Helen Caldicott is a pediatrician who left a post at Harvard Medical School
(specializing in cystic fibrosis
) to work for nuclear disarmament
. Caldicott has founded numerous organizations including Physicians for Social Responsibility
(1977-1986), Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament
(1980) and the Nuclear Policy Research Institute
. Though often perceived an alarmist, Caldicott has spent thirty years waging an international campaign to convince the public that an alarm needs to be sounded. Caldicott’s primary concerns are the medical hazards of the nuclear age, and the changes we need to make to stop environmental destruction.
Australian by birth, Caldicott has been active in her native country, helping to cement Australia’s opposition to French nuclear testing in the Pacific (1971) and working with Australian trade unions to educate workers about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, particularly with regard to uranium mining. In 1987 Caldicott ran for Federal Parliament as an independent, but ultimately lost the election by 600 out of 70,000 votes.
Helen Caldicott is the author of several publications including the books Nuclear Madness and Missile Envy. Her most recent book, The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex details the increasing threat of nuclear weapons in a post-9/11 world. With an emphasis on the connections of the government to the arms industry, using clear-cut facts, Caldicott uncovers the complicity of the US government in the very dangers that the War on Terrorism is ostensibly addressing.
Both the Smithsonian Institute and the Ladies Home Journal (!) have named Caldicott one of the most Influential Women of the Twentieth Century and Nobel Lauriate Linus Pauling nominated Caldicott for a Nobel Peace Prize. These distinctions and honorary degrees from nineteen universities haven’t tempered Caldicott’s firey approach to activism. In recent speeches Caldicott has endorsed dropping trou for the cause of peace (to emphasize the vulnerability of the human body) and unleashing naked babies on the Senate Floor (to make a point of the fragile future of the next generation). Conservatives like to point to Caldicott’s incendiary remarks (likening the defense industry to the holocaust, linking warmongering to the apocalyptical fervour of right-wing Christian politicos) as a way of discrediting her work. However, Caldicott has also been linked with such well-respected figures as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Mahatma Ghandi.