To Launch or Not to Launch: Is Nuclear Weaponry Worth The Damage?

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Carissa Ring, Author

After the introduction of the atomic bomb in 1945 countries began to grow their supply of nuclear weapons. There have always been questions about the morality of these weapons. With the only examples of atomic bombs being used being the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagisaki, where an estimated 200,000 people died. The question remains, do nuclear weapons cause more harm than they’re worth or is the damage brought on by war justifiable?

Many small countries lacking nuclear weaponry are against the ideas of nuclear weapons. In fact they are scared of the power that those with nuclear weapons possess. On January 21, 2021 a treaty was made resulting from these smaller countries’ fears, but it hasn’t necessarily worked the way they’ve hoped,” A U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons went into effect on Friday, having been ratified by at least 50 countries. But the ban is largely symbolic: The U.S. and the world’s other nuclear powers have not signed the treaty.” The ban prohibits the production, testing, acquiring, possession, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. 

Another large factor in the opposition of these bombs is the damage that these bombs cause to the surrounding environment as well as the surrounding civilizations. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross the damage caused by these fall outs are irreversible, “ In a major 1987 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) summarized existing research into the impacts on health and health services of nuclear detonations. The report noted inter alia that the blast wave, thermal wave, radiation and radioactive fallout generated by nuclear explosions have devastating short- and long-term effects on the human body, and that existing health services are not equipped to alleviate these effects in any significant way.” That being said, many that the damage the radiation causes will be passed down to future generations. “The biological effects of all forms of ionizing radiation have been calculated within broad ranges by the National Academy of Sciences. Based on these calculations, fallout from the 500-plus megatons of nuclear testing through 1970 will produce between 2 and 25 cases of genetic disease per million live births in the next generation.” Those numbers are only higher now as the megatrons within nuclear bombs have increased, meaning even more genetic diseases. Nuclear detonation doesn’t only pass down diseases as it is directly connected with cancer development. On the environmental side of things it is argued that testing these nuclear weapons causes too much damage. One example that can be used is the hydrogen bomb tested in Bikini Atoll. This bomb rendered this island unlivable for decades. When the United States ushered the citizens back to their island they found that the fruits they grew contained dangerous levels of radiation and were required to evacuate once again.

Those who agree with nuclear weapons argue that possessing nuclear weapons deters enemy countries from war. Instead of beginning a war, countries are more inclined to come to an agreement of some kind. This results in more negotiation and less conflicts as country leaders fear entering a war. Lousie Galile believes that countries are treated differently depending on their nuclear weaponry, Countries with nuclear weapons are treated different on the global stage than countries without those weapons.” Countries containing nuclear weapons tend to feel more secure than those countries who don’t. The countries with the most nuclear power are ,by far, the United States and Russia. Russia contains the most nuclear power as they have 6,257 nuclear weapons while the U.S. has 5,550.

Nuclear weapons are not worth the pain and damage that is caused to civilizations and the environment. The destruction of Japan’s cities demonstrates that pain that these bombs can cause. It is understandable to use these bombs for global advantage but the damage that is caused resulting from them is too great to excuse.