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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.
The Helen Caldicott Foundation: Disproportionate Harm, Initial Talking Points
There has been a lot of discussion about the spent fuel at Fukushima, especially now - about the reactor #4 spent fuel pool. The harm this could cause should it collapse is incalculable. But, the truth is we are getting sick and dying from radiation exposure already, and it is happening in disproportionate numbers. We need to keep referencing that this is happening now in Japan, and everywhere around the world. We are asking for your help in making this widely known. Please join us!
Disproportionate Harm: Women and Children are more Vulnerable.
This year the Helen Caldicott Foundation in partnership with NIRS, and all other groups who want to join us (national and international), will embark on the start of a major education to action campaign on the effects of radiation exposure on the health of all people. But, its particular focus will be the disproportionate risk radiation exposure poses to women and children. Buried in the literature to date is the fact that men are more resistant to radiation. The safety standards, which time has shown protect no one, were designed at the time of the Manhattan Project to protect young, healthy, western, men. Presumably, military men expected to accept a certain degree of risk in exchange for protecting their country.
Insufficient as it is, even the National Academy of Sciences BEIR V11 Report, widely accepted as the industry standard, clearly states:
- There is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. Any exposure can trigger cancer.
- Although the reasons are not yet clearly understood, women and children are significantly more vulnerable.
- Women are 40-60% more likely to get cancer than men, given the same exposure. They are about 50% (half again) more likely to acquire a fatal cancer from this exposure. This means that for every two men who die of radiation related cancer, three women will die given a similar exposure.
Children between the ages of 0-5 are more vulnerable than all adults, both men and women. But what is almost never discussed, also from the BEIR V11 Report, is that in this age group little girls are twice as vulnerable as boys. This means that for every boy, there will be two girls who will acquire a fatal or non-fatal cancer...