Sooke talk focuses on risk of nuclear war

Discussion and talk held on Nov. 30

Peace activist Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford will speak in Sooke on Nov. 30. (Contributed)

Peace activist Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford will speak in Sooke on Nov. 30. (Contributed)

Well-known peace activists Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford and Dr. Jonathan Down will discuss the heightened risks of nuclear confrontation in a special talk in Sooke on Nov. 30.

The discussion is at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1962 Murray Rd., beginning at 7 p.m. The talk is presented by Transition Sooke. Admission is free.

Ashford and Down, two Victoria-area physicians, will be introduced by Sooke’s Christa Rossner, who was heavily involved in the nuclear weapons abolition movement for many years on the national and international levels.

“The United States and North Korea have been hurling escalating threats of nuclear attacks at each other. Now the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its doomsday clock forward to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever come to the apocalypse,” said Ashford, former president of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, a global federation of physicians that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

A nuclear exchange would lead to the deaths of millions of people and a forced “nuclear winter” that would poison massive tracts of land, sea and freshwater for millennia.

The World Health Organization rates nuclear weapons as the highest of all potential dangers to human health.

“Unfortunately, many young people who have grown up since the end of the Cold War in 1991 are unaware of the horrific consequences of a nuclear war and thus are not alarmed by the present situation,” Ashford said. “We’ll suggest some actions that can be taken and brainstorm with the audience about other ideas.”

As the alarming brinkmanship continues in Washington and Pyongyang, Down will share the good news that a new generation of physicians and young activists (many under the age of 30) have banded together as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

This umbrella group of nearly 500 organizations in more than 100 countries will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10 in Oslo, Norway for its advocacy work, which includes creating a new Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. The award will be accepted by Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing.

Down and Ashford belong to various international networks of medical professionals committed to the principle that doctors have an obligation to prevent what they cannot treat.

International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, founded by Helen Caldicott in 1980, continues to share the medical and scientific facts about nuclear war with policy makers and the public while also advocating for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals.