Guest Blog: Paris, Nuclear Weapons, and Suicide Bombing

The following post was written by Dr. Alan Robock, a Distinguished Professor of Climate Science at Rutgers University.

France’s 300 nuclear weapons were useless to protect them from the horrendous suicide bomb attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2016. And if France ever uses those weapons to attack another country’s cities and industrial areas, France itself will become a suicide bomber. Mutually assured destruction gave way to self-assured destructionyears ago when we discovered that, even if a country launches a successful nuclear strike against their enemy, the resulting nuclear winter could kill billions more around the world, including the attacking country’s own citizens. The climate effects of the smoke generated from fires from those attacks would last for more than a decade, plunging our planet into such cold temperatures that agricultural production would be halted or severely reduced, producing famine in France and the rest of the world.

It is imperative for France and the rest of the world to get rid of their nuclear arsenals. They cannot be used without endangering the attacker. The threat of their use by any nation is ludicrous and cannot be taken seriously. They do not provide a deterrent. Not only do nuclear weapons not deter terrorists, they do not deter nations from attacking. Just think of the attack on the UK by Argentina (Falkland Islands War), on Israel (Six Day War), and the invasion of Eastern Europe after World War II.

The chance of the use of nuclear weapons by mistake, in a panic after an international incident, by a computer hacker, or by a rogue leader of a nuclear nation can only be removed by the removal of the weapons themselves.

As the important climate negotiations at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris in December 2015 continue, we have to keep in mind that the greatest threat to our planet from human actions is not global warming, as important as this threat is, but from the accidental or intentional use of nuclear weapons. We need to ban nuclear weapons now, so we have the luxury of addressing the global warming problem.

This article was also featured on the Huffington Post.

1 reply
  1. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    Thanks for this summary of what looks like a very nice (albeit very disturbing) piece of research. I’m curious how reliable the smoke estimates are, given the changing constitution of cities — i.e. are there reliable estimates of the density of burnable things in these cities, which seem likely to be lower than in e.g. Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which were primarily wood construction)? Ditto for the burn radius.

    I had my class, which was studying the Poisson distribution, to estimate the probability that there would be various numbers of nuclear ‘mishap’s this year, given that according to

    there have been 20(!) in the past ~50 years. I think it freaked them out a bit, as it should. We can’t keep rolling the dice like this.

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