Hailed as a hero, vilified as a traitor and ostracised even by his closest colleagues, Ellsberg risks life in prison to stop a war he helped to plan.

The Most Dangerous Man In America tells the riveting story of one man’s profound change of heart and takes a piercing look at the world of government secrecy as revealed by the ultimate insider. Characterised by an epic battle between America’s greatest newspapers and its president, which goes all the way to the Supreme Court, this political thriller unravels a saga that leads directly to Watergate, Nixon’s resignation and the end of the Vietnam War.

The scenario described by The Most Dangerous Man In America is incredibly relevant to the situation faced by South African’s at this very moment in time. If you care about your right to access to information, don’t miss this feature-length documentary.

The Right2Know Campaign is an umbrella campaign representing a broad front of over 700 civil society groups. We believe a responsive and accountable democracy able to meet the basic needs of our people is built on transparency and the free flow of information. The Right2Know campaign statement – “Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!” – was drafted following parliamentary hearings on the Bill in July 2010 and demands that secrecy legislation must comply with constitutional values. It is based upon detailed submissions made to Parliament by civil society groups. For more information about the Right2Know Campaign consult www.r2k.org.za.

The screening will be followed by a facilitated audience discussion.

Tickets are R20 and can be reserved by calling The Labia at (021) 424 5927. This is a once-off screening and we strongly recommended that you reserve tickets to avoid disappointment.

This event is presented by the Right2Know Campaign, the Tri- Continental Film Festival, the Labia and While You Were Sleeping, a Cape Town-based non-profit film collective committed to bringing progressive, non-mainstream documentaries with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences.

Contacts:

The Labia:
021 424 5927

The Right2Know Campaign:

Sarah Duff

079 862 6696

sarahemilyduff@gmail.com

www.r2k.org.za

While You Were Sleeping:
Andreas Späth
084 772 1056
Andreas_Spath@yahoo.com
http://www.whileyouweresleeping.wordpress.com

IWW documentary screening and public meeting October 12, 2010

Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", activism, anarchism, Cape Town, Film screening, Politics, Society, South Africa, Work.
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Join the Cape Town Branch of the IWW for:

A screening of the short documentary “Together we win: the fight to organise Starbucks” followed by a public meeting on “Organising as casuals and contract workers”.

Most workers today work in casual and precarious jobs. In many parts of the world, including South Africa, most unions have not been up to this challenge, and have often failed to organise casual workers.


The IWW Starbucks Union, however, is different. The entire union is made up of casual workers who are organising themselves at Starbucks stores. In tribute to their comrades in the IWW Starbucks Union, the Cape IWW branch is presenting a documentary made by these workers themselves. This inspiring movie tells the remarkable the story of how casual workers in the Starbucks chain of stores fought for and won the right to organise.

Date: Saturday 16th October 2010

Time: 14h00

Venue: Cape Town Democracy Centre, 6 Spin Street, Cape Town

For more information or to RSVP contact us on iww-ct@live.co.za



Human trash or treasures? August 19, 2010

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Column, Environment, rant, Sustainable Living.
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Human trash or treasures?

(This column was first published on 2010-07-28 at News24 here)

South Africa has been a global leader in green jobs for decades. While the rest of the world was still grappling with the concept, hundreds of local men and women were already delivering valuable environmental services in every town and city of this country on a daily basis. What’s more, these pioneering eco-preneurs do their jobs voluntarily and for free.

Considering that the green economy is supposedly all the rage with government and industry these days you’d expect these dedicated workers to make clean sweeps of green award ceremonies everywhere and be heavily decorated with honorary medals for outstanding service to the community. Alas, most of us simply ignore them and their efforts. At best we think of them as a nuisance, at worst we regard them as thieving petty-criminals who deserve to be chased away and harangued.

Of course I’m talking about the waste pickers we all regularly encounter half-submerged in our wheelie bins on suburban “rubbish days”. The archetypal recyclers, they basically mine our household refuse for items they can eat, use, trade or sell – the stuff we are too lazy to separate from genuinely useless garbage. They might be the only people in the country to have negative environmental footprints, yet on a social level, the average family pet gets more respect than they do.

Their colleagues who eke out a living by salvaging things from municipal landfill sites don’t fare much better. They work with dangerous, toxic and infectious liquid, gaseous and solid waste, recovering anything from plastics, paper, cardboard and glass to metals, cloth cut-offs and computer components from which they can expect to make as little as R20 a day. At many landfill sites they are under constant threat of harassment and eviction.

Waste pickers contribute to the greater good by:

– conserving scarce resources, including energy and water through recycling;
– preventing soil, air and water pollution;
– creating secondary employment opportunities for recyclers and people converting their pickings into usable goods;
– prolonging the lifespan of landfills by saving space;
– preventing the loss of biodiversity and valuable land to expanding landfills; and
– mitigating climate change from greenhouse gas emitting landfill sites.

So why aren’t we treating them better? It’s our rubbish they’re saving us from after all!

Things are improving a little bit, mind you, but ever so slowly. Several NGOs, especially the KZN-based organisation groundWork, have played a leading role in helping landfill waste pickers to get organized, by doing research, hosting provincial waste pickers’ meetings, getting municipalities to engage with and recognise waste pickers and incorporating them in their waste management strategies. The Waste Act of 2008 legally recognises salvaging activities at landfill sites as well as the valuable role played by waste reclaimers themselves.

Last year saw the launch of the South African Wastepickers’ Association and a number of municipalities from Emfuleni in Gauteng and Mafikeng in the North West Province to Mpofana in KZN have granted waste pickers permission to do their jobs without harassment and as part of an integrated waste management plan. We need more of that kind of thing. Much more. On a national, provincial and municipal level.

Green jobs aren’t just about high-tech engineering, manufacturing solar water heaters and installing wind turbines and photovoltaic panels – although it would be nice if we finally got a good start on those, too. If government is really serious about establishing a green economy it’s high time that we empower waste pickers to improve their lot in life. They may be part of the most informal sector of the economy, but they are a well-established national group with a wealth of practical skills and experience who would benefit greatly from legal recognition and a more secure way of earning a livelihood.

I can think of few more affordable, effective and eco-friendly job creation opportunities than training waste pickers, providing them with protective gear, establishing recycling depots, waste-sorting centres and secondary recycling industries and projects throughout the country.

For the rest of us, it’s time to start treating waste pickers with more dignity and the respect they deserve.

Our Cup carbon bootprint August 17, 2010

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Climate change, Environment, Global warming, rant, renewable energy, South Africa, Sustainable Living.
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Our Cup carbon bootprint

(This column was first published on 2010-07-14 at News24 here)

It was fun, it was loud, it was colourful and it was a huge success. But especially green it was not. In fact, by several measures, the FIFA World Cup 2010 was possibly the least eco-friendly major international sporting event ever.

Before we let the euphoria of all the excess gees generated by a job brilliantly done hurtle us towards hosting other global mega shows – the Olympics, in particular – we’d do well to honestly assess some of the environmental shortcomings of the World Cup, along with other concerns around the (mis)allocation of scarce resources, white elephant stadiums and the behaviour of bully-boy organisers like FIFA.

An authoritative study sponsored by the Norwegian government estimates that the WC2010 was responsible for producing excess greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 2.7 million tones of CO2. That may be less than a percent of our national annual emissions, but it makes for a carbon footprint twice the size of that of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and more than eight times that of the WC2006 in Germany.

The event showed up our dirty, coal-fired electricity generation industry (12.4% of emissions came from energy use in accommodation), our carbon-intensive transport infrastructure within cities and between the far-flung stadiums (19%) and, most dramatically, the fact that we are located a great distance from most of the planet’s affluent football fans (a whopping 67.4% of emissions were due to international travel).

Yes, there was talk of “green goals”, but most of these appeared to be more ad hoc afterthoughts rather than binding and substantive commitments. Planting trees, even many thousands of them, is nice, but it’s also a notoriously ineffective method for sopping up CO2. The fact that African teams wore jerseys promoting biodiversity and that those of Brazil, Portugal and the Netherlands were partially made out of recycled plastic bottles amounts to little more than greenwashed corporate PR. Our stadiums, though stunningly beautiful and wonderfully accommodating, appear to incorporate disappointingly little in the way of green design.

Golden opportunity missed

Does this mean that, from an environmental perspective, we shouldn’t host major international events again? Not at all. It just means that we missed a golden opportunity in 2010 and that there is much room for improvement in the future.

It’s been estimated that it would take in the order of R200m to offset the WC2010 carbon footprint. A big sum, sure, but not an impossible one in the context of a multi-billion rand event. Imagine if that sort of money had been invested directly in greening South Africa. In a massive energy efficiency campaign, for example. Or to kick-start a home-grown renewable energy manufacturing industry. The single wind turbine that provided some green electricity to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was a commendable initiative, but why wasn’t this sort of thing an integral part of the plan for every stadium right from the start. The environmental benefits would have been as lasting as the wonderful footballing memories.

Around the world, new and refurbished eco-friendly sports stadiums are now being built using sustainable and recycled materials, incorporating systems that optimise energy and water savings, capture, clean and reuse waste and rainwater and generate their own electricity with renewable energy technologies. The 2012 Olympic Stadium in London, for instance, will have a façade wrapped in low-impact hemp, while the large roof of the World Games Stadium in Taiwan is covered in solar panels that power the entire facility and supply surplus electricity to the city of Kaohsiung. A stadium that doubles as a gigantic rainwater storage device and renewable energy power station between the odd fantastic sporting event stands much less of a chance of becoming a money-draining white elephant than some of our brand new arenas.

How about the 2020 Olympics then? Bring it! If we make the environment as fundamental and central a priority on the agenda as running a spectacular show to wow the planet, it’ll be even better than the World Cup.

Some cancer with your nuke energy? August 13, 2010

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Environment, Nuclear Power, rant, renewable energy, South Africa, Sustainable Living.
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Some cancer with your nuke energy?

(This column was first published on 2010-07-07 at News24 here)

Is it healthy to live near a nuclear power plant (NPP)? Is there an increased risk of contracting cancer, particularly for babies and young children in their formative years?

These are important, controversial and highly contested questions which have been the subject of intense public and scientific debate in Europe and North America for years.

Yet in South Africa, where Eskom and the government are intent on constructing several new NPPs in the next decade or two, they hardly ever get a mention. In the ongoing environmental impact assessment process for Eskom’s proposed Nuclear1 project, for instance, considerations of the impact on human health have been specifically excluded.

If you’re a regular reader of this column you’ll know that I don’t like nuclear power, but I’ve always considered health concerns to be among the least convincing arguments in the case against nukes. We are told, after all, that barring an accident, radioactive emissions from a NPP are so minimal – practically indistinguishable from the natural background – as to be inconsequential. Well, I’ve changed my mind.

Cancer clusters

In the late 1980s and early 1990s several studies reported a statistically raised incidence of childhood leukaemia, a cancer of the bone marrow or blood, within a ten mile radius of some English and Welsh atomic facilities.

Similar cancer clusters were also identified around some nuclear sites in the USA and France, but a number of contradictory studies from France, Israel, Great Britain, Finland, the USA, Spain and elsewhere could find no evidence for a correlation between the risk of contracting cancer and one’s proximity to a NPP.

The data is inconclusive, the experts said. Besides, there are many possible causes for cancer clusters as well as many cancer clusters which are located far from any NPPs.

Then, in the early 1990s a German medical doctor raised concern over the unusually large number of small children with leukaemia he was treating in his rural practice south east of Hamburg. All of the patients in question lived near the Krümmel NPP.

Several subsequent investigations confirmed his observations and established the existence of a cancer cluster around Krümmel.

In response to the considerable public outrage that followed, the German government commissioned what was designed to be a comprehensive and definitive scientific study to settle the dispute once and for all.

Known by its German acronym, the KiKK study investigated the prevalence of cancer among children below the age of 5 living near 16 of the country’s 20 commercial NPPs from 1980 to 2003. It goes without saying that similar studies have not been conducted in SA, nor are they on the cards.

Scary findings

The German results were releases in 2007 and 2008 and can be summarised as follows:

-Children living within 5km of an NPP are statistically more than twice as likely to develop leukaemia as others residing at a distance of more than 70km.

– The cancer risk increases with decreasing distance of a child’s home from a NPP.

– The data are not skewed by any “rogue” reactors and the results are verified even if data from any individual NPP are excluded from the analysis. The main findings have also been confirmed by subsequent independent evaluations.

So cancer clusters have been found around every German NPP investigated and it’s now officially accepted there that babies and small children – the sector of the population most vulnerable to ionising radiation – develop cancer and particularly leukaemia more frequently if they live near an NPP.

But here is the kicker.

Just because a pattern has been shown to exist doesn’t mean that NPPs are to blame. Since the results are “unexpected under current radiation-epidemiological knowledge” and NPPs supposedly emit too little radioactivity by a factor of 1 000 to 10 000 to cause cancer, “there is currently no plausible explanation for the observed effect”. Occam’s razor be damned!

Personally I don’t really care if small kids living near NPPs develop cancer because of leaking radioactivity or because of toxic fairy dust from evil pixies that just happen to like living in these places. I do have a solution to the conundrum though: let’s just stop building them.