Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change


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by Adele Buckley, Pugwash Group

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Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change

  1. 1. Nuclear Weapons & Climate Change The connection GUERRES ET ECOCIDES: responsabilités et engagements l’Université du Québec à Montréal le 6 février 2008 Adele Buckley Les Conférences Pugwash Canada 06/02/2008
  2. 2. Global societies face two crises <ul><li>Nuclear conflict would destroy life on earth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT we have not achieved nuclear disarmament </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Climate change could make the earth uninhabitable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT effective action has not occurred </li></ul></ul><ul><li>International tensions will increase </li></ul>06/02/2008
  3. 3. Effects of climate change <ul><li>Disruptions to human security and the economy </li></ul><ul><li>Human suffering, especially in developing countries </li></ul><ul><li>Armed conflicts over resources </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement of states that have nuclear weapons, and threats of use </li></ul>06/02/2008
  4. 4. Avoidance of double disaster <ul><li>Climate change acts as a threat multiplier </li></ul><ul><li>Nuclear disarmament must be achieved before the most serious effects of climate change are upon us </li></ul>06/02/2008
  5. 5. Undermining the world food supply <ul><li>Droughts, floods, change of growing season, pest infestations, loss of arable land to food production>>>> stress>>>> open conflict </li></ul><ul><li>“ Regional” nuclear war, cools the climate BUT adds long lasting particulates to the atmosphere. For years: reduction of solar energy; reduction of precipitation; loss of crops and arable land due to radiation </li></ul>06/02/2008
  6. 6. Climate induced food stress made worse by “regional” nuclear conflict 06/02/2008
  7. 7. Water availability <ul><li>Unsustainable water consumption – already exceeds natural replacement by 1/3. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WATER USERS: Industry, agriculture, cities & individuals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Glacial melting to extinction – many global communities rely on glacier water </li></ul><ul><li>Ecological best practices – water should stay in its own watershed; resist pressure to export bulk water </li></ul><ul><li>Water wars? </li></ul><ul><li>Middle East – serious water problems; nuclear threats? Israel has nuclear weapons; proliferation is possible in other ME states (Iran, Saudi Arabia…) </li></ul>06/02/2008
  8. 8. Economic slump <ul><li>Economic stress through measures taken to combat climate change – emission regulation, cost of carbon (trading and tax), infrastructure changes (e.g.water), alternate energy technology, carbon capture </li></ul><ul><li>In the past, war has lifted a country to economic viability. Very dangerous, when at least 8 states have nuclear weapons </li></ul>06/02/2008
  9. 9. Large scale population movement <ul><li>Coastal flooding will result in millions of people seeking refuge internally in their own country and in nearby countries. EXAMPLES OF PROBLEMS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Border tensions will be increased </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>India and Pakistan [possessors of nuclear weapons] will experience extreme tension, will require army personnel, leading to a built-in conflict situation in S.E. Asia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed nations: ill prepared for rescue and evacuation (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure destruction: 40% of Asian population lives within 45 miles of coastlines </li></ul></ul>06/02/2008
  10. 10. Military Operations <ul><li>“ We found that climate instability will lead to instability in geopolitics and impact American military operations around the world,” said retired General Gordon Sullivan, chairman of the U.S. Military Advisory Board, releasing the report “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” April 16, 2007 (1) </li></ul>06/02/2008
  11. 11. Technical personnel, material and resources <ul><li>We need an all-out “war” effort to adapt to climate change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough new science and technical graduates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough resources being applied </li></ul></ul><ul><li>At the same time, the nuclear weapons industry has been expanded in the U.S., and other countries consider having their own nuclear weapons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attractive job opportunities are offered to new graduates and skilled personnel BUT we need their work in the next 2 decades to get control of greenhouse gases </li></ul></ul>06/02/2008
  12. 12. Consequences of nuclear terrorism or a nuclear accident <ul><li>POSSIBILITIES </li></ul><ul><li>A nuclear weapon explosion – accidental, or deliberate by terrorists </li></ul><ul><li>A dirty bomb releasing widespread radiation </li></ul><ul><li>An accident in nuclear power generation </li></ul><ul><li>CONSEQUENCES [climate change problems get worse] </li></ul><ul><li>Regional water systems compromised </li></ul><ul><li>Land that previously grew food is contaminated </li></ul>06/02/2008
  13. 13. Nuclear energy renaissance a favoured choice for India, China, U.S. and others <ul><li>Accidents must be prevented </li></ul><ul><li>Terrorists must not have access </li></ul><ul><li>_____There must be no opportunity for proliferation_____ </li></ul><ul><li>IAEA, the United Nations “watchdog”, can perform inspection and verification in non-nuclear weapons states that have signed the Non-proliferation Treaty. There is no inspection for nuclear weapons states. </li></ul><ul><li>IAEA provides extensive technical advice to nuclear power plant managers, BUT it has no authority to enforce </li></ul><ul><li>A centralized supply system for nuclear fuel may be established. </li></ul><ul><li>NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) & WANO (World Ass’n of Nuclear Operators) provide a framework and assistance, but there are gaps in the protection offered there. </li></ul><ul><li>The present control system is dangerous and is inadequate to prevent accidents and mandate sound operation. Citizens around the globe must have much better protection </li></ul>06/02/2008
  14. 14. PROPOSAL: Universal inspection and verification <ul><li>Every nuclear reactor has a global presence </li></ul><ul><li>A universal inspection system must include new owners in developing countries AND all the nuclear weapons states, and all their nuclear reactors </li></ul><ul><li>As soon as possible, third party verification must be an integral part of the system. The “third party” inspection team would be international and must have no conflict of interest </li></ul>06/02/2008
  15. 15. US Federal Audit showed that NRC staff did not verify the authenticity of technical safety information submitted by nuclear power plant operators. “Citizens Petition to Halt Flawed U.S. Nuclear Plant Relicensing” [ENS Jan 3 08] BELOW: Ginna, Oyster Creek, and Indian Point nuclear power plants 06/02/2008
  16. 16. Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) <ul><li>FMCT moves us toward nuclear disarmament and ALSO connects to climate change </li></ul><ul><li>Could be a first step toward safety for all citizens (who have been encouraged to believe that nuclear power is the energy solution to combat climate change) </li></ul><ul><li>Because… FMCT requires comprehensive verification, so it would set in place a universal system that could be extended for inspection and verification of all nuclear reactors. </li></ul>06/02/2008
  17. 17. Arctic Climate Change <ul><li>Global warming is relatively greater in the polar regions </li></ul><ul><li>Climate change endangers the lifestyle of the indigenous people of the Arctic, and threatens the long term survivability of the wildlife </li></ul><ul><li>HOWEVER, there are new opportunities for the circumpolar nations </li></ul>06/02/2008
  18. 18. Arctic territory in Canada 06/02/2008
  19. 19. Opportunity – a Nuclear- Weapon-Free-Zone (NWFZ) in the Arctic <ul><li>Ice-free navigation through the Northwest Passage will be possible [CLIMATE CHANGE!] </li></ul><ul><li>Now Canada must have a greater presence in its Arctic lands and waters </li></ul><ul><li>Canada could declare a NWFZ in the Canadian waters of the Northwest Passage </li></ul><ul><li>A UN General Assembly resolution could call for NWFZ north of the Arctic circle </li></ul>06/02/2008
  20. 20. NWFZ and nuclear disarmament <ul><li>Northwest Passage, undersea, is convoluted, shallow, inhospitable to submarines </li></ul><ul><li>The Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) have nuclear submarines in waters north of the Arctic Circle – NWFZ would be a significant achievement toward nuclear disarmament </li></ul><ul><li>Withdrawal of submarines would be evidence of great statesmanship– others would follow? </li></ul>06/02/2008
  21. 21. Recent Studies on Security and Climate Change <ul><li>“ National Security and the Threat of Climate Change”, U.S. Military Advisory Board; report April 16, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>“ An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change”, Chris Abbott, Bristol University, for Oxford Research Group, UK; January, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Climate Change and Conflict”, International Crisis Group ; Nov, 2007 </li></ul>06/02/2008
  22. 22. Prognosis: Two global problems – climate change and nuclear weapons <ul><li>THESE CRISES CAN BE HANDLED WITH PRESENT KNOWLEDGE AND USE OF EXISTING TECHNOLOGY </li></ul><ul><li>POLITICAL WILL IS MISSING </li></ul><ul><li>ACTION NOW - Individuals and NGOs can raise awareness: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>get understanding and involvement of the public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>push governments to act, nationally and internationally to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>establish broad-based international coalitions </li></ul></ul>06/02/2008