FROM THE ARCHIVES: Nuclear threats impact decisions

By SIERRA J. RUSSELL

The Aztec Press has covered consequences resulting from nuclear threats and conventional weapons from a variety of angles over the years.

A 1977 issue described experiments that demonstrated possible hazards to the environment and residents surrounding nuclear power plants.

The staff writer believed that the greatest danger the American people faced was their “vulnerability to the half-truths and profit-at-the-expense-of-safety attitudes fouling government and the nuclear industry.”

Many people built fallout shelters in the ‘60s due to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. By the late ‘70s, many of the shelters still standing lacked sufficient supplies.

In 1975, Tucson was selected as part of a pilot program for relocating populations in the event of a severe emergency such as a nuclear strike.

Richard Casanova, then director of Pima County Emergency Services, said the plan was based on the possibility that there would be enough warning before a strike to allow people to seek shelter in designated areas.

At the time, some residents worried that Tucson would be a possible strategic strike site because of Titan missiles stored in area silos.

Casanova said that targets would most likely be more densely populated areas.

A 1982 article explained that even those who survive a nuclear attack may later fall victim to the lingering effects of lethal radiation.

“Surviving a nuclear attack really is a matter of percentages,” Casanova said. “The only real answer is stopping nuclear war.”

A year later, activists held a non-violent protest at a cruise missile training site. One organizer, Rhea Miller, encouraged demonstrators to communicate with security forces in a peaceful manner.

“Sing to them, talk to them, let them know we are people,” Miller said.

In 1986, the Newman Center near the University of Arizona hosted a panel discussion about world-wide peace efforts. The keynote speaker was Patricia Mische who founded the Global Education Associates with her husband in 1974.

The organization’s aim was to create a more harmonious world through education and communication.

Mische said it was especially important to teach children how to avoid conflicts both on a personal and a grand scale.

Key components of such education include teaching children the value of their self-worth, and a deep respect for the links we share with other cultures and the entire world.

“It is possible to remove the threat of war,” Mische said. “We can turn the world balance and the nature of things through non-violent actions.”

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