World loses renowned environmental researcher
• On June 14, 2012, we lost a giant with the passing of Sister Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., an internationally recognized environmental epidemiologist, cancer researcher and public health advocate. She was 83.
I knew of Rosalie Bertell’s work at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute where she first gained invaluable insights into the manner in which ionizing low-level radiation degrades health and impairs the intelligence of very young children. I was lucky enough to accompany Rosalie on a trip to Korea to visit the communities where the CANDU nuclear reactors are located. I witnessed first-hand her compassionate heart and her scientific mind working in seamless harmony.
She was a trailblazer in the practice of science and mathematics in the public interest, something the human community sorely needs if we are to survive our own technologies. She travelled the globe, researching and advising ways of dealing with chemical and nuclear hazards until shortly before her death. She authored more than 100 articles and two books: No Immediate Danger (1985) and Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War (2000).
It is pitiful to see scientists and engineers allowing themselves to be shackled in jobs where their conscience is anaesthetized, their voices stilled and their actions severely limited because they have sold their services to a corporation, a government agency or a military establishment.
Rosalie saw that science must be at the service of humanity and that scientific language has to be demystified so we can all understand the magnitude of the stakes and the enormity of what we are doing to Earth’s living systems. Scientific thought devoid of compassion, concern and action – for the good of humanity and all life on Earth – is not only sterile, but rapidly becomes enormously destructive.
May Rosalie rest in peace, but may her spirit remain very much alive and active in the world, because we need it – we need her – so much.
Dr. Gordon Edwards is President and co-founder of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. He is qualified as a nuclear expert by courts in Canada and in 2006 he received the Nuclear-free Future Award in the category of Education. www.ccnr.org