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NUCLEAR WEAPONS: A NECESSARY EVIL?

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Florence Treverrow

on 8 December 2013

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Transcript of NUCLEAR WEAPONS: A NECESSARY EVIL?

NUCLEAR WEAPONS: IS THERE A SANE ALTERNATIVE TO MAD?
Scenarios:
The world in 2050

Confrontation between India and Pakistan finally convinced the world that nuclear weapons are too dangerous and they were eliminated
action was taken on climate change
it was decided to maintain progress and make a more equitable world
the opportunity for a more just and peaceful world is taken up
people have hope and look forward to a better future
Sustainability and ecosystem restoration gather momentum
by 2050 the world is well on the way to a bright future
How did we get here and why should we be worried?
Near the end of WWII the Manhattan Project was set up to develop nuclear weapons in the USA.
The first humans appeared about 250,000 years ago
Big History
The universe is thought to have started with a Big Bang about 14 billion years ago
The earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago
Agriculture began about 10,000 years ago;
civilisations about 6,000 years ago.
That means if all of time were 1 hour, humans have been here for the last minute.
and now we could destroy all life in just 15 minutes !
http://www.thebulletin.org/
The Doomsday Clock
The Doomsday Clock is used to symbolise how close we are to disaster.
the number of Minutes to Midnight started at 7 in 1953 when the US and Russia developed thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs.
the closest was 3 in 1984 when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan
the best was 17 in 1991
climate change was recognised as an extra threat in 2007
Currently we stand at 5 minutes to midnight because of the inability of politics to deal with nuclear weapons and climate change
The first nuclear test was conducted on July 16, 1945
Trinity was a plutonium bomb
There are currently about 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world - 4,300 are deployed - of these 1,800 are in a state of high alert
what does this mean for the future?

we can't say for certain but we can get an idea by using scenario planning

Possible scenarios
The first nuclear weapon to be used was a uranium bomb detonated above Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
Three days later a plutonium bomb was detonated over Nagasaki.
What are nuclear weapons?
bomb cloud 18 km high
There are three main types:
1. Gun-type assembly - a neutron hits a uranium atom causing it to become unstable and split.
2. Implosion assembly - chemical explosives are used to compress plutonium
Both of these methods release energy and more neutrons to continue the process.
3. Thermonuclear weapons (H bombs) use a fission reaction to compress fusion fuel to thermonuclear temperatures - this causes fission in depleted uranium. A further fusion stage can be added. Thermonuclear weapons are much more destructive.
Tsar bomba - a 3 stage nuclear device exploded by the Soviet Union in 1961 - approximately 1500 times the combined power of the bombs dropped on Japan.
Radioactive contamination
Fission products are either highly radioactive but short lived
or moderately radioactive but long lived.
en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_ Fallout
Radioactive materials emit harmful ionising radiation, gamma rays or neutrons as they decay.
Effects depend on weight - a deposit of 1kj/kg = 1 grey (Gy)
At a dose of 30Gy an individual becomes incapacitated within hours - but they do not die until about 5 days later
At a dose of 5.3 to 8.3Gy individuals become sick, recover, become sick again and die after about 6 weeks
Delayed effects may appear months to years after exposure
A neutron bomb aims to produce large amounts of radiation and leave buildings intact

When a nuclear weapon is surrounded with cobalt or gold it is called a Salted bomb - it produces exceptionally large amounts of radiation
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons
How are nuclear weapons delivered?
Weapons loaded onto missiles are strategically better as they a allow a faster, less vulnerable attack.
Missiles can be short-range, long-range, intercontinental or launched from submarines. They can target any place on earth.
The Dnpr rocket
ISC Kosmotras http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dnepr_rocket_lift-off_1.jpg
Many nuclear weapons are gravity bombs and can be dropped from a fighter bomber
During the Cold War the US and Soviet Russia built up large stockpiles of weapons on the basis of deterrence
Could they be used today?
Nuclear weapons cause death and destruction by the blast, firestorm and by radiation.
This strategy is often referred to as MAD - mutually assured destruction
because nuclear war would result in nuclear winter or an extinction event
MAD rests on a number of assumptions which may not hold
Due to mistrust and vested interests, the US developed first strike weapons during the Cold War. First strike weapons aim to prevent retaliation in the event of a nuclear attack and therefore undermine the idea of MAD
an extremist leader in the future may not be deterred by the idea of Armageddon.
http://wikipedia.org/
Life emerged about 3.5 billion years ago
Fortunately ... the number of nuclear weapons has been drastically reduced since the cold war
However... the number of countries with nuclear weapons has increased
The world came close to nuclear war twice - in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in 1983 when NATO was conducting military exercises which the Soviets considered threatening
these crises resulted from fear, mistrust and mistakes
melted clock
What is scenario planning?
Large scale forces push the future in different directions and identifying these may help us to make decisions for the future
scenarios are specially constructed stories about possible futures using key uncertainties.

What might the future look like:
if the world cannot agree to take any action to
ensure our common future?
if we could get rid of nuclear weapons and stop climate change
- would that be enough?
if we took the next step to make a more just and
equitable world?

http://wired.com/wired/scenarios/build.html
A little bit of
Thriving World
Bye Bye World

a confrontation between India and Pakistan brings the world to the brink of disaster
still no action
escalation of hostilities between India and Pakistan
each country fires their arsenal of nuclear weapons at their opponent
millions die in the blast and firestorm
radiation, toxic chemicals and dust are propelled high into the atmosphere
nuclear winter - ozone depletion - mass starvation - few survivors
References
Muddling through
world
Nuclear weapons dismantled and climate change addresses but the opportunity to move into a brilliant future was lost due to apathy, lack of trust and an unwillingness to give ground
ecosystems and arable land continued to degrade, water became scarce and population increased
of course, as modeling had shown, this could not continue
by 2050 the world had descended into conflict and desperate competition for life's necessities
even the winners were losers - we could have been so much more
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Music by Sekula Wieslaw. Space trip. http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/33897/space-trip
A project fot IHS 5802 by Florence Treverrow
Federation of American scientists (2013). Status of world nuclear forces. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html
Robock, A. & Toon (2010). Local nuclear war. Scientific American, Jan 2010 p74-81. Retrieved October 6, 2013 from http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockToonSciAmJan2010.pdf

Wikipedia. (2013a). Nuclear Weapon. Retrieved October 3, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Weapon
Wikipedia. (2013b). Mutually assured destruction. Retrieved October 3, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutually_assured_destruction
Wikipedia. (2013c). History of nuclear weapons. Retrieved October 3, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_nuclear_weapons
Wikipedia. (2013d). Radioactive contamination. Retrieved October 3, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_contamination


http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html
We can Use decision points as a means of deciding on scenarios.
If a nuclear war was about to happen could the international community come together to eliminate nuclear weapons?
Bye-Bye World
Yes
Could the world then decide to be be more equitable?
NO
NO
Muddle-through World
YES
Thriving world
Full transcript