Rutherford H. Platt: Where was Dr. Helen Calicott’s young audience?
To the editor:
Helen Caldicott, the Australian physician and world-renowned anti-nuclear activist, spoke on March 24 at the First Churches in downtown Northampton. Her immediate topic was the danger posed by the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power station to the Connecticut River Valley and New England in general. (The Rowe and Maine Yankee nukes are already closed but their wastes are stored onsite indefinitely.)
More broadly, she passionately summarized some of the horrific and continuing health and environmental impacts of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe.
Dr. Caldicott, a former Harvard Medical School professor, co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility, whose world umbrella, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. She has received 21 honorary doctoral degrees and was personally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling.
It was distressing that the audience of about 200 appeared to include virtually no young adults. Although the Five Colleges were on break, many college and graduate students stay around or live here. Did environmental educators in the Valley hear about this in time to encourage their students to attend? Or is political activism on behalf of the planet only a relic of the Pete Seeger generation? Where are tomorrow’s voices of conscience?
Rutherford H. Platt