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A vibrant and heartfelt appeal to States to abandon the use of nuclear energy: this is the message sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Japanese people to express the solidarity of the Orthodox world.
with all due respect for the human face of scientific knowledge of its potential use for the production of nuclear energy to meet the needs of humanity, thus threatening its survival, we dare to propose the use of scientific knowledge for the production of alternative energy sources, the so-called 'green' energy, that isfriendly to the environment and thus for humanity. "
Bartholomew points out that "our Creator has given us the sun, wind, waves, from which energy can be extracted for our needs. An ecological science has the ability to invent tools for the production of renewable energy that is not harmful. Why, then, spread the use of energy production that is so dangerous to the integrity of the human race? Is it not an insult and a provocation of nature, which in turn then turns her back on human beings? ". "From this our humble home, along with our prayers for the sorely tried people of the Land of the Rising Sun, we take the opportunity to make an appeal to States to reconsider their policy on nuclear energy" says Bartholomew I. In short a brave and provocative message, and a decided position, in line with the ecological battle undertaken by the patriarchate of Constantinople since 1989, which with its various initiatives is at the forefront in the Christian world for ecological conception of creation.
Natural fission chain-reactors on Earth
Criticality in nature is uncommon. At three ore deposits at Oklo in Gabon, sixteen sites (the so-called Oklo Fossil Reactors) have been discovered at which self-sustaining nuclear fission took place approximately 2 billion years ago. Unknown until 1972 (but postulated by Paul Kuroda in 1956), when French physicist Francis Perrin discovered the Oklo Fossil Reactors, it was realized that nature had beaten humans to the punch. Large-scale natural uranium fission chain reactions, moderated by normal water, had occurred far in the past and would not be possible now. This ancient process was able to use normal water as a moderator only because 2 billion years before the present, natural uranium was richer in the shorter-lived fissile isotope 235U (about 3%), than natural uranium available today (which is only 0.7%, and must be enriched to 3% to be usable in light-water reactors).
The products of nuclear fission, however, are on average far more radioactive than the heavy elements which are normally fissioned as fuel, and remain so for significant amounts of time, giving rise to a nuclear waste problem. Concerns over nuclear waste accumulation and over the destructive potential of nuclear weapons may counterbalance the desirable qualities of fission as an energy source, and give rise to ongoing political debate over nuclear power.