Our Cooperation Circle is very attuned to the issues of nuclear weapons and climate change for many reasons, including that Oak Ridge National Laboratory is located in our area, but we realize that other CCs may not be as keenly aware of the dual threats to humanity. So, I want to tell you a bit about them:
For the past 71 years, academic scientists and intellectuals, including Nobel Laureates, have assessed the threat to humanity from nuclear war. Using the symbolic device of a “Doomsday Clock,” the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has positioned the minute hand closer to or farther away from midnight – a representation of an apocalyptic disaster for mankind – depending on the assessment of the risk of nuclear war. Since the early part of 21st Century, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has included the existential threat to humanity of the climate crisis in their assessment of global security.
The Doomsday Clock now stands at TWO MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT – the closest it has been since the height of the Cold War.
On January 25, 2018, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists again moved the hand of the Doomsday Clock thirty seconds closer to midnight so that it now stands at TWO MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT – the closest it has been since the height of the Cold War. Further, for the first time in 7 decades, the Doomsday Clock was advanced two years in a row because “world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago – and as dangerous as it has been since World War II.” (Read the full memo linked to at the bottom of this piece to read more about the Doomsday Clock and the history of interfaith work for disarmament.)
Given the current threat of nuclear war and the urgent need to get in war’s way, legislation that would prevent any U.S. president from using nuclear weapons in a conflict without Congress first declaring war on the adversary seems critical at this time. This legislation is known as the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017”, S.200 or the Markey-Lieu Bill. While not perfect, if S.200 were enacted, this legislation would go a long way toward easing nuclear tensions. Given the immediacy of the threat of US first use, as well as the proposal by the Trump Administration to use nuclear weapons against an adversary for even a cyber attack, it is with a sense of urgency that we believe that our Senator, Bob Corker, should join the 13 cosponsors of S.200, advance the bill out of the Foreign Relations Committee that he chairs, and help to get S.200 enacted by a veto-proof majority of the Congress – before threats are acted upon.
And this is where we need your help.
Senate Bill 200 is stuck. We need Cooperation Circles in the following states to be inspired to do what we're doing: Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, New Hampshire, Delaware and New Mexico. That's because each of those states has senators on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In our case in Tennessee, we're doing a full-court press on Sen. Bob Corker because he's chairman. The Virginia member is Tim Kaine. New Jersey has both its US Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee -- Cory Booker and Bob Menendez. Ben Cardin of Maryland, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Chris Coons of Delaware and Tom Udall of New Mexico are also members. These are the Democratic members who should be easier to convince to co-sponsor a bill which the Friends Committee on National Legislation supports too.
Here’s what you can do:
- Use our memo (below) as a template or draft one of your own
- Devise a sign-on letter to your senator for your clergy and lay faith leaders to sign
- Circulate the letter and memo to clergy and lay leaders in your community to collect sign-on signatures
- Get the memo, a letter and sign on signatures into the hands of your senator (hand delivery is best!), ideally on Earth Day (April 22)
If you would like any support in making this happen in your community, I would be happy to share with you what has worked for us in Tennessee. Just email me at [email protected]
Linda Cataldo Modica
Corresponding Secretary Northeast Tennessee URI Leadership Circle