This 1982 video is a stark reminder of the reality of nuclear annihilation that reached its zenith during the Cold War. Dr. Helen Caldicott was exetremly passionate about nuclear proliferation. Although it is a long film (25 minutes) it is worth a watch, especially for those who don’t know much about life before 1991.
I think it could be argued that the potential for an all out nuclear war has greatly diminished in the last 20 or so years. It is certainly possible that India and Pakistan, or perhaps the U.S. and a future Russia could engage in some limited attacks using hydrogen bombs, but it is not likely. Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly in the last few years, nations have generally backed off their efforts to create massive weapons which are capable of killing millions or billions of people. This is partly due to the new relationships between larger world powers, such as the occasionally tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Putin’s Russia. But the emergence of terrorism as the main opponent in global conflicts has also been a major factor. Nuclear weapons are essentially useless in fighting an enemy who works in small numbers and without held territory.
The National Film Board of Canada featured this video on its main page in part to highlight International Women’s Day and the role of women in changing the world. Certainly Dr. Caldicott’s battle against nuclear proliferation is a shining example. I have chosen to embed this video because it is a reminder of what life was like just 20 years ago, when many humans feared for the future of the species. Now we are more afraid of killer viruses, asteroid collisions and limited terrorist attacks than ICBM’s with megaton payloads. I’m not sure which alternative is better, but I do know I hate the vision of the future painted by Dr. Caldicott.