If You Think This Radiation Release Is Bad…

You should see some of the others.

The world has already seen the equivalent of a nuclear war, between 1945 and 1963.  “What?” you say?  There was no nuclear war then.

It was not a war in the classic sense, but rather a war of testing.  Over 500 atmospheric tests were conducted in those years, releasing an estimated 10 tons of plutonium into the atmosphere, not to mention tons of other radioactive isotopes, some of which (such as Cesium 137 and Strontium 90) are still around (Craig and Jungerman, Nuclear Arms Race, 32-3).

Many of these tests were “colonial” enterprises, by the way, exploiting other nations for the sake of Western research. This includes the US testing in the Marshall Islands, including the 1954 Castle Bravo radiological disaster and Project 4.1 study of the victims. This is a personal matter to me because I taught high school in the Marshall Islands for two years. Exploitation of the weak for the sake of the strong is evil, and it makes me angry.

Only with the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 did atmospheric testing *mostly* stop (not all nations, i.e. France, immediately signed on to the treaty).

The radiation release in Japan is insignificant compared to the fallout from those 18 years of atmospheric testing.  That doesn’t mean the current event at Fukushima lacks ethical significance – it is still very significant because it displays lack of foresight and human hubris in the face of nature, among other things.  But in terms of the magnitude of fallout, it is very small.

This video gives a sense of the insane levels of “testing” that have been done of the sake of nuclear weaponry.  Watch it and you will see what has already happened.

We are effectively all the survivors or descendants of survivors of a nuclear war that occurred between 1945 and 1963.  We are alive.  We are a bit cancerous and mutated, perhaps, but alive nonetheless. Needless to say, contaminating the planet with grotesque mutagens for the sake of threatening the apocalypse was a morally bad thing. The Cold War turned out non-apocalyptically, but it still wasn’t good. And these weapons are still around, and proliferating.

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