The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by bomb scientists who could not remain silent on the possible consequences of their work. Every year, the Bulletin calculates the probability of global nuclear plus climate catastrophe and announces in January, when they predict the placement of the hands of the Doomsday clock. On Jan. 24, the hands of the doomsday clock remained at two minutes before midnight. The Bulletin had warned in 2018, “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon. 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.”
Nuclear weapons and climate change are the simultaneous existential threats, and I would add nuclear power. Each of them is cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. We don’t have a united congress waking up to these threats; in fact, we have a renewed push for more nuclear weapons and weakening of regulations around nuclear power plants.
And now we have severe flooding in Nebraska, home of three nuclear power stations, with one, Cooper, being threatened by flooding from the mighty Missouri river. The water level there now, according to the Nebraska Public Power District, is at 41 feet above normal flow, which triggered sandbagging at the plant. At 45 feet, according to protocol, the plant would have to be shut down.
But enter 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. She initiated the tens of thousands of high-school and middle-school students in more than 30 countries who skipped school March 15 in order to demand that politicians worldwide begin to treat the global climate crisis as the emergency it is. The Nation Magazine suggests that if you don’t know who she is yet, you can think of her as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s international climate-change counterpart.
Thunberg said to a panel at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering: “Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue to make unimaginable amounts of money. I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.” And “I don’t want your hope. I want you to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is.”
Join us at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. We are “rooted in the spirit of unconditional nonviolence and are dedicated to radically progressive personal and social change. We are a multi-issue organization that works to restore and protect Earth and human rights. We educate, organize act and build community in order to create a culture of justice and peace.” And we know that the house is on fire.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.