On this day 70 years ago, the world and the preconditions for its health and survival changed forever. A crude bomb containing 60 kilograms of highly enriched uranium exploded 580 metres above Hiroshima. Equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT, it was 2000 times more powerful than the British Grand Slam bomb, the largest produced until then.
The moral threshold of catastrophic attacks with indiscriminate weapons had already been crossed, with poison gas killing 90,000 and maiming or blinding one million men in the European killing fields of the first world war. This was followed by indiscriminate aerial bombing of cities during the second world war.
When I was a kid – and gullible enough to take biblical stories literally – I was deeply impressed by the story of David and Goliath. Even now the notion that a shepherd boy with his slingshot and stones could defeat the giant armoured warrior Goliath still resonates in my work in independent media.
But in challenging the distortions and commercial bias of the mainstream media giants, it’s fortunate we have brilliant techie tools to use instead of slingshot and stones.
A surprising development in the intermittent nuclear debate has been the announcement by the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, that the state will hold a Royal Commission into the possible expansion of the state’s uranium mining industry to include nuclear enrichment, storage and energy.
It’s surprising because we don’t need a long and expensive inquiry to see that the nuclear industry offers little potential for future growth in jobs or export income.
At WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks, Vandana Shiva, Paul Sutton and Tim Jarvis will be challenging the values that we place on our land, food and water, and what these values mean for the health of our planet and ourselves.
I spoke to Dr Vandana Shiva about seeds and freedom.
All Australians should feel deeply disturbed by the impending executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The two Australian citizens, convicted in 2006 of attempting to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin out of Bali into Australia, will, barring an improbable eleventh-hour reprieve, be put to death by the Indonesian state at an as yet undetermined time in the coming weeks. Once transferred to a prison island off Java, the men will be dressed in white, bound at the hands and feet, tied to poles alongside one another, and finally sprayed with bullets by a 12-member firing squad. If Chan or Sukumaran do not die immediately, the commander will step forward and shoot them in the head as many times as is necessary to achieve the desired result.
There could well be a serious outbreak of optimism at WOMADelaide 2015 when two of the world’s eco-heroes discuss “Creating Hope”. Simran Sethi will be in conversation with Sylvia Earle as part of WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks. Sylvia Earle was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998, and Simran Sethi was listed in The Independent’s 2007 top-10 Green List, along with the likes of Al Gore and Nicholas Stern.
A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.
Every time racism seems to have run out of places to hide, national debates inevitably kick aside a stone and reveal a new refuge. One of Britain’s latest tabloid apoplexies has centred on the question, posed by the EU, of whether meat should be labelled with the slaughter method of the animal involved, including dhabihah halal (Muslim) and shechita (Jewish). The Daily Mail informed its readers – The horror! The horror! – that ‘Millions are eating halal food without knowing it.’ Last year, it was the horsemeat scandal that was making The Mail’s readers choke in outrage on their morning bacon.