Doomsday Clock Keeps on Ticking

Doomsday Clock Keeps on Ticking

By Terry Link

No one believed Katrina would happen before Katrina happened. No one believed Fukushima would happen before Fukushima happened. Virtually no one believes a nuclear war will happen before it happens. But a nuclear war happening is not a disaster; it is a holocaust. Nuclear war must be averted, and most countries have already taken steps to opt out of nuclear madness. However, nine nation-states cling to their nuclear arsenals, throwing the planet and all its beings into devastation’s way.

This was the opening paragraph of an essay I recently read which inspired me to try to address this often-ignored crisis for which the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists currently sets the Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight.

With the tinder in many places awaiting just a spark to set ablaze, most of us give it not a second thought. But thankfully there are groups of citizens around the globe doing what they can to reduce the chance that a spark might engulf us all.

In the preamble to the essay, the editor(s) lay out the broader context nicely:

While the perils of climate breakdown and Artificial Intelligence garner and even monopolize attention today, humanity and its leaders neglect addressing other formidable dangers – notably, nuclear war and militarism more broadly. Not only is the existential threat of nuclear war real and pressing, but, at this historical juncture of multiple planetary crises, humanity cannot afford investing in any aspect of the military machine.

Yet of course that is exactly what the biggest global military spender is set to do yet again. As we await any day President Biden’s 2024-25 budget proposal, we can expect it to approach $1 trillion for militarism in this election year.

You sure don’t want to be seen as soft on defense, and the hardline hawks are sure to push for more on top of whatever he proposes. Neither can we expect either of our senators, nor our local representative, to challenge the slush fund that is our military budget, one that continues to fail an audit every year without penalty.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and its Local Advocacy Teams are lobbying simply to remove the gravy train known as the Unfunded Priorities List, a huge platter of pork, which was instituted during the Trump administration.

Urge your representative to support the Streamline Pentagon Budgeting Act (H.R.4740) and your senators to support a similar proposal from Sen. Elizabeth Warren. For more information see FCNL’s  Backgrounder.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has been in force since 2021 and has been signed by 93 countries. Not surprisingly, none of the nuclear powers have signed. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) has introduced H.R. 77 which calls for the U.S. to actually work toward making the treaty work. Here’s a link to information on the resolution and how to reach out to Congress.

Noted veteran military analyst William Hartung shares the following in a piece reviewing the release of the film Oppenheimer.

“The Nobel prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) reports that the U.S. spent $43.7 billion on nuclear weapons last year alone, and a new Congressional Budget Office report suggests that another $756 billion will go into those deadly armaments in the next decade.” (Those are funds now unavailable to deal with climate change, housing availability, health care, etc.) 

Long-time Arms Control Association Executive Director Darryl Kimball in November wrote Why We Must Reject Calls for a U.S. Nuclear Buildup that are being suggested from a Congressional Commission stacked with defense insiders. If we stay silent and ignore the increases in spending on nuclear weapons, we can watch another arms race rob humanity of true sustainable development.

As Norman Soloman notes in concluding a recent piece at TomDispatch: “The fact that only 10 percent of House members have even chosen to sponsor the resolution shows just how far we have to go to begin putting the brakes on a nuclear arms race that threatens to destroy — all too literally — everything.”

In addition to these two pieces of legislation, Back from the Brink offers Five policy solutions to end nuclear weapons. Working on any or all of them is worth the time we each have left.


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