Why Is the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons So Urgent?

Human Wrongs Watch

By John Scales Avery*, 25 August 2014, TRANSCEND Media Service —  In the follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in which it declared 26 September the International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The first ever event will take place a month from now on 26 September, 2014.

Source: ICAN

Source: ICAN

What can you, as an individual, do? You can plan an action to commemorate the day. You can write to your Prime Minister/President and/or Foreign Minister, to ask what your government plans to do to commemorate the day. You can ask your local parliamentarian, mayor and city council the same question. You can tell http://www.unfoldzero.org about your activities.

The Inter-parliamentary Union, with 167 members, passed a resolution in March, 2014, calling on its members to support the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Why is the total elimination of nuclear weapons so urgent? Although somewhat reduced in numbers from the insane heights of the Cold War, the power of today’s nuclear weapons is more than sufficient to destroy human civilization and much of the biosphere.

Many of the weapons are on hair-trigger alert, meaning that those in charge of them have only minutes to decide whether a radar signal is a true or false report of an attack. Most of us alive today owe our existence to Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, who correctly reported such a warning as a computer error.

The system of mutual deterrence has been described as “an accident waiting to happen”: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/whos-minding-the-nuclear-weapons/

In the long run, the small yearly chance that a catastrophic accident will occur will build up into a certainty of disaster. For example, even if the yearly chance of an accident occurring were as small 1 percent (and it is certainly larger than that), over several centuries the probability accidental thermonuclear war will become a near certainty. We have been extremely lucky so far, but in the long run civilization and nuclear weapons cannot co-exist.

Just as the generals and politicians who started World War I seem not to have comprehended what a war with machine guns and long-range artillery would be like, so our leaders today seem not to have an imaginative idea of what a thermonuclear war would be like. Promising to defend their populations, they do no such thing, but instead they put us at risk of total annihilation.

Today, it is up to each individual to work with courage and dedication to put an end to nuclear insanity.

*John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century http://www.learndev.org/dl/Crisis21-Avery.pdf. His article was published by TRANSCEND Media ServiceGo to Original.

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2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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