Zero Is the Only Option

Four Medical and Environmental Cases for the Eradication of Nuclear Weapons

In March 2010, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War published a major new briefing paper on the global climate and health effects of nuclear war. Zero is the only option, produced for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, draws extensively from the work of climate scientists at Rutgers University and the University of Colorado at Boulder, including Alan Robock, O. B. Toon, Michael Mills, and their colleagues, who have documented the climate effects of regional nuclear war.

Zero Is the Only Option comprises four medical and environmental case studies:

  1. Nuclear famine: how a regional nuclear war will cause global mass starvation
  2. A nuclear ozone hole: the global cancer burden of a regional nuclear war
  3. Nuclear winter: the Earth’s life-sustaining ecosystems remain at risk
  4. The casualties of nuclear war: Why prevention is still the only cure

Each page of this blog reproduces a case study from the briefing paper, and provides a collection of resources for further study and for use in presenting this information to others. The complete paper, with footnotes and references, can be downloaded here.

Publication of the briefing paper was made possible thanks to a generous financial contribution from IPPNW’s Swedish affiliate, Svenska Läkare mot Kärnvapen (Swedish Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons).

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3 Responses to Zero Is the Only Option

  1. John Comella says:

    Philosophically, I agree with the “zero option” but there is a dark side to that. Truman was able to get away with the nuclear bombing of Japan because the “virtuous” USA was the only country with nuclear weapons.

    I believe that,fortunately, that was the case because Werner Heisenberg deliberately sabotaged the German bomb project by basing it on a boiling water reactor, rather than pure, solid, uranium.

    But now, since any decent physicist has enough knowledge to ultimately build a nuclear bomb, it is important for a “couple” of countries to have large enough stockpiles to deter anyone but a wacko from ever using them.

    Unfortunately, wackos do exist. So the vitally important issue is to figure out how to correct the wacko-ism in a peaceful way.

    I BELIEVE that, if you strip away the competitiveness and desire to dominate the “TRUTH”, then Christianity, Judaism and Islam share a “Be kind to your neighbor, even if he’s your enemy.” philosophy. I REALLY hope, but do not know, if that is also true about Korea’s, China’s, India’s, Japan’s and other religions.

    I would like to see a serious effort by the leaders of ALL the world’s religions and peace groups to unite and try to dismantle the mistrust and beligerence of the leaders of some countries (Iran, North Korea and maybe others).

    When my two daughters were 3 and 5 years old, they fought over their toys. I sat them down twice or three times and explained that they would enjoy life and accomplish much more by collaborating than by trying to win an unwinnable competition.

    It worked! They get along well and accomplish a lot in their lives. The only drawback is that, today (they’re 33 and 35 years old) when I see them approaching me shoulder-to-shoulder with smiles on their faces, they want something from their dad and I don’t stand a chance against their combined, coordinated influence.

    But that’s OK! :-)

  2. John Loretz says:

    Thanks for the comment, John. We’d all be a lot better off if we valued cooperation more than competition. I’d differ with you on one point: I don’t think nuclear-armed states — even just some small number — are a logical or appropriate counter to the “wackos.” I’m the first to admit that no abolition treaty is a perfect guarantee against some very determined and malicious group of people secretively making and using a nuclear weapon (although it would make the task far more difficult for them). But no one else’s nuclear weapons could be used to prevent that, nor could they be used to retaliate against only the people who had committed such an egregious act. Putting that aside, how would the world ever agree on which countries should hold the “insurance policy?” Something like what you’re suggesting was actually part of arms control proposals in the early years of the nuclear age, and the idea was quickly seen to be unworkable. I’d rather deal with the possibility of nuclear terrorism and finding ways to prevent it in a world where the arsenals had been eliminated, rather than in a world where they might be looked to for pointless retaliation against the action of some lunatics.

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