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 KPFT.org which is called, "If You Love This Planet."
You can listen to the last broadcast here: http://archive.kpft.org/mp3/090105_190000caldicott.MP3
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.
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.