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Sustainable Development

Back to listJul 5, 2013

SGI-Sweden Organizes Seminar on Nuclear Weapons and the Environment at Almedalen Week

Professor Gahm Professor Gahm gives his speech

On July 5, SGI-Sweden held a seminar titled "Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Nuclear Weapons: A Different Seminar on Environmental Problems" at Almedalen Week 2013. Almedalen Week, an annual event held in Visby on the island of Gotland, is organized by the political parties of Sweden and the Municipality of Gotland. The event brings together politicians from Sweden and around the world, journalists, NGOs and other organizations with the aim of debating social issues in an atmosphere of openness and democracy.

The SGI-organized seminar, one of over 2,200 events that together attracted some 20,000 people, aimed to raise awareness of nuclear weapons as an environmental threat and the importance of striving for their abolition and not just their nonproliferation.

Almedalen Week Participants at Almedalen Week 2013

In his speech at the seminar, Gösta Gahm, professor emeritus at Stockholm University's Institute of Astronomy, described to an audience of some 50 people the influence that various celestial bodies beyond our control have on life on this planet. In comparing the destructive power of meteorite downfall to atomic explosions of different sizes, Professor Gahm pointed out that the environmental devastation caused by a meteorite is considerable even without the complication of the effects of radiation that accompany the detonation of a single nuclear weapon.

SGI representatives also spoke at the seminar and described nuclear weapons not only as the most dangerous threat to the environment and human health ever created by humankind, but, paradoxically, one of the most often overlooked and easiest threats to eliminate. Abolishing nuclear weapons, they posited, only requires a political decision, unlike, for example, lowering carbon dioxide emissions, which requires the consistent daily efforts of people around the world. 

On display at the seminar was a panel translated into Swedish from the exhibition "Everything You TreasureFor a World Free From Nuclear Weapons" that was jointly created by SGI and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The panel details the catastrophic outcome of a minor nuclear war as well as examples of the environmental effects of the production and testing of nuclear weapons.

[Adapted from a report for SGI-Sweden; photos courtesy of SGI-Sweden]