The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by bomb scientists who could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work. Every year, the Bulletin calculates the probability of global nuclear and climate catastrophe and announces in January where they predict the placement of the hands of the Doomsday Clock to be. Last January, the Bulletin warned: The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon. They set the clock at two minutes to midnight and said, “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”

One wonders if there are enough wise public officials to make a difference. I know there are wise citizen activists from 20 states stepping forward to lead the way. They participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. Activists in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs are part of this group whose members hail from nuclear weapon sites across the U.S. We are from communities near nuclear weapons research, production and waste sites, such as Hanford, Wash., where last year there was a tunnel cave-in that had 4,000 workers scrambling for safety; Lawrence Livermore labs in California; Colorado’s own Rocky Flats, a Superfund site still contaminated with nuclear radiation, the periphery of which is now open to the public; Los Alamos labs, where new production of plutonium pits is threatened to begin; the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, where parts of a ceiling collapsed; a Kansas City plant that manufactures thousands of non-nuclear parts for weapons; the Pantex nuclear weapons plant in Texas; Oak Ridge facilities in Tennessee; and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Each has its toxic history and equally grim or in some cases even worse current nuclear development.

By face-to-face lobbying, letters, petitions, phone calls, texts, editorial efforts in newspapers and on public media across the land, we urge policymakers to cut wasteful, dangerous weapons programs; accelerate warhead dismantlement; and clean up the tons of toxic waste that contaminate the land where there was nuclear development and appallingly haphazard dumping of waste. With accountability and public oversight, taxpayers could save billions that could be redirected to cleaning up the enormous toxic messes at these sites. We would be far more secure than we would be by building new bomb plants or modernizing nuclear weapons, which the U.S. government plans now.

Trouble is, it probably takes even more wise citizens to turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock. If everyone reading these words would contact 10 like-minded friends and ask them to do the same, and on and on, then we would have a massive public force to really turn back the Doomsday Clock. Watch for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist announcement in January, and then ACT! Join us.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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