The Blog

Time Bomb: The Price of Nuclear Weapons

Children laughing. Parents yawning, scrambling desperately for that first cup of coffee. A city blinking away the remnants of dreams from its tired eyes - just another Monday morning. Then nothing. Silence.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Children laughing. Parents yawning, scrambling desperately for that first cup of coffee. A city blinking away the remnants of dreams from its tired eyes - just another Monday morning. Then nothing. Silence. Thousands wiped out in the blink of an eye. It's happened before and there's nothing stopping it from happening again. That same children's laughter turned to bloodcurdling screams. That cup of coffee still sitting untouched. That was Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. Why as humans would we let this happen? And why, at 70 years later would these kinds of atrocities still be a possibility? It's time humanity took a stand. It's time we faced the kinds of things one human can do to another in the name of "justice" and said "No, this is not okay." It's time we held our politicians accountable for keeping these atrocities possible in the name of our "safety". What happens when there's another nuclear missile strike like those fateful days that ended World War Two? What happens when it's only one town over from our own? What happens when we know, that as human beings, we should have done more to stop it? One button. A split second decision. The end of everything you once knew. There is no such thing as safety in a world obsessed with war.

Misguided politicians maintain that we require nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks from other armed states. Like two men holding pistols to one another's head just to deter the other from pulling the trigger. But how long will it take for them to realise that they're still in the same position without those pistols? That our world's affairs and wars will still go on exactly the same without nuclear arms but with one crucial difference. Our safety. Wouldn't the 7 billion people on our planet all be safer if the threat to vaporise thousands of us at once didn't exist? If no country the world over owned nuclear weapons then wouldn't the need for a deterrent be eliminated? It's nuclear weapons themselves that maintain the hostility between nations - just look at the Cold War. Russia and the USA came a hair's breadth away from wiping us out then - so what if it was to happen again? What if this time it was more than just false alarms? Together America and Russia own 95% of all nuclear weapons in existence; 1800 of which are on high alert - ready to be launched at a moment's notice. At the push of a button. That's two not-so-friendly nuclear states having the combined power to wipe out all of humanity hundreds of times over. How is that a threat we can justify keeping alive? We need to learn to put down the knives we have held to each other's backs; because if we don't World War Three might just be our last.

Yet, many countries today still seem to be under the delusion that nuclear weapons are the "it" status symbol on the world stage. Countries like Britain and France seem to think that they're the ultimate symbol of power - despite the atrocities they cause. They want to seem in control; the vain idea that their big flashy toys will give them more power and leverage over the rest of the big bad world. However, the fact remains that out of all 196 countries on this planet only 9 own active nuclear arsenals. Germany is arguably one of the most influential nations in the EU today; they practically single-handedly pulled Europe out of the financial crisis only a few years ago and yet Germany have expressly stated that they will never seek to develop nuclear weapons of mass destruction - they know better than most the way a nation can be ravaged by warfare. Germany have even committed themselves to the reduction of nuclear arsenals in other states; they seem to have realised before the rest of us that we need to ensure that the past is never repeated. It's countries like this that are correct - you don't need the power of total destruction behind you to be listened to - and that's where the rest of us have gone so wrong. Our own vanity threatens to destroy us. If Germany can remain a global superpower without nuclear weapons then so can we. It's time the minority stopped arrogantly ignoring the majority. It's time these arrogant, silly, little babies put down their toys and learned to play nicely - we all need to grow up eventually.

However, safety isn't the only reason to ditch the nuclear weapons. Nowadays, Britain's budget is stretched tightly. The ever increasing cost of public services and the after effects of a double recession have meant that our Government have their hands firmly on the purse strings. There have been proposed cuts of almost everything from the lifesaving NHS to life changing education, but the one thing that our government won't even fathom cutting? Trident. The unused and useless nuclear weapons system, that if ever deployed would result in the immediate death of thousands - if not millions - of people. Unbelievable. The overall cost of fully renewing Trident will amount to £83.5 billion. To put that into perspective the cost of a brand new, state of the art hospital is around £545 million. Wow. Now, that amounts to about 153 fully equipped hospitals all built with money the government would otherwise throw away on an extremely dangerous nuclear weapons system. Institutions that would save hundreds of thousands of lives every year - and Trident? Well in all likelihood it'll just sit and gather dust until the end of its lifetime; but if ever detonated - well let's just say all of the hospitals in the world wouldn't be enough to save us. Not only that, but it has been estimated that it would only take $30 billion to end world hunger for one year - on average the US throw $20 billion a year away on their nuclear arsenal alone. If all active nuclear states pledged to stand down and disarm then we'd have a chance of permanently ending world hunger with a lot of money left to spare. Extra spending on schools for those who don't have access to them. Increased funding for lifesaving medical procedures. The future more secure for generations that have lived with the instability brought on by war. Giving up nuclear weapons is a price worth paying for that. All of these possibilities. All of these hopes and dreams. And all of them more important than the nuclear arms race.

In the past 100 years humanity has come so far. Medical improvements helping us live longer; technological improvements pushing the limits of what's possible. However, not all scientific discoveries were for the better. The unleashed power of the atom highlighted one of the worst sides of ourselves - our own capacity for murder and destruction. The ghosts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saw that first hand, and now they're no longer here to warn us against it. However, it doesn't have to be this way. With enough work and effort we can have a completely nuclear arms free future; a future where generations to come are free of the possibility of complete and utter destruction weighing on their shoulders. That's a future I want to see. What's the alternative? Nothing. There is no distant future in a world where nuclear missiles remain poised and ready to launch. We'll wipe ourselves out - heed the warning. For if the day comes where there are no humans left among the steaming ashes that once formed our homes, God knows there will be no one to blame but ourselves.