What have we to say to the inhabitants of Finland four thousand generations into the future, and how on earth might we expect them to understand us?
That is the unlikely question I explored in a blog post five years ago, triggered by a film about the problems involved with building a nuclear waste repository intended to remain undisturbed for 100,000 years. If you are going to do that – and the Finns are doing exactly that – what are your ethical obligations to warn your impossibly distant descendants? More pragmatically, whatever those obligations are, how do you transmit a message with any hope of its remaining coherent – or is it better not even to attempt the task?
In what is no doubt a deeply unintended irony, the film has never been easy to see. It’s had a handful of showings in a few slightly random places, one of which I was lucky enough to catch. At the time, there didn’t seem to be any other way of seeing it and though I have looked once or twice, I had never found it in any other format. It seemed doomed to obscurity long before the waste which was its subject. That’s a shame, because it’s a good film and well worth watching, whatever your level of interest in nuclear waste management.
Yesterday it came up in conversation, and not for the first time I found myself both recommending the film and regretting that the chance of being able to act on that recommendation seemed vanishingly small. In a triumph of hope over expectation, I had one last look this morning – and discovered that there is a DVD and that Amazon is ready to sell it to you. When I looked, Amazon had two copies in stock, now that I have looked, there is just one left – yours for the princely sum of £4.02. That’s a bargain.