'A merica's 450 launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction -- as a result of a false alarm. We're not exaggerating."

--Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers, and David Krieger, director of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

A group of anti-nuclear activists gathered on Aug. 3 at nuclear missile silo N-8 east of Greeley, one of Colorado's 49 missiles, to commemorate one year since the death of Sister Jackie Hudson and also to remember the heart-numbing tragedy of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Sister Hudson died on Aug. 3, 2011 of cancer after having been in prison for trespassing onto Y-12, a nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. She is a true legend among nuclear activists and non-violent resisters for her courage, her cheerful heart and her determination to do all she possibly could to warn the world and the U.S. government that nuclear weapons are immoral, illegal and unbelievably dangerous.

As we remembered Sister Hudson and the bombings with the missile silo 50 feet from us, fenced off, I thought about the fact that both U.S. and Russian land-based missiles remain constantly on high-alert status. It would take 30 minutes to reach their targets.


The presidents of both countries would have only 12 minutes to decide whether or not to launch their missiles, when presented by their military generals that an attack is imminent.

Probably this won't happen, but a mistake is easy to imagine. In 1995, former Russian President Boris Yeltsin was awakened in the middle of the night with a warning that a U.S. missile was approaching. Fortunately, he took his time and the "missile" turned out to be a Norwegian weather balloon. Whew.

Would it be a catastrophe if all 450 U.S. land-based missiles were launched?

Smoke from the nuclear firestorms just from U.S. weapons would cause catastrophic disruption of global climate and massive destruction of the Earth's protective ozone layer, leading to global famine, according to Ellsberg and Krieger.

Scientists --including one from Boulder, Dr. Brian Toon, chair of the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies at University of Colorado-Boulder -- describe how black smoke would be heated by the sun and would remain in the stratosphere for at least 10 years, causing another ice age.

So, please do all you can do to warn the world, including President Barack Obama, or if it happens, Mitt Romney.

Judith Mohling is a volunteer with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.