Uncle Sam, Nuclear Polluter

Why would anyone who is concerned with protecting the environment want to put the U.S. government in charge of that task? After all, look at how much damage the U.S. government has done to people and the planet over the decades with its nuclear testing. 

I haven’t seen the movie Oppenheimer but based on some of the commentaries, it is clear that the U.S. government, especially the military establishment, has been totally indifferent to both people and the environment with its decades of nuclear testing.

For example, take a look at a recent article in the New York Times entitled “What ‘Oppenheimer’ Doesn’t Tell You About the Trinity Test” by Tina Cordova. The article shows that when U.S. officials conducted their “Trinity” explosion in New Mexico, they didn’t care one whit about the damage to the health of thousands of people who were living nearby. They gave them no significant and meaningful pre-test warnings and post-test advisories. Four or five generations of people have been experiencing radiation-related cancers ever since.

And then consider all of the above-ground nuclear testing that took place after World War II was over. How much radiation did all those tests release into the atmosphere that later fell on unsuspecting Americans through rainfall? How many people got cancer as a result of those tests?

Moreover, think about all the people who were peacefully living on their islands in the Pacific when the U.S. government decided to export its above-ground nuclear testing to their part of the world. They were forcibly removed from their homes so that the U.S. government could destroy their islands with nuclear bombs. Some of those places are still contaminated with radiation. And people living nearby experienced the same type of radiation-related cancers that the people of New Mexico experienced. See here.

It was only when President Kennedy, over the fierce objection of the national-security establishment, negotiated a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union that above-ground nuclear testing came to an end.

But even then, the U.S. national-security establishment continued testing its nuclear bombs underground. According to Wikipedia, underground nuclear testing began in 1951 and continued through 1996. You’ll never convince me that nuclear bombs exploded underground have not caused severe long-lasting damage to the earth.

Given that the U.S. government is the world’s supreme nuclear polluter, it clearly lacks standing to be designated the protector of the environment. I say: Let’s leave that task to the private sector and to the free market and leave the world’s biggest nuclear polluter out of the process.

Reprinted with permission from The Future of Freedom Foundation.