THE destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons make their good uses to pale into insignificance. Our world and its environment is now facing total annihilation because of wanton and uncontrolled flaring of gas, development of chemicals, industrial emissions and manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction.
Efforts to remedy a highly polluted global environment have been in vain as America and various culpable polluting nations have refused to sign and ratify treaties against pollution. They have failed to agree on reductions in the carbon-dioxide emissions that accelerate global warming because they said this would hamper their economic growth. The Kyoto Protocol, Canada Declarationand the Montreal Convention of March 1989 commit the international community to a 100% reduction, but they have turned out to be mere placebos.
We live with the fear of air, water, pesticidal poisons, ozone layer depreciation and forest pollution, but there is a greater disaster inherent in global warming and nuclear power fission and testing. It is clear that the carbon-dioxide emissions now threaten the world’s climate, by causing a gradual warming of the planet, the so-called “Green House Effect”. Climatologists have posited that the average temperatures of the earth have increased tremendously in the last century. They assert that greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels are accumulating in the atmosphere and trapping heat that would normally have escaped into space. This will trigger hotter weather conditions which is already prevalent and also the polar ice caps will release more water into the oceans, raising sea levels across the globe.
The ozone layer, which protects us is also threatened. Ozone is a gas made up of three oxygen atoms (O3). It is inherently unstable, and is formed partly by the action of sunlight on normal oxygen, which is made up of pairs of oxygen atoms (O2). Ozone is minor constituent of the atmosphere, found in varying concentrations between sea level and a height of 60km. Most ozone is in the layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere, which extends from around 10km to about 40km above the earth’s surface.
The ozone layer filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ultraviolent radiation can cause skin cancer and eye cataracts, and can damage crops. The depletion of the ozone layer is majorly compounded by “chlorofluorocarbon, CFCs, man-made gases used in air conditioning, fridges, many aerosol and foam-blown cartons. The gases released from these products collect in the upper atmosphere and then decay into chloride gas, which destroys the ozone. The world should develop safer substitutes for CFCs as a delay will create more holes in the ozone layer thereby endangering the planet earth alongside the nuclear armament.
The nuclear power is the most ghoulishly dangerous decimation weapon and pollution agent in our world today. Although, as an electricity supply format it could be put to good use, but the bellicose and power – acquisition instinct of man has made it very dangerous in our midst. The Pressurized Water Reactor, PWR, the Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor, AGR, Boiling Water Reactor, BWR and the Fast Breeder Reactor, FBR, could be put to good use, but the fear of the capricious and wicked introduction of Uranium (U-235) and plutonium could cost us our world and humanity.
On August 6, 1945 America unleashed the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing 155,200 people and the same thing in Nagasaki killing over 83,000 people. The disastrous consequences are still being felt till today. At 1:23 am local time on April 26, 1986, a nuclear reactor disaster at Chernobyl’s No. 4 Reactor in the former Soviet Union resulted in innumerable deaths, but 1.7 million people were exposed to varying levels of radiation.
On July 9, 1962, a 1.45-megaton nuclear explosion occurred in space 399km above Johnson Island (Christmas Island) in the Pacific Ocean. The 7,500kg warhead, codenamed ‘Starfish’ was launched by the American Air Force. The explosion was 100 times more powerful than the 1945 Hiroshima blast and formed its own artificial aurora as radioactive particles interacted with the earth’s magnetic field. The height of this detonation equals the orbital altitude of the space shuttle. What a shame!
It is clear that the ultimate dream of the nuclear industry is not to spill big nuclei as at present, but to combine small ones to exploit nuclear reaction rather than nuclear fission. This is evidenced by the fact that many countries apart from America, Iran, France, Russia, Britain, China and North Korea, have slowed down their construction of nuclear reactors. In principle, nuclear fusion sounds the perfect answer. The fuels required are deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen can be produced relatively simpler and in unlimited quantities. Whichever way, the manner in which countries in Asia, America and Europe are developing nuclear warheads in obvious disregard for the Non-proliferation Treaty, Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement (I and II), Entente détente and other moratoriums on nuclear disarmament calls for action by the United Nations.
It is in this light that one must condemn in no uncertain terms the testing by North Korea of its ballistic missiles and nuclear devices along the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea and the Korea Bay respectively. The United Nations must invoke all necessary statutory sanctions against North Korea. But North Korea is not alone in this, as America followed by France, China, Russia, Britain, Iran and Ukraine, etc, are still acting in breach of the Non-proliferation Treaty.
We want to see a nuclear-free and pollution-free world where our environment will continue to concretise the basis of our lives and progress. We opt for a nuclear-free world. America must blaze the trail.
Chief Bobson Gbinije, founder of Mandate Against Poverty, wrote from Warri.