Nuclear disarmament will not be unilateral or immediate. Nations will need to negotiate stepped reductions and means of verifying progress. An especially urgent task is to eliminate the ground-based missiles now clustered in underground silos in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming, as well as in Russia and China.

By Steve Olson, The Seattle Times

The United States has not seen a widespread nuclear disarmament movement since the early 1980s. A new one is desperately needed — but with a twist.

The 1980s movement was based on fear. In 1982, a million people, alarmed by President Ronald Reagan’s nuclear buildup, gathered in New York City’s Central Park to oppose the nuclear arms race — still the largest one-day protest in U.S. history. The next year, 100 million people — almost half the population of the United States — watched the television movie “The Day After,” which horrifically depicted the nuclear destruction of Kansas City.

Fear can generate a fight-or-flight reaction, but it’s ultimately counterproductive. People become so scared that they think nothing can be done and give up. Or they ignore the issue entirely, at least on a conscious level.

There are still plenty of things to fear. Nuclear treaties are lapsing. National leaders have threatened to use nuclear weapons against their enemies. New research, now being reviewed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, has strengthened the case that even a limited nuclear war could shut down agriculture for years and doom billions to starvation. A large-scale nuclear war could smother agriculture for more than a decade and end civilization.

But fear isn’t necessary to spur action. There are two very practical reasons to abolish nuclear weapons.

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