Climate change -- global warming -- is not the only existential threat we face. The most critically thinking science and medical groups recognize and warn of two urgent existential threats facing humanity: the other being nuclear armaments.

We have heard a lot about global warming but not enough about nuclear weapons and this should change. When our war-weary Greatest Generation dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 our world changed forever. We arrived at a juncture where the greatest struggle was no longer going to be between ideologies -- or to fulfill national destinies -- but to survive and prevent a catastrophe. On August 6th anti-nuclear activists gather around our nation to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and to protest our nation’s nuclear policies. Our mantra is “never again."

We understand that as long as other nations have nuclear weapons our country will need a credible nuclear deterrent and yet we still embrace the long term goal of total verifiable abolition. Many feel that our nation after withdrawing from the Iran treaty has just made a second grievous error by just withdrawing from the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) Treaty. This treaty with Russia, laboriously negotiated in 1987 after the Reagan-Gorbachev summits, made huge reductions in nuclear forces in Europe -- banning nukes in the 300 to 3,300 mile range -- decreasing the number deployed by over 2,700 -- and was bedrock in the nuclear treaty regime that at least made us a little safer from this existential threat.

There were credible well-documented allegations of violations by both sides and this treaty should be simply renegotiated. We should all also fervently wish that Russia’s call to renew the absolutely critical New Start Treaty  -- which restricts the numbers of all nuclear weapons -- is heeded. Otherwise welcome back to The Cold War! There is also hope for the long term in the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) passed by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017. This treaty: for which ICAN (The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting lends a pathway, even if it be multigenerational trust building, to abolition.

There have been numerous close calls with these genocidal weapons and to think that our luck will hold out forever is magical thinking better suited to children’s books of fairy tales than as a component of national defense policy.

Bert Crain

Hickory, NC

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