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Americans deserve a nuclear-free future

Americans deserve a nuclear-free future,  https://www.heraldnews.com/opinion/20200923/opinion-americans-deserve-nuclear-free-future Maryellen Kurkulos, 23 Sept 20,  This Saturday, Sept. 26, marks the United Nations’ International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This year’s commemoration is of particular importance given the precarious states of our economy, public health, environment and democracy.

Conditions in our country were dire even before the pandemic with 40% of Americans living from paycheck to paycheck. Homelessness, food and housing insecurity as well as deteriorating living standards for much of the middle class had become the norm. Now we are contending with a soaring COVID-19 death-toll, Depression-era unemployment, and millions teetering on the brink of eviction.

Yet there are serious problems that loom even larger. People are finally acknowledging the ominous reality of a rapidly warming planet. In recent weeks “apocalyptic” fires along the West coast and extreme flooding in the South, both directly linked to global warming, have decimated entire towns and displaced hundreds of thousands.

But Americans must also confront the threat presented by nuclear weapons that could be launched accidentally or on purpose. Unless mitigated, irreversible damage to human civilization and our ecosystem from global warming will take decades; a nuclear war could wipe out everything that sustains life on Earth in an instant.

Until recently, a global architecture of nuclear treaties provided a measure of security from that happening, although too many accidents and close calls still happened. But President Donald Trump has demolished these treaties and agreements, undoing decades of painstaking work. His provocations against China and Russia, both nuclear powers, have stoked a new arms race. He has already deployed one of the new, more easily used “low-yield” atomic warheads and is committed to a needless $2 trillion, 30-year nuclear weapons modernization program.

Consequently each year President Trump has been in office experts at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have moved the hands of the iconic Doomsday clock closer to midnight. Last January, they set the second hand at 100 seconds – closer than ever before – indicating the alarmingly heightened risk of a nuclear launch.

Even without a Trump second-term, reconstructing these treaties and repairing our damaged international relationships will be a formidable feat. Yet, there is hope for progress if Americans confront and correct the warped priorities in our federal budget. For two decades, Congress has been allocating over half of those funds – our tax dollars – to the Pentagon at the expense of many programs that include healthcare, housing and education. In 2018, over $22 billion went to nuclear weapons programs alone. The amount paid by Fall River taxpayers was $2.26 million, enough money to provide COVID-19 testing for most of the city or to hire 22 additional public school teachers that we now need for the smaller classes required in this era of social distancing.

Forty years ago during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union a global movement of millions successfully pressured the leaders of the two nuclear superpowers to meet and negotiate a nuclear freeze. Today, movements led by young people and people of color all across the U.S. are rising up demanding racial, economic and environmental justice. They might be in the streets, but they also are organizing in their communities, lobbying elected officials and working to elect candidates at all levels of government who will deliver the transformative change our collective future is dependent on. Americans absolutely deserve quality healthcare, stable, affordable housing, debt-free education, and good-paying jobs. Above all we deserve a safe, sustainable and nuclear-free future.

September 28, 2020 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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