Quotable

"We could, in a moment in time, destroy everything—ourselves and all that we had every touched or loved—by means of our own technology and by our own hand." -Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The HOUR is getting late!!!

Friends,

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says "It is Now 5 Minutes to Midnight."

It should come as no surprise that this respected organization has moved the clock (on January 10th) an inch closer to the witching hour.  It is black magic, indeed, that causes the clock to inch closer to midnight.  As described on their Website:
The Doomsday Clock conveys how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction--the figurative midnight--and monitors the means humankind could use to obliterate itself. First and foremost, these include nuclear weapons, but they also encompass climate-changing technologies and new developments in the life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm.
Just two years ago The Bulletin spoke hopefully as it set the clock back one minute (away from Midnight) saying,"We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons." That tempered enthusiasm was rooted in negotiations between Washington and Moscow for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, along with ongoing negotiations for further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear nuclear arsenals.  There were also "pockets of progress" addressing climate change.


Yet, in just two years those hopes quickly faded as it has become evident that nations, in particular the United States and Russia, are not only hesitant to disarm, but are re-arming at an alarming rate; not much of an example for the rest of the world. As for climate change, it is clearly evident that Nero fiddles even while Rome burns.  As The Bulletin summarizes the situation:
The challenges to rid the world of nuclear weapons, harness nuclear power, and meet the nearly inexorable climate disruptions from global warming are complex and interconnected. In the face of such complex problems, it is difficult to see where the capacity lies to address these challenges.
The Bulletin's Doomsday Clock is in a very real sense a prophetic voice, a clarion call to all who will listen.  And listen we must, or turn away at humanity's peril.  The longer we put off facing these issues, the greater the probability that the clock will once again start ticking,moving closer to midnight. 

In 1953 the clock reached 2 minutes to midnight, the closest in its history, after the U.S. tested its first thermonuclear bomb.  In its 1953 statement The Bulletin said:
Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.
Disarmament is obviously not forthcoming from the halls of The White House, Congress or the Pentagon (or the Kremlin for that matter).  It is up to We The People to rise up and demand good faith efforts toward disarmament, and of course simultaneous efforts to control global proliferation and move all nations toward a nuclear weapons free world.  It is time to re-energize the global movement toward that goal.

Watch from Hiroshima

It is time to shout out in every capital city,

"Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Never Again!!!"

Peace,

Leonard

Read the announcements at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

Doomsday Clock Moves 1 minute closer to midnight

Doomsday Clock moves to five minutes to midnight

Read the timeline of the Doomsday Clock: http://thebulletin.org/content/doomsday-clock/timeline

Monday, January 9, 2012

NUKE DEBATE??? Let's have the real one...

Friends,

The front page of today's Seattle Times is embazoned with the headline:

Plan for $715 million Bangor wharf fires up
NUKE DEBATE

Under the headline is a mammoth photo of a Trident nuclear submarine somewhere in Puget Sound near Squim.  Each of these behemoths has 24 launch tubes, and is capable of carrying 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each with a capacity of 8 warheads, each warhead being either a W76 (100 kiloton) or W88 (475 kiloton).  In contrast, the Hiroshima bomb yield was somewhere between 12 and 15 kilotons.

Even if a single Trident sub carries only 24 missiles, each with only 4 warheads (as is supposedly the case due to current arms control agreements), that's a mighty big bang.  One Trident sub - and there are a total of 14, with 8 of them at Bangor - can easily wipe any nation off the face of the map in a matter of minutes... POOF!

The Times article stated that “the entire fleet carries enough nuclear warheads on its Trident missiles to obliterate every major city in Russia and China.” Wow!!!  If that seems like overkill, consider that the statement understates Tridents killing capacity.  Each warhead can incinerate hundreds of thousands or millions of civilians in an attack on a "major city."  With over a thousand warheads in the entire fleet, well... You do the math.

Should our government be crazy enough to start launching Tridents with armed nuclear warheads towards any nation all bets are off.  Besides the mass murders of scores of innocent men, women and children, the fallout and residual radiation - much of which would exist for countless generations - would render much of the planet uninhabitable, and would cause major climatic effects resulting in global famine.  Then, of course, there would be multi-generational birth defects, cancers and other radiation-related diseases.

It's safe to say that Trident is a "Cold War relic'" as retired Navy captain Tom Rogers referred to it in the article:


"Why are we doing this [building another Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor]? We're spending a whole lot of taxpayer money on a Cold War relic," Rogers said in an interview. "All we are doing is making defense contractors rich."

Indeed it is making weapons makers extremely rich, and if the Navy goes ahead with its plans to build a next generation ballistic missile submarine to replace the current Trident fleet the amount to be spent on the new wharf will seem like chickenfeed.  Just the construction cost of the news subs will likely be around $100 billion.

Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, has told Congress that the new wharf is "critical to nuclear weapons surety and our national security."  One has to wonder how, in an age when the Cold War is over and the greatest threat related to nuclear weapons or the fissile materials needed to make them likely would come from terrorists, a nuclear weapons system like Trident ensures our national security.  If anything, it's an impressive (and extremely expensive) symbol of military might.

At a time when we need to be shifting from our reliance on nuclear weapons in order to bring stability to (and ensure progress in) global disarmament and nonproliferation efforts we need to reduce our nuclear arsenal and its delivery systems.  If we do the math it is obvious that we have far more nuclear weapons than necessary to "deter" any adversary (that is assuming that the concept of deterrence is even applicable anymore).

Perhaps broader questions than those being debated about a Second Explosives Handling Wharf are in order.  Why does the U.S. assume a continued Cold War posture?  How can we possibly contemplate using weapons that kill indiscriminately and contaminate our environment for generations? 

We need to grasp the dangers that nuclear weapons present, and further accept the fundamental risk that the longer we continue to produce and deploy them, the greater the probability that they will one day be used either accidentally or intentionally.  And when that happens, it will be a dark day indeed.

As Tom Rogers pointed out - even with over a thousand nuclear warheads on all those Trident subs - we’re “not deterring anyone.”  What a waste!  So let's skip the small stuff and have the real debate -

Are nuclear weapons essentially obsolete???  Do we not need to learn to live together without threatening each other with annihilation???

As Martin Luther King Jr. said one year before his death, “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.”   These were (and continue to be) prophetic words.  Indeed, we have a choice and we are at the crossroads.  Let us make the right choice, if not for ourselves, at least for future generations.  We must work towards global nuclear disarmament, and the U.S. can (and must) lead the way. 

In Peace,

Leonard  


Skewing science to justify nuclear power

Friends,

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are inextricably linked in many ways. They both produce ionizing radiation that, when released into the environment, exposes people to a wide variety of radioactive isotopes. Some are extremely short-lived, while others exist for countless lifetimes. One thing they all share? When they enter the body they act at the cellular level, causing damage, potentially to the cell's genetic material, and even at low exposure levels present some risk of a wide variety of effects.

Over a period of more than 66 years - through releases of radioisotopes to the environment from both nuclear power generation (routine operations and accidents) and nuclear weapons production and testing - vast quantities of radioisotopes have accumulated around the globe, creating a captive population of human guinea pigs.

However, "science" has not always been practiced as would be expected (of ethical scientists) throughout the nuclear age.  The U.S. government has pursued a policy of nuclear power and nuclear weapons at all costs, and for many decades has sought to pacify the public, convincing it that there are no measurable risks from the production of nuclear power.  Most recently we have been told (by people who obviously know better) that nuclear power is a "green" form of energy - aah, greenwashing at its best (or should I say worst).

For an excellent uncovering of the thin facade that perpetuates the myths of radiation safey, read  Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima, by Gayle Greene, just published in The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 1 No 3, January 2, 2012.  Just as with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Greene pulls back the curtain to reveal the ugly truth behind the great facade of the nuclear power-weapons complex.

Even as the Fukushima disaster is already being largely forgotten by the mainstream news media, Greene reminds us of decades of deceit and obsfucation regarding the risks of radiation related to both nuclear power and nuclear weapons, focusing on a variety of subplots including the Chernobyl disaster, which has been mostly ignored by mainstream media, and has given barely a mention in news reports about Fukushima.  As Greene reminds us:

Chernobyl is a better predictor of the Fukushima consequences than Hiroshima, but we wouldn’t know that from mainstream media. Perhaps we would rather not know that 57% of Chernobyl contamination went outside the former USSR; that people as far away as Oregon were warned not to drink rainwater “for some time”; that thyroid cancer doubled in Connecticut in the six years following the accident; that 369 farms in Great Britain remained contaminated 23 years after the catastrophe; that the German government compensates hunters for wild boar meat too contaminated to be eaten – and it paid four times more in compensation in 2009 than in 2007. Perhaps we’d rather not consider the possibility that “the Chernobyl cancer toll is one of the soundest reasons for the ‘cancer epidemic’ that has been afflicting humankind since the end of the 20th century.”
Skewed science is not science at all.  Rather, in the case of all things nuclear, it is simply a propaganda tool of a government narrowly focused on policies that, rather than serving humanity, serve the narrow interests of the nuclear industry and the national security state.  It is up to the people to speak out and challenge the lies, and material like Gayle Greene's investigative reporting is extremely valuable in our task.  Future generations deserve a sustainable, nuclear-free world.

Toward a nuclear-free world,

Leonard

Note: source URL for Greene's article: http://japanfocus.org/-Gayle-Greene/3672