FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

From Hiroshima to Fukushima

This week marks the 67th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the combined initial death toll of approximately 200,000 and thousands more in the years that followed. As Albert Einstein famously said, “With the dawn of the nuclear age everything changed save [except] our modes of thinking and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” The legacy of this new age of truly massive mortality weapons remains to this day and those prophetic words are ever true. The world is wired for instant destruction with current nuclear stockpiles in excess of 20,000 weapons holding the entire world hostage. There is no chance of survivability of nuclear war for much of humanity and no remotely adequate medical or civil defense response if these weapons are ever used.

 

At a time when global economies are on life support and the United States is eking out an economic recovery, we are spending over $54 billion annually on nuclear weapons programs. As we face economic challenges every day with so many of our infrastructure and pressing human needs of education, medical care, police and fire protection going unmet, we can ill afford this expense. The nuclear weapons industry has no usefulness.

Environmental challenges are real and threaten us daily. Climate change itself and its associated depletion of resources is a source of conflict. In a dire warning from Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine and the former head of the Central Command,

“We will pay for this (climate change) one way or another…We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind.

Or we will pay the price later in military terms,” he warned. “And that will involve human lives.”

In a nuclear world, all war has the real possibility of going nuclear and yet we allow the continued existence of these weapons and incomprehensible stockpiles.

In addition nuclear weapons production, accidents, storage and use have left us with an environmental risk and legacy that will extend for an unimaginable half a million years while civilization has existed for just a few thousand years. If these weapons are ever used in a full-scale nuclear war the extreme climatic change that follows would end life as we know it.

Nuclear reactors further compound the nuclear legacy both from an environmental and health standpoint as last year’s Fukushima disaster so readily makes clear. The long term effects on health and the environment may never be fully known and it will take years to determine the cancer and increased death toll.

From a military standpoint, the average nuclear power plant produces enough plutonium each and every year to produce 100 nuclear bombs. That’s the equivalent of 3,000 nuclear bombs per reactor over a 30-year nuclear plant life. The U.S. has 104 commercial nuclear power reactors. As a result, the world is awash with plutonium, the most deadly substance on the planet.

How can this continue? International surveys regarding public support for nuclear weapons show 76 percent of global citizens favoring the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and here in the United States 77 percent of U.S. citizens favor their elimination. Their utility among military planners is also questioned with the U.S. Air Force and nuclear planners suggesting that our stockpiles could be reduced to ~300 weapons.

In this presidential campaign year we are given a real choice regarding nuclear policy. President Obama early on in his presidency expressed his vision of a world free of all nuclear weapons and worked tirelessly to gain bipartisan support and Senate passage of the New START Treaty. This is the first nuclear arms reduction treaty in 8 years and marked an important resumption of a dialogue with Russia who, along with the U.S., have 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons

Governor Romney has advised that he is opposed to the New START Treaty and has not expressed a position on nuclear weapons other than the expectation along with Republican House and Senate members that if President Obama is for it he is likely to be against it. President Reagan was the last Republican president with the courage to articulate a vision of a world without nuclear weapons and if it wasn’t for Star Wars Missile Defense that vision may have been much closer to a reality today.

We stand at a tipping point with our world threatened every moment of every day with annihilation from nuclear war and the steady choking of the planet through climate change. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and their Doomsday Clock this year the clock moved ahead and it is 5 minutes to midnight, the figurative hour of humanity’s catastrophic destruction. Our future great-great-grandchildren are calling to us asking what did you do when the planet was threatened. How will you respond? Your response will help determine their existence.

Dr. Robert Dodge is family physician practicing in Ventura, California.  He serves as a board member of Beyond War  and Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles.  He is co-chairman of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 25, 2019
Jen Marlowe
The Palestine Marathon
Binoy Kampmark
Lethal Bungling: Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings
Michael Slager
“Where’s Your Plan?” Legalized Bribery and Climate Change
Jesse Jackson
Trump Plunges the US Deeper Into Forgotten Wars
George Wuerthner
BLM Grazing Decision Will Damage the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness
April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail