FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Our Intolerable Risk

by PETER G. COHEN

In a 2012 Status of World Nuclear Forces report, The Federation of American Scientists (FAS, founded in 1945 by many of the original group of scientists who invented and built the first atomic bombs and who later came to oppose them) estimates that 1,800 Russian and U.S. nuclear warheads are on “high alert,” ready to strike at the push of a button.  This, two decades after the Cold War ended. While it is difficult to ascertain how many nuclear warheads exist in each nation without access to classified information, based on publicly available information, the FAS counts approximately 16,200 stockpiled nuclear warheads, of which almost 4,000 are “operational.”

That this level of risk is holding the people of the world hostage is intolerable. At any moment, a miscalculation, human, electrical, mechanical, or electronic hacking could plunge us into a worldwide nuclear holocaust. The tragic events at Fukushima have clearly demonstrated that we cannot prevent our technology from being overwhelmed by such natural events as an earthquake, or the fires, floods and storms of climate change. The hacking of Iranian nuclear systems by the Stuxnet worm within the last several years suggests that any firewalls against unauthorized launch of missiles could be in question.

If a small fraction (as few as 50, according to the American Geophysical Union) of those 1,800 “high alert” warheads were to detonate on either of our nations, Russia or the U.S., such a detonation would cause a worldwide catastrophe. Target cities and all their contents would be incinerated in minutes. The nuclear fireballs and the following firestorms would lift millions of tons of radioactive soot into the stratosphere, where it would circle the earth, creating a nuclear winter that would catastrophically reduce food crops and cause famine. It would disrupt the ozone layer, allowing stronger rays to reach the surface, injuring eyesight and increasing skin cancers. The radioactive fallout would increase stillbirths, leukemia, cancers and other diseases wherever it settled, on friend and foe alike. Even a relatively small exchange of nuclear weapons would threaten life worldwide, unjustly impacting billions of civilians in countries with no stake in any struggles between the nuclear weapons states.

Do Russians and Americans really want to incinerate each other? These two great nations – clever enough to reach the moon – must act to preserve themselves and all others from the horrors of nuclear war. We have reduced the total number of deployed weapons, yet this intolerable risk remains. There should be no nuclear weapons ready for rapid deployment anywhere on Earth. Now that we are fully aware of the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and their widespread effects, it is a massively costly Crime Against Humanity to “update and modernize” these weapons. The people of the world must demand that all the nuclear weapons states reduce this danger by removing the warheads from their delivery vehicles, and allow international inspection of their delivery systems.

The tragedy is that for some people in the nuclear-equipped nations, this insane behavior is their way of life; they think of themselves as patriots. The sad truth, eloquently detailed in a 2012 Center for International Policy report, “Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby,” is that Senators and Representatives, strongly influenced by military-corporate lobbying, are demanding that the nuclear facilities in their states and districts be preserved. The future of life on Earth is jeopardized for the profits of military corporations!

For 67 years we have poured money and lives into nuclear security, only to realize that it is a very costly illusion. Nuclear weapons are suicide weapons. There are no problems that can be solved by indiscriminately incinerating human beings or by gradually destroying the genetic basis of human life with fallout radiation. Taking these warheads off their delivery systems is a first step toward greater security for all people. Surely we humans are clever enough to be rid of this terrible, fruitless risk.

Peter G. Cohen, artist-writer, is the author of the website nukefreeworld.com, a veteran of World War II, and writes for PeaceVoice. 

 

 

February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail