Seventy years ago, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed roughly 200,000 people. For most Americans that’s ancient history.
Still, the anniversary should remind us that we continue to face an existential threat from nuclear weapons. If climate change threatens us over decades, our nuclear arsenal can destroy the planet in an afternoon.
Long after the Cold War’s end, the U.S. arsenal alone is roughly 150,000 times more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb. And between the U.S. and Russia, 1,800 of those weapons are maintained on a launch-on-warning basis, ready to go in minutes, every single day.
This makes perfect sense if you believe that people are infallible or that technology is flawless. Or if you’re willing to overlook the dozens of accidents and near launches that have already occurred.
Some argue that deterrence has worked so there’s nothing to worry about, but deterrence is a ”theory” in the sense of pure conjecture. The basic idea is that because we haven’t killed hundreds of millions of people yet, then all must be good. It’s as if I successfully drove home drunk and concluded it was perfectly safe behavior.