The Extinction Rebellion campers at Holyrood this week, and many of the commuters who listened to them at North Bridge road blocks, or the MSPs who came out of the debating chamber to talk to them are in now in agreement about the threat that faces all life on this planet from the human induced climate emergency. How have we come to such a crisis so late?
Our governments are wrangling over their ideologies instead of taking better care of us, or heeding the scientists who have been pointing out the risks to the planet and its peoples are facing? The climate emergency has not replaced the nuclear threat and scientists are telling us that both require interrelated and immediate attention as well as urgent action by people everywhere.
There are more than 14,000 nuclear weapons positioned across our world, 120 of them sited here in Scotland (despite a parliament and a government who have declared their opposition to the UK policy that sees them as required). Each100 kiloton nuclear weapon detonated would take around 10 seconds to produce a fireball hotter than the sun over a three kilometer radius, while carbon is hefted into the atmosphere, and ash obscures light and warmth. The possibility of combating this kind of assault on the physics of the planet without the climate emergency rapidly going out of any control is remote. The extreme and violent weathers that are part of the climate emergency closing in on us make water and food shortages and human migration inevitable, causing conflicts and making the likelihood of an accident or deliberate use of nuclear weapons increasingly likely.
This is why the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have set their Doomsday Clock at two minutes to a midnight that means annihilation, from the twin threats of nuclear weapons and the climate emergency. Surely now, the adoption in 2017 by the majority of the UN members of a new treaty to absolutely prohibit nuclear weapons, The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), can eliminate one aspect of this deadly double edged threat. The model process of transnational co operation, responsible, careful listening and facing up to the truth that put the Treaty in place could be the key to sufficiently speedy action to respond to the other.
The extinction threat level is severe. The UK Government has had its knuckles rapped over its hypocritical arms trading to Yemen and its come-uppance over its shameful treatment of the Chagos Islanders. So much for the credibility of the UK and the US as responsible leaders of a free world. Should Boris or Hunt get any mandate to resolve the crisis? More on this issue in the next edition of SCND’s Nuclear Free Scotland..