Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

An outstanding book - must read

I've just finished reading this incredible book by Kate Brown on the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear reactor disaster at Chernobyl, Ukraine.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I learned so much from this monumental work.  Probably the most impressive thing about Brown's writing is that she is a great story teller who weaved in tales about the people and doctors who were involved in dealing with the hellish contamination for many years following the event.

It's an eye opening story as the US Department of Energy, the UN's World Health Organization and other international pro-nuclear bodies did their best to downplay the contamination and deaths caused by the accident.

Stories about how the USSR was totally overwhelmed by the human and environmental impacts are heart breaking and the courage and tenaciousness of a few medical professionals to push on defending the men, women and children who suffered so badly are deeply moving.

I was already anti-nuclear but after reading this book I am even more so now.

It's amazing that very recently the elected President Zelensky in Ukraine has moved to make the Chernobyl contamination zone a tourist site. That is just insane.

Many years ago while living in Florida I organized several large delegations of peaceniks to travel to Cuba to 'pick the forbidden fruit'.  While there on one of the trips we were taken (in the mid-1990's) to a Pioneer kids camp that had been turned over to host children of Chernobyl who were contamination victims.  I met one child, born after the nuclear accident, who had what looked just like deer hide growing on his face and arms.  That stunning revelation of the effects of contamination still lives inside of me.

Here is one important bit from the book.  Brown writes about her meeting with a Ukrainian married couple who were physicists and had been working hard to investigate the health impacts of the accident.  She writes:

Vsevolod showed me around the circa 1953 solar telescope he and Natalia managed in an observatory, hidden in a courtyard garden of flowers and fruit trees in central Kyiv....One evening Natalia was out, and Vsevolod could dwell on his favorite topic unhindered over a meal of stuffed peppers.  He said the solar telescope taught them not just how the sun affects the earth, but also how the earth and the actions of humans on it impact the sun.  He showed me charts of sun eruptions over 150 years of observation.  The biggest jet occurred in 1946, which he interpreted as right after the bomb fell on Hiroshima.  More eruptions followed in quick succession during the years of atmospheric nuclear testing.  I listened skeptically, though later I found articles about how Americans and Soviets exploded high-altitude nuclear bombs in the early 1960s with the specific purpose of changing the electromagnetic fields and radiation belt surrounding the planet. [Playing god.] The bomb, Vsevolod read into his graphs, was a mistake, a huge error that altered the heavens itself.  "Before we turn the earth into something miserable for human life," Vsevolod wanted me to know, "we have to recognize that mistake."


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