Resolution to prevent nuclear war

Petitioner: Cornelia van der Ziel, TMM15, Edward Loechler, TMM8

Annual Town Meeting, May 2018

The two gravest existential threats facing humanity are climate change and the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. While the threat of climate change is real and grave, it's impact will play out in slow motion over many years. In contrast, the threat posed by nuclear weapons could play out virtually overnight. Furthermore, while the effect of climate change could be dramatically transformative, the threat of nuclear weapons, and their use could cause the annihilation of all life on earth.

The threat of nuclear annihilation has been with us since the invention of nuclear weapons and their first use in 1945. While some argue that nuclear weapons act as a welcome deterrence against their use by others, there is little evidence to support such a hope.

We have long been aware of the threats of accidental firing of nuclear weapons and the misreading of early warning systems, not to mention potential accidents at nuclear weapons facilities. The number of near misses in the past 70 years has been staggering. Though to date we have avoided the catastrophic impacts of nuclear weapons, we cannot continue to rely on dumb luck to keep us from an error that could destroy the planet and humanity as we know it. Recently, the nuclear threat has been steadily increasing.

Official Town Meeting Vote Select Board Advisory Board

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Final Result:

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Community Organization Recommendations
PAX Green Caucus

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Official Text of the Article

VOTED: That the Town adopt the following resolution:


WHEREAS, since the height of the Cold War, the United States and Russia have dismantled more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, but approximately 15,000 of these weapons still exist and, thus, still pose an intolerable risk to human survival; and

WHEREAS, approximately 95 percent of these weapons are in the hands of the United States and Russia, while the remainder are held by 7 other countries, namely, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom; and

WHEREAS, nuclear war would directly kill hundreds of millions of people and cause unimaginable environmental damage; and

WHEREAS, there is a high probability that such a nuclear war would lead to catastrophic climate disruption dropping temperatures across the planet to levels not seen since the last ice age, thus resulting in the starvation of the vast majority of the human race, quite possibly leading to our extinction and the extinction of multiple other species; and

WHEREAS, even the use of a tiny fraction of these weapons would cause worldwide climate disruption and global famine; e.g., as few as a 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (small by modern standards) would put at least 5 million tons of soot into the upper atmosphere and cause climate disruption across the planet, cutting food production and putting 2 billion people at risk of starvation; and

WHEREAS, despite the popular notion that these arsenals exist solely to guarantee they will never be used, on multiple occasions nuclear armed states have proceeded to the brink of using these weapons, and their use was narrowly averted; and

WHEREAS, former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara - speaking about the Cuban Missile Crisis in The Fog of War - said, "It was luck that prevented nuclear war"; and

WHEREAS, U.S. nuclear policy must NOT be subject to the whims of "luck;" and

WHEREAS, the growing climate crisis is stressing communities around the world thus intensifying the likelihood of conflict, and the danger of war, which increases the possibility of escalation to nuclear war; and

WHEREAS, the planned expenditure of more than $1 trillion dollars to enhance the U.S. nuclear arsenal will not only increase the risk of nuclear disaster but also fuel a global arms race and divert crucial resources needed to assure the well-being of the American people and people all over the world; and

WHEREAS, in July 2017, 122 nations called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons by adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts, calls upon our federal leaders and our nation to make nuclear disarmament a centerpiece of U.S. national security policy, and to work toward signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town Meeting of Brookline, Massachusetts, calls upon our federal leaders and our nation to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:
* renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
* ending the president's sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack;
* taking U.S. nuclear weapons off "hair-trigger" alert;
* cancelling all plans to add weapons to the U.S. nuclear arsenal that will make it more likely that leaders will initiate nuclear war; and
* actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town Clerk shall cause a copy of this resolution be sent to our U.S. Congressional Representative Joseph P. Kennedy, III, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey, and President Donald J. Trump.…