FDL Book Salon Welcomes Helen Caldicott, Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe
Dr. Helen Caldicott is the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the 2003 winner of the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. Both the Smithsonian Institute and Ladies’ Home Journal have named her one of the Most Influential Women of the Twentieth Century. In 2001 she founded the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, which later became Beyond Nuclear, in Washington, DC. The author of The New Nuclear Danger, War in Heaven (with Craig Eisendrath), Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, and Loving This Planet and the editor of Crisis Without End (all published by The New Press), she is currently president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation/NuclearFreePlanet.org. She divides her time between Australia and the United States.
Dr. Caldicott convened a symposium at the New York Academy of Medicine on March 11 and 12, 2013, the second anniversary of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. She assembled some of the leading scientists, epidemiologists, physicists, and physicians from around the world to present their latest research on Fukushima and nuclear plant hazards. Indicative of the line-up of experts convened by Dr. Caldicott is the author of the book’s first chapter: Naoto Kan, the prime minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima disaster. Dr. Caldicott edited their presentations and added an introduction and wrap-up for this book to expand the reach of this information.
Prior to the March 2013 symposium, there had been several other events examining this disaster. But they were narrowly focused on the health consequences, the technological aspects, or the policy implications. As she has done many times in the past, Dr. Caldicott arranged a broader discussion considering the many dimensions of this disaster.
Crisis Without End covers the causes and consequences of the Fukushima disaster. But it also covers lessons learned, unlearned, and relearned from the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Chapters are devoted to the initial health effects from Fukushima, food and environmental monitoring conducted around Fukushima, the contamination by cesium in Japan, the long term congenital malformations experienced in the region around Chernobyl, the hazards from the interim storage of irradiated nuclear fuel, and the history of nuclear power’s development. Many chapters describe the technological and regulatory frameworks intended to prevent disasters and explain why they failed in this mission.
But the book does more than merely reflect on the past. Crisis Without End suggests how the next crisis can be averted. Dr. Caldicott quotes Thomas Jefferson as saying “An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion.” She explains how citizens, celebrities, activists, and elected officials worked together to deal responsibly with nuclear weapons problems. By doing so, Dr. Caldicott challenges the reader to come away from the book both informed and energized to now deal responsibly with nuclear power’s problems.