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What Is Nuclear Guardianship?

What Is Nuclear Guardianship?

Nuclear Guardianship combines art, science, and remembrance to address the seemingly intractable human-caused problem of nuclear contamination with wisdom and creativity. Based on the pioneering work of eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, Rocky Flats: A Call to Guardianship applies the ideas and ideals of Nuclear Guardianship at the site of the now closed Rocky Flats nuclear weapons manufacturing plant near Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

Work at Rocky Flats was harmful

Work at Rocky Flats was harmful

For 37 years, beginning in 1952, the fissile plutonium pits at the core of all warheads in the U.S. nuclear arsenal were produced at Rocky Flats.This work contaminated the surrounding environment with minute plutonium particles that will emit tiny bursts of harmful radiation continuously for thousands of years. Inhaling or otherwise taking such particles into the body can harm one's health. Lodged in the body, a particle of plutonium will irradiate nearby cells for the rest of one's life.

Nuclear Guardianship links people

Nuclear Guardianship links people

Nuclear Guardianship is a manifestation of a powerful cultural shift away from secrecy and denial of our nuclear legacy towards an ethic of ecological responsibility. It is guided by scientific curiosity and openness coupled with spiritual commitment, and it establishes a model for perpetual ecological stewardship and environmental democracy.

Rocky Flats: A local hazard forever

Rocky Flats: A local hazard forever

The first priority of Nuclear Guardianship at Rocky Flats is to inform people that the site poses a danger forever. Disturbance of the environment there, now or in the future, can release radioactive particles harmful to humans and other beings. As we seek knowledge and advanced technology, we advocate cutting-edge monitoring and exhaustive hazard mitigation now and far into the future.

A long-term co

A long-term co

Nuclear Guardianship is a commitment for the aeons, a pledge to our children’s children’s…children. "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time." (Terry Tempest Williams) Nuclear Guardians are ready to work in good faith with all parties, governmental and non-goverenmental.

Joanna Macy

Click here to learn more about the history behind the complex Legacy of  Rocky Flats

Nuclear Guardianship Ethic

(created ca. 1990, revised July 2011)













Each generation shall endeavor to preserve the foundations of life and well-being for those who come after. To produce and abandon substances that damage following generations is morally unacceptable.


Given the extreme toxicity and longevity of radioactive materials, their production must cease. The development of safe, renewable energy sources and non-violent means of conflict resolution is essential to the health and survival of life on Earth. Radioactive materials are not to be regarded as an economic or military resource.


We accept responsibility for the radioactive materials mined and produced for our alleged benefit.


Future generations have the right to know about their nuclear legacy and the dangers it brings.


Future generations have the right to protect themselves from these dangers. Therefore, it is our responsibility to pass on the information they will need, such as the nature and effects of radiation, and methods for monitoring and containing it. We acknowledge that deep burial of radioactive materials precludes these possibilities and risks widespread contamination.


Transport of radioactive materials, with its inevitable risks of accidents and spills, should be undertaken only when storage conditions at the site of production pose a greater hazard than transportation.


Research and development of technologies for the least hazardous long-term treatment and placement of nuclear materials should receive high priority in public attention and funding.


Education of the public about the character, source, and containment of radioactive materials is essential for the health of present and future generations. This education should promote understanding of the interconnectedness of all life forms and a grasp of the extraordinary time spans for which containment is required.


The formation of policies for managing radioactive materials requires full participation of the public. For this purpose, the public must have ready access to complete and comprehensible information.


The vigilance necessary for ongoing containment of radioactive materials requires a moral commitment.

This commitment is within our capacity, and can be developed and sustained by drawing on the cultural and spiritual resources of our human heritage.



The Nuclear Guardianship Ethic is proposed as an evolving expression of values to guide decision-making on the management of radioactive materials.



The abolition of nuclear weapons is an urgent humanitarian necessity. Nuclear weapons are the only devices ever created that have the capacity to destroy all complex life forms on Earth. Far from keeping the peace, they breed fear and mistrust among nations. Nuclear weapons programs divert public funds from health care, education, disaster relief and other vital services. Furthermore, there are intolerable effects from the production, testing and deployment of nuclear arsenals that are experienced as an ongoing personal and community catastrophe by many people around the globe. Eliminating nuclear weapons – via a comprehensive treaty – is the only guarantee against their use.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center fully supports an international treaty to ban the development, possession or use of nuclear weapons. In the interim, taking our Minuteman nuclear missiles off of hair trigger alert is the logical first step back from the brink.

Statement Supporting Nuclear Abolition




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