This Summer in Nuclear Threat History

By |2020-06-24T14:23:05-07:00June 23, 2020|

July 1, 2019 – Julian Borger’s article in The Guardian, “U.S. Arms Control Office Critically Understaffed Under Trump, Experts Say,” two and a half years into the Trump Administration, reinforced for the umpteenth time what many mainstream and alternative media outlets had been reporting since January 2017, that Trump haphazardly and against all logic is attempting to permanently demolish established governmental administration while also minimizing and privatizing the U.S. federal system, which includes drastically deemphasizing diplomacy while enhancing military power.  Another example is David Atkins Nov. 12, 2017 article, “Trump and Tillerson Are Gutting the State Department – For No Good Reason,” in the Washington Monthly, which noted that cuts to the entire State Department of nearly 2,000 full-time professionals was just the tip of the iceberg.  Atkins’ story hit the nail on the head by remarking that, “And why? Because Donald Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and level massive cuts across all non-defense departments without the foggiest clue what they do or why?”   But more recently, Borger’s article published on this date noted that a U.S. State Department office, The Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence Affairs, a repository of decades-long expertise and institutional knowledge on the critical matter of bilateral and multilateral arms control which has long been tasked with negotiating and implementing nuclear disarmament treaties (resulting in cuts in global nuclear weapons levels from 70,000 to 14,000 warheads in the last 50 years), has been cut from 14 staffers at the start of the Trump Administration to four. What’s more under neo-con extremist National Security Advisor John Bolton (who, like an incredible number of Trump appointees, resigned or was fired in September of 2019) arms control focus shifted irrationally to appealing to non-nuclear states to “come up with measures to modify the security environment to reduce incentives for states to retain, acquire, or increase their holdings of nuclear weapons.”  Comments: The danger now realized under Trump, according to experts like former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Frank Rose and many others inside and outside government, is that the State Department in no longer equipped to pursue arms negotiations to attempt to salvage the last domino that Trump is trying to knock off the board – the New START or Moscow Treaty which expires in February of 2021. In 2019, Vladimir Putin noted that Russia was in favor of a New START extension, but warned that time was running out, “If we do not begin talks now, it would be over because there would be no time even for formalities.”  Unfortunately this now seems likely as back in 2009-11 under President Obama, a strong supporter of nuclear arms control, it took 21 months from the start of negotiation to ratification for New START to take effect.  This represents just another of a plethora of highly paramount reasons why Donald Trump must not have a second term as President.  (Sources:  A variety of both mainstream and alternative news media sources.)

July 16, 1945 – In the first-ever test of what Manhattan Project scientists referred to as the “Gadget”, a fission bomb designed as a plutonium implosion device, was detonated before dawn at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, 230 miles south of the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico in a remote area of the Jornada Desert.  The code name of the test, Trinity, was created by the Director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, J. Robert Oppenheimer – it was a reference to a poem by John Donne.  President Truman’s personal journal of July 25 recorded that, “We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world…An experiment in the New Mexico desert…caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater six feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked down a steel tower half a mile away and knocked down men 10,000 yards away.  The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.”  Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson’s report to the president noted that, “I estimate that the energy generated to be in excess of the equivalent of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT…there were tremendous blast effects…there was a lighting effect within a radius of 20 miles equal to several suns in midday; a huge ball of fire was formed which lasted for several seconds.  This ball mushroomed and rose to a height of over 10,000 feet.”   Physicist Ernest O. Lawrence, an eyewitness to the blast, described his experience of a, “gigantic ball of fire rising rapidly from the earth…The grand, indeed almost cataclysmic proportion of the explosion produced a kind of solemnity in everyone’s behavior immediately afterwards.  There was a restrained applause, but more a hushed murmuring bordering on reverence in manner as the event was commented upon…”  The “Gadget,” which exploded with an estimated force of 15-20 kilotons, slightly more than the Hiroshima bomb, was a rehearsal for the August 6-9 atomic bombings of two Japanese cities and it represented the first of 1,030 nuclear tests conducted by the United States and one of over 2,050 such tests conducted by the nine Nuclear Weapons Club members in the last 75 years.   Before the blast, a wager was made by Manhattan Project scientist Enrico Fermi that the explosion would ignite the atmosphere and devastate New Mexico and possibly the whole of the planet’s biosphere.  Thankfully, Fermi lost his wager.  But that vision of deadly apocalypse came true for hundreds of thousands of people in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th who were vaporized, burned to death, blown into objects and buildings at horrific speed, lacerated, mutilated, and irradiated.  They suffered and some continue to suffer today from the unconscionable use of fission weapons on civilian noncombatants.  Comments:  While many U.S. military and scientific observers celebrated the beginning of the Nuclear Age, others realized that this event may have represented the beginning of the end of the human species.  (Sources:  Jeffrey Mason, Scriptwriter.  “Legacy of Hiroshima.” America’s Defense Monitor. Howard University Television and other PBS stations nationwide first broadcast on August 6, 1995; Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information, 2002, pp. 5, 24; Gar Alperovitz.  “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: And the Architecture of An American Myth.”  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1995, pp. 250-251 and “Trinity Test – 1945.” Atomic Heritage Foundation.  June 18, 2014.  http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/Trinity-Test-1945 accessed March 30, 2020.)

July 26, 1963 – A day after long-time diplomat and septuagenarian W. Averell Harriman, serving as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (drafted quietly by President Kennedy to single-handedly negotiate a treaty with the Soviets without working through hardliner national security channels of the CIA and Pentagon who in JFK’s first year in office proposed to him a highly confidential plan for a preemptive nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union), put his initials as JFK’s representative on the Limited Test Ban Treaty in Moscow on July 25, President Kennedy gave a surprise television address announcing the unprecedented first substantial nuclear arms treaty.  The 35th President announced on this date, “I speak to you tonight in a spirit of hope. Yesterday a shaft of light cut into the darkness.  Negotiations were concluded in Moscow on a treaty to ban all nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water…But the achievement of this goal is not a victory for one side – it is a victory for mankind. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  And equally important was Nikita Khrushchev’s role in recognizing that he and Kennedy almost stumbled into a nuclear World War III nine months earlier during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The Soviet premier quickly circumvented hardliner opposition of his own and signed the treaty on August 5.  Despite vociferous right-wing and conservative criticism, the treaty was unexpectedly ratified on September 24, 1963 by the U.S. Senate in large part due to JFK’s embrace of a large-scale publicity and Congressional lobbying campaign for the treaty by Norman Cousins and the Citizens’ Committee for a Nuclear Test Ban.  Comments: It is a criminal travesty that the U.S. and Russia, Trump, Putin and other nuclear powers today have taken serious steps to unravel this and other critically important nuclear arms control treaties despite widespread global opposition to a renewed Cold War and nuclear arms race.  (Sources:  Lawrence S. Wittner. “Looking Back: Norman Cousins and the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.” Arms Control Today. December 2012 http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2012-12/looking-back-norman-cousins-limited-test-ban-treaty-1963 and Peter Janney. “Mary’s Mosiac: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder JFK, Mary Pinchot Meyer and Their Vision for World Peace.” New York: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2012, pp. 262-274.)

August 6, 1945 – Colonel Paul Warfield Tibbets piloted the 509th Composite Group’s B-29 Superfortress bomber named Enola Gay, in honor of the pilot’s mother, from Tinian in the Marianas chain of Pacific Ocean islands to Hiroshima, Japan where the enriched uranium-fueled fission bomb code named “Little Boy” was dropped over a city of a quarter million inhabitants at 8:15:17 a.m. local time.  43 seconds after release and 1,850 feet over the city, the bomb exploded (with a yield estimated to be 12-15 kilotons) registering an air temperature, for a fleeting millisecond of 100 million degrees.  In the city below, 5,400 degree temperatures vaporized thousands of human beings, melted granite, clay roof tiles, and gravestone mica for three-quarters of a mile in all directions from the explosion’s epicenter.  A blast wave of 1,100 feet-per-second blew down everyone and everything left standing that was not previously destroyed by the tremendous heat of the explosion.  The firestorm from the blast, as a result of a huge displacement of air, began to flow back to the epicenter at up to 200 miles-per-hour raising radioactive dust and debris into a mushroom cloud.  78,150 died, 13,983 were missing, and 37,425 injured as an immediate result of the blast.  But tens of thousands more would die of horrendous burns and associated direct radiation impacts within days and weeks and from longer-term radiation-caused cancers for decades afterward.  Two days later, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and launched a massive invasion of Manchuria and on August 9th hundreds of thousands more Japanese suffered a second atomic bombing (with a yield estimated to be 21 kilotons), from the plutonium-fueled “Fat Man” warhead, at Nagasaki.  Before the bombings, General and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, voiced misgivings about the use of these weapons against Japan, “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing…”  More than two and a half months before the nuclear attacks, Leo Szilard and two other Manhattan Project scientists reported that Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, “did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war…Mr. Byrnes’ view was that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb will make Russia more manageable in Europe.”   A few years after the bombings, Admiral William D. Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and previously chief of staff to President Roosevelt (1942-45) and President Truman (1945-49) publicly stated, “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.  The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages…wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”  (Sources:  Craig Nelson.  “The Age of Radiance:  The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era.”  New York:  Scribner, 2014, pp. 211-220 and Gar Alperovitz.   “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb:  And the Architecture of An American Myth.”  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1995, pp. 3-6, 15, 672.)

August 7, 1938 – Dr. Helen Caldicott, the world’s foremost medical expert on the humanitarian impact of nuclear war and nuclear power, was born on this date in Melbourne, Australia. Also popularly identified as the single most articulate and passionate advocate of action by global citizenry to address the twin threats to humanity of nuclear war and climate change, the subtitle of her first of many books, “Nuclear Madness,” (1978, reissued as a 1980 paperback) says it all about her penultimate concerns – “The Choice Is Yours: A Safe Future Or No Future At All.”  Dr. Caldicott received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961, moved to Boston in 1966 where she became an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard medical School and served on the staff of the Children’s Medical Center there until she resigned in 1980 to work full-time on the prevention of nuclear war. Since then her more than four decades commitment to antinuclear and climate change causes has been unwavering.  Even with her busy schedule while working full-time in Boston, she became a citizens’ lobbyist convincing Australia to file lawsuits in 1971-72 against the French government for their nuclear testing in the South Pacific. In 1975, Dr. Caldicott worked with Australian trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, with a particular focus on uranium mining. While living in the United States from 1977 to 1986, she reignited the flame of antinuclear sentiment in a nonprofit group of more than 23,000 doctors – Physicians for Social Responsibility, which went on to play a prominent role in the Nuclear Freeze Movement.  In 1982, Dr. Caldicott also founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the U.S.  Travelling extensively abroad, she helped start other allied nonprofits or governmental medical organizations which led her international umbrella group (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Her long-time global perspective led her to remark in 1982 that, “As a doctor as well as a mother and a world citizen, I wish to practice the ultimate form of preventive medicine by ridding the Earth of these technologies that propagate disease, suffering, and death.” Dr. Caldicott was one of the most prominent medical and scientific minds to recognize on a very timely basis the significance of the December 1983 TTAPS study that warned that the discharge of even a small portion of nuclear arsenals could trigger nuclear winter and not only the destruction of global civilization but possibly the end of our species and countless others on this planet.  Returning to her native Australia in 1987, she ran for the Federal Parliament but ultimately lost the election by the slimmest of margins, a mere 600 votes.  After moving back to the United States in 1995, she lectured at the New School for Social Research, hosted a talk show on WBAI in New York and founded Standing for Truth About Radiation (STAR) on Long Island.  The winner of many prizes and awards for her work including the Lannan Foundation’s 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom, she also has earned over 20 honorary doctoral degrees and was named by The Smithsonian Institution and Ladies Home Journal as one of the most influential women of the 20th century.  In 2001 she established the U.S.-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI) which eventually became Beyond Nuclear.  She has been the subject of several films including “Eight Minutes to Midnight,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1981, “If You Love This Planet,” which won an Academy Award in 1982 for Best Documentary, and the 2004 award-winning film “Helen’s War: Portrait of a Dissident.”  From 2010 to 2013, Dr. Caldicott hosted If You Love This Planet, a weekly radio that aired on many community and public radio stations internationally.  Currently, she is President of The Helen CaldicottFoundation/NuclearFreePlanet.org which organizes and runs symposiums and other educational programs to inform the public and media on the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear weapons and promote her foundation’s long-term goal of a nuclear-energy-free and weapons-free, renewable energy-powered world.  During a March 30, 2011 debate on the U.S.-based program Democracy Now, the world’s leading spokesperson for the antinuclear movement succinctly laid out the terrifying threat that every single individual on Earth is subject to because of our species’ illogical and irrational acceptance of nuclear deterrence and nuclear power as necessary and unchangeable paradigms, “If you inhale a millionth of a gram of plutonium (half-life: 24,000 years), the surrounding cells receive a very, very high dose.  Most die within that area, because it’s an alpha emitter.  The cells on the periphery remain viable. They mutate, and the regulatory genes are damaged.  Years later, that person develops cancer.  Now, that’s true for radioactive iodine that goes to the thyroid; cesium-137, that goes to the brain and muscles; strontium-90 goes to the bone, causing bone cancer and leukemia.”  Dr. Calicott’s life-long mission to prevent the unthinkable has successfully resonated with millions of global citizenry who have acted on her words and will continue to fight against these insane doomsday weapons and the stark threat they represent, “The massive quantities of radiation that would be released in a war fought with nuclear weapons might, over time, cause such great changes in the human gene pool that following generations might not be recognizable as human beings.”  (Sources: “Helen Caldicott Biography.” http://www.faqs.org/health/bios/59/Helen-Caldicott.html, “Helen Caldicott, M.D.” http://www.helencaldicott.com/about/

Helen Caldicott. “How Nuclear Apologists Mislead the World Over Radiation” The Guardian. April 11, 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/environmental/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologist-radiation which were all accessed April 10, 2020 and other mainstream and alternative media sources.)

September 3, 2017 – North Korea conducted its sixth and most recent nuclear test, which they claimed was a hydrogen or fusion bomb but many global experts speculated the bomb was a boosted fission bomb, with a magnitude estimated by various international authorities including U.S. intelligence officials to be in the range of 70 to 280 kilotons, approximately four and a half to 18 times as powerful as the bomb dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima in 1945.  The test, North Korea’s most powerful nuclear blast, took place over a kilometer underground at the Punggye-ri Test Site on this date.  Comments:  The testing of over 2,050 nuclear devices over the last seven decades by the nine nuclear weapons states has inflicted extremely harmful short- and long-term health impacts to global populations especially native peoples and hundreds of thousands of military “participants.”  Increased cancer rates, groundwater contamination, destruction of land and ocean ecosystems, and other detrimental health and environmental impacts still plague large numbers of people today due to nuclear testing.  So despite the few tests it has undertaken, North Korea along with the other eight nuclear weapons states faces legitimate international criticism for its role in adding to the global total of nuclear weapons tests.  But of course, the response to North Korea’s actions must be measured and wielded through the medium of diplomacy.  Such is not the case with the U.S. response to these tests and North Korea’s status as a relatively new nuclear power.  President Donald Trump, whose nuclear saber-rattling has included unprecedented rhetorical threats to use the U.S. nuclear arsenal to destroy entire nations and their populations, went on Twitter to condemn the North Koreans, “Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”  But consistent with the historical precedent that has seen the U.S. only avoid regime change for Third World challengers to its hegemony in cases where those nations possess nuclear weapons, no military intervention was undertaken (although nuclear threats were made both before and during the Trump administration) against Kim Jong Un’s regime in retaliation for its January 10, 2003 withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its subsequent development of these weapons of mass destruction.  And while President Trump did meet personally with the North Korean ruler three times, at the Singapore Summit in June 2018, in Vietnam in February 2019, and at the DMZ separating North and South Korea in late June 2019, there has not been any significant progress in formally ending the seventy year old Korean conflict and denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.  While some would say that Trump has made more progress with North Korea than recent presidents, his overall disregard and rejection of a plethora of successful bilateral and multilateral nuclear arms control treaties (including the New START or Moscow Treaty which will expire in February of 2021) combined with his numerous destabilizing and irrational public statements that see nuclear weapons, especially lower yield ones, as legitimate and useful parts of U.S. military power make him too dangerous to continue as U.S. commander-in-chief.  It is clear from a wide range of both conservative and progressive governmental and independent global scholars and military experts that the risk of nuclear war has increased significantly since 45 took office.  Hopefully, his actions in mismanaging the U.S. response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, his impeachment, the economic downturn, and his general incompetence and political inexperience (as revealed by one of his own top-level administration officials) along with the unprecedented nuclear threat he represents will result in the election of a 46th President on November 3, 2020.  (Sources:  Padraig Collins. “North Korea Nuclear Test: What We Know So Far.” The Guardian. September 3, 2017 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/03/north-korea-nuclear-test-what-we-know-so-far, Josh Lederman and Hans Nichols. “Trump Meets Kim Jung Un, Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Step Into North Korea.” NBC News. June 30, 2019, Anonymous. “A Warning: A Senior Trump Administration Official.” 2019 book and other mainstream and alternative news media sources.)

September 15, 1980 – On this date a B-52H bomber (as part of the U.S. Strategic Air Command’s commitment to have nuclear-armed aircraft fueled and ready to go at any hour of the day according to its ‘alert status’ to launch nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union or Soviet bloc nations including China), manned by a crew of six airmen assigned to the 319th Bomb Wing was sitting on the tarmac at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.  That evening the aircraft was armed with eight AGM-69A SRAMs (Short Range Attack Missiles) each carrying a W69 warhead with a yield of 170-200 kilotons and four B28 nuclear gravity bombs with a yield of 70 kilotons to 1.45 megatons.  Around 9 p.m. that evening during a routine engine start, the plane’s number five engine burst into flames.  The crew evacuated and firefighters battled the blaze for three hours before getting it under control – 35 mile-per-hour winds extended the time required to put out the fire.  Despite the U.S. Air Force’s initial public position that the fire was very unlikely to trigger a possible nuclear accident, years later in 1988, Dr. Robert Batzel, the director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a key U.S. nuclear weapon research and development facility, indicated during closed door testimony before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that this incident had actually come very close to being “worse than Chernobyl.”  A redacted transcript of Batzel’s testimony eventually became public knowledge.  In that testimony, he indicated that a disaster was narrowly avoided telling the Subcommittee that if the wind had been blowing in any other direction, then the intense fire would have been virtually impossible to extinguish resulting in the incineration of the aircraft and the nuclear weapons inside its bomb bays – causing the rocket motors in the SRAMs as well as the conventional triggering explosives jacketing the W69 warheads to explode.  Batzel specifically said that a nuclear explosion would not have resulted but that the blast would have thrown a plume of highly radioactive plutonium into the atmosphere which easily would have impacted a sixty square mile area which including parts of North Dakota and Minnesota and affecting at least 70,000 people living within 20 miles of Grand Forks as well as contaminating water aquifers in the region. While the military and nuclear weapons laboratories have become aware of some of the dangers of Cold War era nuclear weapons and pushed successfully for their removal from the stockpile, consistent with the political decisionmaking of past U.S. presidents, other weapons with perhaps unknown or acceptable defects remain in the U.S. nuclear arsenal or are being added to it in the near future.  Comments:  However more recently Stephen Schwartz, a long-time nuclear weapons analyst and author of the book “Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940” has noted that in fact a thermonuclear explosion could easily have resulted from this 1980 accident.  Schwartz discovered that a design flaw in the B-28 1.45 megaton bomb meant that if exposed to prolonged heat, two wires located too close to the casing of the warhead could short circuit, arm the bomb, trigger an accidental explosion of the high explosives jacketing the core and set off a nuclear blast that would have spread a deadly radioactive cloud 250 miles northeast into Minnesota and Canada.  In January 1983 this scenario almost occurred, a fire that completely destroyed a B52G bomber at Grand Forks Air Force Base and killed five maintenance personnel.  Most fortunately however, this particular aircraft was not carrying nuclear weapons.  Schwartz recently reiterated that “There have been thousands of accidents involving U.S. nuclear weapons.  In most cases, we can thank good engineering or smart personnel decisions for keeping things from becoming catastrophic.”   But his dire warning that our luck might run out someday soon is chilling when we consider that all nine nuclear weapons states are planning or already have started to build more “improved” doomsday machines, “The more nuclear weapons we have and the more we have on alert (a reference to the current “hair-trigger” alert status of U.S. and Russian land-based ICBMs), the greater the risk of accidents.  We were extremely lucky during the Cold War that no nuclear weapons ever accidentally exploded and no crises got completely out of hand.”  But of course, all it takes is one such incident which could trigger nuclear Armageddon and the destruction of our global civilization and possibly the demise of our entire species. (Sources:  Michael Peck.  “How A Burning B-52 Bomber Almost Triggered Nuclear Catastrophe.” National Interest. Sept. 25, 2019 http://www.nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/how-burning-b-52-bomber-almost-triggered-nuclear-catastrophe-83296 and Joseph Treithick. “The Time When A Burning B-52 Nearly Caused A Nuclear Catastrophe Worse Than Chernobyl.” The War Zone.com. September 20, 2019 http://thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29945/the-time-when-a-burning-b-52-nearly-caused-a-nuclear-catastrophe-worse-than-chernobyl/

September 28, 1980 – Premiere of the first (The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean) of thirteen episodes of the KCET Los Angeles PBS-produced television series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” hosted by astrophysicist and renowned science popularizer Carl Sagan (a cowriter of the series along with Ann Druyan and Steven Soter).  Over the last 40 years since it first aired, it has become the most popular PBS series in the world with viewership in over 60 nations, winning two Emmys and a Peabody Award after its initial run.  In addition to documenting the history of scientific thought relating to the study of the universe, the series looked at the origins of life on Earth and presented a unique and most valuable speculative perspective about our species’ place in the universe.  Critically, the series also addressed the threats facing humanity, specifically the threat of nuclear war, “The global balance of terror pioneered by the United States and the Soviet Union holds hostage all the citizens of the Earth…But the balance of terror is a delicate balance with very little margin for miscalculation. And the world impoverishes itself by spending a trillion dollars a year on preparations for war and by employing perhaps half the scientists and high technologists on the planet in military endeavors…From an extraterrestrial perspective our global civilization is clearly on the edge of failure in the most important task it faces – preserving the lives and well-being of its citizens and the future habitability of the planet. But if we’re willing to live with the growing likelihood of nuclear war, shouldn’t we also be willing to explore vigorously every possible means to prevent nuclear war? …A new consciousness is developing which sees the Earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.”  Sagan, who just a few years later went on with his scientific colleagues, the TTAPS Group, to prove that not only does nuclear war represent an unprecedented catastrophe but in fact, it is the means, through their nuclear winter study, to trigger the mass extinction of most species on Earth including ours.  Nuclear winter, no longer a theory but fact as verified by more recent studies by Rutgers University Professor Alan Robock and colleagues, illustrates that a nuclear war is misnamed, for a large nuclear weapons exchange will instead result in nuclear omnicide or at least the end of our global civilization.  While “Cosmos” provided viewers with a stark warning, it also provided an uplifting alternative of possible human futures, “It is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well.  If we capitulate to superstition, greed, or stupidity, we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance.  But we’re also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology, and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet – to enhance enormously our understanding of the universe and to carry us to the stars.” (Sources: Various mainstream and alternative news media sites and The Carl Sagan Portal at carlsagan.com)