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Helen Caldicott


Helen Caldicott

Helen Caldicott
Dr. Helen Caldicott, October 2007
Born (1938-08-07) 7 August 1938
Melbourne, Australia
Occupation Physician, activist
Spouse(s) William Caldicott
Children Philip, Penny, William Jr
Dr. Caldicott's official website

Helen Mary Caldicott (born 7 August 1938) is an Australian physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate who has founded several associations dedicated to opposing the use of nuclear power, depleted uranium munitions, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons proliferation, war and military action in general. She hosts a weekly radio program, If You Love This Planet. In 2009 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women's History Project.[1]


Born in Melbourne, Australia, Caldicott attended the Fintona Girls' School, and received her medical degree in 1961 from the University of Adelaide Medical School. In 1977 she joined the staff of the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston, and taught pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School from 1977 to 1978.

In 1980, following the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, she left her medical career in order to concentrate on calling the world's attention to what she refers to as the "insanity" of the nuclear arms race and the growing reliance on nuclear power.

Citing confidential memos, Caldicott says that the Hershey Foods Corporation was concerned about radiation levels in milk used in their products because of the proximity of the Three Mile Island accident to Hershey's Pennsylvania factory. According to Caldicott, citing a 30 March 1979 study by the Pennsylvania State University, College of Engineering, radiation contaminants that fell on the Pennsylvania grass found their way into the milk of the local dairy cows.[2] Caldicott noted this was contrary to the findings in the government official report[3] released shortly after the Three Mile Island disaster. Caldicott disputes this report in her book, Nuclear Power is Not the Answer.

Also in 1980, she founded the Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the United States, which was later renamed Women's Action for New Directions. It is a group dedicated to reducing or redirecting government spending away from nuclear energy use towards what the group perceives as unmet social issues.

During her time in the United States from 1977 to 1986, Caldicott was the founding president from 1978 to 1983 of Physicians for Social Responsibility (founded originally in 1961 and dormant from 1970 to 1978), and she helped to recruit 23,000 doctors committed to educating the public and their colleagues on the dangers of nuclear energy. She also worked abroad to establish similar national groups that focused on education about the medical dangers of nuclear energy, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. The umbrella organisation International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. She herself received the Humanist of the Year award from the American Humanist Association in 1982.

In 1995 Caldicott returned to the US where she lectured for the New School of Social Research on the Media, Global Politics, and the Environment. She also hosted a weekly radio show on WBAI (Pacifica) and became the Founding President of the STAR (Standing for Truth About Radiation) Foundation.

Her sixth book, The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex, was published in 2001. While touring with that book, she founded the [4]

In May 2003, Caldicott gave a lecture entitled "The New Nuclear Threat" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.

Caldicott currently splits her time between the United States and Australia and continues to lecture widely to promote her views on nuclear energy use, including weapons and power. She has been awarded 21 honorary doctoral degrees and was nominated for the Australian Peace Prize "for her longstanding commitment to raising awareness about the medical and environmental hazards of the nuclear age". The Smithsonian Institution has named Caldicott as one of the most influential women of the 20th century.[5] She is a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS, a progressive think tank in Spain. She serves on the Advisory Council of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.[6]

A fully revised and updated edition of her 1992 book If You Love This Planet was published by W.W. Norton in September 2009.

In April 2011, Caldicott was involved in a public argument in UK newspaper [7][8][9] Monbiot expressed great concern at what he saw as a failure by Caldicott to provide adequate justification for many of her arguments. Regarding Caldicott's book "Nuclear Power is Not The Answer" he wrote, "The scarcity of references to scientific papers and the abundance of unsourced claims it contains amaze me."

Dr. Caldicott spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Faulkner Gallery in Santa Barbara on Friday 23 March 2012 on "The Medical Implications of Fukushima, Nuclear Power and Nuclear Proliferation".

Documentary films

In the early 1980s, she was the subject of two notable documentaries: the Oscar-nominated 1981 feature-length film Eight Minutes to Midnight: A Portrait of Dr. Helen Caldicott and the 1982 Oscar-winning National Film Board of Canada short documentary, If You Love This Planet.[10]

A 2004 documentary film, Helen's War: Portrait of a Dissident,[11] provides a look into Dr. Caldicott's life through the eyes of her niece, filmmaker Anna Broinowski.

Caldicott is featured along with foreign affairs experts, space security activists and military officials in interviews in Denis Delestrac's 2010 feature documentary Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space.

The 2013 documentary Pandora's Promise also features footage of Dr. Caldicott interspersed with counter-points to her assertions regarding the health impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Australian politics

Caldicott contested unsuccessfully the New South Wales seat of Division of Richmond in the House of Representatives at the 1990 federal election, a seat held by conservatives since the inaugural 1901 election, and by the National Party since it first contested elections at the 1922 election. She received 23.3 percent of the primary vote (27.4 percent after distribution of preferences). The ALP took the seat with 50.5 percent of the two-party-preferred vote.

Caldicott also tried to enter the Australian Senate in 1991 and attempted to win Democrat support to replace New South Wales Senator Paul McLean, who had recently resigned. However, the party selected Karin Sowada to take the position.

See also



  1. ^ "Honorees: 2010 National Women’s History Month". Women's History Month.  
  2. ^ Nuclear Power is Not the Answer
  3. ^ """NYAS: "New York Academy of Science. 
  4. ^ "If You Love This Planet weekly radio program archives". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  5. ^ Anti-nuclear Activist Dr. Helen Caldicott to Appear; Cape Cod Today; 28 March 2012
  6. ^ Advisory Council; Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; February 20, 2014
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Nash, Terre (1982). "If You Love This Planet". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  11. ^ CBC The Passionate Eye Sunday Showcase: Helen's War, Portrait of a Dissident at the Wayback Machine (archived January 15, 2006)

External links

  • - Dr. Caldicott's official website
  • - Dr. Caldicott's weekly radio program, "If You Love This Planet"
  • Watch a video clip of Helen Caldicott at Big Picture TV
  • Video of Speech on Depleted Uranium from
  • Anti Nuclear Oxford debate by former New Zealand PM David Lange
  • Heyoka Magazine Interview
  • KGNU Denver interview with Claudia Cragg in July 2007 about Japan's Nuclear Industry and Earthquakes
  • interview with Caldicott, 6 March 2005In Depth
  • Nuclear power no answer to climate change
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