NUCLEAR MADNESS - What you can do

Address to the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
"Keep Space for Peace" event
American University, Washington, DC

April 15 2000

by Helen Caldicott

Thank you. Well, I'm against space, period. I think that it's a beautiful thing to look at the stars and ponder what's up there. I don't mind them using telescopes. But I'm against going out into space. For several reasons. 95% of the earth's ecosphere is ocean. We have explored only a very tiny amount of the ocean. We know practically nothing about it. Some areas of the ocean are -seven miles deep. Seven miles deep. There are 30 million species on land, but we don't know how many species are in the oceans. The ocean is the ecosystem of the earth, and we know practically nothing about it. Practically nothing about it. For example, 10 to 15% of the earth's phyla are in one square meter of sand in a salt marsh.

The earth's history is four and a half billion years and much of the antiquity of life is in the oceans. The sponges are 400 million years old. They have discovered a new bacteria called ARKEE that comes from the depths, right beneath the ocean, in these hot sort of flushes that come up from volcanoes. And we have only known of these for 22 years. They are a very special form of microbes. We know really nothing about them.

Let me see what else I need to tell you about this. There's not a single species where we've got it right-in a sustainable way. We're destroying species in all areas of the world. In the last 20 years populations of sharks have dropped by 80% on the US eastern seaboard. They're clear-cutting, or bottom-trawling, fish in the ocean. Each year one million tons of fish are taken from the oceans.

The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Former congressman Tim Wirth said that. 95% of the ocean hasn't been explored. So, what the hell are we doing going out into space when our planet is dying? The ozone is disappearing. In Australia we've got an epidemic of malignant melanoma and skin cancer. People are going blind. There are skin cancer clinics on each corner in Australia. I'm exaggerating a little, but you know, they're everywhere.

And the ozone keeps being depleted. The planet is warming up. The Antarctic ice shelf is breaking away. Of 150 glaciers in Europe, only 50 are left. They are all melting. The oceans are rising. It is predicted that there will be epidemics of drug-resistant malaria as far north as Seattle as the earth heats, and as far south as Melbourne in Australia. Plus all sorts of other diseases. The floods in Mozambique are almost certainly the result of global warming.

And yet you see these huge Recreational Vehicles being driven around. More than half the cars sold today in this country are trucks, doing about 16 to 18 miles to the gallon. Women driving their kids-they're a fashion statement-in them to soccer. But their kids won't have a future, because of global warming. My grandchildren are little. under 10. I can't imagine the earth in 50 years.

And yet these people who are intent on weaponizing and dominating space-could be called sociopaths if not psychopaths-I mean I can't help thinking of Germany as we sit here and listen to this program today. Not modern-day Germany, but Hitler's Germany. And what did the Germans do when the Jews were being murdered? "Well, yeah, we saw the cattle trucks going past, but we didn't really know what was in them. Yeah, we saw the smoke coming out of the chimneys-it smelt a bit funny and a bit sweet, but we didn't really know what it was." That's us as most of us maintain a happy and comfortable ignorance or degree of psychic numbing. But our world is rapidly being converted to the global gas oven. And it's a handful of men who are doing it. (Applause) I think I'm going to call my next book "The Testosterone Factor."

Now, when I was struggling around this country in the 80s, you know, like the anti-nuclear bag lady, and I was so tired and exhausted, I remember speaking in Central Park to a million people. And it was an extraordinary demonstration, if you were there, against the nuclear arms race. And I was in Germany, in Bonn, speaking to a quarter of a million people, and they had Reagan on a horse-that was before he was elected. And I was in Britain speaking to one quarter of a million people with Tony Benn and Michael Foote, and the like.

It was hard enough to talk and to teach people about what first-strike counterforce nuclear war means. Which means that you hit the "enemy" missile silos, penetrate below the earth, blow them up - and then you've won the war. Because you've knocked out the enemy's-his, it's always "his"-missile silos. Billions of people dying is called "collateral damage." And, you know, to explain cruise missiles with maps in their nose that go and find the target, and go straight down the chimney, to explain what nuclear war means medically, was damn hard work. 3000 people in Minnesota, and it's snowing like hell, hoarfrost on the trees, they all struggle in and I explain this.

Straight after the million people in Central Park, what did the corporations do? They invented Star Wars. They did an end run around us. So now I have to start explaining, the boost stage, the transit stage, the end stage of the strategic missiles- how you shoot them down as they are going up, or in transit, or as they are going down-I mean, the technology became almost impossible to describe to a lay audience. But I struggled round trying to do that too.

Ronald Reagan said you could get as many people as that to a rock concert. A million people. I met with him-his IQ is less than 100. I spent an hour and a quarter with him. I assessed him clinically. Reagan gave that speech about Star Wars in 1983, I remember watching it. My eyes were dropping out. About Star Wars. The only person he'd spoken to before the speech was Edward Teller. He didn't speak to his science advisor in the White House, to the Pentagon, to anyone. The people in the Pentagon the next day were all walking around saying, "What's this Star Wars stuff?" But it was great, because the corporations were clearly behind it - I'm being facetious. They probably funded Teller to talk to Reagan. And because an ill informed president gives a speech about an impossibly dangerous project, off we go spending billions, and almost every University in the country was funded. So the universities are all prostituted. What they are doing is trying to educate the kids and then blow them up. The University of California runs the nuclear labs - Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos, you know. How dare they?!

And I have to say, they are nearly all men. Not that there aren't some wonderful men. But these guys have got either a deficit of testosterone and they need Viagra, and they are making up for it. You know, as they get old they can't get it up, that's true! So they are getting their missiles up. (Applause)

Now, the ABM system, the Pentagon says that they have to have three tests that work, they were going to have seventy-something tests, but now its three and two have already failed. The first one was an absolute setup. They orchestrated it so it would work. So that failed. The second one failed. The third one will probably fail. And Clinton will probably OK it. He's been one of the worst presidents, including Nixon, that I can remember. Even including Reagan. Because Clinton could have got rid of nuclear weapons, Clinton. He could have abolished them. The man's got no guts, and no spine.

I'm being tough but I mean it. Because Reagan, bless his heart, even though he wasn't very bright, got together with Gorbachev. And they, almost, in a weekend, agreed to eliminate nuclear weapons on earth at Reykjavik. And Reagan got stuck with this Star Wars, you know. And so the whole thing collapsed, but that weekend turned Shevardnadze and Schultz into great statespeople. And then Bush. I didn't like Bush, but he unilaterally disarmed thousands of nuclear weapons, and then Russia did too. But now we have got Clinton, who is out to lunch. Totally out to lunch. And I don't care about his sexual prowess. I care about being the leader of America. And he's become a Republican. Because he leads to be liked. Anyone who needs approval ain't a leader. And god help us, do we need a leader (Applause).

Now, there's an article I have here. They're going to not just create this Ballistic Missile Defense, they are planning to do Anti-Satellite warfare. So, America is going to send weapons up to knock out other countries' satellites, so they will be rendered "blind".

Oh, incidentally, you know about Y2K and the threat of accidental nuclear war. I was very involved in that, people said I exaggerated and was alarmist.

Three days ago, in the New York Times, there was an article, saying that in August 1999 the Pentagon lost its whole Early Warning System because they were installing a new computer. Something went wrong and the whole system collapsed, and the Pentagon was blind for months. They lost the whole thing - C4I - Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence, that is precisely the situation which could have initiated an accidental nuclear war. The situation was further aggravated when the Y2K rollover occurred. I'm sure the initial event was related to Y2K. So when we were checking on the Pentagon every day late last year, they were actually in a total state of chaos. But we're still here. Are we? Are we really, or are we just imagining it, and we're really radioactive atoms floating around in the stratosphere?

And the blighters continue to lie to us. They lie to us. It's our money, it's our Pentagon, and they lie to us. And how dare they, and who do they think they are? Then there are plans to explore Mars and the Moon. And what NASA's doing, we all know, is sending up satellites to map the planets for rare minerals-the planets, the moon, and the asteroids. And then they are going to launch nuclear reactors, and put them on the planets, and mine them for the rare minerals. Who's paying for it? We are. But when they come back I suppose Lockheed Martin and all the rest, they get the profits from the rare minerals. So that's what they are actually doing. And then we discover that America has to dominate space because of this massive investment, so the US Air Force and the US Space Command and NASA have combined to work together in this military madness. That's a good title for my next book: military madness. Can I have a pen? Military madness. OK. I'm looking for a title.

Now, you know, for years, we haven't needed a space shuttle. They have had computers that can do all of the work that the people in the space shuttle do. It's only a PR exercise. And they send up Russians, and women, and Asians, and black people, and old people, and oh, it's very exciting. And NASA's got a fantastic public relations department. But they don't need to launch manned space shuttles.

But in reality NASA is busily destroying the ozone layer. Because each space shuttle releases 240 tons of concentrated HCl, hydrochloric acid, much of it in the stratosphere where the ozone layer is located. The chlorine atom then splits off from the HCL molecule and starts eating up the ozone layer. It was predicted a few years ago by a Russian scientist that if the space program continued as planned (though it's actually expanding), ten percent of the ozone would be depleted within ten years. NASA didn't contradict this prediction. I broke this story in the US, and instead of NASA trying to fix the problem they launched a satellite to measure the ozone depletion and the ozone holes in the southern hemisphere, and radioed back the results to high schools here, so the children could all do projects on the ozone depletion. That's called management control in PR language..

But NASA is really ready to go amok now. They want to launch a space station, which was estimated to cost $10 billion, but now it's up to $100 billion. I can hardly imagine these figures. And the US has already spent $5 trillion on nuclear weapons since 1945.

So, now we're going to have this space station full of human beings up there. What do we want human beings in space for? You know what happens to them? We did not evolve in space. We evolved with gravity, and air, and oxygen, and photosynthesis and water. There's nothing up there. There's no gravity, there's no air, there's no oxygen, there's no water. So astronauts drink their own urine, or their sweat. The bodily secretions are collected, refined, and purified, and they drink it again. Well, I suppose that's alright. Also their muscles and bones have atrophied to such an extent that they cannot walk. If muscles and bones are not continually exercised they atrophy. For instance, I haven't been swimming this last three weeks and my muscles are disappearing. I can't get up from the crouch position, you know? Well, I can just - because I'm getting old.

Well, these people return to gravity and they can hardly work. Their bones have disintegrated as they developed severe osteoporosis. What else happens? They get cardiac failure. Their heart enlarges, because the heart needs gravity. The dynamics of the vascular system needs gravity. For instance we have valves in our leg veins that will massage the blood back to vena cava and up to the heart, it's all perfectly balanced physiologically. But we are optimistically sending humans into space. There are ill informed peope who think we can live in space. We can't. We'll die. The people who have been up there for months at a time come back pretty mentally disturbed, because they're all living together, eating together, defecating and urinating together in a very confined space while undergoing quite severe physiological changes.

Okay, so now the new jargon is Manifest Destiny in space. You know what American Manifest Destiny was during the 19th century - to take over and dominate the whole of Latin America, which eventuated. The concept of Manifest Destiny was for the US to control the world, but now they wish to control space. So one day in the near future I will look up at the stars in Australia, and say to my grandson, "look, Mickey, there's a hydrogen bomb. Look. There's a nuclear reactor" But space belongs to all the world's people. How dare these few US individuals think that America can own space, when they represent only 5% of the world's population? How incredibly arrogant, anthropocentric, egocentric. America is not the greatest country in the world. It's the greatest danger to the world in every single way (applause).

(recording interrupted)

These NASA individuals want to go to Mars, to put living men on Mars, and they will experience the same physiological consequences as orbiting in space. These unfortunate people will live in little capsules, develop heart failure, peripheral oedema, muscular atrophy, and osteoporosis. And they'll come back all sort of hunched up-you know, how little old women tend to shrink - women who were once five-feet-seven, develop dorsal kyphosis with a hump on their back, their neck shortens-look at my neck, it's starting to collapse - as their vertebrae collapse as a result of osteoporosis. But this'll be hastened in these relatively young people. And you'll hardly recognize them when they come back, I'm exaggerating somewhat, but you get the point! These men will sample the stuff on Mars, and then they are going to bring it back-300 grams of rock and sand in the year 2008. Isn't that fantastic? (laughs)

The problem is-billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of your tax dollars will be spent on these arcane and dangerous schemes and you don't even have a free health care system. We have a free health care system in Australia, it's one of the best clinical system in the world. But your corporations are moving into Australia because GATT and globalisation are threatening our health care system, we have an idiot prime minister who is allowing that to happen, and a very bad health minister.. But in Australia employers do not have to pay for health insurance, our tax dollars cover the system. For instance when I go to the doctor, I pay the bill - $20, go next door to the Medicare office, and they give me $20 in cash. That's our health care system.

And it's time you had a compassionate, decent, state of the art world health care system. And it's called socialism-oooooh! It's even beyond liberalism, ooooh! But socialism-ooooh! But there are no communists anymore, so you can't really bring in that dogma anymore. You know, Jesus was a socialist. Absolutely he was a socialist. And he was also Jewish. And so was his mother, and she wasn't a virgin. So, there's only a.

I digressed. Well, NASA and the relevant corporations plan bring this 300 grams of space minerals back to earth, but they are not going to use a parachute, they're going to slam it into Utah at 300 to 400 G-force. Which will break the container apart. Now why is this a problem? Oh, I forgot, they have to put two nuclear power plants up on Mars, by the year 2007, so they can provide power for the human colony, keep it operating, turn the urine into water, do all that stuff, keep the men warm, and to provide power I suppose to the robots that will travel around picking up the dirt. It is predicted that humans will be present on Mars by the year 2016.

But there is a problem, it is believed that there could be bacteria on Mars. Now, you know about the Ebola virus. Everyone is scared by Ebola viruses well as HIV and many other dangerous viruses. Scientists predict that there could be a massive epidemic of some uncontrollably dangerous virus in the future. It's quite interesting, though, when you look at history, in the early to mid-1300s, one quarter of the European population died as the result of a flea from China that carried the plague. When the Spaniards began to explore the Americas, they brought with them the smallpox virus, that killed tens of thousands of people. European explorers to Polynesian Hawaii in the 1500s, infected the natives with microbes. We killed a large number of Aborigines from just the common cold and flu in Australia.

So if 300 grams of Martian soil slams into the desert on earth and bursts apart, there is a possibility that the earth could be infected, and the microbes could spread. The scientists will not have microscopes, labs and gram-positive stains to search for Martian bacteria, before they return. And what about our bacteria infecting Mars?

And guess what they'll do? They'll stick an American flag on Mars.

So that's probably all I have to say, except that-in the March issue of the Scientific American which I stole from my son under great protest-there is a huge section describing how men will get to Mars. By God, are they pushing it. So we've got a huge amount of work to do. And I think anger is totally appropriate, because I always mentally refer to Germany. The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing. And I don't mean being polite. Go and lobbying your representatives and really tell them the truth, don't take no for an answer. Be nasty to them if necessary. Take a baby into your senator's office and change the diaper on the table, and say, "I am talking about this baby's future". Do whatever it takes to penetrate their psychic numbing.

I thought of an action years ago called Babies Against the Pentagon. Which abbreviates to "BAP". At a certain point in the Senate Chamber, when they are debating all of this absolute rubbish, release hundreds of naked toddlers into the Senate Chamber. And they can clean up the mess. You know, do interesting, funny things that will grab people.

And I'll end with what we did recently, which was a bit naughty, but I was talking at the Herbst lecture theatre, where they signed the UN charter, in San Francisco, with Patch Adams, who's a funny guy with earrings and green and red hair. When he got to the microphone he said, "I've been trying to tell Helen since July to take her clothes off and walk naked with me across America to focus attention on Y2K." And I thought, "Oh, God." And he had, but I had just chucked his letters in the rubbish tin.

So I got up to the microphone and said to the audience, "hands up, those of you who will take your clothes off." And 50 hands went up. So I thought, "Oh, we're stuck." So we went out to this red foyer, and I thought, "What am I going to do?" And I thought, "well, I'll take my clothes off." So I took my clothes off, and so did Patch, and in a flash, 50 people had their clothes off. Fat ones, thin ones, old ones, skinny ones, and you know, it was such a leveler, because we're all the same underneath. And the human body, whatever size it is, is beautiful. Fat, skinny, small breasts, big ones, and every breast, every pair of breasts, is shaped differently. Then, I thought, "What are we going to do now?" I kept my scarf on and my pearls (laughs), to hide the naughty bits.

So Patch, I and others had been telling the press, "The world might blow up in the year 2000"-but the press were terribly bored. They'd heard it before. It reminded me of a young man in Denmark trying to warn certain Jewish people what Hitler was doing, and they were bored. They said, "we've heard it before," till he burst into tears of frustration, and then they got it. So we rang the press, and said we were going to take our clothes off-they were there in a flash. You know how puritanical America is, but the press couldn't wait to cover it.

So we went outside, it was dark. We started walking down Van Ness, and the slogan became "Nudes, Not Nukes," and Patch was holding a sunflower. And then, people in bus looked, and suddenly their eyes fell out. Guys were screeching to a halt in their cars and jumping out and everyone was clapping. They didn't even know why they were clapping or why we were doing it. They were just thrilled. We turned around before the cops came because I didn't want to go naked to an American prison.

We got back inside the foyer of the Herbst Theatre-I had never seen so many excited people. I think it was because of two things. We are metaphorically naked before all things nuclear. Totally naked. And it took such courage for people to disrobe. I don't think they had ever experienced that sort of courage before. That's the exactly the sort of courage-I don't mean all get undressed at once, but that's the sort of courage we have to have to save this planet, and I really mean it, because we're in terrible, terrible trouble. And the money's all there to fix it.

We must remove the sociopaths from office, including Clinton, I include him in that. A sociopath is someone who does terrible things against society with seemingly no conscience or guilt. And put in people in office who really care - like doctors and women who are or have nursed their babies, and people who really really understand the sanctity of life and what is going on inside their own souls.

Thank you.

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