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Nukes and the Environment

Nukes and the Environment

The explosive topic emerges at the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions

Author: Trevor Quirk/Sunday, October 18, 2015/Categories: sustainability, environment

This past Saturday I attended the "2015 Parliament of the World's Religions." The Parliament has a disjointed history, but can trace its origins back at least a century, and its overarching goal is good ol' interfaith dialogue. Last year, it was held in Brussels, Belgium, but this year alighted upon Salt Lake City.

This parliament had a persistent (somewhat oblique) theme of environmentalism and its integration into the goals and concerns of religious communities. I sat for a panel that was said to have such a focus, called "Nuclear Weapons and the Moral and Spiritual Compass [sic]," which featured Lynn Gottlieb and Jane Goodall. 

After a screening of Peter Anthony's "The Man Who Saved the World," the panelists individually addressed the large, wildly diverse audience. There was a noticeable, if peripheral, notion that nuclear weapons -- including their development and waste, in addition to their testing and one-time use -- not only threaten the existence of our species, but ~ 9 million other species inhabiting this planet. Surely we must have some moral obligation to them as well.

And while at times the so-called dialogue (it was no such thing) could be moralizing, it was at least encouraging to see that many people who hold clear-eyed agreement about how terrible and insane such weapons are.

I do wish, and had sort of expected, at least one of the panelists to convey the very-real threat that nuclear war still poses today, faraway as we seem from the days of the Cold War. Many don't seem to realize that their have been a series of near-misses, technical and strategic, over the past half-century, which Eris Schlosser covers in his investigative book, Command and Control. Such events were not caused by geopolitical tension or pure malice but by sheer accident. What's terrifying, is that such an "accident" would probably have the same effect on this planet as an intentional war.

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