Sunday, July 02, 2006

Forty per cent of Europe's landmass is radioactive

That's the ongoing legacy of Chernobyl.

I came across this heart-stopping fact in a SMH article on Dr Helen Caldicott, and it is wonderful that she is still pushing the anti-nuclear message past the age normal people retire. First the article quote - it is not something any thinking person can easily go past: :::[SMH]

"[People] think that it is the answer to global warming," she says, "but in truth it adds to global warming. It does not fix it."

Caldicott's message has always been simple. Nuclear energy leaves a toxic legacy to future generations because it produces not only global warming gases but also massive amounts of toxic carcinogenic radioactive waste. It is also far more expensive than other forms of electricity generation and can trigger proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Even worse, radioactive elements in nuclear-powered countries are already leaking - into the ground, into rivers and oceans, and into the food chain. Already 40 per cent of Europe's landmass is radioactive after Chernobyl, and increasingly so are its food
supplies. Alarmingly that includes human breast milk.

The article suggests that the saying, "you are never a prophet in your own land" applies to Dr Caldicott - she missed out on being listed as one of The Bulletin magazine top 100 influential Australians, yet the Smithsonian Institution named her as one of the 100 most influential women of the 20th century. And she has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize. I can't speak for the rest of Australia but I certainly hold her in high esteem. I met her when I was not too long out of school in the early eighties because she came to my neighbour's house in Roseville, Sydney to talk about nuclear energy. My neighbour, a geneticist, invited Dr Caldicott to the 'concerned doctors against nuclear' movement she organised. At that stage I was doing some writing and producing for 2NSB, our local community radio station, and so we taped the talk. Then walked the talk; I was that impressed with her, and how she had articulated her message, that I wrote and produced a 30 minute radio program called 'Nuclear Winter' - a depiction of what could happen to Sydney if a nuclear weapon hits its epicenter.

I am grateful to her for raising my awareness.

I note she did it all for the kids - from the weeknight Roseville living room talk for the thirty or so of us, to fronting the crowd of 1 million people who gathered in New York's Central Park to hear her speak, and everything in between.

This is because, as a pediatrician, Caldicott's motivation has always been her children, her children's children and children everywhere. "It's one of the reasons I do the work I do," she says. "I practise global preventative medicine."

Back then I wrote the radio show because I was inspired by her. Now that I am parent myself I understand her motivation, I blog about global warming for my child and for the betterment of his world.

I admit I also do it because I enjoy the writing process. So must Helen though, she has six books to her name. Her latest is sure to be a valuable contribution to the nuclear debate Prime Minister Howard says we should have in Australia.

This month Caldicott publishes her
sixth book - Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer To Global Warming Or Anything Else (Melbourne University Press). It comes as the nuclear energy debate heats up amid increased awareness that Australia has about 40 per cent of the world's recoverable uranium resources.

Caldicott hopes the book will penetrate the political untruth that nuclear energy is a safe, green alternative.


Homework: :::[The nuclear debate in Australia]
More: :::[]:::[]

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