Why protest nuclear weapons? Because more than 70 years after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, instead of disarming and banning nuclear weapons we are ramping up nuclear stockpiles and getting dangerously close to another nuclear attack. And the next attack could devastate the planet.
Protesting nuclear weapons has never been more crucial. This Sunday will mark the first day of California’s second annual Week of Action for A Nuclear Free-Future, (event details below).
More and Bigger Nuclear Weapons
According to the Arms Control Association, there are an estimated 15,000 nuclear warheads in existence in 2018. Russia leads the way with an estimated 6.850, but the U.S. is a close second with an estimated 6,550. After that, it’s a dramatic drop to third place with France reportedly in possession of 300 nuclear warheads. Six other countries reportedly have nuclear weapons including China with 280, the U.K. with 215, Pakistan with 145, India 135, Israel 80 and North Korea 15.
The clock is literally ticking closer to another nuclear disaster. The Doomsday Clock, which measures the likelihood of total human destruction and is published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, ticked a minute closer to total disaster in 2018 and is now set at two minutes from midnight. The last time the clock was that close was in 1953 after the Soviet Union and the U.S. began testing hydrogen bombs.
Not only are today’s bombs drastically bigger and more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki their potential consequences could now mean the end of the human species.
According to Alex Wellerstein, a professor of science and technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT which is powerful enough to kill around 300,000 people in midtown Manhattan. He said North Korea recently tested a nuclear weapon with the equivalent of as much as 150,000 tons of TNT.
“If that went off in the same spot, midtown Manhattan, you’d get something like 900,000 dead, and you’d be destroying basically the entire southern tip of the island to some degree, and parts of New Jersey and parts of Brooklyn and parts of Queens,” said Wellerstein.
As the bombs have gotten bigger so too has the potential range of their “nuclear fallout.” Nuclear fallout refers to the radiation that attaches itself to the dirt that is sucked up into the sky after the bomb explodes. With smaller bombs the particles might fall out in hours, but with bigger bombs they could fall out days later. That means there is a huge potential for drift – the massive amount of radiation released would have days to drift to a broader area.
A Nuclear Winter is a Risk Noone Can Afford to Take
Adding to the already devastating consequences of a nuclear bomb is the prospect of a nuclear winter. The concept of a nuclear winter began in the 1980’s. It’s a hypothesis put forward by scientists that a nuclear war could have such devastating impacts on the environment that it could kill all life as we know it on the planet. Famed scientist Carl Sagan wrote an article in 1983 where he warned human life wouldn’t be annihilated necessarily by nuclear bombs themselves but by the environmental devastation that would follow a nuclear attack.
Sagan and his students used computer models and satellite data to determine the consequences of a nuclear war. Their testing showed a devastating possibility. Global temperatures could drop between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius due to soot and dust being released into the atmosphere from fires that would follow a nuclear explosion.
They warned that even if the U.S. stopped a nuclear attack from Russia and launched their own nuclear missile in response the whole world could still suffer:
“When combined with the prompt destruction from nuclear blast, fires, and fallout and the later enhancement of solar ultraviolet radiation due to ozone depletion, long-term exposure to cold, dark, and radioactivity could pose a serious threat to human survivors and to other species … The possibility of the extinction of Homo sapiens cannot be excluded,” said Sagan.
While the reality of a nuclear winter can’t be tested, the risk for total human annihilation is too great and should never be tested. That is why 70 plus years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki there is still a desperate need for a bigger and louder anti-nuclear movement, and there is such a movement you can join.
Join the Anti-Nuke Movement
Sunday, August 5 will mark the first day of the second annual California Week of Action for a Nuclear Free Future. Why August 5? Because August 5 and August 8th California-time mark the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Tsukuru Fors, spokesperson for the event, told us the events will remember and honor victims of nuclear disasters as well as challenge the following (common) notions:
- There are bad nukes (nuclear weapons) and good nukes (nuclear power plants).
- Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only victims of nuclear atrocities.
- Nuclear atrocities are things of the past.
On August 5 there will be an all-day exhibition followed by a candle-light ceremony at Arlington West in Santa Monica, CA. From 3:30 to 5 PM on that day there will be a special ceremony at the Chain Reaction Sculpture located at the Civic Center in Santa Monica, CA. There will be multiple speakers at the ceremony including one speaker who is an evacuee of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
Then on August 8, from 6:15 to 7:30 PM there will be a ceremony at the Frances K. Hashimoto Plaza in Little Tokyo. Included in the activities will be a dove release by children in the community, multiple speakers, recognition of the lives lost to nuclear tragedies and a taiko performance.
Capping off the week’s events will be an Anti-Nukes Rally at the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco on August 11 from 3 to 4:30 PM. The rally is in coordination with the No Nukes Action Committee which holds a monthly Anti-Nukes Rally on the 11th of every month at the Consulate in San Francisco.
Multiple organizations are involved in the week including Friends of Chain Reaction, the Fukushima Support Committee, the No Nukes Action Committee, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, Veterans for Peace Los Angeles, MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Answer Los Angeles, Mothers for Peace San Luis Obispo, SoCal 350 Climate Action and many more.
Citizen Truth will be there on August 5 and August 8 to document the ceremonies, come out and say hello!!!! If you do not live in California there are multiple other national anti-nuke organizations to get involved with including the organizations already mentioned above. Check them out!