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Ira Helfand, MD, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, PSR
Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War
on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition
Introduction to the Second Edition
In April of 2012 we released the report Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk which examined the climatic and agri- cultural consequences of a limited, regional nuclear war. The report looked specifically at the declines in US maize and Chinese rice production that would result from the pre- dicted climate disruption and concluded that even a limited nuclear conflict would cause extensive famine, mainly in the developing world, and put more than one billion people at risk of starvation.
Since then new research by Lili Xia and Alan Robock has shown that the climate change caused by a limited nuclear war would affect Chinese maize production as severely as rice production and it would affect wheat production much more severely than rice output. Their new findings suggest that the original report may have seriously underestimated the consequences of a limited nuclear war. In addition to the one billion people in the developing world who would face possible starvation, 1.3 billion people in China would confront severe food insecurity. The prospect of a decade of wide- spread hunger and intense social and economic instability in the world’s largest country has immense implications for the entire global community, as does the possibility that the huge declines in Chinese wheat production will be matched by sim- ilar declines in other wheat producing countries.
This updated version of Nuclear Famine attempts to address these new concerns and better define the full extent of the worldwide catastrophe that will result from even a limited, regional nuclear war.
How the U.S. quietly turned a civilian atomic power site into a so-called bomb facility — and what it means for the global arms race
The production of nuclear weapons hides in plain sight all around the US (and around the world). Here, in South Carolina, employees of WesDyne (a subsidiary of Westinghouse) make an essential part of the tritium triggers used in nuclear bombs and missiles. Locals are clueless to the war chest (and its dangers) in their midst. Production at the plant has gone unreported even, in at least one case, "omitted entirely from a key report on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile sent annually to international observers."
From the article: "For years, locals believed employees here worked solely on uranium fuel used in civilian nuclear power generation. But somewhere inside the 2-million-square foot complex, a small team of specialists, working on a federal contract for more than a decade, have quietly been assembling special stainless steel rods that are essential in the production of tritium, a radioactive isotope used in the trigger mechanisms for nuclear bombs and missiles. It’s the amount of tritium that’s released in the explosion of a nuclear weapon that determines the intensity of its devastating blast."
Human Rights Now l 18 April, 2013
For Immediate Release
10 years after the war, Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering In Iraq.
Human Rights NGO publish the Report of a Fact Finding Mission on Congenital Birth Defects in Fallujah, Iraq in 2013
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War. After the war, particularly in the most recent few years, a deeply troubling rise in the numbers of birth defects has been reported by doctors in Iraq, leading to suspicions that environmental contamination from the war may be having a significant negative effect on the health of local people, and in particular infants and children. For instance in Fallujah, the city heavily attacked by the US twice in 2004, the data of Fallujah General Hospital shows that around 15% of babies of all births in Fallujah since 2003 have some congenital birth defect.
Human Rights Now (HRN), a Tokyo based international human rights NGO in consultative status with the UNEconomic and Social Council, conducted a fact-finding mission in Fallujah, Iraq in early 2013 to investigate thesituation of the reported increasing number of birth defects in Iraq.
Today, HRN published a report over 50 pages entitled "Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering in Iraq" on this investigation.
Detonating the "twenty-seventh American "subcritical experiment" since full-scale nuclear weapons tests were halted in 1992," the U.S. is showing little real commitment to disarmament at a time when they are loudly demanding it of others. Posturing about Iran's potential nuclear weapons program is high, Israel's actual nuclear weapons program is virtually ignored. The U.S. agenda on nuclear is the picture of hypocracy. To continue atomic testing after all the harm it has done shows that, rhetoric aside, the nuclear boys club in the U.S. political establishment isn't planning on giving up their deadly game of playing chicken with fate anytime soon.
RT.com l 8 December, 2012
MIA STEINLE l Project on Government Oversight 9 November, 2012
Government investigators have uncovered conflicts of interest among the contractors working on a multi-billion dollar effort to decontaminate and decommission two of the nation’s nuclear weapons sites.
Contractors at plants in Piketon, Ohio, and in Oak Ridge, Tenn., were overseeing work by subcontracting companies in which they hold a financial interest, according to a report from the Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General.
According to federal and DOE regulations, this arrangement means the contractors are “unable to render impartial assistance or advice to the government,” and their “objectivity in performing the contract work is or might be otherwise impaired,” the report said.
The human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities
Nuclear power generation, accidents, and atomic testing have all affected boy/girl birth ratios. While it has disproportionately affected the birth rate of girls, it has also lowered the overall birthrate.
Hagen Scherb & Kristina Voigt l 19 February 2011 Springer-Verlag
Background, aim, and scope Ever since the discovery of the mutagenic properties of ionizing radiation, the possibility of birth sex odds shifts in exposed human populations was considered in the scientific community. Positive evidence, however weak, was obtained after the atomic bombing of Japan. We previously investigated trends in the sex odds before and after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. In a pilot study, combined data from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, and Sweden between 1982 and 1992 showed a downward trend in the sex odds and a significant jump in 1987, the year immediately after Chernobyl. Moreover, a significant positive association of the sex odds between 1986 and 1991 with Chernobyl fallout at the district level in Germany was observed. Both of these findings, temporality (effect after exposure) and dose response association, yield evidence of causality. The primary aim of this study was to investigate longer time periods (1950–2007) in all of Europe and in the USA with emphasis on the global atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout and on the Chernobyl accident. To obtain further evidence, we also analyze sex odds data near nuclear facilities in Germany and Switzerland.
Data and statistical methods National gender-specific annual live births data for 39 European countries from 1975 to 2007 were compiled using the pertinent internet data bases provided by the World Health Organization, United Nations, Council of Europe, and EUROSTAT. For a synoptic re-analysis of the period 1950 to 1990, published data from the USA and from a predominantly western and less Chernobyl-exposed part of Europe were studied additionally. To assess spatial, temporal, as well as spatial–temporal trends in the sex odds and to investigate possible changes in those trends after the atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities, we applied ordinary linear logistic regression. Region-specific and eventually changing spatial–temporal trends were analyzed using dummy variables coding for continents, countries, districts, municipalities, time periods, and appropriate spatial–temporal interactions.
Results The predominantly western European sex odds trend together with the US sex odds trend (1950–1990 each) show a similar behavior. Both trends are consistent with a uniform reduction from 1950 to 1964, an increase from 1964 to 1975 that may be associated with delayed global atomic bomb test fallout released prior to the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and again a more or less constant decrease from 1975 to 1990. In practically all of Europe, including eastern European countries, from 1975 to 1986, and in the USA from 1975 to 2002, there were highly significant uniform downward trends in the sex odds with a reduction of 0.22% to 0.25% per 10 years. In contrast to the USA, in Europe there was a highly significant jump of the sex odds of 0.20% in the year 1987 following Chernobyl. From 1987 to 2000, the European sex odds trend reversed its sign and went upward, highly significantly so, with 0.42% per 10 years relative to the downward trend before Chernobyl. The global secular trend analyses are corrobo- rated by the analysis of spatial–temporal sex odds trends near nuclear facilities (NF) in Germany and Switzerland. Within 35 km distance from those NF, the sex odds increase significantly in the range of 0.30% to 0.40% during NF operating time.
Conclusions: The atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout affected the human sex odds at birth overall, and the Chernobyl fallout had a similar impact in Europe and parts of Asia. The birth sex odds near nuclear facilities are also distorted. The persistently disturbed secular human sex odds trends allow the estimation of the global deficit of births in the range of several millions.
As we think about the disproportionate harm to women and children from exposure to radiation, last year's National Geographic article adds another piece of the puzzle with information on a study showing lower birth rate for girls after nuclear testing and accidents.
Nuclear radiation from bomb tests and power plant accidents causes slightly more boys than girls to be born, a new study suggests. While effects were seen to be regional for incidents on the ground, like Chernobyl, atmospheric blasts were found to affect birth rates on a global scale.
The result: Millions fewer females have been born worldwide than would otherwise be expected, researchers estimate. And given Japan's current nuclear troubles, another boy boomlet could be on the way, experts say.