Public response to building more nuclear weapons

A public response to Dennis, an American Rotarian friend, asking about building more nuclear weapons in his state:

I am delighted you have posed the question: what do we do if big bucks and many jobs will come into my jurisdiction in the USA to fund nuclear armament enhancements?

The issue it raises is how much “prosperity” and unpopularity are we as individual residents in a jurisdiction prepared to risk (sacrifice) for Positive Peace and Peace Literacy.

In war as soldiers we offer our lives. What will we offer right now for survival of the human species to stand up for positive peace and peace literacy? What if every Peace City and Human Rights City and Charter of Compassion City said we are a nuclear free zone (no support of nuclear energy or nuclear weapon increases allowed) and encouraged others to do the same after setting this example?

What if Canada did this starting with Winnipeg? I submit that the implications, both pros and cons, of no uranium mining being allowed and no nuclear reactor manufacture or sales or waste or nuclear weapons creation and storage being allowed, must be discussed in every community worldwide because of the unacceptable risks to human life and health until those risks can be managed safely, if ever.

Nuclear explosion test in Nevada in 1953.

Without dialogue and learning, ignorance and arrogance and baser emotions, such as anger and fear and fight or flight, prevail. Moral example has to start somewhere. First with each one of us and then our communities.

We support gradual death by public policy supporting, unhealthy foods, gambling, booze, smoking etc. to generate tax revenue and enhance GDP because it is in alignment with our societal supports for informed free choice.

Are the real risks of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons and nuclear waste and their storage known by and flagged for consumers, investors, taxpayers and citizens?

Are these real risks shared by governments or other mandated protectors of public health with members of the general public? Contrast this to smoking and gambling and liquor and unhealthy food warnings on packages and in ads and their being banned in certain spaces.

Clearly, public awareness of the facts and their implications is required. So let’s begin this educational process and dialogue everywhere we each have influence: our homes and families, Rotary Clubs, faith groups, K to 12 Schools, and wherever two or more gather together. And yes, let’s be realistic and honest with ourselves.

The Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant in France, a country that produces approximately three-quarters of its electricity by nuclear power. /PHOTO: Stefan Kuhn

Is this more difficult to start and finish successfully than our evolving historical experiences banning smoking at Rotary meetings or allowing females to belong to Rotary or allowing African/Americans and African/Canadians into Rotary Clubs and public schools and lunch counters and movies and allowing Indigenous Peoples to celebrate their spirituality and cultures and traditions and allowing females to vote.

The underlying issues then included public health, attitudes and practices that were hurtful and unhealthy and acceptance of fundamental human rights related to gender and race and the inherent dignity of human beings.

The freedom at stake in the nuclear issue is life itself. Not just the life of humans everywhere, but of all life in nature, like us dependent on the sources of all life: air, water, fire (energy) and healthy earth and the functioning ecosystems that are all interconnected and interdependent.

Mushroom cloud from atomic bombing of Japanese city of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945 rose 18 km above the bomb’s hypocentre. Today’s nuclear arsenals are significantly more powerful and destructive.

The push of a button by a fallible human being or a nuclear accident or terrorist act or an act of insanity can in an instant eliminate all, or a significant portion, of life on our planet. There is no Rule of Law that is enforceable to effectively prevent this happening or to enforce threats of this happening to extort submission or some other unacceptable price.

The risk and threat we have is unique in the history of humankind. Humans created this threat. Since its creation out of uranium removed from the earth and then the application of the minds of men to optimizing the energy within it men have created and used these weapons of mass destruction. Their power and destructive force and worst case scenario predictable outcomes make land mines and chemical warfare and child soldiers look small in comparison.

We as a global human family and our international structures have not applied tests of self-analysis about truth, fairness to all concerned, building goodwill and better friendships and understanding the benefits to all concerned (the 4 Way Test of Rotarians analyzing what is a just personal decision) to the international decision making tables in ways that have resulted in a global solution that the leaders of the most powerful sovereign nations support.

Is it not time the leaders of countries possessing these weapons and using nuclear energy in their countries should come together in conference in a circle as the highest priority in the world until there is a solution unanimously agreed to for the benefit of common humanity and the health of our planet? I suggest the purpose would be to create a new world structure and enforceable order. It would be subject to the rule of law, meaning there are rules not flawed self-interested humans who decide and veto what is not in their self –interest or their nation’s self-interest without regard to safety and security of all of humanity.

Global peace protectors accountable to common humanity would operate as the world peace officers based on and subject to enduring universally accepted and approved enduring moral principles. Transparent decisions and reasoning in writing  justifying them in writing would have to be shared publicly at a reasonable time after the new decision making structure accountable to all humanity chooses to invoke their investigative and/or enforcement powers.

Rotarians and allies of service above self parts of civil society should cry out for a general assembly to be convened for this purpose and extend the invitations. Why not in Canada? The 4-way test would be proposed as the guide for each to use and then to dialogue about how they applied it to the thoughts, words and proposed actions that they tabled in the discussion.

The goal would be to probe the interests of each jurisdiction they represent and then to address each of the genuine ones shared. No limits on costs of solutions to achieve an equitable agreement should be pre-determined. The costs savings by a solution can more than pay for any reasonable equitable solution.

Genuine good faith and demonstrable mutual respect, integrity and civility must be consistent with the noble purpose. Leading trusted citizens of the world representative of civil society and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers on behalf of the sources of life elements and the females of the world would be at least equal in number to the males would participate as observers invited to share their impressions and provide constructive guidance from time to time.

All other nations of the world would be present in person or virtually represented and present in this way during the entire process to ensure transparency and would be invited to provide feedback from time to time.

So Dennis I hope this helps. But I ask you to do only the kind of thing that I do in response in my city and my country of Canada. My publishing this article is my first step in answering your questions by example.


Counsel at Pitblado Law. Rotary Volunteer and Peace Ambassador.

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