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If we do not abolish nuclear weapons
they will surely abolish us.
Notes on A New Movement to Ban Nuclear Weapons:
The Humanitarian Consequences Initiative
Presentation to 5 classes of Edison High School students, Fresno, 1 Sep 2015

Comparing “Conventional” Explosives
to Nuclear Weapons
kilo   =   1000
1 kiloton   =   1,000 tons
1 kiloton of TNT   =   1,000 tons of TNT
mega   =   1 million
15 megatons   =   15,000,000 tons
15 megatons   =   15,000 kilotons
500 Pounds of High Explosive
effect of anti-ship missile with high explosive warhead on unarmed ship
What a small anti-ship missile (ASM) with a small high explosive warhead (HE)
will do to an unarmored "modern" surface ship
2000 Pounds of High Explosive (start at 0:17)

The largest conventional bomb the US arsenal has is 30,000 pounds of explosive, or 30 tons.

The largest "conventional" chemical high explosive bomb is 1,000 times less powerful than a "small" atomic bomb.

Why is it called "Conventional"? Why is it conventional to drop bombs on people and cities?

World War II saw the beginning of mass bombing raids. It was considered a war crime in 1937 when the NAZIs bombed Guernica in the Spanish Civil War. By 1945 the US ran firebombing raids in Japan. We firebombed 67 major Japanese cities, killing 500,000 people, mostly civilians, because the soldiers were at war. That was before Hiroshima. Firebombing Tokyo killed 100,000 people.


First Nuclear Weapon Used To Kill People

The single atomic bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 had an explosive power of roughly 15,000 tons of TNT or 15 kilitons. This is a picture of Hiroshima before the atomic bomb was detonated:

City of Hiroshima before the first atomic bomb was dropped on it on August 6, 1945

From the Hiroshima Peace Museum website: “One second after detonation, the fireball was 280 meters in diameter. The temperature at the center was over one million degrees centigrade. The heat emitted by that fireball raised surface temperatures near the hypocenter to 3,000 to 4,000 degrees centigrade. Five hundred meters from the hypocenter, the blast pressure was 19 tons per square meter. The maximum wind speed was 440 meters per second. This blast simply crushed all wooden buildings within a radius of two kilometers.”

It is shocking to see what the atomic bomb did to Hiroshima. More than 4 square miles of the city were utterly destroyed, transforming it into a barren wasteland.

Hiroshima Panorama #1
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Photo by Shigeo Hayashi - RA119-RA134
Hiroshima Panorama #2
360 degree view span                                  Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Photo by H.J. Peterson - K-HJP001-K-HJP013
Hiroshima Panorama #4
360 degree view span                                  Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Photo by Shigeo Hayashi A723-A742

Comparing Atomic Bombs to
Strategic Nuclear Weapons

Atomic bombs were the first nuclear weapons to be invented. Atomic bombs are much less powerful than the hydrogen bombs, or thermonuclear weapons, which were invented in the 1950s. These “super-bombs” often had explosive powers one thousand times greater than atomic bombs.

Immense Destructive Power: Hiroshima Atomic Bomb: 15,000 tons TNT; Str
ategic Nuclear Weapon: 15,000,000 tons of TNT

The above image compares the relative size of the mushroom cloud produced by an atomic bomb to a mushroom cloud produced a thermonuclear weapon that had an explosive power of 15 million tons of TNT or 15 megatons, which was tested by the United States in 1954.

Today, thermonuclear bombs are called “strategic nuclear weapons,” and they generally have an explosive power ranging from 100,000 tons or 100 kilotons to more than 1 million tons or 1 megaton of TNT.

Two films:

Nuclear Weapons: A Time-Lapse History
Over 2,000 atomic bombs have been detonated worldwide since 1945.
This is a brief timeline showing every blast on a world map up until 1998.

Notice the captions at 0:20 and 0:29 refer to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings as being “military combat”. While this echos “official history” it does not reflect reality unless we believe that murdering women, children, and older people constitutes military combat. Consider this observation by Admiral William Leahy, President Truman’s Chief of Staff:

the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.... in being the first to use it, we...adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
Admiral William D. Leahy, I Was There, p.441
Nuclear Bomb Test Compilation HD

(Due to time constraints we watched up to 1:35.)

Let’s examine what the Firestorm would encompass from the detonation of an 800 megaton strategic nuclear weapon over Fresno.

The firestorm produced by a strategic nuclear weapon is vastly larger than that produced by an atomic bomb. This graphic illustrates the most likely size of a fire zone, created by an 800 kiloton strategic nuclear warhead. The graphic shows it being detonated above New York City.

Atomic Bomb compared with Thermonuclear (strategic) Bomb

Once the US and Soviet Union (Russia plus a number of affiliated states) started stockpiling multi-megaton H-bombs, a single bomber could carry more explosive power than all the bombs and explosives detonated during the 5 years of World War II. By 1986, the US and USSR built a total of 60,000-70,000 nuclear weapons.


A War with Nuclear Weapons =
Nuclear Winter & Extinction of Life on Earth

So Many Exist Ready To Be Used--The World's Nuclear Warheads Count, Aug 201
4 Today Russia and the U.S. together possess about 15,000, or 93%, of the 16,400 nuclear weapons in the global nuclear arsenal. Russia has about 8,000 intact nuclear weapons and the US has about 7,300. France comes next with about 300 and the remaining 6 nuclear states have fewer than that.

What's new in this work? A nuclear war between any nuclear states using much less that 1 percent of the current nuclear arsenal will produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history.

BC Absorption Optical Depth

Some of the world’s leading climatologists did a simulation of what would happen if the US and Russia had a nuclear war. There would be so much smoke it would and most of it would go up into the stratosphere, the region above where there is weather so there wouldn’t be any rain to wash it out and it would last for more than a decade, and it would cover the whole world.

Change in SAT (degrees Celsius) June/July/August Year 0
Nuclear winter: average change in surface air temperature (°C) during 1st 2 years
This slide demonstrates the average surface temperature change during the two years after a global nuclear war with roughly today’s arsenals. The temperature is represented in Celsius. Generally the drop in temperature is about 20 Celsius throughout most of the American breadbasket. And some parts in the Soviet farming areas it drops by 35 Celsius—70 degrees Fahrenheit.
[Robock, Alan, Luke Oman, and Georgiy L. Stenchikov, 2007b: Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D13107, doi:2006JD008235.]

What To Do

What can we do about this? Mark Twain said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” It feels good psychologically to pretend you didn’t hear what I just said and go home and pretend it doesn’t exist. And most of the world does that. Helen Caldicott, the physician and anti nuclear campaigner calls that psychic numbing.

But another action is to try and do something about it to get rid of the weapons.

Weapons Already Banned

We’ve already banned biological weapons in the world, chemical weapons, land minds, and cluster munitions. But the worst of all weapons of mass destruction—nuclear weapons—have not been banned.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, is working to actually ban nuclear weapons. You can join this global organization, and spread the word on social media about how they are working to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons with the majority of the family of nations that do NOT have nuclear weapons and has made it a legal undertaking never to acquire them.

I encourage you to read and study a penetrating 2-page summary by Wildfire concerning the What, Why, How, Where, Who, & When of “A treaty banning nuclear weapons”. There are many more elements to explore to inform and inspire in the What To Do section as well as other relevant information presented in the Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction Symposium that Dr. Helen Caldicott convened at the New York Academy of Medicine earlier this year.

The following pursuits will promote the work of our single global civil society to stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate nuclear weapons:

  • Support and join the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
  • Urge your parents to tell their bank not to invest in nuclear weapons
    Stand Up Against Nuclear Weapon Financing: to find out if your financial institution is investing, or is one of those with a good policy on nuclear weapons by studying the 2014 annual report of Don’t Bank On The Bomb. This significant publication gives everyone an opportunity to contact their bank or other financial institution. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
  • Inform yourself and those you know about the intelligent and coherent strategies to outlaw nuclear weapons being produced by Wildfire.
  • Sign This Petition: Demand the President of the United States publicly acknowledges and addresses the existential threat the US nuclear arsenal poses to the continued existence of Life on Earth
  • Sign the Global Petition Supporting the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    On 24 April 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed lawsuits against all nine Nuclear Weapon States in the International Court of Justice and, separately, against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court. The Non-Proliferation Treaty has been in force for over 44 years. The Nuclear Weapon States continue to rely heavily on nuclear weapons and are engaging in modernization programs to keep their nuclear weapons active for decades to come. The time has come for the Nuclear Weapon States to be held accountable for their inaction.

Finally, be clear that educating ourselves and others serves Life’s needs here on Earth and gives significance and purpose to our days. Learning more about implementing a treaty banning nuclear weapons increases consciousness of the overriding necessity to do so. The following work of art, produced by Chris Jordan photographic arts, visualizes “the enormous power of humanity’s collective will.” E Pluribus Unum is a striking indicator—as of 5 years ago—of how many people on Earth are engaged in engendering a world of inclusion where everyone and everything belongs. You must visit the page itself to apprehend the magnitude of what is being represented by zooming out from within this visualization.

Chris Jordan: E Pluribus Unum, 2010
E Pluribus Unum, 2010      24x24 feet, laser etched onto aluminum panels
Depicts the names of one million organizations around the world that are devoted to peace, environmental stewardship, social justice, and the preservation of diverse and indigenous culture. The actual number of such organizations is unknown, but estimates range between one and two million, and growing.

To be sure, there are a wealth of disturbing facts visualized by Jordan’s portfolio of works. Still, as with all eternal opposites, forever joined like two sides of a coin, there is also the life-affirming expression of the “enormous power of humanity’s collective will” to understand and be informed by. This power is what we must ALL engage, direct, and focus, to close the book on the possibility of extinction by nuclear weapons, for the sake of the children, all we share Earth with, and all that is yet to be born and live out lives here long, long, long after we are gone.

Please share this information with everyone you know including via your social networking systems. Thank you.

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