By Vicki Elson
We can safely abolish all nuclear weapons
Been hearing about the Oppenheimer movie? Oscar buzz! Barbenheimer! Cillian Murphy’s alarmingly blue eyeballs! In all the hoo-hah, two crucial things are missing.
1. We have to fully grasp the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons: The movie offers only the tiniest hint about what happened to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It doesn’t acknowledge that radioactive fallout from the Trinity test unexpectedly reached 46 states plus Canada and Mexico within 10 days.
It doesn’t mention that around the world, there have been 2,000 subsequent bomb tests, with horrific effects on the cancer-stricken “downwinders,” largely in poor and indigenous communities of people of color. It doesn’t address the pollution and multi-generational harm that continues to this day, even if no bombs are detonated.
2. THERE IS A SOLUTION. In its final moments, the movie suggests that the inventors of nuclear weapons may have already destroyed the world in ways that are still in the future. That’s true, and we’re in more danger than ever before. But we now have a tool for eliminating all nuclear weapons once and for all, safely, fairly, securely.
The game-changing Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) sets out a pathway for the verifiable and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons from all countries. We need to be putting all our best efforts into making this a reality. We need to end to the nightmare that J. Robert Oppenheimer created for us.
Urge your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Nuclear Abolition and [Climate] Conversion bill, H.R. 2775, which calls on the US to sign this treaty as a first step to eliminating all nuclear weapons. Urge your town, city, state, faith community, college to divest from the nuclear weapons industry, like New York City recently voted to do. Vote for political candidates who will address the twin threats of nuclear weapons and climate catastrophe with the utmost urgency.
Fact-check the movie here and here. Find global action resources at icanw.org. Find US action resources at nuclearban.us. But whatever you do, please don’t ignore the problem. Please don’t think there’s nothing we can do. Please don’t fall for inadequate measures that make us look good or feel a little bit safer but still tolerate the existence of thousands of climate-wrecking, civilian-slaughtering, accident-prone, hackable, hair-trigger weapons of unthinkable scale and cruelty. We shouldn’t be worrying about AI launching nukes – we should be getting rid of the nukes so nobody can launch them!
After almost 80 years of ever-escalating bomb capacity, the fact is that we don’t have to live with nuclear weapons anymore. We don’t have to live with the lies that we “need” them, that they ended WWII, that they somehow keep us “safe,” that any nation is entitled to have the power to destroy the world, that nukes are justifiable in any way. We don’t have to keep spending trillions of taxpayer dollars on corporate nuclear profiteers when we could be funding climate solutions, food, health care and housing.
A coalition of elderly Bomb survivors and today’s youth have sent this letter to director Christopher Nolan, but so far, the filmmakers are still silent on the TPNW. It’s great that people are at least talking about nukes again. But will movie-goers be inspired to take effective action to protect everything and everyone they love? That’s up to you.
In the movie trailer, there’s this conversation:
General Groves: Are you saying that there’s a chance that when we push that button, we destroy the world?
Oppenheimer: Chances are near zero.
Groves: Near zero?
Oppenheimer: What do you want from theory alone?
Groves: Zero…would be nice.
They’re talking about whether the first nuclear bomb test might set off a chain reaction and ignite the atmosphere (spoiler alert: we’re still here). But to reduce the danger of nuclear catastrophe all the way to zero, we need to have zero nuclear weapons. And that would be nice.
Vicki Elson is the co-founder of NuclearBan.US and serves as the Creative Director. She is also the Executive Director of TreatyAwareness.US. For 35 years, Vicki has worked as a childbirth educator, filmmaker, and labor support “doula.” She is also a chapter leader of Represent.US, fighting Big Money in politics – the most egregious example of which is the existence of nuclear weapons, making profits for a few while threatening existence for everyone.