Thunder Express

White winter or nuclear winter?

Catalina Ortiz, Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

At the beginning of the Cold War, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday clock to 2 minutes till midnight — midnight representing nuclear annihilation.At the end of the Cold War, the clock was set to 17 minutes to midnight. Now the clock sits at 3 minutes to midnight making this era the closest the world has coming to nuclear war.
While the United States is the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons in warfare, the nuclear weapons today are more than 3,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Little Boy – the code name for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima – released approximately 15 kilotons of energy, equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT. The Fat Man – the bomb dropped on another Japanese city, Nagasaki – released an explosion of 21 kilotons. That’s 21,000 tons of TNT.
Modern weaponry still use the same fission process as the original atom bombs such as the American B83 bombs but the energy release is about 80 times more powerful than Little Boy that leveled an entire city. The B83 is 1.2 megatons of energy which is equivalent to 1.2 million tons of TNT.
And that’s not even our strongest bomb recorded. The strongest bomb to date is the Russian Tsar Bomb which was detonated in 1961 by the former Soviet Union, resulting in a 50-megaton blast – about 3,333 times more powerful than Little Boy. If we really wanted to, we could make a bomb more powerful than that.
Almost a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin signed the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) in 2000, calling on both nations to reduce their stockpile of nuclear weapons. In early October, Putinsuspended the 16-year-old agreement after two years of conflicts and disagreements between the United States and Russia.
Recently, the largest sum of money being spent by the American government is $1 trillion and it’s all going to modernizing nuclear arsenals. This nuclear modernization is invalidation of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires national superpowers to engage in nuclear disarmament.
In early September, Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, announced that his country would join other UN member nations that support mandate negotiations in 2017 for a treaty that completely prohibits the ownership of nukes. The prohibition of nuclear arsenals has the support of 33 co-supporters and “expected to be adopted by a majority in the General Assembly by Nov. 2” according to the Ib Times. The resolution titled, “Taking Forward: Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations” bases off a recommendation suggested by a UN working group where 107 countries involving Mexico, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil and Nigeria expressed their support for nuclear disarmament.
However, there are opponents to this bill– the USA, Russia, the UK, France and China – which are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Counting India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea to this bunch there are 15,000 nuclear weapons worldwide according to a report made by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Nuclear states who are eager to protect their military advancement argue that getting rid of weapons too quickly endangers their respective country’s security and international security. The Ib Times states that “Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control within the Russian Foreign Ministry, recently called the prohibition of nuclear weapons “unrealistic” as it would break an established multilateral agreement that the nuclear arms held by the five permanent member states of the U.N. Security Council are legitimate under the United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty.” A ban such as the one being recommended would damage the checks and balances in international relationships and threaten the national security of millions of Russian citizens.
So what does this all mean? Well, if you’re a human being this all sounds terrifying to you. But there is some hope coming with these 2017 negotiations. The future of nuclear weaponry and even the potential of nuclear annihilation lie in the UN’s hands. And our new president’s large hands. We’re all watching the clock, anxiously.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

The Student News Site of North Shore Senior High School
White winter or nuclear winter?