This past week witnessed two significant and connected events. We remembered and celebrated the visionary champion of civil rights, social and economic justice and nuclear disarmament, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the outset and finished the week with the unveiling of the Nuclear Doomsday Clock. Dr. King realized the interconnectedness of these issues and that you could not have one without each of the others.
This week our government is reopening as our Progressive Caucus prepares to do the people’s work proposing a “Green New Deal,” building a carbon-free economy while providing social and economic justice to workers in this new economy. Yet, as Dr. King acknowledged in 1959, “What will be the ultimate value of having established social justice in a context where all people, Negro and white, are merely free to face destruction by strontium 90 or atomic war?” There is no racial, social, economic or environmental justice as long as this threat exists.
And yet today, the world faces an even greater threat of nuclear war fueled by Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, threatened withdrawal from the INF Treaty and by the new arms race initiated by the United States plan to spend over $1 trillion in the next three decades to rebuild and enhance our entire nuclear arsenal. This plan has been duplicated by every other nuclear nation, not wanting to fall behind in the mythological idea of “nuclear deterrence.”
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveiled their nuclear Doomsday Clock last week, leaving the setting at two minutes till midnight with midnight being nuclear apocalypse. This “new abnormal” declared by the group emphasized the increasing existential threats to our planet of climate change and nuclear war. Climate change continues to march ahead increasing scarcity of natural resources and thus increasing global conflict and mass human migration as witnessed in our first climate war in Syria.
Recognizing the connection between climate change and nuclear war and the failure of global leaders to take the necessary immediate and appropriate action, the Clock remained steady at two minutes till midnight, the closest it has been since the height of the Cold War and its inception in 1947. In their announcement they highlighted that citizens can make a difference by demanding efforts to stop our addiction to fossil fuels and simultaneously demanding nuclear weapons abolition. Working with movements like 350.org and Back from the Brink, each of us can support the necessary actions to realize these aims.