Nuclear weapons used to be a top concern of the environmental movement, but aren't talked about much anymore as a green issue. What's changed and how do you feel about that?
Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence magazine for the past 40 years and long-time anti-nuclear activist, answers:"Fifty years ago I made a peace pilgrimage from New Delhi to Moscow, Paris, London, and Washington DC. At that time these were the four nuclear capitals. I went by walking, 8000 miles, without any money. I was deeply committed, passionately involved and engaged in the anti-nuclear movement. Now we have India, Pakistan, Israel with nuclear weapons. North Korea is also joining. There are suspicions about other countries as well. This is not a very happy state of affairs.
These weapons are completely useless, because if you use them they not only kill your enemies, meaning the soldiers of the other side, they kill men, women, children, workers, farmers, lakes, trees, insects, animals, everything is destroyed. So are these weapons ever used, by anybody in their sane mind?
They are just weapons of prestige, of ego, of national ego saying "I have nuclear weapons."
Nuclear weapons are completely useless but still we are making them, spending money on them, while our fellow human beings in the millions in Africa, even in the United States, are hungry. We have soup kitchens, we have homeless people, we have no jobs for people—even in the rich countries.
Nuclear power, nuclear weapons are completely uncivilized and insane. They are unnecessary. We have been given so much energy by the sun, everyday, to every home, every field, every garden. Every rooftop should be a small power generating station. Every roof should have a solar photovoltaic system. In the same way, every roof can also be a water harvesting place. If we can live by the sun, the wind, and the water, and human energy (using our hands, making things with our hands), and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, on nuclear power, increase our dependence on renewable energy, on human energy, humanity will be safer, more secure, and happier.
Satish Kumar has been editor of Resurgence since 1973, making him the UK's longest-serving editor of the same magazine. He is the author of numerous books, including You Are, Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence, The Buddha and the Terrorist, and his autobiography No Destination.
This answer has been excerpted from a longer interview done with Kumar for TreeHugger.