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Local View: A nuclear war-free future the perfect gift for kids this year

From the column: "For nearly 80 years, the specter of nuclear war has loomed over humanity. We may try to deny it, to ignore it, to bury it under distractions, but nuclear weapons are a real threat to all children."

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Bill Schorr / Cagle Cartoons
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The season of giving is upon us: What will we give the children?

Adults all over the world cherish their children. Parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles: we all want children to be safe and happy, to have long and fulfilling lives. At this time of year, we want to make joyous memories with them, to give gifts that will delight them.

What might be the best gift? How about a nuclear-free future? For nearly 80 years, the specter of nuclear war has loomed over humanity. We may try to deny it, to ignore it, to bury it under distractions, but nuclear weapons are a real threat to all children.

Nuclear weapons have the potential to completely destroy life as we know it.

“A war between the U.S. and Russia would put 150 million tons of soot into the upper atmosphere, blocking out the sun and dropping temperatures across the globe an average of 18 (degrees fahrenheit),” two-time Nobel Peace Prize recipient Ira Helfand, co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, wrote in November in a letter to Superior city councilors. “In the interior of North America and Eurasia, temperatures would drop 45 (degrees) to 50 (degrees). That is colder than the coldest moment of the last ice age. Under these conditions the ecosystems which have developed since the end of the last ice age would collapse, food production would stop, and the vast majority of the human race — at least 5 billion people — would starve. We might become extinct as a species.”

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Any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity and a violation of international law.

The existence of nuclear weapons threatens our hopes and dreams for our children. The only way to banish that threat is to eliminate these weapons.

Progress has been made and a realistic plan developed to achieve nuclear disarmament. In 2017, a majority of the world’s nations created the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which went into effect in January 2021. The treaty “constitutes a fundamental step toward the irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons needed for the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons,” as UN Ambassador Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo stated in August 2020. It requires that all nuclear-armed nations engage in negotiations to ensure cooperation. No one nation is expected to act alone or leave itself vulnerable to nuclear attack by eliminating its own arsenal before procedures for universal disarmament are put in place.

Sadly, the United States is the biggest obstacle to the treaty — or to any meaningful progress on disarmament. Since federal authorities have not acted to join the treaty, it is essential that we act locally. Thus the letter to the Superior City Council.

Northland Grandmothers for Peace and Veterans for Peace Chapter 80, with other groups, have formed the Twin Ports Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. We are calling upon everyone concerned for the future of children to join the effort. Educate yourself. Talk to your family and your friends. Contact your city councilor about passing a resolution supporting the treaty — as scores of communities nationwide have done. Join our efforts by contacting us at TPcan2022@gmail.com.

Action on eliminating nuclear weapons is a gift for which generations of children will be grateful.

Dorothy Wolden of Lake Nebagamon is a member of Northland Grandmothers for Peace (grandmothersforpeace.org).

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Dorothy Wolden

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