It’s a blue Monday.
After a sunny weekend, the clouds are hovering and a light drizzle begins to fall. A group of activists, placards in hand, are braving the cold on the sidewalk of Empire Road. They are commemorating the Fukushima disaster of 2011 with a silent protest.
While it was a tsunami that triggered the nuclear accident in Japan, essentially it was the flaws in the nuclear build, the lack of transparency by the institutions involved, as well as the economic and socio-political mismanagement that caused the disaster - the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
The South African government wants to go ahead with a new nuclear build, and the way they are going about it bares many similarities with how the Fukushima disaster was managed, or mismanaged. There is a lack of transparency in the way they are going about it and – after watching how the nuclear industry sold the Japanese people out – many South Africans are wondering whether our government will put us in danger, and then ask us to foot the bill after a potential disaster.
Despite the flaws of the human institutions, nuclear energy itself is not clean, it is not safe, and it is not cheap. And people know this: Here on Empire Road, commuters are responding enthusiastically, some slowing down to take photos with their mobile phones, many others asking questions about what they can do to help out.
South Africa is in a unique position. It can learn from the mistakes of the developed nations – many who are now turning their backs on nuclear energy – and ignite an energy revolution. Such an energy [r]evolution will draw on our powerful, vast and largely untapped renewable sources of energy. In addition, it will create more jobs than nuclear energy ever could, and it has the potential to make South Africa a regional leader in the manufacture and supply of cleaner energy.
I am walking in-between the bumper-to-bumper traffic, handing out little flyers and interacting with the commuters. I am inspired by the enthusiastic reaction from people. I realise there and then that we are stronger than we think. We are determined, optimistic and inspired.
It’s a Green Monday now.
>> You can join us and take action - sign our petition: www.greenpeaceafrica.org/fukushima