Today’s global arsenal of over 15,000 nuclear weapons, most of which are far more powerful than those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, represent a clear and present danger to humanity. Thousands of nuclear weapons are on hair trigger alert. Dozens of accidents, near misses, and losses have occurred.
A recent IPPNW and PSR report found that a limited nuclear exchange could result in climate change that would cause global famine and put up to 2 billion people at risk of starvation. Today, we also face the post 9-11 threat of nuclear terrorism with “suitcase” or “dirty bombs.”
How serious is the current nuclear threat? Very, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which recently moved the hand on the allegorical “Doomsday Clock” to three minutes before midnight, as close as it was during the height of the Cold War. The Bulletin based its decision in part on nuclear weapons modernization programs in the US and Russia, a lack of progress in warhead reduction, and escalating tensions in Europe, the Middle East, and the South China Sea. Read PSR-LA Board Member Dr. Bob Dodge’s article in The Hill, “Three minutes to midnight: A prescription for survival”
Yet a nuclear weapons free world is possible. The Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons campaign, a new international movement spearheaded by PSR, is gathering strength and momentum. In response to the campaign, 155 countries – a majority of the world’s nations – support a ban on nuclear weapons. PSR-LA is working to educate and motivate physicians, policymakers and the public to join in this campaign and demand sensible measures to protect public health from nuclear threats, such as taking weapons off of “prompt launch” status (hair-trigger alert) and ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Click here to read about these and other specific steps to reduce nuclear dangers.
Of course, the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons can also be measured in terms of the resources diverted from local communities that would be better spent on human needs. Los Angeles County spent $$1,785,041,517.60 tax dollars on nuclear weapons in 2014, and has pledged up to a trillion dollars over the three decades to “modernize” nuclear weapons and facilities. Major scientific challenges facing us – including how to break our addiction to fossil fuel, stop global warming, dismantle useless and dangerous nuclear weapons, and clean up the toxic legacy of the Cold War—receive lower priority.
PSR-LA advocates for reduced spending on nuclear weapons, including Rep. Ed Markey’s Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) legislation, expected to be reintroduced this year, to cut $100 billion over the next decade from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget. PSR-LA physicians have and will continue to meet with Congressional leaders from Southern California on this and other nuclear weapons budget considerations.