Nuclear Forum at WSF – Part 2

Background information and post conference developments

By Byron Toben

Thanks for the favourable comments on our report on the Nuclear Forum at the World Social Forum in Montreal last week. Time and space precluded some background information and post conference developments, now assembled below.


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words…

The Atomic Photographers Guild had a photo exhibit of 40 impressive stills next door to the Nuclear Forum. Concordia prof Robert Del Tredici, the founder of the Guild, contributed 22 of the images, many of which have appeared in his three books. Sixteen others of the Guild contributed the other 18.

Del Tredici, in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island meltdown, flew over the twelve H-bomb factories (gaining inside access to six). He also encountered other photographers around the world specializing in this niche, leading to the Guild, now 27 strong. Visit their website at atomicphotographers.com

The National Film Board of Canada was instrumental in funding two key documentaries:

if you love this planet documentary poster westmountmag.ca

Theatrical poster

If You Love This Planet, by Terri Nash, featured Australian M.D. Dr. Helen Caldicott at a lecture at SUNY in nearby Plattsburgh.

This film was suppressed by the US Dept. of Justice under the Reagan Administration, but went on to win an Academy Award in 1982. View it on the NFB site.

Note that the then actor Reagan appears briefly in an interior clip of a war time Defense training film called Jap Zero.

No More Hiroshimas by Martin Duckworth. This 1984 documentary tracks two rare Japanese survivors of the twin blasts. View it on the NFB site.


Robert Oppenheimer

Robert Oppenheimer

But Some Words Are Worth a Thousand Pictures

Robert Oppenheimer, lead scientist on the Manhattan Project and a Sanskrit enthusiast, upon witnessing the successful test of an atomic bomb in New Mexico, immediately recalled passages from the ancient Hindu classic, Mahabharata…

Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds


If the radiance of a thousand Suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be the splendour of the mighty one.

The latter passage also ending up inspiring Robert Junck’s 1958 history of the race for the bomb Brighter Than A Thousand Suns.

Recent Developments

The Montreal Declaration For a Nuclear-Fission-Free World

The World Social Forum, in keeping with its non-partisan, non-hierarchical structure, does not itself conclude in its own resolutions and declarations. This is understandable as, at Montreal, about 35,000 participants from 125 countries were involved.

However, it provides an Agora where many of the “self assembly” groups on various causes from education to public services can do so as concrete initiatives and guidelines for supporters around the world.

Accordingly, the Nuclear Forum endorsed a Montreal Declaration for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World. So far, as of August 21, 53 organizations around the world have endorsed it, as well as 193 individuals. Click for the text and endorsement links.

Feature image (Hiroshima Lantern Festival): Richard Riley via StockPholio.net

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club

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