Apocalypse Soon?

January 26, 2007

Robert McNamara - Apocalypse Soon?

I’ll let Robert McNamara, the former Defense Secretary of the U.S., to lay it out for me instead:

It is time—well past time, in my view—for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power—a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current U.S. nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years.

I am no fan of McNamara’s lasting legacy – the Vietnam War, the “metrics” of the time, how many were killed on both sides just to prove who was right… but that does not mean the guy does NOT know what he is talking about. This is not Donald Rumsfeld: at least McNamara grew wise in his later years, while Rumsfeld apparently got more power-hungry. He knows what apocalypse can look like, and it ain’t pretty:

The destructive power of nuclear weapons is well known, but given the United States’ continued reliance on them, it’s worth remembering the danger they present. A 2000 report by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War describes the likely effects of a single 1 megaton weapon—dozens of which are contained in the Russian and U.S. inventories. At ground zero, the explosion creates a crater 300 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter. Within one second, the atmosphere itself ignites into a fireball more than a half-mile in diameter. The surface of the fireball radiates nearly three times the light and heat of a comparable area of the surface of the sun, extinguishing in seconds all life below and radiating outward at the speed of light, causing instantaneous severe burns to people within one to three miles. A blast wave of compressed air reaches a distance of three miles in about 12 seconds, flattening factories and commercial buildings. Debris carried by winds of 250 mph inflicts lethal injuries throughout the area. At least 50 percent of people in the area die immediately, prior to any injuries from radiation or the developing firestorm.

Of course, our knowledge of these effects is not entirely hypothetical. Nuclear weapons, with roughly one seventieth of the power of the 1 megaton bomb just described, were twice used by the United States in August 1945. One atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Around 80,000 people died immediately; approximately 200,000 died eventually. Later, a similar size bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On Nov. 7, 1995, the mayor of Nagasaki recalled his memory of the attack in testimony to the International Court of Justice:

Nagasaki became a city of death where not even the sound of insects could be heard. After a while, countless men, women and children began to gather for a drink of water at the banks of nearby Urakami River, their hair and clothing scorched and their burnt skin hanging off in sheets like rags. Begging for help they died one after another in the water or in heaps on the banks.… Four months after the atomic bombing, 74,000 people were dead, and 75,000 had suffered injuries, that is, two-thirds of the city population had fallen victim to this calamity that came upon Nagasaki like a preview of the Apocalypse.

Why did so many civilians have to die? Because the civilians, who made up nearly 100 percent of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were unfortunately “co-located” with Japanese military and industrial targets. Their annihilation, though not the objective of those dropping the bombs, was an inevitable result of the choice of those targets. It is worth noting that during the Cold War, the United States reportedly had dozens of nuclear warheads targeted on Moscow alone, because it contained so many military targets and so much “industrial capacity.”

Of course, the president of the United States can’t just launch a nuclear war without Congressional authorization, can he?

The whole situation seems so bizarre as to be beyond belief. On any given day, as we go about our business, the president is prepared to make a decision within 20 minutes that could launch one of the most devastating weapons in the world. To declare war requires an act of congress, but to launch a nuclear holocaust requires 20 minutes’ deliberation by the president and his advisors. But that is what we have lived with for 40 years. With very few changes, this system remains largely intact[…]

Believe it or not, if someone is crazy enough to push “the button”, we could be in an all-out nuclear war in less than an hour. In other words, all of us can die and not even know why. Is it too much to ask, please keep Bush & Cheney under adult supervision at all times?

By the way, the picture above is for the movie The Fog of War, which won the 2004 Oscar for Best Documentary. The picture above is very symbolic: an old man standing alone, who doesn’t look like much, but once upon a time was practically the gatekeeper of a nuclear world. Again, I am against all McNamara stood for in the Vietnam War, but contrary to Rumsfeld, he grew up, so to speak, and needs to be listened to. As of now, he is in the same position as in that picture: standing alone, without being listened to.

The entire article is pasted below: Read the rest of this entry »

Small nuclear war could severely cool the planet

December 22, 2006

Here are some scary news, in case you are not convinced we should get rid of all nuclear weapons:

A regional nuclear war between Third World nations could trigger planetwide cooling that would likely ravage agriculture and kill millions of people, scientists reported Monday.

[…]Scientists, reporting their findings at the American Geophysical Conference in San Francisco, said vast urban firestorms ignited by war would send thick, dark clouds into the upper atmosphere, blocking the sun’s rays and cooling much of the planet, with severe climatic and agricultural results.

The soot might remain in the upper atmosphere for up to a decade.

“All hell would break loose,” said Prof. Richard Turco of UCLA’s department of atmospheric and ocean sciences.

In some places, the planet could cool more than it did during the so-called Little Ice Age of the 17th century, when glaciers advanced over much of northern Europe, said Alan Robock of Rutgers University, speaking Monday at a news conference at the Moscone Center, where the conference is being held this week.

The planet could cool more, and agriculture would be impossible. Now no one believes a nuclear war could start soon, but the neocons – those crazed, power-hungry maniacs – are actually so ignorant that they think they have to push that button.

Lets Stop the Bomblex!

December 22, 2006

While president Bush certainly has to deal with a lot of urgent matters (besides his screw-ups I mean), this is something he should not even get close to:

This administration is currently pushing a plan – the Complex 2030 plan – to ramp up activities at nuclear weapons sites around the country.

This is on the heels of North Korea claiming they have a nuclear bomb, and these assholes want to ramp up nuclear weapons? You have got to be kidding me, but that is the Bush administration for ya!

According to Physicians for Social Responsibility:

In the Complex 2030 plan this administration has proposed a new $5 billion facility to build the next generation of nuclear weapons. Some local leaders in your area are already arguing that this new plant will create jobs and spur economic development. But the U.S. can create jobs without building the next generation of nuclear weapons that would escalate the arms race and pose a greater threat to our planet.

Current and retired nuclear workers have suffered from cancers, beryllium disease and many others conditions. We all suffer psychological harm from living in the shadow of the mushroom cloud. If these dangerous weapons were ever used, it would be the ultimate medical catastrophe. The U.S. government has moral and legal obligations to eliminate its nuclear weapons, not build new ones.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is one kick-ass group, and they won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize just in case you doubt their credentials.

But pray tell, what can one do about the Complex 2030 plan? More from PSR:

The Department of Energy will soon begin preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for its Complex 2030 plan to revitalize the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. This is the first step in a process established by the National Environmental Policy Act which requires the government to study the impacts of any new major project. As part of this process, DOE will be accepting public comments on the scope of its research on the impacts of the Complex 2030 plan.

[…]The Energy Department is currently accepting comments on the environmental impacts of its Complex 2030 plan. This gives us an opportunity to let our leaders know that this proposal is a step in the wrong direction. The deadline for public comment on this dangerous plan to revitalize the nuclear weapons complex is January 17th, 2006. Please use PSR’s sample comments to develop your own message to the DOE in the space provided. Tell this administration that we do not need new nuclear weapons!

(all emphasis is mine)

So there you have it – visit the “Stop the Bomblex” website and then take action!