It is 5 Minutes to Midnight

BAS CoverThe world has not tamed the nuclear beast and we should be concerned.

Later this month, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), a group formed 70 years ago by some of the physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project, will decide whether to update their Doomsday Clock which says, “It is 5 minutes to midnight.®”

The clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.

This may seem alarmist. So why should Iowans worry when most don’t think about nuclear weapons at all, yielding to the cacophony of radio, television and Internet noise?

Iowans don’t need to freak out, but they do need to be aware and concerned.

In 2009, President Obama announced pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons in Prague. Things have gone another direction under his leadership.

“I note the United States does not support efforts to move to a nuclear weapons convention, a ban, or a fixed timetable for elimination of all nuclear weapons,” said Adam Scheinman, U.S. delegate to a Dec. 8, 2014 international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in Vienna, Austria.

Jaws dropped in the room where people from around the world had gathered to hear the witness of Hibakusha, people who had survived the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a tone-deaf statement.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration plans to spend $355 billion over the next 10 years to modernize our nuclear arsenal, and a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. This is an absurd waste of taxpayer dollars on weapons that should never be used.

The Doomsday Clock is a reminder that we can’t afford the luxury of an incremental approach to nuclear disarmament.