Jules Burgevin, 85, of Trumansburg, told the Trumansburg Village Board of Trustees at a Village Board meeting May 13 about a new committee he is forming called the West Cayuga Lake Committee for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.During the first of two public comment sessions at the meeting, Burgevin said he is concerned about the threat of nuclear war and how it is affecting people. “Eight women, three from this area, have committed suicide,” he said, attributing their deaths to fear of a nuclear attack. “The threat of nuclear war is literally speaking no future. The future sort of disappears.”
Burgevin, an artist and member of the Trumansburg Fire Department for 30 years, said that while many people experience the same anxiety about nuclear weapons, it is a topic that is not being discussed.
Burgevin handed out copies of notes he took on remarks made by Dr. Ira Helfand, M.D., co-chair of the International Physicians for Social Responsibility, in Ithaca on March 17.
“We are on thin ice,” the remarks say. “The Cuban missile crisis—in that, we were lucky. Sooner or later our luck will run out.”
According to Helfand, there are four steps that can be taken to reduce the threat of nuclear war: take nuclear weapons “off the hair triggers that they are on,” not strike first, put an end to the President having the ability to launch nuclear weapons, and abandon plans to “spend trillions of dollars on new nuclear weapons.”
“I think it’s important to perhaps, in the near future, create a resolution going on record as a Village board opposed to nuclear war and also opposed to nuclear weapons,” he said.
He added that the major nations of the world that have nuclear weapons have not signed a United Nations treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. “It’s a major issue,” Burgevin said, “and it doesn’t look like a Village issue, but if you look at the consequences of nuclear war…there is a Union of Concerned Scientists who have an atomic clock, and every time there is a major threat in the world to human existence, the hands of the clock move, and right now it’s the closest it’s ever been to high noon—it’s two minutes from high noon.”
Burgevin said that if there was a nuclear war the Village of Trumansburg would be 40 degrees below zero degrees Fahrenheit for four months.
“Cayuga Medical Center would close down, but you cannot discuss this with young people,” Burgevin said. “You cannot look at teenagers and tell them the facts and figures of a nuclear war; it’s impossible to do.”
“I’m 85 years old,” Burgevin added. “I’m getting ready to kick off.”
“If you could just kind of look at this issue,” he concluded, “and think about it as a way of creating a new way of functioning in life.”