The top eight reasons to join the Hibakusha Appeal movement
Number 8. To say thank you to the hibakusha
The hibakusha (survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) have been doing their best for 70 years to warn us. They have spent enormous amounts of time, energy, and their own money traveling the world to raise the alarm. Their testimony has helped to keep nuclear weapons from being used in combat since Nagasaki. Their average age is now 83, and the Hibakusha Appeal is their last major, collective effort. Even if we don’t believe their petition will do anything, we should at least thank them for their devotion to our survival. In 2016 they declared their intent to collect 100 million signatures. Let’s make sure they at least achieve that goal.
Number 7. Deterrence implies the end of humanity
We now know that 10 or 15 large hydrogen bombs exploding over ten or fifteen large cities starting 10 or 15 giant firestorms would probably be enough to put five million tons of junk in the air. Five million tons of junk in the air would create “nuclear darkness,” that is, 10% of sunlight blocked. Nuclear darkness would keep us from growing staple crops (rice, wheat, corn, soybeans) in most of the areas where most staple crops are grown. Killing frosts would occur in July and August. Billions of us would starve. The rest would be fighting to live in Nigeria, Thailand, Brazil, or somewhere with a growing season. Civilization as we know it would end.
Deterrence implies a willingness to actually use nuclear weapons. Any exchange of nuclear weapons would destroy the global economy. Ten or fifteen bombs could destroy civilization. A few hundred bombs would probably kill us all. Right now, the US and Russia have about 2,000 warheads ready to launch on warning (hair-trigger alert). An all-out exchange between the US and Russia would absolutely kill us all.
Number 6. Stress increases violence
Laboratory experiments have shown that stress from overpopulation causes violence in rats. We know that human beings are increasingly under stress from overpopulation. More human beings are competing more intensely and more violently for oil, water, and other diminishing resources. The gap between the rich and poor is widening to the point of instability. Stress from climate-related natural disasters is increasing rapidly. The global power structure is changing, with dominance slowly but surely shifting from the US and Europe to China and Asia. Much of the world believes that human activity is destroying our ecosystem, but these people are in high-voltage conflict with people who don’t believe it or don’t care. All of these factors are generating tremendous stress and emotional volatility worldwide. If we (Earthlings) fail to eliminate nuclear weapons now, the probability of a nuclear exchange will increase with this stress. The fact that we have resisted the nuclear option for over 70 years says nothing about the future.
Number 5. Leaders who rely on nuclear weapons are incapable of solving global problems
Most of today’s political and economic power elite are highly competitive, highly aggressive, war-culture leaders. They solve problems by amassing sufficient power to force their solutions onto their subordinates or subjects. When they lack sufficient power to solve a problem, they do whatever they can to keep their rivals from solving the problem. Obtaining and maintaining power are more important to war-culture leaders than resolving conflict to the benefit of all stakeholders.
The war-culture approach is absolutely incapable of solving global problems. No single nation or world leader will ever be able to force its or his/her will on the world. The US has demonstrated that the most powerful nation in the world is incapable of controlling even weak, war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. How can it control China or Russia? On the other hand, will China or Russia ever be able to control the US? The only way to solve global problems is through good-faith investigations, dialogue, and negotiations based on the pursuit of truth and solutions that lead to universal health and wellbeing, including the health of our planet. The current crop of war-culture leaders, especially leaders who want to negotiate with a nuclear weapon at the ready, cannot even comprehend the previous sentence. They are devoted to winning at all cost, an attitude that fatally obstructs the resolution of conflict.
Number 4. Without a dramatic shift away from competition toward cooperation, the 21stcentury will be humanity’s last.
Humankind faces a wide array of urgent, existential global problems that can only be solved through cooperation. Fifty percent of the people on this planet are living in grinding, miserable poverty. Thirty percent have no regular, easy access to clean drinking water. Over a billion are not getting enough to eat. We are in the midst of the sixth great extinction, which includes insects vital to crops and human survival. The warming climate is creating shifts in weather patterns that are already reducing food production, causing water shortages, accelerating desertification, intensifying natural disasters, increasing violence, and creating refugees. No king or “policeman of the world” will be able to solve these problems through proclamations from on high. The only hope is cooperation. This cooperation will require a new crop of leaders who prioritize resolving conflict over fighting to win. These leaders will emerge only when the global public is ready to follow them. The global public may be more likely to follow problem-solving leaders when they realize that the alternative is death—for them, their children, and everyone they love.
Number 3. The world could be so much safer and enjoyable for all of us
Human beings spend trillions of dollars every year preparing for war. We waste enormous amounts of money, time and energy competing for wealth, power, and dominance. If we put that money, time and energy into resolving conflict and solving problems, we could easily have all the food, water, shelter, healthcare, electricity, and love we need to be happy and healthy. The technology and resources exist. The obstacle is selfish competition, which leads to lying, cheating, stealing, and killing.
One goal of the Hibakusha Appeal Campaign is “several hundred million signatures.” But the more important goal is to raise human consciousness regarding the collective insanity of nuclear weapons and the tremendous potential benefits of global cooperation.
Number 2. Nuclear weapons embody fear, animosity and cutthroat competition
Nuclear weapons were created during WWII. Americans developed “the bomb” because they were afraid the Germans were working on it. They hated the Germans, the Italians, and the Japanese, so they had no problem developing a bomb that would kill hundreds of thousands of “the enemy” at one stroke. This fear and hatred are still alive in those bombs. They give selfish warriors the power to keep all of us from cooperating and solving problems.
Of all the problems we face, nuclear weapons are the easiest to solve and the one to solve first. We will make no progress on any of our other problems until we have done away with not just the weapons but also the fear and hatred they embody. If we can’t do that, we’re doomed. If we can, we have everything we need to turn our planet into a Garden of Eden. But we have to move very fast. Right now, in fact. Which is why we all need to sign and promote the Hibakusha Appeal.
Number 1. We are all one
We are all inextricably linked and interdependent. We are all children of the Earth, so we cannot harm her without harming ourselves. We are all as different and separate as waves on the ocean. We rise up and briefly maintain an individual form, but ultimately, we all return to the ocean. Our oneness is infinitely deeper than our individuality. It’s impossible for anyone to get rich without making a lot of other people poor. It’s impossible for anyone to be a leader without a bunch of people willing to follow. No individual is independent. We all depend on a tight web of interactions with the people, animals, plants and things around us. Thus, selfishness is the root of all evil, and nuclear weapons are the ultimate expression of pure, unadulterated selfishness.
Nuclear weapons are not peacemakers. They radiate fear and animosity, thus strengthening militarism. Nuclear weapons are not instruments of security. They are instruments of indiscriminate death that threaten us all. Nuclear weapons do not have a good side and a bad side. They are absolute evil, and if we fail to recognize and conquer this evil, it will kill us.
To my mind, this is the number one reason to eliminate nuclear weapons. Eliminating nuclear weapons is the number one reason to support the Hibakusha Appeal. But eliminating nuclear weapons will mean nothing if we fail to eliminate the fear and animosity they embody. If the Hibakusha Appeal can help us abandon our ridiculously expensive, obscenely dangerous, super-selfish nuclear weapons, we might learn the joy and the many benefits of working together for universal health and wellbeing.
This is not a drill. This is an actual warning.