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LETTER: ‘We will all go together when we go…’

- Reuters

Tom Lehrer’s doomsday song, from the late 1950s, takes an ironic look at the then-current nuclear arms race, and the general air of foreboding that infected that era. His irony suited the mood of many youngsters of the time, but the nuclear threat was real, and caused anxiety throughout the world.

Despite constant efforts by the UN and many anti-war organizations, most of the richer nations maintain stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and many other countries are diligently trying to build nuclear weapons of their own. It is generally agreed that a proliferating nuclear war would render our planet uninhabitable. A bit like global warming, but quicker.

The Doomsday Clock, devised in the late 1940s by atomic scientists who were fully aware of the danger posed by nuclear weapons, is used to indicate to the world just how close we are to extermination. The clock now stands at 100 seconds to midnight, closer than ever before. Global warming, warfare, epidemics and all other major threats to our survival are included in the calculation of current “doomsday time.”

Politicians sometimes try to convince us that the dangers are overstated, and that we should relax, enjoy life, spend our money and pay our taxes, as if life could carry on as usual for ever. On the other hand, none of the threats to human survival are inevitable — we can avert them if we decide it’s worth the effort. If we decide that our personal freedoms and our comfort are more important that the survival of the planet and all its life forms, so be it.

If we would prefer to remain here, and give our grandchildren and great-grandchildren a future here, then these dangers must be faced, assessed, and overcome. We don’t need nuclear weapons for anything except for frightening the life out of other humans, and global warming can be slowed and reversed if we put in the effort needed. Epidemics do a lot of damage, but science can deal with them, if we’ll support research and follow public health protocols.

We don’t need to go extinct unless we choose to. That’s where we have an advantage over the dinosaurs, isn’t it?

Ed Healy


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