Remembering Paul Jacobs as the Struggle for Better Nuclear Safety Continues

Starting this Saturday, Link TV will air the Emmy-winning documentary “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang.” The film, produced by IPS fellow Saul Landau and Jack Willis in 1979, explores the effects of radiation exposure on different groups of Americans. Paul Jacobs, a former Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a journalist, activist and co-founder of Mother Jones magazine, investigated the results of atomic bomb tests on civilians and soldiers who were unwittingly used as guinea pigs.

Unsafe nuclear practices affected many people. Residents of Utah and Arizona living downwind from the Nevada nuclear test sites of the 1950s, U.S. soldiers exposed to military nuclear blasts, and farmers living around a Colorado plant that produced plutonium triggers all got cancer at elevated rates. Because of his work, Jacobs himself was part of the production and a subject of the film. He believed his cancer, which would claim his life during the making of the documentary, had been caused by his work around exposing the dangers of nuclear power and weapons.

The Institute’s current work still shows our commitment to clean and safe energy, evidenced by the new report by Robert Alvarez on the dangerous system of storing spent fuel at nuclear reactors. Clearly, nuclear hazards haven’t receded. The nation’s reckless approach to storing spent nuclear fuel without essential safeguards threatens us all.

In the film, Jacobs confronted the harm of nuclear exposure and the possibility of his own death. He interviewed many who felt the same pain, but he summarized his relentless passion for progressive work as being part of a legacy of change makers committed to building the world for the next generation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDflqw_tYpk

At the time of Jacobs’ death, his fellow Mother Jones co-founder Adam Hochschild wrote:

“When he discovered he had cancer, he went to war against it with the same energy with which he fought every battle of his life. He saw this disease that had had the chutzpa to invade his body almost as a personal enemy.”

To see the full list of show times for Paul Jacobs, click here.