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As long as nuclear weapons exist, we’re on the brink of self annihilation via The Baltimore Sun

On Aug. 6 and 9 in 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had no idea atomic explosions were imminent. Now, 70 years later, Homo sapiens has known its fate for a long time, but as Albert Einstein observed, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Most Americans know almost nothing of the devastating blast, heat, radiation and electro-magnetic effects of nuclear devices. Most don’t know how many there are, or where. Most have little concept of how even a limited, regional war could end civilization. And most don’t know how close that terrible end has come. As recently as 1995, a Russian military radar mistook a Norwegian-U.S. scientific rocket for a possible attack on Moscow. It was a very close call, only barely avoided because there was no international tension at the time. Even the Cuban Missile Crisis is a faded memory. There have been several near-death events, and hundreds of weapons accidents and malfunctions, mostly covered up. Moreover, serious threats to use nuclear weapons have been made time and again. They are always “on the table.”

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There are still nearly 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, some 1,800 on Cold War-era hair-trigger alert on land, in the air and under the seas, ready to destroy all human past and future achievements in a few minutes. We’ve been on the brink of self-annihilation for 70 years. Our children and their descendants may get healthy food and exercise, our scientists publish papers, people chart family histories and plan for the future — but all that is at risk. Everything — Mozart, Rembrandt, Super Bowls, ukuleles, the Beatles — could be gone forever.

Few would dispute that good medical care can only come from fully informed decision and consent. Good politics is the same. In both arenas, luck and hope can never be foundations for planning of life and death matters.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki call out for Americans — all humans — to have informed consent, including the knowledge that they have every right and power to remove the artificial, man-made, expensive demons whose existence can lead to human species extinction.

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