News

NPT-TV Interviews with Ira Helfand

On the climate effects of nuclear war

Risk and impact of nuclear detonations

NPT-TV Interview with Prof. O. B. Toon

The environmental consequences of nuclear war

IPPNW holds expert briefing at NPT Review

Dr. James Yamazaki (right) with Peter Herby of the ICRC

IPPNW held an expert panel on the medical and environmental consequences of nuclear war and launched its new publication, “Zero Is the Only Option,” at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Review Conference on May 5. The panel, chaired by former IPPNW co-president Victor W. Sidel, included Dr. James Yamazaki of PSR-Los Angeles, Prof. O. B. Toon of the University of Colorado, long-time PSR and IPPNW leader Ira Helfand, science and policy consultant Steven Starr, and Peter Herby, head of the arms unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Dr. Yamazaki was assigned to the first team that went into Nagasaki under the auspices of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. His presentation focused on the kinds of illnesses that have afflicted not only survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also the victims of fallout from nuclear testing in the Pacific region. His talk was a vivid reminder that the human suffering caused by nuclear explosions lasts for decades.

University of Colorado, Boulder Prof. O. B. Toon discusses climate effects of nuclear war during IPPNW seminar at the 2010 NPT Review

Something else that could last for a decade or more is the sudden global cooling that would result from even a relatively small nuclear war involving arsenals of only 100 weapons. Prof. Toon described how massive amounts of smoke and soot from urban firestorms would block sunlight and reduce rainfall over much of the Earth, shortening growing seasons by as much as a month each year for many years to come. Dr. Helfand explained the impact on global food supplies and nutrition, warning that a billion people or more who already live on the edge of starvation would likely die from a nuclear-war-induced famine.

Steven Starr bridged the gap between science and policy by explaining that the only possible response to these scientific findings is a crash program to eliminate nuclear weapons by commencing work on a Nuclear Weapons Convention as soon as possible. Steven has created a great website based on the work of Prof. Toon and more than half a dozen other scientists who have been studying the climate effects of nuclear war for more than 20 years.

Peter Herby distributed a major statement about nuclear weapons from ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger — the first and most important the organization has made since the end of the Cold War — and said that after reviewing its past positions and the current threat, the ICRC had felt compelled to issue an unequivocal condemnation of nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds, and to call for their elimination as the only way to ensure that they are never used again.

Powerpoint presentations from the panel:

Medical Effects of Nuclear Weapons (Yamazaki)

Local nuclear war, global starvation (Toon and Helfand)

The Policy Implications (Starr)

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2 Responses to News

  1. Prof. Ernesto Kahan MD MPH says:

    Excellent conference. I will use it in my courses of public health as well as in the Israel IPPNW events
    Congratulations for thie achievement
    Prof. Ernesto Kahan
    Tel Aviv University
    President of Israel IPPNW

  2. Stephen W. Osborn, past President, Greater Lansing chapt.(Michigan) of UN Association says:

    The reported findings about nuclear damage and the new urgency for nuclear disarmament impell me to state again a position which the US could take unilaterally to hasten the day: The US could pledge to never use a nuclear weapon in any capacity or for any reason, not pre-emptively, not defensively, not in retaliation itself or for another nation, nor as a protective umbrella.
    Publicly foreswearing such use, the US would in a stroke remove the great fear (which many actually have) of a US attack and would regain the high moral ground from which to lead and induce others to foreswear use of nuclear weapons. This step would over-leap the tedious follow-up steps of reaching multi-lateral agreements and framing treaties to assure lasting commitments against use of nukes, and the reductions in numbers of weapons could follow as a matter of formalities. The US would thus match and supercede Iran (if its statements can be believed) in DE-valuing nuclear weaponry entirely, with Iran’s claim that its programs are not for weaponry but for peaceful uses. We would gain one big step that takes us farther in that direction.

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