Thursday, March 10, 2016

A campaign against accidental nuclear war
This seems a no-brainer, doesn't it? No sane human wants a nuclear war for any reason. Yet, the US and Russia still keep about 1800 targeted nuclear missiles on standby, 900 of them ready to launch in a matter of minutes.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is campaigning to encourage President Obama to take these missiles off "hair trigger alert" status. He wouldn't need Congressional approval or to do anything expensive or difficult: he could just order the "safety switches" in all the missile silos turned to "off", an intervention that would take only a couple of days according to generals who have commanded the system.

Who knew, David Wright of UCS asks?
... today, around the clock, 90 U.S. launch control officers sit in pairs at 45 hardened, underground missile launch centers, ready to launch 450 land-based nuclear missiles at a moment’s notice. At the same time, launch crews are on duty—also 24/7—on strategic submarines roaming the oceans, ready to launch missiles with hundreds of nuclear weapons if called to.

Russia does something similar.

I can see why people are surprised to learn this. It’s been nearly a quarter century since the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union ended in late 1991. Most people don’t think or hear much about nuclear weapons. But unfortunately, they remain a real and present danger.
So okay -- this is a completely necessary, probably winnable campaign. I mean hey, do you really think this President won't act to reduce the chance of nuclear war if he had citizen back up? Actually, he promised to do just this in 2008.

So what does UCS ask us to do to advance this campaign? Why spread a video about the subject on social media, of course. It's a pretty good video. But communicating with our political leaders solely by raising the profile of an issue through whatever metrics they record about social media seems a little indirect. Deep in the USC site, I did find a page facilitating letter writing. That's good.

But I worry when I see "campaigns" from non-profit advocacy outfits that don't provide any easy ways for people who care to make their opinions effective. It feels like going through the motions which isn't enough when it comes to nukes! (Or many other things, not to pick solely on UCS!)

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