Not too long ago Steven Starr summarized our challenges in communicating the issues surrounding nuclear weapons to the public, and how we need to communicate in order to get people's attention and get them engaged with this most important of issues. Essentially, we need to engage people both emotionally and intellectually regarding the potential effects of nuclear weapons as well as the huge economic costs. It's serious food for thought.
P.S. - Be sure to check out Steven's Website, Nuclear Darkness.
"Although most people, if asked directly, will say that they favor the abolition of nuclear weapons, very few have any real idea of the threat which existing nuclear arsenals pose to humans and other complex forms of life. In fact, here in the U.S., most people do not even know that immense nuclear arsenals still exist, that their own nation (and Russia) have 95% of the 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and that they keep 2,000 strategic nuclear weapons ready to launch with only a few minutes warning. They have no idea that just one of these weapons can instantly ignite tens or hundreds of square miles of the Earth's surface into a gigantic nuclear firestorm, and that a hundred such firestorms could produce enough smoke to cause deadly climate change, leading to global nuclear famine.
"An uniformed public cannot make informed decisions. We are still conducting our political discussions about nuclear weapons in Cold War terms, focusing upon how we are "behind" if we don't "modernize" our nuclear arsenal, that we are "locked into a position of permanent inferiority" by agreements with the Russians to limit our nuclear weapons. There is absolutely no discussion of the consequences of the use of existing arsenals, particularly those maintained by the US and Russia, the dialogue is dangerously out of touch with the peer-reviewed scientific predictions that *any* nuclear conflict which detonates as little as 1% of existing nuclear arsenals in cities will likely kill at least 1 billion people through nuclear famine. We must bring current scientific understandings of what nuclear war would do to the biosphere, agriculture, ecosystems and global climate into the active debate about the need for nuclear weaponry.
"Furthermore, In a time when we cannot find enough money to maintain our schools, highways, hospitals and basic infrastructure, do we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild our nuclear weapons manufacturing complex and "upgrade" nuclear weapons systems? No, just the opposite, we need stop or prevent funding for such projects, which guarantee that there will be no "world without nuclear weapons." I am going to start ending my presentations with a chart which shows what we could do with the endless billions we spend on nuclear weaponry, something like what Eisenhower did with his "Cross of Iron" speech. We have to give concrete examples of what could be immediately gained through the elimination of insane spending for nuclear doomsday machines. We can combat the idea that nuclear spending creates jobs by giving examples of what could be done to construct, for example, needed alternative energy systems (wind, solar, tidal, etc.) that can begin rebuilding our own industrial infrastructure, which has been dismantled and shipped overseas.
"If we are going to get into a race with other nations, let it be a race towards a better human future. Building nuclear weapons does just the opposite, it paves the way for mass extinction of complex forms of life, including human life."
-- Steven Starr, senior scientist with Physicians for Social Responsibility