December 2, 2011

Dr. Robert Gould, SF Bay Area PSR President, gave several talks in Oregon in November, part of a grant-supported effort allowing members of the National PSR board to travel to selected regions around the country to speak on nuclear weapons issues.  In his talks, Dr. Gould covered legacy issues of nuclear weapons dating back to the dropping of the bombs in Japan, including the public and environmental health impacts of nuclear weapons development on local communities, and the profound budgetary costs of the nuclear arms race to date. Dr. Gould also explored the contradiction between President Obama’s stated desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons and his Administration’s planned marked expansion of expenditures for the U.S. nuclear weapons program, as well as the problems for safety and proliferation posed by the Administration’s commitment to expand nuclear power worldwide. In this context, Dr. Gould explained how an unfolding U.S.-India nuclear deal would increase the nuclear arms race within South Asia and negatively impact the Administration’s stated goal to control the fissile materials that could lead to the proliferation of additional states’ nuclear weapons programs and increase the risk of nuclear terrorism. Dr. Gould also underscored the lesser-known global impacts of even a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan that would directly kill millions of people, including recently published predictions of ensuing “global cooling” that could cause over 1 billion deaths due to worldwide malnutrition.

The three talks took place November 17th and 18th in Portland and Eugene, OR. His first talk in Portland at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) was entitled “Public and Environmental Health Impacts of Nuclear Weapons.” This Grand Rounds presentation was cosponsored by OHSU’s Global Health Center. Approximately 50 people were in attendance, the majority of whom were medical students, and 30 signed up to work with Oregon’s PSR chapter. The talk was well received and available as a simulcast webinar around the country, and helped to solidify the relationship between the Oregon PSR chapter and OHSU’s Global Health Center, which will aid in reaching future students on these important issues. Click here to hear listen to the talk and view the power point Dr. Gould shared.

That same night, Dr. Gould gave a talk to a small group of people in Portland at the home of Oregon PSR President Dr. John Pearson.  In addition to the topics mentioned above, Dr. Gould shared developments from the national Board meeting, including ongoing discussions regarding the challenges of reaching young physicians, health professionals and medical students on nuclear war issues.  He pointed to the fact that many younger professionals are apparently more focused on the types of social justice issues that are captured in the Occupy Wall Street movement around the country and less compelled by nuclear weapons concerns.

The following morning, Dr. Gould appeared as a call-in guest for an hour on Jefferson public radio, a station that reaches southern Oregon to northern California.  Dr. Gould spoke on the issues he covered at his previous talks and also answered listeners’ questions regarding a full range of nuclear weapons and nuclear power issues. Click here to hear his talk (begins at minute 5:52).

Later that night, Dr. Gould gave a talk entitled “Nuclear Weapons: The Ultimate Health Threat” at the First United Methodist Church in Eugene. This talk was sponsored by Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) and Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC) and was attended by approximately 25 people. Beyond the rich discussion that underscored the imperative of nuclear abolition, a number of questions that came up focused on PSR’s position on nuclear power. Dr. Gould addressed the organization’s extensive work on opposing the nuclear “renaissance” that has accelerated since the disaster at Fukushima, including numerous media appearances by many National PSR members throughout the country.