Guest post by Barbara Rose Johnston
I received last week copies of two very different publications reporting on outcomes from the scientific assessment of life in a nuclear warzone. These studies consider, first, the health experience of resident populations living in areas contaminated by nuclear weapons fallout, and, second, the health of people as affected by the low-level radiation that accompanies modern warfare.
The first is a set of eight papers published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Health Physics and reflects conclusions from US-government sponsored science about radiation and cancer risks.
The second, a study conducted by an international and independent team of scientists published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, is about the health effects of war on the local population of Fallujah, Iraq.
Appropriate reading, since much news in the past few days has focused on the ceremonies surrounding the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the human suffering associated with nuclear war.
Nuclear worries and concerns have been a major feature in world news for years, but especially so in this first decade of a new century.
A review of today’s global headlines finds reports of fear and accusations over the development of a nuclear weapon in Iran, as well as fears of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula and in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory that lies between Pakistan and India. Fidel Castro’s first address in four years to the Cuban Parliament warns of an imminent nuclear war if the US follows through on its threat of retaliation against Iran for not abiding nuclear-arms sanctions.
There are also hopeful reports on political promises and the potential progress in the struggle to further abolish nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, there are also reports on the lack of progress – for example, the news that the US Senate has again delayed its hearing on a new START Treaty.
The nuclear news also includes “peaceful uses” of atomic energy. The US is reportedly finalizing a nuclear cooperation agreement with Vietnam that would allow enrichment. There are reports of numerous proposals or approved plans for new nuclear power plants in Germany, Egypt, the US, Canada, the Philippines, India, Serbia, Bulgaria, and the UK.
Continue reading “Nuclear news, nuclear fears and the role of science”