Appendix 19 - Public Health

by Michael Greger, MD and United Progressive Alumni

[ Medical School Resources | Appendices | Discussion ]

The world is now too dangerous for anything less than Utopia - Buckminster Fuller

New England Journal: "The United States should make the most urgent public health priority to seek a permanent, verified, agreement with Russia to take all nuclear missiles off high alert and remove the capability of a rapid launch." A sample scenario of an accidental launch from a single soviet sub (even assuming a fourth of the warheads malfunction) involves an estimated 6.8 million immediate U.S. deaths from what are described as "firestorms."[263]

According to the British Medical Journal, the worlds nuclear stockpiles today are, "equivalent to more than one million of the weapons that demolished Hiroshima and Nagasaki and amounts to two tons of TNT for every person on Earth."[264]


The Times, 8 August 1945: "The fundamental power of the universe, the power manifested in the sunshine that has been recognized from the remotest ages as the sustaining force of earthly life, is entrusted at last to human hands." In a city of 245,000, nearly 100,000 people were killed or doomed with one bomb, and 100,000 more were hurt. President Harry S. Truman's initial reaction to news from Hiroshima: "This is the greatest thing in history!"[265]


In an influential 1980 article entitled 'Victory is Possible,' future Reagan Defense Department Advisor Colin Gray wrote:

The United States must possess the ability to wage nuclear war rationally.... Once the defeat of the soviet state is established as a war aim... an intelligent U.S. offensive strategy, wedded to homeland defense should reduce U.S. casualties to approximately 20 million....

The Reagan U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that with effective evacuation over 4 to 7 days, proper sheltering, and other civil defense measures, "80% of the U.S. population could survive a large scale nuclear attack." From Physicians for Social Responsibility: "To accept the survival of 80% of the U.S. population as a reasonable policy goal is also to accept as reasonable the deaths of 45 million people."


From a leaked United States National Security Council Document (NSC-68, 1950): "The only deterrent we can present to the Kremlin is evidence we give that we may make any of the critical points [in the world] which we cannot hold the occasion for a global war of annihilation." Senator McMahon, in a 1951 speech to the U.S. Senate:

Some people used to claim that A-bombs, numbered in the thousands or tens of thousands, were beyond our reach. I am here to report to the Senate and the American people that the atomic bottlenecks are being broken. There is virtually no limit and no limiting factor upon the number of A-bombs which the United States can manufacture, given time and given the decision to proceed all out....

Mark me well: massive atomic deterring power can win us years of grace, years in which to wrench history from its present course and direct it toward the enshrinement of human brotherhood.

Size Matters

Manhattan Project Director General Leslie Groves: "If there are to be atomic weapons in the world, we must have the best, the biggest and the most..." General Groves once even testified that radiation poisoning was, "a very pleasant way to die."


[263] Forrow, L, et al. "Accidental Nuclear War." New England Journal of Medicine 30 April 1998:1326

[264] "The International Arms Trade and Its Impact on health." British Medical Journal 311(1995):1677.

[265] "Health and Human Rights: A Call to Action on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." JAMA 280(1998):462-464, 469-470.

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