Is Nuclear Armagedon Our Only Choice?

I've been reading Dr. Helen Caldicott's latest book, "Nuclear Power is Not the Answer." She is an incredible peace activist and nuclear abolitionist, who was nominated by Linus Pauling for the Nobel peace prize.

I've been listening to her weekly radio program on which is called, "If You Love This Planet."

You can listen to the last broadcast here:

I thought I would share with everyone a writing I did in 2001 for one of my classes at Soka University of America, on one of Ms. Caldicott's speeches, which I published in my 1st volume of my "Selected Writings From Soka University of America."

Here it is:

Is Nuclear Armageddon Our Only Choice?
(C) 2001-2009 Second American Renaissance Press

In the Good News Bible, one reads that on the sixth day God created humans and commanded, “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the Earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds and all the wild animals (Genesis 1).” One can only imagine if the drafters of this Bible could have foreseen the destruction humanity’s control over nature would entail.

Humans have unfortunately followed this demand to control nature quite literally and have learned how to manipulate the natural world to an extreme degree. They have learned to use nature for their own perceived interests, though often at the expense of nature and in the end at the expense of themselves. I think it is this foolish belief that humans should be in control of nature that is at the root of most environmental problems today.

The nuclear age has come about as a result of too much control over nature by humans. One can argue that when humanity learned to split the atom, they gained more control over nature than at any previous moment. In all of human history this one event has proven to be the biggest destroyer of the natural world and of life in general. In addition, this total control over nature can, if it is not curtailed, end up bringing about an end to all life on Earth. However, if not curtailed, this would happen not as the final Armageddon controlled by God, but as a human perpetuated, nuclear Armageddon.

Helen Caldicott, founder of the Nobel prize winning, Physicians for Social Responsibility has been a long time nuclear abolitionist. She has been instrumental in bringing to the world’s attention the many harsh consequences of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. In a lecture at the UCLA Medical Center, she brought to light the drastic effects that the last 50 years of nuclear testing have caused. She pointed out the many deadly, radioactive isotopes that were released into the environment when the US, the Soviet Union, China and others detonated a host of nuclear weapons during the dark years of the cold war. In addition, she addressed the many deadly effects of the US’s present use of nuclear weapons.

Among the radioactive isotopes that were released from nuclear testing was strontium 90. As Ms. Caldicott mentioned in her lecture, Linus Pauling’s research showed that, “Strontium 90 has concentrated in [the] teeth and bones of children.” She explained that, “many of these kids will get cancer.” She also stated that strontium 90 “induces leukemia and antigenic psychomas.”

An International Journal of Health Services report about strontium 90 affirmed that “ . . . results strongly support a major role of nuclear reactor releases in the recent increase of cancer and other immune system related disorders in young American children since the early 1980s (Gould).”

Another deadly, radioactive isotope that was released into the environment was Isotope 131. Caldicott went on in her lecture to point out that “The National Cancer Institute released data that showed that 75,000 Americans have or will develop thyroid cancer as a result of Isotope 131, which was released in those nuclear tests.” She asserted that what the National Cancer Institute failed to point out was that another more deadly substance, cesium 137 was also released in the many nuclear tests from the 1940s through the 1980s. She stated that cesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years, which means it will be deadly for about 600 years or more. Also, as she mentioned, it concentrates in people’s muscles, causing major muscle problems.

Lastly Ms. Caldicott declared, “Huge amounts of plutonium 239 were released, about 4 to 5 tons into the atmosphere. It has a half-life of 24,400 years, which means it will be deadly for at least a half a million years.” She explained that not only is plutonium 239 human-made, but it’s also the most carcinogenic substance known to humans. Ms. Caldicott also detailed how the smallest possible amount of plutonium 239 given to dogs in a test was still deadly, about 10 to the –9th power (10-9) of a gram. So with this she hypothetically extrapolated that with just one pound, if divided up between the 5.5 billion people on Earth and inhaled, it would give everyone on Earth cancer. If only one pound of plutonium 239 could kill all humans on Earth if inhaled, one can only image what the 4 to 5 tons, which were released in nuclear testing, could do to all life on Earth.

Ms. Caldicott went on to say that plutonium 239 is insoluble, unless it’s mixed with chlorine. However, since much of our tap water is now chlorinated, we can all ingest it from drinking tap water as well. The way plutonium 239 usually gets into a person’s body, however, is through a person’s lungs, which gives that person lung cancer. From the lungs, it often moves to the lymph glands and the liver, where it also causes cancer. Then it moves to the bones, causing bone cancer and leukemia. Finally, the plutonium 239 travels to the placenta, where it can be passed on to a newborn. It can also ends up staying in a man’s testicles, causing possible mutations in that person’s offspring.

Explaining the deadly effects of nuclear war, Ms. Caldicott said that although it would only take a few hundred nuclear weapons to destroy all life on this planet, “like a mad man drinking scotch the US produced 70 thousand nuclear weapons,” during the cold war. To top it off, in many of the new wars, which the US has perpetrated, the US government demonically has decided to get rid of its great supply of nuclear waste by shooting it at its “enemies.” One cost cutting way has been to put that nuclear waste into bombs. One of the nuclear waste products the US used on Iraq and Yugoslavia was “depleted” uranium (DU).

The US military, however, only uses the euphemism, “depleted” to deceive the public, to make DU not sound as deadly as it really is. But what is DU? On a Canadian news service it is spelled out perfectly:

Depleted uranium is still uranium. There are three types of uranium, U238, U234 and U235. Uranium 234 and 235 are fissionable material, the kind used in bombs. Depleted uranium [U238] is what is left over when the U234 and U235 are removed. The remaining U238 is still highly radioactive (1).

The US military by calling Uranium 238 “depleted” has tried to say it’s not radioactive uranium, which is a lie. The military uses this deception, because, As Ms. Caldicott points out,

In the Gulf War, the US used 300 to 400 tons of “Depleted Uranium” on Iraq. This was a nuclear war. Depleted uranium is six times denser than lead. It’s pyrophilic: When it hits a tank it spontaneously ignites, bursts into flames, producing aerosolized particles that are less than ten microns in diameter. It’s highly carcinogenic. It’s a heavy metal, which can cause renal damage. Hundreds of thousand of children and people in Kuwait and Iraq have been exposed to this deadly poison. So were most of the Gulf War vets. We haven’t seen the cancers yet, but we will. The Gulf War Syndrome has only just begun, and the Pentagon is covering this up.

In an article entitled, Rising Anger Hits Pentagon’s DU Use (2), Paddy Colligan explains that once inside a person’s body, DU causes “chemical and radiation damage.” He also writes, “It is believed that the radiation from DU particularly affects the lungs, the kidneys and bone marrow.”

Ms. Caldicott went on in her lecture to point out that we are destroying future generations with nuclear pollution. Much of this pollution can end up being stored in both male and female reproductive organs. This pollution can cause genetic mutations in human offspring, which can be passed on for many generations. It can also cause cancer, which can also be passed on for many generations. (Unbeknownst to the crafters of the Bible, having many children who try to put nature under their control may cause the undesired effect of their children not being able to continue having children).

Former US attorney general, Ramsey Clark reported after his many visits to Iraq in the past ten years that over 500,000 children in Iraq have died above the normal prewar death rate, and this was only during the seven-year period after the Gulf War had ended. In addition, if we take into account the adults, over 1 million have passed away in Iraq in the first 7 years after the Gulf War. Although many of these have been due to the US enforced sanctions, which have been starving many thousands of people to death, most experts believe that the use of “depleted” uranium during the US bombing campaigns are definitely a contributing factor to the genocidal effects the Iraqi people have been experiencing.

Instead of a philosophy that promotes human control over nature, we must embrace a philosophy that promotes human symbiosis with nature if we are ever to reverse the destruction humanity has caused thus far. In that regard, a philosophy like the Buddhist philosophy of “Dependent Origination,” which states that all life is dependent on all other life to continue existing, would surely be a start in pulling us out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into as a species. Nichiren, a 13th century, Buddhist philosopher reiterated the teaching, which declared that the “three poisons” of greed, hostility and ignorance are at the root of all of humanity’s many quandaries.

When humans first split the atom, it was unfortunately also during a time in history when those three poisons were rampant. It is no wonder why this discovery has given us the potential of bringing about the complete destruction of all life on Earth. The spiritual poisons of greed, hostility and ignorance have created the physical poisons that may possibly cause our extinction. Only then would the drafters of the Bible truly have their Armageddon become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think the only way to save us from this seemingly inevitable catastrophe is to adopt a more sustainable philosophy, one that promoted the mutual co-existence between humanity and nature, as apposed to the mutual annihilation of both.

End Notes




Caldicott, Helen. “Medical Implications of the Consumption Economy.” A lecture at the UCLA Medical Center. 11-18-1997. Video Recording by Justice Vision.

Clark, Ramsey. The Children Are Dying: The Impact of Sanctions on Iraq. International Action Center. 1998.

Good News Bible. American Bible Society. New York. 1992.

Gould, Jay M., Ernest J. Sternglass, Janette D. Sherman, Jerry Brown, William McDonnell, Joseph J. Mangano. “Strontium-90 in Baby Teeth as a Factor in Early Childhood Cancer.” International Journal of Health Services. Volume 30, Number 3, Pages 515-539, 2000. Copyright Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.

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Comment by Tim Janakos on May 15, 2009 at 8:52pm
From the last time I asked her in January, she was busy editing a new book. But then she told me she should have time in February. But then my cat ran away on February 2nd (still hasn't come back) and I was really depressed, so I didn't feel like talking about something depressing. I'm sure she will be open when ever we set it up. She's always very fast in returning my emails the same day. So let's see who you can get, who is credit worthy and we would do the debate using skype. That is how I do all my interviews, so it doesn't cost me anything.

Yes if you want a good excuse to be able to talk to any author or thinker on any subject you are interested in learning more about, starting a podcast is one good reason for them to give you their attention. I wish I would have known about doing this in my days at Soka University. It would have been easier for me to do my research, if I knew it was so easy to interview very informative people.

But I don't think I knew about Skype back then and I don't think there was so many free services as there are now, with editing software and free sites that will host your podcast.

I can teach you how to set it all up if you ever want to start a podcast. It's pretty easy.
Comment by Oliver Nims on May 15, 2009 at 8:30pm
Hi Tim,
thanks for the quick reply. I only recently, after a lot of reading, have changed my mind about nuclear power. Yes Chernobyl was a disaster, but that plant is a 50 year old obsolete design. Fire can burn a person or a forrest, but when used correctly and safely is invaluable. Many people died testing the first airplanes, that does not mean airplane are a threat to our grandchildren. My point is that human discovery, and creativity are ongoing dynamic processes. "Nuclear waste" may have been a hazard at one time but contrary to what the media tells us, it is a valuable resource which we can use over and over. And I'm not talking about depleted uranium ammunition, which IS a crime to humanity. Patrick Moore, one of the founders
of Greenpeace, now supports nuclear energy.
I am familiar with Helen Caldicott. I believe she is sincere, but I think her logic is flawed. I would definitely like to set up a debate with Helen. especially if we could get it out in the media, maybe KPFK or something, but lets do it on your blog first. I think I can get someone better qualified than me. I guess we would do it over the phone yes? Please find out when she is available. This is an important issue and needs to be addressed.
Thanks Tim,
this will be fun and valuable.
You are inspiring me to do a blog too.
keep me posted
Comment by Tim Janakos on May 15, 2009 at 7:08am
Thank you for your thoughts Oliver. As much as I respect your opinion on many things, I can't say I agree with you one iota on the so-called "benefits" of nuclear power.

I've studying this issue too long and have found not one thing that is good about nuclear energy and one that that justifies it continued research or development.

I disagree highly with all aspects of any energy source that creates thousands of tons every year of deadly substances (no we have never figured out a way to get rid of them) that will be around for our great grand children's great grand children to try to clean up. Our use of nuclear power is robbing from our future descendant any chance to live in a healthy world. As sting wrote in "We Work the Black Seam Together," "one day in a nuclear age, they may understand our rage." Please go to the Ukraine and meet the many disfigured people and try to convince them that our greedy need for more energy on the backs of our great grand children is worth their cancer and birth defects. I live next to the largest reactor in the world at Kashiwazaki Beach, the beach Nichiren Daishonin washed up on his return from Sado Island. So I've made it my goal if I'm going to stay here that I need to learn everything I can about Nuclear power. Though I'm not as knowledgeable about this issue as someone like Helen Caldicott who has spent her whole adult life studying the issue, I can say that their is nothing good about creating nuclear fusion that we have found to date.

Please read her latest book, "Nuclear Power is Not the Answer to Global Warming." Everything you say, sounds like all the propaganda I've read from the Nuclear Power Industry, but she has spent the last 30 plus years tearing a whole in their baseless arguments.

Also you can read for free online the 230 page report called "Carbon Free and Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy." commissioned by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

It tears up all your arguments.

I have emailed many people to have a debate with Helen Caldicott on this issue on my podcast. Everyone I've emailed who has been opposed to nuclear power, emailed me right back and said they would love to be part of a debate. However, everyone I've emailed that represents the point of view of the nuclear industry have not returned any of my emails.

Helen Caldicott, everytime I've emailed her, returned my email within that day. So did the lady from Nuclear Free Japan group.

The Washington Front Group that runs the Japan Nuclear Industry won't return any of my emails.

If you would like to debate Helen Caldicott or if you know anyone knowledgeable enough about this issue that would, she and I would love to have that debate.

But none of them have yet taken her up on her many year challenge to debate this issue. .
Comment by Oliver Nims on May 15, 2009 at 3:42am
Hi Timothy, I love your blog and I agree with about 95% of the ideas you are presenting. I would however like to point out a few important issues that have been accepted into the mainstream gospel regarding
"the environment", human creativity and those who wish to hamper it. 1st. Humans and nature are not two separate entities. Humans came from nature and are therefore part of the equation. Humans were created by nature to observe it and make discoveries about the universe. Without humans, nature would be meaningless. 2nd. There has been a concerted, very successful propaganda campaign to demonize nuclear power by associating it with nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are satanic, nuclear power on the other hand is the only logical, humanistic, and "green" choice to further humanity. Let me explain; solar and wind power are too weak and inefficient to completely replace our current system of coal and petroleum based power sources. Our current power sources do not provide enough power to sustain the planet now. We need a lot more power than we have now if we want to pull the third world out of poverty. (doing the right thing for humanity). Nuclear power (human creative discovery) is the only source of power efficient enough to save the whole human race.(Not just us wealthy nations) Nuclear waste, contrary to propaganda, can be reprocessed and used again, and again until it is nearly non radioactive. Modern, safe, modular reactor complexes can not only generate electricity, but can efficiently desalinate seawater(fresh water for everyone!) separate hydrogen from H2O(run cars without pollution!), run heavy industry like milling steel, and will lead us to even better and more efficient ways of creating power (fusion reactors). To learn more about 21st century nuclear power, look up "Pebble bed reactors" and "High temperature helium cooled reactors". 3rd. The reason there are 6.5 billion humans on the planet is a direct result of our ability to make creative discoveries and our uniquely human ability to improve nature to support humanity. If we lacked this creative ability, we would, like apes or chimpanzees, or any other beast, be bound by the limits of the biosphere to support our numbers. The argument that we're overpopulated was cleverly made in the 1700's by the inbred, oligarch, human hater Thomas Malthus, who's solutions for population control included war, disease, and intentionally directed poverty of the masses. A convincing argument for a policy of wind and solar only, sorry to say, would fall into the same category.
Lets take a closer look at these issues to make sure they are not being propagated by the greedy and hostile, just to be accepted by the ignorant.

Let me know what you think....
Comment by Tim Janakos on January 13, 2009 at 7:22pm
Ah. I can't find his contact online. I'll have to check out his book.
Comment by Tim Janakos on January 13, 2009 at 6:51pm
Thank you. No, I haven't heard of it yet. I better get him on my podcast to give us all a run down on the book to save time. I'll email him now. I'll let you know what he says.

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