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by Charles L. Hyder

This study brings closure to species survival arguments, by specifying via an Equation and its Graph what concentrations of Plutonium are required to cause species extinctions. The key variable is genome size. Amphibians have the largest genomes, and are already suffering malformations and extinctions. Larger animals, especially carnivores, will certainly be next. Humans will not be immune.

This book is out of print.
The Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM, is designed to hold plutonium-contaminated material, produced by our nation's nuclear armament industry, "out of the environment" for 10,000 years. The number of hld's [human lethal doses] of plutonium scheduled to be placed in WIPP is alarming and unacceptable.

Charles Hyder received B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from the University of New Mexico (1958,1960), and a Ph.D. in Astrogeo- physics from the University of Colorado (1964). He published more than twenty solar and comet papers. He worked for NASA, UCLA, UNM, and the Southwest Research and Information Center. He was an early whistle-blower, presenting effective criticism of plans for radwaste disposal in New Mexico, [particularly at WIPP]. He and nineteen other radwaste experts were employed by the government of Lower Saxony to critique the Gorleben Salt Dome project, which was ultimately rejected.

In 1986-87 Hyder underwent a seven-month fast in Washington, DC, protesting against War. In this book he commits to another fast, "terminal," he says, protesting the proposed opening of WIPP. It will remain open, "over my dead body." This book provides the science which underlies that kind of certainty and commitment.

In HUMAN SURVIVAL... Hyder advises his readers to become strict vegetarians. He suggests living at high altitudes, rather than in low-lying areas, where heavy metals settle. He asserts that recent, global amphibian extinctions are our dying canaries!

Dr. Charles L. Hyder died in Albuquerque on June 8, 2004. Please scroll down to read more about his life and work.

End of WIPP-fast

On Friday, June 11, Dr. Charles L. Hyder lapsed into unconsciousness. He was unable to swallow water. On Sunday, June 13, paramedics were called to take him to the Carlsbad Medical Center. They immediately attached an IV.

Charles was brought back to consciousness and driven home to Albuquerque on Tuesday, June 15. On Wednesday he broke his fast, eating a hearty meal.

Many friends and family have convinced Charles that he will do humanity more good, for now, alive rather than dead. Media and DOE response to the 82-day fast was almost nil.

Harry Willson reports on the aftermath of Hyder's anti-WIPP fast:

As the Department of Energy opened the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, in the spring of 1999, and began placing transuranic nuclear waste in salt beds two thousand feet below the surface, Dr. Charles L. Hyder embarked on what he then called "a terminal fast" in protest against what he was sure constituted irreversible pollution of the environment. Dr. Hyder was a distinguished scientist and long-standing whistle-blower concerning the hazards bound to result from the scientific errors and publicity frauds and falsehoods that have been characteristic of WIPP's operation. Dr. Hyder calls WIPP a radioactive waste release program.

For details on these matters see his book, HUMAN SURVIVAL ON A PLUTONIUM-CONTAMINATED PLANET, especially pages 49-59. His intent was to attract enough attention to those errors and falsehoods, to cause the facility to be closed. "Either WIPP dies, or I will die," he stated.

As it came about, neither thing happened. WIPP has not been closed, and the DOE is still placing nuclear waste in wet salt in areas characterized by pressurized brine which in 10,000 years, or in ten years, will very likely bring into being a radioactive geyser. And Charles Hyder did not die. On the 85th day of his fast he fell unconscious and friends took him to a nearby hospital, where Dr. Hyder's instructions not to be resuscitated were not followed. When he regained consciousness, those friends convinced him that since the media was ignoring his fast and his near-death, he would do humanity more good alive than dead.

Three types of "aftermath" to all this can be noted, in Dr. Hyder himself.

[1] Physical results. He was a large overweight man when he began his fast. He lost more than one hundred fifty pounds before lapsing into unconsciousness. Since then he has regained the lost weight. His doctor declares that his circulatory system is "great."

[2] Mental results. Dr. Hyder sensed that he was experiencing mental lapses, perhaps because of the fast. This upset him greatly. It is well-documented that hallucinations can be induced by fasting. Also minor lapses are downright common in persons of Dr. Hyder's age, which is 70. Fasting is not required, and the lapses can be upsetting, if not infuriating. "Your mind plays tricks on you." But for Dr. Hyder it was a crucial turning point. "The one thing I could always do and do well was think. But now I can no longer trust my own reasoning powers, or the conclusions they arrive at. I have caught myself thinking things and then found them to be wrong, in error. I used to think, then decide, then act, but no longer. I must shift to intuition and have started to do so. Now I simply do what I feel like doing spontaneously, with no rational analyses associated."

It needs to be made clear that Dr. Hyder has found no errors in his scientific analysis of the hazard that WIPP constitutes for humanity and the biosphere. His comments about "being wrong" refer to his awareness of his thinking processes since the fast in 1999. "I do what feels right spontaneously. Oh, sometimes thinking kicks in, but I no longer trust it, and I ignore it."

[3] Philosophical results. These range in different directions. Charles feels utterly betrayed by his government. "It is no longer a democracy. The greatest enemy of democracy on the earth is the U.S. government. The people no longer have any say; we no longer matter at all. The government is against the people and is in the process of destroying them."

Charles is also very sanguine about the lack of support for his protest, and the lack of public and media interest in it. He was ignored almost entirely, except for shallow "human interest" angles stimulated by the fast. There was no media or general public comprehension of WIPP and the science entailed in evaluating WIPP and no interest in gaining any real comprehension.

Charles was out ahead of the other organized protests against WIPP -- too far out, and too far ahead. The most active leaders in the organizations dedicated to preventing the opening of WIPP opposed his fast altogether and their own protest was tardy, ineffectual [as his was] and almost non-existent. There was no real civil disobedience and no success at gaining media attention. And Charles, alone at the WIPP site for the first three months of WIPP operation, was ignored, as much by the protestors as by the media.

Since WIPP has opened and Charles has recovered, he has become what I can only describe as a Zen elf. His commitment to Truth and to Fact puts him in a different category from the rest of us mere mortals, who cannot stop weighing personal expedience into the equation of our lives, who cannot stop being "reasonable" and "practical." He put his whole life on the line, and we did not.

Now he has come to accept that which is, in classic Zen fashion. There is no room for wishing that it wasn't what it is, no sugar-coating, no veneer of unreasonable hope. The humans have done it to themselves and to the rest of the larger life forms, perhaps to all life forms. On some days Charles thinks that the bacteria who live inside of buried rocks may survive this disaster, but on most days he thinks all life forms, including all those underground bacteria, are doomed by 3000 A.D.

"It is too late. Humans have created enough plutonium to constitute about one billion human lethal doses for each human on earth today, and now, due to WIPP and Soviet releases, it is no longer contained where it can be retrieved." From WIPP it will go down the Pecos River into the Rio Grande, into the Gulf of Mexico, into the Gulf Stream, to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Norway and the Arctic. It is already going from Hanford, Washington, into the Columbia River, down into the Pacific, into the Japan Current and further on. By 1986 the Soviets had put their radioactive wastes in liquid form into sandstone formations in the headwaters of three large rivers: the Ob, the Volga and the Yenisey.

Spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors cannot be contained indefinitely, especially since we as a people are no longer serious about containing them. The Chernobyl disaster has caused the global amphibia extinctions since 1986, and future similar disasters are inevitable, now that the pressure to build even more reactors has been revived. The major impact of a large meteorite striking the earth would be from the nuclear reactors it disintegrated and distributed. An oceanic impact would disintegrate countless coastal reactors by means of a 100-foot to 1000-foot tsunami. Yucca Mountain will be more hazardous than WIPP, given what we know about earthquakes there. Earth movements do not alter the radioactivity of plutonium.

Future technology will not save us from uncontained poison. No future technology will be able to treat successfully the entire planet. Dr. Hyder believes that all humans will be extinct by 2300 A.D., due to radioactive contamination of our planet during the 20th, 21st and 22nd centuries.

"If I were young, I'd be working on some form of exodus from this planet, but it is too late for me to be effective at my age. Besides, there is no plan in place at all now for such a thing, and with the current prevailing attitudes, any future plans would be for the rich only, not for all people. If it isn't for all, I'm not interested."

Charles Hyder exudes a kind of peace that one imagines emanated from Mahatma Gandhi. He smiles. He laughs. He has gained back most of the weight he lost, which means that he is large and round. He has two personal credos now. One is simply, "Do no harm." The other is, "Be worthy of our providers, those who give their lives so that we can eat and live."

He is now reading about Antarctica, a love of his since childhood. His existence is a challenge to thoughtful persons. Mortality has been the lot of individual humans forever. The ultimate extinction of each entire species seems also to have been part of the pattern of life for eons. But now that the mortality of our own species has been deliberately arranged for by us, it makes what is left of our personal lives more precious, more poignant and more bittersweet than ever.

by Harry Willson

Amador Author, Charles Hyder, Dies

We received word, by way of our contacts with a Russian television network, that Dr. Charles L. Hyder, author of Human Survival on a Plutonium-Contaminated Planet, has died. He had been a resident of Las Palomas Nursing Home here in Albuquerque, and was transferred to a hospital, where he died on June 8, 2004. A brief obituary appeared in the Albuquerque Journal of Sunday, June 13, stating that "burial will be private and no services are planned."

The obituary also stated "Charles dedicated his knowledge and energy to his belief in environmental causes and the anti-nuclear movement. He frequently gave scientific testimony in environmental health hearings and gained world-wide attention for his fasting for the causes in which he believed. The fasting took its toll and he was in poor health in later years."

We here at Amador Publishers became involved in Charles' second fast, which he announced in his book, which we published. In 1999 Harry Willson was named power of attorney by Charles, with instructions to notify medical personnel not to revive Charles, when he collapsed. After 82 days of fasting, protesting the opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project [WIPP], the facility near Carlsbad, NM, designed to hold low level nuclear waste produced by our country's manufacture of nuclear weapons, Charles did collapse. Friends took him to Carlsbad Hospital and revived him, before calling the power of attorney.

Since then Charles has served as an example of the sort of activist who has done all he could, and then lapsed into a Zen-like acceptance of the fact that the planet has been irremediably poisoned. He called WIPP "a nuclear waste distribution facility. You can't keep plutonium isolated in wet salt."

He also told Willson that if he were forty years younger, he'd be working on plans to evacuate the planet — he called the imaginary project, "Exodus." But he fretted that only the wealthy would be allowed to escape the poisoned planet, and he admitted that that did not satisfy him.

One of the greatest sacrifices entailed in Charles' attempted terminal fast was his confidence in his own mental capacity. Before the fast he stated, "The one thing that I know how to do is think." During the fast he experienced hallucinations and delusions, and he caught himself doing it, and ever since he found that he mistrusted that ability to think. "I found myself believing error, even nonsense." It undermined any possible future activism on his part.

Several of Harry Willson's Rants deal with Charles Hyder and the challenge he posed. See, in Library of Old Rants:

He was a remarkable human being, whose clarity could be upsetting to others. He was a genius, and a courageous man. He was better-known abroad, because of his first fast, in Washington, DC, against nuclear war as a national policy. His death has been noted in Russia, on NTV, and in "Izvestia." There he is a kind of human hero. Here, the powers that be, if they notice at all, will be heaving a sigh of relief. That gadfly is finally gone.

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