Minutes to Midnight 2/1/17

Robert Dodge

2 ½ Minutes to Midnight – Our World in Peril – by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced Thursday its latest nuclear Doomsday Clock. In so doing they moved the symbolic minute hand ahead 30 seconds to two and one-half minutes till midnight. Midnight represents nuclear apocalypse. The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons. This is the first time the clock has moved 30 seconds and is only the 19th time since its inception in 1947 that the time has been changed.

In moving the hand to 2 1/2 minutes to midnight the clock setting is the closest it has come to midnight since 1953, when scientists moved it to two minutes from midnight after seeing both the U.S. and the Soviet Union test hydrogen bombs. It remained at that mark until 1960.

Rachel Bronson executive director of the Bulletin said in making today’s announcement, “Make no mistake, this has been a difficult year”.

Explaining its move, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board said:

“Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change … This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a U.S. presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.”

The Clock has ranged from 2 minutes to midnight at the height of the Cold War to 17 minutes till midnight with the hopes that followed the end of the Cold War.

Nuclear weapons and climate change represent a clear and present danger. Retired Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East has stated, “We will pay for climate change one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or, we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll.”

We know what needs to be done and how to do it yet no one in a leadership role has shown the political courage to take the necessary steps. Nuclear weapons are not even on the radar of our congress. Their phones are not ringing off the hook about nuclear weapons. However, new legislation introduced this week by Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) H.R. 669 and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Ma) S.200, would block the president from using nuclear weapons first in a crisis, without a vote. Nuclear weapons and climate change are not Democratic or Republican, Blue or Red issues. They are survival issues.

The time to ban nuclear weapons is now. Today’s announcement by the Bulletin further corroborates the dangers confirmed by recent climate science. Even a small regional nuclear war using just 100 Hiroshima size bombs out of the 15,000 weapons in today’s global stockpiles would potentially kill up to two billion on the planet from the climate change and global famine that would follow. There is no escaping the global impact of such a small regional nuclear war.

There is no adequate medical or public health response to an attack on one of our cities by even the smallest nuclear device. We cannot prepare and plan for the outcome of a bomb detonation. Prevention is the only option for risks we cannot cure. This is our prescription for survival. We all must play a part in this abolition movement. Remaining silent is not an option.

The people of the world are making their voices heard and demanding a change of course from the status quo. The United Nations will negotiate a nuclear weapons ban treaty this year to be signed in early July. This treaty will put nuclear weapons in the same illegal status as other weapons of mass destruction including biologic, chemical weapons and landmines. At that point nations who maintain nuclear arsenals will be pariah nations outside the realm of international law.

We the people must take action for our future and that of our children and planet. It is time to call our representatives and demand action to abolish nuclear weapons and to stop the new nuclear arms race we are embarking on. They can be contacted at (https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials). The time for action is now, before it is too late. What will you do? It’s 2 1/2 minutes till midnight.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Any Nuclear Exchange 1/4/17

Coming to our senses regarding nukes – by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Robert Dodge

As part of President-Elect Trumps daily tweets this past week he stated:

“The United States must greatly strengthen its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

In his 140-character tome he proposes maintaining a status quo of the mythology of nuclear deterrence and self-assured destruction (SAD) or a “coming to senses” of the nuclear states. As President of the United States, he will have a significant role to play in determining which path is followed. He can lead us further down the road toward nuclear annihilation or lead us at long last to nuclear abolition and a world free of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear deterrence is indeed a myth propagated for 71 years since the beginning of the nuclear age. Rather than deterring a nuclear arms buildup, it is instead the greatest driver of the arms race as each time one nation has a new weapon, technology or expenditure, then all adversaries must match and exceed that number. We are on the verge of a new nuclear arms race robbing a proposed trillion dollar expenditure from our basic human needs to rebuild our nuclear arsenals over the next 30 years. I am certain this is not the jobs program that President-Elect Trump has in mind (especially as spending on this sector produces fewer jobs per $billion spent than any other sector of the economy).

This proposal ignores the latest scientific studies showing that nuclear weapons are far more dangerous than we previously appreciated. In a scenario evaluating one of the greatest nuclear hotspots on the planet a regional nuclear war using 100 Hiroshima size weapons, amounting to less than ½ percent of the global nuclear arsenals, could result in the killing of up to two billion people on the planet from the climate change and global famine that would follow – a suicide bombing the likes of which the world has never seen. Civilization as we know it would end as these climatic changes would last over the next two decades.

Any nuclear exchange by the nuclear superpowers would be far more devastating. The use of the nuclear weapons remaining after the New Start Treaty is fully implemented next year would most likely cause the extinction of the human race.

These facts were totally ignored throughout this year’s presidential campaign allowing candidates and even President-elect Trump to give lip service that nuclear weapons are very dangerous. The candidates were never asked if they even knew of the consequences of using nuclear weapons and under what circumstances they would actually propose using them in this game-ending scenario. As though playing a game, the candidates were given a free pass card. President-Elect Trump continuously posed questions throughout the election season from “why we couldn’t use the weapons since we had them” and “why shouldn’t more nations be allowed to have them” in addition to avoiding answering whether he would use them in the Middle East and Europe.

This nuclear famine scenario is one that does not have to be. There is an alternative. Recognizing the non-survivability of nuclear war and refusing to be held hostage any longer by the nuclear powers, the non-nuclear nations of the world, the world medical associations and much of civil society including the International Red Cross have long “come to their senses”. Led by 123 nations representing a majority of the world’s population a nuclear weapons ban treaty will be negotiated at the United Nations this next year. This treaty will ban nuclear weapons just as every other weapon of mass destruction, from chemical to biological weapons and landmines have been banned. Finally, the deadliest of these immoral weapons will be outlawed. From that point forth only pariah nations acting outside the realm of international law will continue to maintain nuclear arsenals. We invite President- Elect Trump to join this effort in leading the charge.

Mr. Trump has an affection for greatness when it comes to his vision. He can either be the president who plunges us all into the greatest disaster since the Cretaceous Debacle or he can save us from the greatest humanitarian and public health threat of nuclear war; he can lead us to the greatest feat of any president – that of nuclear abolition. The world and ultimately the fate of mankind awaits with apprehension his decision.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Thank You Bernie 7/27/16

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Bernie Sanders, over the past 15 months you have awakened our nation. You have given voice to a movement of the people that recognizes the interconnectedness of the critical issues that face our nation and world. You have articulated the needs and pathways to solutions of these issues.

You have given us hope for the future, fighting for our children and the world they will inherit. From peace to social, economic, racial and environmental justice you have enlightened us to the realities, possibilities and necessity of working together on each of these issues. You have shown true leadership and courage when so many others have chosen only to follow.
Peace

You have emphasized a need to prioritize diplomatic solutions rather than military solutions to the global problems. Your push for entirely renewable carbon free energy sources would eliminate wars fought for resources while simultaneously reducing climate change and the conflict that ensues from the loss of global food production, water and finite resources. As for the greatest threat to the peace, nuclear war, you are the only candidate that pushed for the elimination of nuclear weapons and an end to the renewed arms race and expenditure of $1 trillion. And you are one of only three senators supporting the S.A.N.E. Act calling for significant nuclear weapons expenditure reductions.

Justice

Social – You have fought tirelessly for the rights of all Americans regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation to realize the full promise of equality that is our birthright as Americans. You have also fought for the health of our nation providing universal healthcare as a right, including reproductive health without government interference.

Economic – Your demand for a $15 minimum wage coupled with your push for K-16 debt-free college tuition to lift families from poverty has set the bar for this campaign and shed a light on the inequalities we face in our country and the despair that follows. For it is poverty that is at the core of so many of the problems we face. You have led the fight against the big banks and the economic impact of corporate America and their uber-rich executives in the fight to end Citizens United.

Racial – You have fought to end mass incarceration that comes from institutionalized racism in our country. This has broken apart families and entire communities as the war on drugs has become the new Jim Crow. You have articulated the path out of despair from ending poverty and the war on drugs.

Environmental – Your fight to end our addiction to fossil fuels, ending fracking and toward 100 percent safe renewable energy is essential for the future of our planet. You have listened and spoken about environmental justice and the impacts to health and hope it has upon our poorest communities.

Your campaign has made each of us acutely aware of the need for campaign finance reform – leading by example. You have also made clear the need to do away with anti-democratic superdelegates who are not representative of the people. You have done all of this in the face of a rigged game and have never given up. You have shown us the path and the responsibility now is ours collectively.

This movement is unstoppable. You have forever changed the political process and you did so with grace. We the people thank you. It is now our responsibility to move forward to realize these goals. We will hold our elected officials accountable for the achievement of these goals. The platform you have helped to create will serve as a benchmark for our success. Leaders who are unable or unwilling to work for these aims will be replaced.

You have reminded us that it is not about any single candidate; rather it is about the critical issues of our time and our future.

When our children’s children ask, what did you do when the planet was threatened and people’s lives were at risk and undervalued I will be proud to say I stood with you and fought for the change that was necessary.

It’s all connected.

Thank you Bernie Sanders. The revolution continues. Our future depends upon it.

The ideas expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Robert Dodge and do not represent the organizations upon whose board he sits.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Priorities We Set 4/20/16

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

From Flint’s children to nuclear weapons, funding our nations priorities

By Robert Dodge, M.D.

This week our nation funds our national priorities on tax day. In this era of growing discussion about participatory democracy and citizens engaging in the decisions of how their community tax dollars should be allocated it is important for each of us to identify what our priorities are.

The priorities we set provide a moral mirror of our humanity and are the fabric of our nation. From social security to Medicare, education, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, environmental protection to defense and yes the funding of nuclear weapons programs this is the time we fund each of these priorities. Yet what role does the latter, nuclear weapons, really play in our humanity? We now recognize that their use in any way is unacceptable and would forever change our world. Even a “tiny” nuclear war using half of one percent of the global nuclear arsenals or approximately 100 Hiroshima size bombs could kill two billion people from the climate change that would follow. Any use therefore would be the ultimate “reset” button in this crazy game we play ending life as we know it on the planet. Yet we continue to gamble allowing luck to be the overriding determinant. Luck is not a security policy!

The myth of nuclear deterrence has been one of the greatest driving forces of the nuclear arms race. Because if your country has one weapon then I must have two and so on. Currently there are 15,375 nuclear weapons in the world’s arsenals.

For this 2015 tax year, the U.S. will spend $55.9 billion on all nuclear weapons programs. This expenditure affects every single community from the very poorest to wealthiest, robbing these communities of vital resources that could provide for their basic needs. The children of Flint, Michigan who have unwittingly become the mine canaries of a society that chose cost savings over clean drinking water will see their city pay $8,781,398.10 for nuclear weapons programs. These weapons do nothing but add to the uncertain future of these children. My community of Ventura County north of Los Angeles, California with a population of 850,536 and per capita average income of $33,308 will spend $155,321,482.10 as our share of these nuclear weapons programs. Our wealthiest Americans from the Zuckerbergs to the Buffetts and Gates with their generous philanthropy will contribute in excess of $6.09 million for every billion dollars income last year. How does this help the world they envision? Is this really the best use of these precious dollars?

Nuclear weapons programs have been allowed to take on a life of their own seemingly without end. We are planning to embark on a $1 trillion dollar nuclear modernization program over the next 30 years.

While the danger of a nuclear disaster is as high as or higher than during the height of the Cold War, it is an unexamined assumption that this is what must be. There is much that is happening as peoples, leaders and nations are awakening to the realities of our nuclear world. There is an ever growing awareness of the potential impact and ultimate costs of nuclear weapons and war. The winds of change are blowing.

To date, 127 Nations have formally endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge – a commitment by nations to fill the unacceptable “legal gap” that allows nuclear weapons to remain the only weapons of mass destruction not yet explicitly prohibited under international law. It is time to change the rules!

In June 2015, the American Medical Association passed a resolution urging the U.S. and all national governments to continue to work to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and has committed to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to increase public awareness and education on the topic of the medical and environmental consequences of nuclear war – what has been called the final epidemic.

On April 24, 2014, the tiny Republic of the Marshall Islands filed landmark lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed nations for failing to comply with their obligations under international law to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. This David vs. Goliath effort continues to work through the International Court of Justice.

Rotary programs around the world are now hearing presentations on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear war and more importantly are figuring out how best to deal with this international health risk for which there is no cure.

Pope Francis has also spoken out and called for the elimination of nuclear weapons when he said “A world without nuclear weapons is essential for the future and survival of the human family … we must ensure that it becomes a reality.”

There is much that is happening and the choice is ours. The time is now. Silence implies consent. It is time to let our voices be heard and let our representatives know what our priorities are. We can and must do better.

To calculate your individual or community cost of nuclear weapons programs go to: http://www.psr-la.org/nuclear-costs

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

North Korea Nuclear Ambition 1/6/16

North Korea’s Nuclear Ambition and the U.S. Presidential Campaign

by Robert Dodge, MD

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

With the news of North Korea testing another nuclear weapon its leadership continues the fallacy of nuclear deterrence promoted by the nuclear powers of the world. This action by North Korea must be condemned just as the continued possession of nuclear weapons by all of the nuclear states. This action is against the growing international consensus for a universal treaty banning all nuclear weapons and making their possession illegal just as chemical and biological weapons have been prohibited.

In a year of U.S. presidential elections, where is the voice of reason? Who among the candidates or media has spoken to the legal obligations of the United States and all nuclear powers to work in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons? Particularly in view of the current climate science confirming that a small regional limited nuclear war using only one-half of one percent of the global nuclear arsenals has the potential to cause the deaths of more than two billion people from the ensuing climate change following such a war. Who has the courage to speak the truth and put forth a plan to eliminate these weapons?

Where is the media in its investigative obligation and engagement of dialogue on this issue in the campaign? Outlets like PBS continue to cover the arms race and modernization of our Trident submarines, each with the potential for the above scenario many times over, as though it is an acceptable outcome of global doomsday if they are activated. This is accepted without question as a fait accompli. We must ask the candidates if they are actually aware of this science and if so under what circumstance they are ready to end life as we know it—an act of ultimate state terrorism as they become de facto suicide bombers. For it would be only a matter of time before the global climatic effects of such a use would result in our own deaths. There can be no doublespeak in this response. You are either in favor of the status quo with existing arsenals that drive the arms race and push nations like North Korea to develop their own capabilities or you work in earnest to eliminate these weapons.

Time is not on our side. The chance of accidental or intentional nuclear war is placed by probability theorists at one percent per year or more. A child born today is not likely to reach her 30th birthday without some nuclear event occurring in their world. Is this the world we want for our children and grandchildren?

The candidates and the media must overcome their cowardice in addressing this issue at this critical time.

We must demand answers to these questions about the greatest imminent existential threat to our world. We cannot rely on the hope that someone else will take care of this or the notion that I cannot make a difference. In our democracy each of us has a duty and responsibility to be informed and to take action.

Robert Dodge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a family physician in Ventura, California. He serves on the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles and on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Prohibit & Eliminate 5/27/15

A Nuclear Weapons Ban Emerging

by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

Every moment of every day, all of humanity is held hostage by the nuclear nine. The nine nuclear nations are made up of the P5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and their illegitimate nuclear wannabes Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan, spawned by the mythological theory of deterrence. This theory has fueled the nuclear arms race since its inception wherein if one nation has one nuclear weapon, its adversary needs two and so on to the point that the world now has 15,700 nuclear weapons wired for immediate use and planetary destruction with no end in sight. This inaction continues despite the 45-year legal commitment of the nuclear nations to work toward complete nuclear abolition. In fact just the opposite is happening with the U.S. proposing to spend $1 Trillion on nuclear weapons “modernization” over the next 30 years, fueling the “deterrent” response of every other nuclear state to do likewise.

This critical state of affairs comes as the 189 signatory nations to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded the month long Review Conference at the U.N. in New York. The conference was officially a failure due to the refusal of the nuclear weapons states to present or even support real steps toward disarmament. The nuclear gang demonstrates an unwillingness to recognize the peril that the planet faces at the end of their nuclear gun; they continue to gamble on the future of humanity. Presenting a charade of concern, they blamed each other and bogged down in discussions over a glossary of terms while the hand of the nuclear Armageddon clock continues to move ever forward.

The nuclear weapons states have chosen to live in a vacuum, one void of leadership. They hoard suicidal nuclear weapons stockpiles and ignore recent scientific evidence of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons that we now realize makes these weapons even more dangerous than we thought before. They fail to recognize that this evidence must be the basis for prohibiting and eliminating them.

Fortunately there is one powerful and positive response coming out of the NPT Review Conference. The Non-Nuclear Weapons States, representing a majority of people living on the planet, frustrated and threatened by the nuclear nations, have come together and demanded a legal ban on nuclear weapons like the ban on every other weapon of mass destruction from chemical to biologic and landmines. Their voices are rising up. Following a pledge by Austria in December 2014 to fill the legal gap necessary to ban these weapons, 107 nations have joined them at the U.N. this month. That commitment means finding a legal instrument that would prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. Such a ban will make these weapons illegal and will stigmatize any nation that continues to have these weapons as being outside of international law.

Costa Rica’s closing NPT remarks noted, ”Democracy has not come to the NPT but Democracy has come to nuclear weapons disarmament.” The nuclear weapons states have failed to demonstrate any leadership toward total disarmament and in fact have no intention of doing so. They must now step aside and allow the majority of the nations to come together and work collectively for their future and the future of humanity. John Loretz of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said, “The nuclear-armed states are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality, and the wrong side of the future. The ban treaty is coming, and then they will be indisputably on the wrong side of the law. And they have no one to blame but themselves.”

“History honors only the brave,” declared Costa Rica. “Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve.”

Ray Acheson of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom says, “Those who reject nuclear weapons must have the courage of their convictions to move ahead without the nuclear-armed states, to take back ground from the violent few who purport to run the world, and build a new reality of human security and global justice.”

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Must Never Be Used 4/15/15

Taxes and the End of the Nuclear Age

by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

Following the arrival of spring each year, our nation renews its commitment to our priorities on Tax Day, April 15th, from education to health care, infrastructure and national defense. Included among these expenditures are nuclear weapons programs—weapons that can not and must not ever be used.

The funding for these programs, while more transparent than in the past, is still quite secretive. From the beginnings of our nuclear programs in 1940 we have spent as a nation in excess of $6 trillion dollars on them. This Tax Day we will spend ~$56.3 billion more on these same programs. From Los Angeles County’s expenditure of $1.785 billion to our nations capitol at $107 million, these are monies that we can ill afford to spend.

The squandering of these dollars—while continuing to inadequately fund national programs on infrastructure, education, health care and the environment—speaks to who we are as a nation. No one would argue against spending the entirety of these monies to secure, dismantle and clean up the existing environmental legacy of these weapons. Thereafter these monies could be more appropriately reallocated to programs that benefit all.

This year’s expenditures come at a critical time—just when international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons through the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the remarkable and long sought controls over Iran’s capability to acquire a nuclear weapon, we propose these massive expenditures on more weaponry of mass destruction. Is this the best we can do to lead by example?

This month’s preliminary accord between the P5+1 and Iran to remove Iran’s capability to build a nuclear weapon significantly enhances the security of the region and the world and needs the support of anyone who wishes to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war. Yet this too is being held in abeyance by political hardliners in Iran and the U.S. Congress.

Seventy years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we continue to maintain and modernize our nuclear arsenals as though locked in a Cold War time warp that has long passed. Our President, held hostage by Congressional leadership, proposes to spend an additional $1 Trillion over the next 30 years just on the “modernization” of our arsenals.

This in spite of being bound by international treaty along with the other nuclear states to work in good faith toward complete disarmament by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT Review Conference will begin this month in New York at the U.N.

This year’s conference comes at a critical time as the non-nuclear states have grown impatient with the lack of progress of the nuclear states in meeting their legal obligations. Failure to make real progress threatens the entire treaty and will likely shift the focus to a nuclear weapons ban convention similar to conventions on other weapons of mass destruction like chemical and biological weapons.

The world must come together this 70th year of the Nuclear Age and speak with one voicefor humanity and the future of our children. Now is time to end the insanity that hangs over us, the threat of nuclear annihilation. We must move forward with a shared sense of tomorrow. Our children deserve this.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Just Three Minutes 1/28/14

Three Minutes to Midnight

by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has just announced its latest nuclear Doomsday Clock moving ahead the minute hand to three minutes till midnight. The clock represents the count down to zero in minutes to nuclear apocalypse – midnight. This significant move of two minutes is the 22nd time since its inception in 1947 that the time has been changed.

In moving the hand to three minutes to midnight, Kennette Benedict, the Executive Director of the Bulletin, identified in his comments: “the probability of global catastrophe is very high”… “the choice is ours and the clock is ticking”…”we feel the need to warn the world” …”the decision was based on a very strong feeling of urgency.” She spoke to the dangers of both nuclear weapons and climate change saying, “they are both very difficult and we are ignoring them” and emphasized “this is about doomsday, this is about the end of civilization as we know it.” The Clock has ranged from two minutes to midnight at the height of the Cold War to 17 minutes till midnight with the hopes that followed the end of the Cold War. The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.

What is clear is that the time to ban nuclear weapons is now. Today’s announcement by the Bulletin further corroborates the dangers confirmed by recent climate science. These studies identify the much greater dangers posed by even a small regional nuclear war using “just” 100 Hiroshima size bombs out of the 16,300 weapons in today’s global stockpiles. The ensuing dramatic climate changes and famine that would follow threaten the lives of up to two billion on the planet with effects that would last beyond 10 years. There is no escaping the global impact of such a small regional nuclear war.

Medical science has weighed in on the impacts and devastation of even the smallest nuclear explosion in one of our cities and the reality is there is no adequate medical or public health response to such an attack. We kid ourselves into a false sense that we can prepare and plan for the outcome of a bomb detonation. Every aspect and facet of our society would be overwhelmed by a nuclear attack. Ultimately the resultant dead at ground zero would be the lucky ones.

Probability theorists have long calculated the dismal odds that the chance for nuclear event either by plan or accident are not in our favor. Recent documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act detail more than 1,000 mishaps that have happened in our nuclear arsenals. Time is not on our side and the fact that we have not experienced a nuclear catastrophe is more a result of luck than mastery and control over these immoral weapons of terror.

The time to act is now. There is so much that can and must be done. Congress will soon begin budget debates that include proposals to increase nuclear weapons spending for stockpile modernization by $355 billion over the next decade and up to a trillion in the next 30 years–expenditures for weapons that can never be used and at a time when the economic needs for our country and world are so great.

Around the world, there is a growing awareness of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and a corresponding desire to rid the world of these weapons. The Vienna Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons conference last month saw 80 percent of the nations of the world participating. In October 2014, at the UN, 155 nations called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. At Vienna, 44 nations plus the pope advocated for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The people are making their voices heard and demanding a change of course from the status quo.

In this week’s State of the Union address, President Obama emphasized that we are one people with a common destiny. He said this both in reference to our nation and our world. The threat of nuclear weapons unites us even as it threatens our very existence. This reality can also be remembered in the words of Martin Luther King when he said,

“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

The time for action is now, before it is too late. It’s three minutes till midnight.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Peace On Earth 12/31/14

Peace on Earth – 2015

by Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

At the beginning of each new year people around the world express their hopes and desires for seemingly elusive peace on earth. In the past year there have been many strides toward that goal. The greatest threat to peace and our survival, nuclear weapons, are at long last on the road to abolition. The people have spoken and leaders have heard. This new year we must recommit to the steps necessary to make this a reality.

In the words of Pope Francis,

Nuclear weapons are a global problem, affecting all nations, and impacting future generations and the planet that is our home. A global ethic is needed if we are to reduce the nuclear threat and work towards nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. The youth of today and tomorrow deserve far more. They deserve a peaceful world order based on the unity of the human family, grounded on respect, cooperation, solidarity and compassion. Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust and sincere dialogue…

The desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart… This desire can neither be satisfied by military means alone, much less the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction….

…peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples.

This profound message was delivered Dec. 7 to representatives of 158 nations, the UN and more than 100 international, civil society, academic and religious organizations in two days of testimony about nuclear weapons from experts on health, humanitarian and environmental law, climate change, agriculture and the global economy at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons.

This conference focused on the recent scientific reports on global humanitarian effects of these weapons and the impotence of any effective response to their use. These weapons long known to threaten our extinction if large numbers were used are now recognized to be much more dangerous threatening the lives of approximately two billion people from the climatic disruption that would come with the firing of only 100 weapons—representing just 1/2 of 1 percent of the global nuclear arsenals.

This meeting was followed days later by the annual Nobel Peace Laureate Conference in Rome where the Peace Laureates stated,

If we fail to prevent nuclear war, all of our other efforts to secure peace and justice will be for naught. We need to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons…

We welcome the pledge by the Austrian government “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.”

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice. Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none.

And yet the governmental actions of the principle nuclear nations of the United States and Russia who hold ~94 percent of the global stockpiles fail to recognize the reality of the people’s demands. As though stuck in a Cold War time warp, the U.S. is planning to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years on modernizing our nuclear arsenals and Russia is unveiling its rail ICBM system as we are all held hostage to these immoral weapons of genocide. The mythological illusions of security based on deterrence only serve to fuel an ongoing arms race robbing our children and indeed the poorest nations of the world of precious resources creating the very conditions that foster additional conflict and violence.

This is not acceptable and the growing chorus of world leaders and the people are getting louder every day. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The diminishing Hibakusha survivors of these explosions are a daily reminder of the atrocities that mankind has wrought.

Let 2015 be the year when the words of President Eisenhower move closer to a reality. “I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

When your children’s children ask what you did to make peace a reality, what will be your response? Now is the time to take action and make your voice heard. Let there be peace on earth.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Beginning of the End 12/10/14

Luck is not a security policy

By Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Next week we hope to see the beginning of the end.

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

We live under the constant threat every moment of every day of nuclear annihilation. The existence of 16,300 nuclear weapons on the planet places our very survival in great peril. Whether by plan or accident a nuclear attack has no meaningful medical or humanitarian response. As chronicled by Eric Schlosser in his book “Command and Control,” the number of times we have come close to nuclear disaster is mind boggling and it is a matter of sheer luck that we have not experienced a nuclear catastrophe. Luck is not a security policy and ultimately will run out unless we change our thinking and work to abolish nuclear weapons entirely.

The specious argument of nuclear deterrence has been a major driving force of the global nuclear arsenals. Under such outmoded and misguided thinking, if you have one weapon then I must have two and thereafter you must get three, providing the driving force of the arms race. Non-nuclear states are enticed to develop their own weapons just to have a seat at the table. This hardly demonstrates leading by example.

Recent scientific studies have demonstrated the potential deaths of two billion people from a limited regional nuclear exchange using ½ of 1 percent of the global nuclear arsenals. The climatic changes from such an exchange are now predicted to last 20 years, placing millions more at risk. Again, no adequate medical or humanitarian response to such a scenario. As with any other massive threat to public health from Ebola to Polio to AIDS and TB, we must prevent this before it happens.

Non nuclear nations across the globe in concert with civil society are demanding a change and freedom from being held hostage to the nuclear powers. The nuclear powers are obligated under Article VI of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to work in good faith to abolish nuclear weapons yet all nuclear nations are working to modernize their weapons, including the U.S with proposals to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. This can hardly be called a good faith effort and has led to the tiny non-nuclear nation of the Marshall Islands, home of 12 years of U.S. nuclear testing, to courageously bring suit against the U.S. and all nuclear states for breach of the NPT treaty.

Next week the Vienna Conference on Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons will be hosted by the government of Austria and more than 150 nations representing 3/4 of the nations of the world will be in attendance, along with international organizations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, academic experts and representatives of civil society, including Physicians for Social Responsibility, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation among others.

The Vienna meeting follows upon two prior conferences, one in Oslo, Norway, in 2013, attended by 127 nations, and one in Nayarit, Mexico, last February, attended by 146 nations. The United States and U.K. were conspicuously absent at both conferences. Among all of the nuclear weapons states, only India and Pakistan sent delegations to the Oslo and Nayarit conferences.

In an historic move, the U.S. has announced it will send an official delegation to the Vienna conference and this week following suit the U.K. has announced that it too will send a delegation. This shift of position led by the United States and U.K. is to be applauded as the first two members of the P5 nuclear nations to step forward.

When he came to office, President Obama promised that he would seek the security of a world free of nuclear weapons. We can hope that this decision to attend the Vienna conference is just the first step toward further meaningful action in their abolition. It provides an opportunity for the U.S. to lead by example and take the bold steps necessary to eliminate all nuclear weapons once and for all.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

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