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Been haunted by a million screams

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A catchy song that hit it big when I was in junior high school was Timbuk 3’s surprise hit “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

Sings Timbuk 3’s Pat MacDonald: “I study nuclear science, I love my classes / I got a crazy teacher who wears dark glasses / Things are going great, and they’re only getting better / I’m doing all right, getting good grades / The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

MacDonald would indicate that his harmonica-infused alt-pop hit referred to a “bright future” where nuclear whiz kids (a “peeping-tom techie with x-ray eyes”) were accelerating our march towards nuclear holocaust.

This was in 1987 and another hit that year – “Land of Confusion” by Genesis – took a nervous look at very perilous times, when Ronnie had his finger on the button and it was not just “bedtime for Bonzo” for bedtime for the planet … lights out. Nada. Hasta la vista, baby.

So, today we were reminded that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists released their “clock,” letting us know how many “minutes to midnight” (cue the Midnight Oil track “Minutes to Midnight” …”AWACs like flies” …) – with midnight being nuclear armageddon. While we’ve been five minutes from midnight for the last three years, we are now three minutes from midnight …

"I look at the clock on the wall / It says three minutes to midnight / Faith is blind when we're so near," anti-nuke activist Peter Garrett sings on "Minutes to Midnight," featured on 1985's Red Sails in the Sunset.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, compounded by the fact that climate change is posing a serious problem for the planet, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists executive director Kennette Benedict explained that “stunning governmental failures have imperiled civilization on a global scale.”

The Huffington Post reminds us that it was in 1953 when we were two minutes to midnight, at a time during Cold War tensions when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were testing thermonuclear bombs.

Last week’s edition of the Marshall Islands Journal notes in a story headlined “Has the arms race started?” that Tony deBrum, foreign minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, has a memory of the horrific “Castle Bravo” hydrogen-bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954. His nation of small atolls and islands have been contaminated by America’s use of the islands as a testing ground for nuclear weapons. DeBrum, notes the Journal, wants to used the International Court of Justice as a forum to “rekindle global concern about the nuclear arms race.” This includes RMI’s “near-Quixotic venture” of dragging nine nuclear powers into the court and get them to commit to disarmament – for the sake of humanity and the future of our planet.

Phon van dien Biesen, part of RMI’s legal team which helped draft the civil suit, told the Journal that “(a)ll the nuclear weapons states are modernizing their arsenals instead of negotiating,a dn we want the court to rule on this.”

With Russia increasingly isolated due to belligerent actions by the U.S. and NATO, and tensions over Ukraine, we are very close to a nuclear exchange, as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev recently warned. Such an event would be potentially catastrophic, leading to massive crop failures, a drop in global temperatures and widespread death, likely in the millions. 

Instead of modernizing America's nuclear arsenal (something the GOP-controlled Congress is apt to do), we should be fulfilling our obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That, of course, would be our solemn duty to negotiate in good faith to end the nuclear arms race at an early date and to achieve complete nuclear disarmament. Naturally, this is not an easy goal, notes the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, but it would be far preferable to continuing the nuclear arms race through the 21st century.

The future depends on the decisions and choices we make today.

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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