The Nevada Desert Experience
is a name for the
movement to stop U.S. nuclear weapons testing that came into use in
the middle 1980s. It is also the name of a particular organization
which continues to create public events to question the morality
and intelligence of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, with a main
focus on the U.S.
Department of Energy's Nevada Test
working for social justice, environmental preservation, and
international peace organized a peace vigil to last six weeks long
in the Spring of 1982 about 60 miles from Las Vegas,
Nevada at the entrance to the Nevada Test Site.
1983 they repeated the vigil, calling it the Lenten Desert
Experience. This anarchist group of Christian organizers decided
that the program had been successful enough to start an
organization, which led to a faith-based aspect to the nuclear
abolition movement. They named it "Nevada Desert Experience" or NDE
because of the work within the prayer-actions for peace that
included learning to appreciate the Mojave
and the Great
Deserts of North America. Organizers believed that
appreciation of the beauty and power of the natural environment,
coupled with a universal code of ethics (the Golden Rule
) organically leads humans
to make a stand for peace and environmental justice.
The movement's immediate goal of ending nuclear testing at the
Nevada Test Site was met in 1992, when President George H. W. Bush
signed a moratorium on underground nuclear weapons tests. The
abolition movement, led by NDE and the Western Shoshone
were sparked back into action with the renewal of
non-nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site in 1997. These
"subcritical" bombs use fissile materials which do not reach a
self-sustaining chain reaction of a typical nuclear bomb.
are designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, whereby the data collected can be fed to computers
to simulate full-scale nuclear explosions for the NSA and DOE.
explosive yield is low, and small amounts of radiation may be
released. Because each subcritical experiment costs roughly 20
million dollars (USD) and much time from the humans working within
the nuclear weapons management industry, the tests indicate to
nuclear abolition activists a strong continued interest (within the
U.S. Government) in favor of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the Nevada
Desert Experience continues to work for deep ecological
sensitivities and social peacemaking, with one goal being to clean
up and contain the contamination created by 55 years of nuclear
testing in Nevada & Western Shoshone country.
"Pilgrimage Through a Burning World, by Ken
" Chronicles and discusses the political and religious
aspects of the nonviolent protest against nuclear testing called
the Nevada Desert Experience. 2003, 256 pp., paper"