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The morning starts early with a Plenary entitled “Uranium and Environment.” The first presenter discusses nuclear medicine. Primarily, he focuses on the fact that traditionally nuclear medicine has used the same type of Uranium that is necessary for building a nuclear weapon (the so-called Highly Enriched Uranium, or HEU). However, he explains that recently, thanks to pressure from groups like PSR/IPPNW, most medical facilities around the world have switched to the non-weapons grade Uranium (LEU), without any deficit in patient care. His presentation is followed up by Professor Vosseler, a Guiness Record setting physician, who enthusiastically reminds us that we are part of one planet, and as such, we must adopt a planetary ethic of responsibility. Dr. Vosseler also discusses the journey that put him on the record books- the first solar powered boat ride across the Atlantic ocean. Dr. Vosseler explained that the amount of energy needed to power the boat was equivalent to same needed to run one hairdryer. His story is certainly an inspiration, and underscores the need for continued work towards a sustainable planet.
This evening marks the opening ceremony for the Main Congress. We gather in the Basel Museum and are welcomed by the President of the Government of Canton Basel and IPPNW Board Member Guy Morrin, MD. Dr. Morrin tells us about the strong history of Basel in promoting and proliferating peace throughout the long history of the City. After a short reception, we are transported by tram to the Rhine river, to have dinner on the “Schiff,” a beautiful boat, that will be our host for the evening. With hundreds upon hundreds of IPPNW members gathered on board, the festivities begin. There is food from the world over, and plenty of conversation to go around. As I sit on this beautiful boat, in this beautiful city, surrounded by so many beautiful people, I cannot help but reflect on something that was said earlier in the day by the former International Student Representative for IPPNW: “we are not happy with the world, and we want to change it.” I cannot help but feel part of a larger movement, and while it is certainly idealistic, I feel more convinced than ever that we are, in fact, doing something to change the world.