The Atomic Priesthood and Nuclear Waste Management: Religion, Sci-Fi Literature, and the End of Our Civilization

This article discusses the idea of an “Atomic Priesthood,” a religious caste that would preserve and transmit the knowledge of nuclear waste management for future generations. In 1981, the US Department of Energy commissioned a “Human Interference Task Force” (HITF) that would examine the possibilit...

Full description

Saved in:
Bibliographic Details
Published in:Zygon
Subtitles:Nuclear waste, conspiracies, and e-meters: remarkable religion and technology
Main Author: Musch, Sebastian 1984-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Check availability: HBZ Gateway
Journals Online & Print:
Drawer...
Published: [2016]
In:Zygon
Year: 2016, Volume: 51, Issue: 3, Pages: 626-639
Further subjects:B science fiction
B Nuclear Energy
B nuclear waste repositories
B Religion
B Ecology
B Eternity
B Environment (Art)
B God
Online Access: doi
Description
Summary:This article discusses the idea of an “Atomic Priesthood,” a religious caste that would preserve and transmit the knowledge of nuclear waste management for future generations. In 1981, the US Department of Energy commissioned a “Human Interference Task Force” (HITF) that would examine the possibilities of how to maintain the security of nuclear waste storage sites for 10,000 years, a period during which our civilization would likely perish, but the dangerous nature of nuclear waste would persist. One option that was discussed was the establishment of an “atomic priesthood,” an idea that science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov and Arsen Darney had already toyed with. Reading the HITF report alongside sci-fi novels, my article will shed light on the question of how the sheer force of nuclear power (and the longevity of nuclear waste) lends itself to religious interpretations and how the idea of the atomic priesthood is connected with the utopian/dystopian aspects of nuclear power.
ISSN:1467-9744
Contains:Enthalten in: Zygon
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12268