THE BIG BANG: LAW, THE HUMANITIES AND THE NUCLEAR AGE

The regulation of the use of nuclear power, whether for peaceful uses or for war, has been a concern of all disciplines since the development and use of the atomic bomb in 1945. For years it seemed inevitable that that particular 'Big Bang" would end human civilization as we know it. Both rational and irrational fears have played into human reactions to the use of nuclear power, giving rise to various international agreements such as the Ban on the Use of Nuclear Weapons in Space (entered into force 1963), the anti-nuclear power movement in various countries, and questions about the use of nuclear radiation in medicine and the sciences. Recently the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, signed by President Clinton. Note that, according to international law, even though the Senate's refusal means the treaty is not part of domestic law, Clinton's signature means that the U.S. is bound to honor the terms of the treaty as a matter of international law. See also the CTBT's home page.

Popular culture portrays organizations which oppose the use of  nuclear weapons in various lights, particularly in films and in the mystery. An interesting research topic might be the image of such organizations with regard to their respect for the law. Does popular culture tend to portray them sympathetically, on the grounds that the means justify the ends? (Similarly one might investigate the image of animal rights groups in fiction and film). How is the government's reaction portrayed? What might the lay person reading these mysteries or watching these films conclude about the justice of laws that jail peaceful opponents of nuclear power? What about activist, violent opponents? The organization Greenpeace is a good example of activist and committed opposition to the use of nuclear weapons. How have films and novels pictured Greenpeace, its activities and its mission through the years? 

For examples of films that show active opposition to the peaceful use of nuclear power see for example The China Syndrome. Is the film a realistic portrayal of pro and con attitudes in the nuclear power industry? What legal mechanisms exist to respond to the objections of the anti-nuke demonstrators in the film? What law protects the company and its affliliates? What about other crimes pictured in the film, such as the death of the camera crew? Is such an event likely? Consider the film Silkwood in this light. (Silkwood's emphasis on labor relations and workers' rights brings to mind such films as Norma Rae, and the television movie The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal.

See also Law, the Humanities, and the Physical Sciences (this website).

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 




use natural language query
   tips for searching



Provide Website Feedback / Accessibility Statement / Accessibility Assistance
/ Privacy Statement