The Nuclear Winter and Peace

MORE than 20,000 nuclear weapons are in the hands of eight countries: the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, India and Pakistan, some with profound economic, political and religious differences. The new START treaty, signed in Prague this April by the largest nuclear powers, is nothing more than an illusion in relation to the problem that is threatening humanity.

The nuclear winter theory, developed and brought to its current stage by the eminent researcher and professor Dr. Alan Robock from Rutgers University, New Jersey (a modest scientist who prefers to recognize the merits of his colleagues rather than his own), has demonstrated its veracity.

For them, the only way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is by eliminating them. Living in a privileged place on the planet, which allows them to enjoy the highest standards of living and the world’s riches despite the incredible waste of non-renewable resources, the American people should be the ones most interested in the information provided by scientists. But how space does the mass media devote to that task?

According to Robock, the nuclear winter theory has shown us that, “if such weapons did not exist, they could not be utilized. And at this time, there is no rational argument to use them at all. If they cannot be used, they must be destroyed and thus we would be protecting ourselves from accidents, errors of calculation or any demented attitude.”

“…computers that operated with ultramodern models were converted into the sole laboratory of choice, and historical events – including cities razed by fire in the wake of earthquakes and bombardments in times of war, the columns of smoke of forest fires, and clouds created by volcanic eruptions – became the yardstick for scientific evaluations.”

The proliferation of nuclear weapons at a time when Israel, India and Pakistan have joined the nuclear club, and other countries, it would seem, are aspiring for membership, have obliged Robock and his colleagues to review their initial research projects. The results of these updated studies, published in recent articles, are astonishing.

In relation to the United States and Russia, even though both countries committed themselves in Prague in April 2010 to reduce their operative nuclear arsenals to some 2,000 weapons, the only way of preventing a global climate disaster would be to eliminate nuclear weapons.

“…any country that is currently considering the nuclear option needs to recognize that, by adopting such a decision, it would be endangering not only its own population but those of the entire world. It is time for the world to once again reflect upon the dangers of nuclear weapons, and this time adopt the road to peace and eliminate the possibility of a global climate disaster induced by nuclear energy, for the first time since the middle of last century.”

“… the use of nuclear weapons in the event of a total attack on an enemy would be a suicidal action due to the anomalous cold and darkness provoked by smoke from the fires generated by the bomb. In fact, it has been evidenced that the more nuclear weapons a country possesses, the less safe it is.”

Albert Einstein said: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except for our ways of thinking and we are thus drifting toward an unparalleled disaster.” Carl Sagan said that our nuclear arms policy was “a path where no man thought.”

At the end of his master lecture I asked Professor Alan Robock, “How many people in the world are aware of that information?” He replied, “Very few.” I added, “In your country, how many?” “The same,” he answered, “they don’t know.”

I did not doubt that that was the sad reality, and added: “We are not doing anything when just you and me know it, what is needed is that the world knows it. Perhaps the psychologists have to be brought in to explain why the masses do not understand.”

“I have an answer,” exclaimed the scientist: “it’s called denial. It is something so horrible that people don’t want to think about it. It’s easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist.”

His words, during his nearly one-hour lecture, aided by charts, figures and photos projected on a screen, were clear, precise and eloquent. For that reason, I said: “What is raising consciousness, which we talk so much about? What is creating culture? And how discouraging it must be for you scientists that people don’t even hear about what you are doing; how many hours you invest in it.”

I noted that, when there was no radio, television or Internet, it would have been impossible to broadcast a lecture like that one in Cuba or in the world. Far less when many people were unable to read or write.

We promised the professor that we would spread the information he had given us about the nuclear winter theory – an issue that we only know a little about based on our concern over the possible outbreak of a global nuclear war, which gave rise to our duty to attend his lecture – in a language that even eight-year old Cuban children can understand.

No other era in human history is related in any way to this one. Certainly, if these risks are not understood by those who make decisions from the heights of the immense power that science and technology has placed in their hands, the next world war will be the last one, and it would take, perhaps, tens of millions of years before new intelligent beings could attempt to write their history.

As chance would have it, yesterday, September 20, I received news that the Peace Boat cruise liner was due to reach the Port of Havana at dawn on September 21, after being delayed by cyclones on its voyage from the Canary Islands for several hours. The Peace Boat is a non-governmental organization with special consultative status at the United Nations. Since 1983, it has been organizing cruises around the world to promote peace, human rights, fair and sustainable development and respect for the environment. In 2009 the organization was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its global campaign to prevent war.

In a letter written to me by Yoshioka Tatsuya, director of the Peace Boat, and sent via Nao Inoue, head of the group of visitors, Tatsuya states: “Our organization has been working for years, recently in cooperation with the ALBA countries […] which have clearly expressed their commitment to nuclear abolition, the prohibition of foreign military bases and the peaceful resolution of international controversies […] Japan, as you know, the only country to have suffered an atomic bombardment, maintains to this day a pacifist Constitution which, by virtue of its Article 9, formally renounces war and prohibits the use of force in international disputes…

“An issue of special interest in our activism is the removal of foreign military bases: a situation present in Japan and diverse parts of the world, taking into consideration that foreign bases such as those existing in Guantánamo and Okinawa are causing irreversible environmental damage and fomenting war instead of world peace.

Including this voyage, the Peace Boat has organized 70 trips around the world, beginning in 1983, with the participation of no less than 40,000 people, who have visited more than 100 countries. Their slogan is “Learn from past wars to build a future of peace.”

Over 20 years, the Peace Boat has visited our country 14 times, overcoming obstacles and hurdles imposed by the United States. It has been promoting campaigns to raise significant donations, fundamentally to the health and education sectors.

Its members have a presence in numerous international forums and solidarity with Cuba encounters. They are truly proven friends of our country. In May 2009, in response to a proposal by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), the organization was decorated with the Order of Solidarity granted by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba.

It was a great honor for me to receive an invitation to meet with a group of the visitors, which I proposed they hold with the maximum number of people, at Havana’s International Convention Center. Mr. Nao Inoue and Ms. Junko Watanabe both addressed participants. Junko Watanabe is a survivor of the first atomic bomb launched on the city of Hiroshima, when she was just two years old. She was with her little brother in the yard of a house located 18 kilometers from the point where the bomb was dropped; an event that totally destroyed the major part of the city disappear, instantly killed more than 100,000 people and inflicted serious harm on the rest of the inhabitants.

Junko Watanabe recounted her dramatic memories, when years later, she came to know the images and details of that act, which caused so much suffering for so many innocent people who had nothing to do with that brutal attack. It was a deliberate act to terrorize the world with the unnecessary use of a weapon of mass extermination, when the Japanese empire was already defeated. The bomb was dropped, not on a military installation, but on a defenseless civilian target. The circulated footage of that horrific crime does not express what the voice of Junko Watanabe told us about the events. It was an opportune occasion to express our points of view and tell our friendly Japanese visitors, fighters for the abolition of nuclear weapons, military bases and war, about the efforts being undertaken by our country to avert a nuclear conflict that could put an end to the existence of our species.

Fidel Castro Ruz
| castro signature | MR Online
September 21, 2010
7:12 p.m.