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← Dr. Helen Caldicott briefs San Francisco Health officials on Nuclear dangers

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Showing Revision 3 created 01/31/2014 by devotedma.

  1. The European scene is very exciting and very disturbing but it's even more disturbing to look back at America from Europe. The majority of Europeans that we met are very frightened and there's a palpable anxiety amongst the people. The physicians in Europe are seeing many patients now with psychosomatic symptoms related to their fear of imminent nuclear war.

  2. Insomnia and other symptoms. The commonest word we heard in Germany and Holland was "ugst" amongst the people which means anxiety.
  3. And we were there when President Reagan made his now famoust statement about limited nuclear war in Europe that could be fought without the button being pressed.
  4. It was nothing new. That's the standard NATO doctrine. It's been the doctrine for 20 years.
  5. that they would have a very limited nuclear war in Europe but every senior military person including the late Lord Mount Batten say that there's no military way that they know that nuclear war could remain limited and without within 15 hours would spread to a full-blown holocaust.
  6. Let me just describe the situation here first and what nuclear war would mean and briefly talk about physicians social responsibilities.
  7. It began actually in about 1962 when some doctors got together and wrote two articles for the New England Journal of Medicine on a 20 Megaton bomb dropping on Boston and the long-term ecological effects of the nuclear war.
  8. Those articles were so good the Pentagon asked for 500 reprints.
  9. And they now plan 600. And of course the medical effects of nuclear war don't change over 20 years so they still highly relevant to today's situation.
  10. Well they sort of died out over the years and 3 years ago we started PSR up again. We've been working hard with symposium like the one that was held here about a year ago.
  11. And we've now got 7000 physicians and I think by the end of the year we will have about 10 000.
  12. The next symposium is in Los Angeles on Saturday when Carl Sagan will be rounding up the day's speaking.
  13. That's the cultural capital of the world so we thought we'd get one of the stars of the current media to participate but it should be a very excellent symposium.
  14. We've got 3000 seats already sold out and it's in conjuction with the American Public Health Association.
  15. You know recently the American Medical Association came out with a statement condemning nuclear war and supporting those people who work against and brought up a resolution before the World Medical Association.
  16. WHO has taken a stand on nuclear war recently. The resolution was supported by the Soviet Union, actually, and America abstained so you should know that.
  17. For political reasons obviously. To just discuss briefly the medical effects of nuclear war, I'm sure you know what would happen if the bomb dropped on San Francisco but to go through the quickly, a 20 Megaton bomb and I'll use a big one because the Russian bombs are big. 20 Megatons is equivalent to 20 million tonnes of TNT and that is 4 times the collective size of all the bombs dropped in the second World War.
  18. Just to get an idea of the magnitude of these weapons. And as I talk, remember that the leaders of the world are old men and it's doubtful if any of them have ever seen a hydrogen bomb explode.
  19. Really I'm standing emotionally the significance of this problem. You'd have to also wonder if any of them have ever seen a baby being born.
  20. So they're a little bit out of it in terms of emotions otherwise they wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Now if a 20 Megaton bomb dropped here on a clear day and I guess this could be ground zero at ground level would dig a crater about 3/4 mile wide and 800 feet deep converting all humans, buildings and dirt below to radioactive fallout.
  21. Would kill every person up to a radius of 6 miles vaporizing many because most of our body of course is water and we'd just convert to steam.
  22. The heat of the bomb is about 5000 degrees Farenheit or the heat of the sun. Then up to a radius of 20 miles everyone would be killed, or critically injured with most severe burns hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands and we only have burn beds for about 1000 acute burn patients in the whole country.
  23. Blast injuries would be typical with ruptured lungs, acute pneumothoracies, ruptured tympanic membranes with deafness.
  24. People would be sucked out of buildings by the overpressure of being thrown against other solid objects. There'd be compound fractures and internal organ damage in the thorax, abdomen and head.
  25. If you looked at the bomb closer in then your eyes would melt as they did in Hiroshima. If you looked at the bomb 30 or 40 miles away from the epicenter you'd be instantly blinded by retinal burns.
  26. In fact, little animals who were 350 miles away from the test in the Marshall Islands had focal retinal damage from the bomb.
  27. And a huge firestorm could possibly be created in about 3000 square miles where the fires would coalesce and everyone in a fallout shelter would not survive because the fire would use up the oxygen and they'd be asphyxiated and the heat of the blast would turn the fall out shelters into crematoriums.
  28. So in terms of surviving in a targeted area there's very little chance that people would. And those hospitals would be destroyed and most medical personnel dead or injured.
  29. It's likely that every town and city in this country with a population down to 10 000 people is targeted and I've just brought back a slide (I can't show it to you)of the map of the Soviet Union and Europe and America and the target in those countries was 1/3 of the strategic arsenal which is 5000 nuclear warheads.
  30. Each pin has a blast diameter of 30 miles and there isn't room for another pin on those maps. Not room for another pin.
  31. 5000 weapons. You know how many there are in the arsensal? 50 000. That's not including France's arsenal or Britain's arsenal.
  32. And the impact of that slide..I was with a group of English physicians when this was shown. We just gasped and a couple of us just had to leave and go home.
  33. So that's where we are and the long-term ecological effects are really unknown but we think that a lot of ozone could be damaged, inducing third-degree sunburn within about half an hour to those exposed and inducing blindness from the ultra-violet radiation.
  34. People out in the sun who didn't die would develop hypersynthesis of vitamin D with vitamin D toxicity.
  35. The ozone damage, of course, could destroy most crops with the ultra-violet burning.
  36. The millions of bodies would propagate disease as the bacteria multiplied and mutated in the radioactive environment to become more lethal and meanwhile most birds would be killed by the radiation so that most insects would proliferate immensely.
  37. And they are vectors of disease and they will carry disease to non-targeted countries and areas.
  38. What would happen in the southern hemisphere is unknown at this time but the ozone destruction could certainly affect the Southern Hemisphere and blind most mammals on the planet.
  39. Together with the lack of food supplies as the bread baskets of the world will be destroyed. Canada, the Soviet Union and American grown crops. There will be massive starvation and epidemics of infection will become rampant.
  40. Now some people may survive a nuclear war. I now call a nuclear war a conventional nuclear war. But there's a new scenario which is being developed in this country called Counterforce Nuclear War. The missiles are becoming so deadly accurate now. That's why they're building and MX cruise missile in Trident now so they can strike probably the silos in the Soviet Union and destroy or kill word that is used is "kill" the Soviet missiles.
  41. And the way you do that is you launch a bomb here which goes into space, re-enters the earth's atmosphere at 20 times the speed of sound and lands on the missile silo but you have to drop 2 hydrogen bombs on each missile silo to kill the missile.
  42. The terms are revolting. Just understand the terms they use in military language are like the terms we used during Vietnam. We had to destroy a village to save it.
  43. Now when you drop hydrogen bombs on the ground you create massive quantities of fall-out like cubic miles. And it's estimated by the scientists at Los Alamos that make these weapons that if there's a counter-force nuclear war in the next 10 or 20 years using all the new weapons, and America plans to build another 20 000 more nuclear weapons in the next 10 years because President Reagan says America has to re-arm, that this is a counter-force nuclear war. That probably there will be lethal fall-out induced for every human being on earth within weeks which is called the On-the-Beach Syndrome.
  44. This new sort of weapons facility that's being developed radically by orders of magnitue changes the medical implications of a nuclear war.
  45. So we are facing, very shortly, the annihilation of most life on the planet. And so as physicians we see that this is the most acute problem that any of us could ever see.
  46. And some of us are actually giving up medicine and someone said we've given up medicine to save lives.
  47. To try and practice the ultimate form of preventive medicine. Now how acute is this problem? What's the prognosis for this terminally ill planet. The prognosis is grim.
  48. The joints chief of staff testified before the * Services Committee in 75 saying that there's a 51% chance of nuclear war occurring by 1986. President Reagan's recently been making statements to the effect that it's possible to fight a limited nuclear war in Europe and if you read the text of that speech you will know that that man does not understand the basic principles of nuclear weapons.
  49. Now I'm a fairly intelligent sort of person and it's taken me years to understand military doctrine and I found an article the other day in a London newspaper which says the Pentagon has such trouble translating data and statistics to Reagan that they draw in cartoons. And they draw a little mushroom cloud to indicate Carter's budget and a big mushroom cloud to indicate Reagan's budget. It's taken a lot of time of the people in the Pentagon. They've been working overtime to try and produce the relevant cartoons so that the President can understand what's happened.