Remove cat and warhead before flight
When I got the idea to propose July 15, 2045 as a goal for ending the nuclear age, I wasn’t aware that anyone else was thinking that far ahead and seeing it in the same way as a powerful and symbolic target that would bring the world together in a common cause. Recently, I noticed that General Lee Butler, former commander of U.S. nuclear forces between 1991 and 1994, is also suggesting that 2045 become a goal for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the world. I’m not sure where he got the idea, but now that it’s only 30 years away, it’s an idea that has become obvious as the anniversary appears over the horizon.
Since I launched this blog, I’ve been told, mostly by people who don’t want the nuclear era to ever end, that 2045 would be impossible, even if we wanted to start shutting down nuclear facilities tomorrow. I'm a quixotic dreamer. Then there have been others who simply say shut it all down now! Someone else said that in 2045 what’s left of the human race will be dealing with mass extinctions and the collapse of civilization, and the uncontrolled collapse of the nuclear industry will just be part of this scenario. As they say in politics, if everyone hates your policy, then you've probably found the most pragmatic way to move forward.
Of course, the pessimists are right. The situation is dire. Even if all bombs and nuclear power plants were decommissioned by the time of the 100th anniversary of the first atom bomb test, the nuclear age would still be around for a long, long time. All the nuclear waste created in this century will have to be safely rounded up and contained for hundreds of thousands of years into the future. The positive steps that can be taken are rather limited, but the only humane thing to do is to take those steps—dismantle the bombs and stop adding to the pile of accumulated nuclear waste.
In the interview with Lee Butler published by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the general advised that reaching the goal depends on capturing the attention of the vast majority of people, “the unaware, who have simply never thought about these matters. It’s just never gotten on their radar screen… The challenge… is to frame a message that captures their attention and gets them to think.”
On the same day this was published, the video Remove cat before flight went viral on Youtube. It had 15 million views within its first week. One would think that people around the world would be shocked by the fact that there are also hundreds of nuclear bombs hitching rides on planes and submarines throughout the world every hour of every day, hidden from our awareness just like the little kitten in that ultralight wing. It should be even more alarming when we know that this is what lies behind the recent "sabre rattling" being done by NATO and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. But for some reason this danger never gets on the radar screen. Not even matters of existential importance can bring cats down from their perch at the top of Youtube rankings. I suppose I should feel like I’ve accomplished something by getting a mere 120 thousand page views over four years of blogging, but what I really need to do now is "frame a message that captures people’s attention." I need to make a video of a kitten comically stuck for a few moments in a nuclear missile silo.
By Robert Kazel, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
June 21, 2013
If you are an optimist, with respect to the future of mankind, you have to believe that more opportunities will come, like Sisyphus moving that ball up the hill. Sometime, you’re going to get to the top and it’s going to roll down the other side, and the era of nuclear weapons will be over.
If you wanted me to pick a date for that, I would say a possible prospect, and a happy one, would be July of 2045—the 100th anniversary of the first test of an atom bomb in the deserts of New Mexico… It’s possible. It has significance. It’ll be a hundred years in the Atomic Age. It’s far enough out, that enough things could happen serendipitously to make that possible.
Total nuclear disarmament by all nations by then?
Yes. What that requires, however, is for people to continue to stay focused, work very hard at it, keep advising sensible and acceptable alternatives that can be embraced by increasing numbers of people as opportunities present themselves—and they will… Your principal purpose is to understand who is your target audience. Political and military leaders are not your target audience. Their minds are made up, and they are not going to be changed. Your target audience is publics. I mean worldwide… [Among the public] there is one group that is simply not interested in the subject, and will not be. There’s a second group that is already interested and committed, and you would be wasting your time preaching to the choir. It’s a third group, the unaware, who have simply never thought about these matters. It’s just never gotten on their radar screen. That’s the vast majority of the people in the world. The challenge for [anti-nuclear groups] is to frame a message that captures their attention and gets them to think.
See Part I of the interview:
By Robert Kazel, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
May 27, 2015