Medical Science: WW III: Doomsday Clock at 90 Seconds to Midnight

Do you worry about nuclear war? United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the potential threat of nuclear war is no more dangerous than the "existential problem of climate change," while atomic scientists disagree.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward to 90 s before midnight, reflecting what it considers the growing risk of nuclear war. And a number of medical journals, including Lancet and JAMA Network are simultaneously publishing articles that urge health professionals to alert the public and our leaders to the major danger to public health posed by nuclear weapons.

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The ultimate goal of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and others is to eliminate nuclear weapons, and meanwhile to "urge all states involved in current conflicts to pledge publicly and unequivocally that they will not use nuclear weapons in these conflicts."

Neither NATO nor Russia appears to be inclined to make such a pledge—instead, they remind each other of the threat as provocations escalate. Moreover, Russia is suspending a landmark nuclear arms control treaty and announcing that new strategic systems have been put on combat duty.

While another indictment of Donald Trump dominates U.S. news, world turmoil spreads. A military coup has occurred in Niger, the EU's top supplier of uranium. Both Russia and China have significant interests in Africa. An explosion at a Russian uranium enrichment plant might have involved sabotage.

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A summer blockbuster, Oppenheimer, has aroused more fears of nuclear fallout.

In case you hadn't heard of it, a radiological emergency response effort is quietly being worked on by a complex array of U.S. federal agencies. Medical countermeasures for acute radiation sickness are being developed and stockpiled.

But efforts to prevent radiation exposure to civilians are self-help. Some fire departments are using the 60-second training card below—possibly the only nuclear training they receive. A simple safe/not safe monitor, which uses a chemical that changes color when exposed to ionizing radiation, is being offered to first responders by a private nonprofit, Physicians for Civil Defense and can be purchased.

Additional information:

·         Arizona nuclear plan

·         Civil defense promoted on cross-country bike ride

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Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.

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She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for school children, Professor Klugimkopf's Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf's Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. 

More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and non-hazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

If you would like to discuss these issues, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

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