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Doomsday in three minutes?

Mobilize for a Nuclear Free, Just, Sustainable World Instead! (We've done it before and can do it again)

On January 22, 2015 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight.

"This is about doomsday; this is about the end of civilization as we know it," said bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict. "The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon," she said.

Climate change and the modernization of nuclear arsenals are equal, catastrophic threats to planet earth and are the guiding reason that the 20 scientists (18 Nobel Laureates) on the board decided to move the clock.

The clock is an historic marker of nuclear danger, standing at 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 when the U.S. and USSR tested nuclear weapons within nine months of each other. Oddly, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is probably the closest we came to annihilating ourselves, the clock remained at 7 minutes to midnight.

Climate scientist, Richard Somerville: "Human influence on the climate system is clear." "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any preceding on record." And "the trend in heat-trapping emissions from the burning of fossil fuels will lead to major climatic disruption globally. The urgency has nothing to do with politics or ideology. It arises from the laws of physics and biology and chemistry. These laws are non-negotiable."

Sharon Squassoni, senior fellow at the Proliferation Prevention Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the failure of nuclear disarmament and "sweeping nuclear weapons modernization programs" have wiped out the cautious optimism that emerged at the end of the Cold War.

The consequences of use of nuclear weapons if as few as 100 of the stockpile of nearly 17,000 are used:

• First, even a single nuclear explosion over a city can kill tens of thousands — even hundreds of thousands — of people immediately. The casualties of a nuclear war in which even a small fraction of today’s arsenals are used would reach into the tens of millions.
• Second, nuclear weapons eradicate the social infrastructure required for recovery from conflict. Roads and transportation systems, hospitals and pharmacies, fire fighting equipment, and communications would all lie in rubble throughout a zone of complete destruction extending for miles.
• Third, nuclear weapons explosions have extreme and long-lasting environmental consequences, including disruption of the Earth’s climate and agricultural productivity.
• What makes nuclear weapons uniquely abhorrent is the ionizing radiation they release as a result of the uncontrolled chain reaction of fissile materials. Exposure to ionizing radiation causes both acute (immediate) and long term health effects.
• Finally, there are numerous ways in which nuclear weapons cause extensive harm to health and the environment even if they are not used in war. The front end of the nuclear chain—the mining and processing of uranium that provides the fuel for nuclear weapons—has devastating health consequences for those who work in the mines and mills and for their families. There is also an enormous diversion of resources into the research and development, production, and deployment of warheads and their delivery systems, at the expense of real human and social needs that are inexcusably underfunded. World spending on nuclear weapons surpasses $100 billion every year.

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"World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth," the Bulletin said in a statement.

People around the world need to unite and take to the streets in unprecedented numbers to change our situation – we cannot sit back and allow these twin catastrophes to overwhelm us, we must persuade our political leaders to implement treaty agreements for nuclear disarmament and enact sweeping changes to the global economy and energy system to address the climate crisis.

The first mobilization is underway to build a nuclear-free, just, and sustainable world! April 24-26 there will a conference, meetings, an interfaith service and a march and rally (on the 26th) in the lead up to the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference at the United Nations.

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