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Should We Support the International Anti-Nuclear Movement?

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Should we support the international anti-nuclear movement?
On June 12, 1982 one million people gathered at New York city`s Central Park (Schell). Their cry was rather unique for a political demonstration; end the US nuclear arms race with Soviet Union. Similar rallies and protests occurred in most of the developed countries such as France, Germany and Spain in the 80`s and early 90s (Westcott). However more recently in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the growing threat of global terrorism the debates and the protests have been reignited. Spearheaded by anti-nuclear groups such as Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Greenpeace, the international social movement, called The Anti-Nuclear Movement aims for a much more comprehensive goal: the complete dissolution of all nuclear technologies. This essay aims to convince the reader that this is not an impractical movement championed by hot headed environmentalists but a very important endeavour which will have lasting consequences for humanity. The most important aim is of course that of nuclear weapon disarmament.
“The death of a man becomes a tragedy. The death of a million however becomes a statistic.” (Goodreads).A grave quote by Stalin (one of history’s most ruthless dictators) is strikingly true in the case of nuclear weapons. The detonations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed nearly 150,000 Japanese, reducing people into rounded numbers. Harnessing the inner forces of radioactive atoms, the atomic bomb carries a potentially limitless destructive power; the vaporising initial blast however is just the beginning (Atomic Bomb Museum). The images of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima have been etched forever in our memories by those iconic photographs. When that cloud descends, it wreaks havoc. Radioactive dust and pollution cripples all that falls in its path, a truly devastating situation. All these capabilities made nuclear weapons unpopular since their inception and indeed the earliest groups advocating against nuclear weapons were scientists who participated in the Manhattan Project. This is a general trend that the more one gets to know the more he is lead to an anti-nuclear attitude. The main threat however, developed during the prime years of the Cold War and USA and Soviet Union competed against each other for more developed nuclear technology - the Cuban Missile Crisis being the high point of this race (Belfer Center). Another aspect of this development is nuclear testing which was previously done on ground in sufficiently remote places and obviously these tests have enormous environmental consequences. This is when the anti-nuclear movement was born as people in the US and many parts of the world rallied against these tests culminating in the test ban treaty by John.F.Kennedy. Ever since groups such as Campaign for nuclear disarmament have been working to reduce the number of war heads and discouraging non-nuclear countries seeking nuclear power (Butterfield).
Those in favour of keeping nuclear weapons have only one reason, that of nuclear deterrence. This means that suppose if country A has a nuclear bomb, then country B which is an enemy of A and also possesses a nuclear bomb will not attack A due to the fear of nuclear retaliation (First Strike). Secondly it is assumed that most of the decommissioned nuclear war heads have been demolished in some way, both of these views lack proper understanding. The nuclear deterrence point assumes that the anti-nuclear movement call for the disarmament of one single country and this would be completely unacceptable since the weapons exist to promise national security in the first place. Rather this is an international movement and aims at the disarmament of all countries with nuclear weapons. In fact Henry Kissinger, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and an advocate of the nuclear deterrence policy reported in an article that he has changed his view and that presence of any nuclear weapon is a matter of great concern (Gusterson). The second issue leads to a rather scary conclusion. In 1986 the total number of war heads in the world was around 65,000. After the fall of the Soviet Union and due to the subsequent treaties many of the atomic bombs were decommissioned but not entirely destroyed. According to Dr Irwin Redlener, an American Nuclear security researcher, many of these decommissioned nuclear war heads are not safe particularly in Russia. So to put it more clearly, they are acquirable by the fundamentalist organisations like Al Qaeda (Redlener, TED Talk). This point alone has enormous repercussions since these people lack almost all sense of empathy and they can carry out the most horrifying acts without any regard of the consequences on human life. So considering some these critical issues we must realise the anti-nuclear movement is fundamental for a safer world for this and coming generations. The strongest weapon in our hand is education and that is how this will happen, as more people come together and voice their opinions the governments will eventually have to listen. This is the reason that countries like China, Russia, Pakistan and North Korea have never had any protests since people lack education and their opinions don’t count. If this becomes an internationally combined movement including people from these countries, we can certainly change this situation. There is another aspect to the movement for which we can expect a change sooner, the issue of nuclear power.
Now that the power inside in the atom was unlocked it was diverted to a productive usage with the development of nuclear power plants. This source of energy provides 13% of the world electricity to 31 countries (Key World Energy Statistics). This entire technology was seen largely as benign and beneficial until the Three mile Island accident occurred in 1979, the worst nuclear meltdown in US history, so far. Even before this happened, there had been protests against proposed nuclear power plans by local people in Germany, France and Spain. However, after this eye opener things changed for ever. The worst was yet to come and in 1986 the infamous Chernobyl Disaster showed the world the fragility and horrors of nuclear technology – no one is unfamiliar to the after effects of this disaster, ‘the Elephant’s Foot’ of Chernobyl still being lethal after all this time (Hill). Indeed protests continued and in countries like India people rallied against nuclear power project in Jaitapur. The Fukushima disaster is but the latest in this dark list that again caused wide spread protests.
Despite these open problems many politicians and even nuclear experts continue to back this way of producing energy. Their points are that fossil fuels provide around 70% of the world`s electricity but we all know that their impact on the environment is devastating and it cannot continue like this. Our only source of continuous scalable energy left is nuclear energy. To drive their point home they argue against the renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar saying that these sources are relatively dilute and have a large footprint on the landscape. Also in favour of nuclear technology is that fact that it is undergoing constant development and now very safe nuclear reactors are being developed which have much larger output. However it will be shown that most of these arguments are misguided. For a start nuclear power station is much more difficult to set up as compared to wind or solar energy stations. It requires an average of 15 years to set up a nuclear station, including all the permits and construction, which has an enormous opportunity cost. Next the foot print of nuclear is far more than wind or solar. This includes the power station and also area for nuclear waste disposal or temporary safe keeping. The foot print for example is just the pole touching the ground and according to research, around 100,000 wind turbine, covering just 3 square miles, can power the entire US vehicle fleet (Brand, Jacobson TED Debate). Plus there are many other forms of renewable energy such as geothermal and of course hydro. Combining these together we can achieve a very reliable continuous for of energy that is nuclear free. Another very important issue with nuclear power is nuclear proliferation which means that nuclear power does lead to a development of nuclear weapons using the fission material and this was the case in India and Pakistan. Finally returning to a previous point, nuclear reactors are potential targets for terrorist attacks which can have devastating consequences. So having or not having nuclear technology is the difference between a very uncertain future and a very peaceful productive future.
The anti-nuclear movement is headed by a group of prominent organisations which have offices and representatives all over the world. Friends of the Earth International has offices in 77 countries and Greenpeace International has offices in 41 countries and there are many more. Where we may be we have to a part of this for all that we hold dear on Earth. If we combine together, there can be no comparable for against this nuclear enterprise. There is a way and there is hope.

Works Cited
"" N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2014. <>.
Butterfield, Fox. "PROFESSIONAL GROUPS FLOCKING TO ANTINUCLEAR DRIVE." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Mar. 1982. Web. 15 July 2014. <>.
"First strike." The Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2014. <>.
Gusterson, Hugh. "The new abolitionists." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. N.p., 30 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 July 2014. <>.
"Harvard Kennedy SchoolÂ’s Belfer Center Launches Website Marking Cuban Missile Crisis 50th Anniversary." - Harvard. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2014. <>.
Hill, Kyle. "Chernobyl’s Hot Mess, “the Elephant’s Foot,” Is Still Lethal - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus." Nautilus. N.p., 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 15 July 2014. <>. "Key World Energy Statistics." International Energy Agency 1 (2012): 16-17. Print.
"Quotes About Tragedy." (378 quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2014. <>.
Schell, Jonathan. "The Spirit of June 12." The Nation. N.p., 2 July 2014. Web. 14 July 2014. <>.
"TED." How to survive a nuclear attack. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2014. <>.
"TED." Stewart Brand + Mark Z. Jacobson:Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy?. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2014. <>.
Westcott, Kathryn. "World's best-known protest symbol turns 50." BBC News. BBC, 20 Mar. 2008. Web. 12 July 2014. <>.

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