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If Atomic Clock Strikes 12 – Midnight Is Forever

If The Atomic Clock Strikes Twelve – Midnight Is Forever


By Douglas Mattern
January 27, 2007

But thoughts, the slaves of life, and life, time’s fool,
And time, that takes survey of all the world,
Time must have a stop.”

- Henry IV, Shakespeare

We cannot stop or slow the space/time/continuum that permeates our world and the universe, but we must, if we really care about the future and destiny of humanity, stop the time of human folly that is leading toward a black abyss. This was underscored this month when the hands on the famous “Doomsday Clock” of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) was moved forward from seven to five minutes before midnight.

The reason is manifold, including, as reported BAS, a “renewed emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons…and the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials.” An increasing danger is the proliferation of nuclear weapons states, now numbering eight or nine, along with the prospect of others joining this macabre club in the near future. The United Nations reports that over 30 countries have the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

In 1963, President Kennedy emphasized the extreme danger of nuclear proliferation: "I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scattered throughout the world. There would be no rest for anyone then, no stability, no real security, and no chance of effective disarmament. There would only be the increased chance of accidental war."

What is difficult to understand is that after the severe danger of nuclear war during the long decades of the Cold War, are still only 30-minutes or less from nuclear incineration. The reason is that included among the 27,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled in the world, thousands of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads are on hair-trigger alert. The RAND Corporation reports these weapons could be launched in a few minutes notice destroying both countries in an hour. Such a doomsday scenario could result from an accidental missile launch, an early warning system error, or miscalculation.

Why are these genocidal weapons on hair-trigger with the daily treat they pose to civilization? It would surely appear to any outside observer to be utter madness. This brings to mind the famous statement by the Greek playwright, Euripides (480-406 BC) after contemplating the senseless human slaughter in the Trojan War: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

Perhaps ignoring a civilization ending threat year-after-year for decades is a kind of madness. But madness or just incredibly irresponsible, we must wake up and reverse direction before it is forever too late. This danger cannot be overstated. Shortly before leaving office, former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, stated that among all our serious global problems, nuclear weapons present the greatest danger because they present a “unique existential threat to all humanity.”

In this first month of the seventh year into the new millennium, the great scientist and fellow of the Royal Society, Steven Hawking, stated: “As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects…as citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action to render nuclear weapons obsolete…”

Sir Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, professor of cosmology and astrophysics, and master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, stated in response to the advancing the nuclear clock: “Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity…”

Stephen Hawking and Sir Martin Rees both agree that climate change could threaten our civilization, but it is nuclear weapons that are the greatest and immediate threat. It is, therefore, imperative that we join together with an unyielding determination and with an iron will to ensure that nuclear weapons are abolished from the face of the earth. Until then, humanity will be remain, as President Kennedy stated: “Under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or madness.”

*************

Douglas Mattern is President of the Association of World Citizens (AWC)and author of "Looking for Square Two - Moving from War and Violence to Global Community" available on Amazon.com AWC email: worldcit @ best.com

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