Just before he took off for New Tork, I caught up briefly with Tim Wright, a young Australian who is making an impact on the world scene, as he travels internationally promoting the cause of nuclear disarmament. Tim has been a leading light in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) , since 2006, and is ICAN Australia's campaign director. Internationally Tim has been involved in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and now he joins 16 prestigious speakers at the Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction – February 28-March 1, 2015 at The New York Academy of Medicine.
The Symposium is co-ordinated by another Australian - Dr Helen Caldicott. Tim was travelling as we spoke, but here's what he has to say about this gathering of speakers on nuclear disarmament:
"The symposium in New York is an important initiative to highlight the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons to humanity and the planet as a whole. I hope it will strengthen the global resolve to outlaw and eliminate these weapons. Helen Caldicott is to be commended for her steadfast commitment to achieving a safer world for all, free from the threat of radioactive incineration"
The “Doomsday Clock” is once again at 3 minutes to midnight - meaning that the chances of human annihilation on this planet have increased. In fact, for the world, this year is judged by the Bulletin on the Atomic Scientists to be at the highest danger for 30 years. The two catastrophic threats are nuclear war and climate change.
The increased danger is due to escalating international tensions, particularly due to the Ukraine crisis, with credible reports that NATO nuclear weapons armed countries such as the USA, UK and France are beginning to fight a proxy war with nuclear armed Russia, while both sides are denying they are involved in the conflict. The old Cold War is reigniting and is moving ever closer to a real war http://www.dw.de/gorbachev-issues-new-warning-of-nuclear-war-over-ukrain... nuclear weapons armed states.
The climate change danger grows over time. Yet almost immediate climate change would result from a nuclear war. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsrEk1oZ-54). The longer term danger of climate change is hard enough to face. Thinking about the more immediate threat of nuclear war is so unpleasant, so confronting, that most of the time, we all avoid that thought.
That avoidance is a mistake. This international panel of expert speakers explore the situation, – not only on what a nuclear catastrophe, a nuclear war would be like, but also about what positive steps the people of world can take to prevent those global horrors, and remove those threats. They cover a range of aspects - disarmament, political science, existential risk, artificial intelligence, anthropology, medicine, nuclear weapons and other nuclear issues.
The symposium is a project of The Helen Caldicott Foundation.It will be live streamed around the world and the Proceedings will be published in a book by the New Press.
Tim Wright, as ICAN's Asia Pacific Director is no stranger as a speaker at international conferences, and a writer on disarmament issues. He'll be joining well-known USA and International experts, such as the controversial Noam Chomsky, Alan Robock (expert on "nuclear winter"), Bruce Gagnon (on militarisation of space) Kennette Benedict (on arms race and Doomsday Clock), Ray Acheson, (on gender issues) and Holly Barker (expert on Marshall Islands nuclear tests, and legal issues)
I attended a similar symposium at the New York Academy of Medicine, two years ago, on the Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident I found that I was the only Australian attending - except for the co-ordinator - Dr Helen Caldicott. That was disappointing. Sometimes I feel that we in Australia are almost "off the planet" in awareness of global issues.
There could surely be no more important global issues than nuclear war and climate change. It is good to see an Australian up there on this important international panel. I leave Tim Wright for a final word here http://www.pressenza.com/2013/03/interview-with-tim-wright-from-the-inte... although in this case he was referring to a previous conference. Last year, Tim spoke at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, his words could surely apply to the New York symposium.:
"I think the most important thing for the civil society forum is that people go home feeling energised, feeling inspired and do everything in their power to build national coalitions of organisations, to raise public awareness about the effects of nuclear weapons and really to build the momentum in their country for a nuclear weapons ban because we need everyone around the world doing their bit to build that critical mass of governments to make this happen and every government in this process is important.
We’re not talking about a process that just involves nuclear weapons states we’re talking about the process that’s driven by the international community as a whole. I hope that people don’t feel as if attending this conference is their contribution; attending this conference is just the beginning of what needs to be done."