Climate Action and Nuclear Disarmament United
Team: Rosalie Anders, Kathie Malley-Morrison, Louise Coleman, Kate Cloud, Kathleen Hamill, Ira Helfand, Timmon Wallis
The purpose of this campaign is to address and mitigate the twin existential threats of nuclear war and climate change. In addition to identifying specific activities, the proposal below sets out a conceptual framework, context, goals, and a tentative timetable for consideration.
The twin existential threats inherent in catastrophic climate change and nuclear weapons proliferation are intimately connected in at least five ways:
- They are both anthropogenic, born out of human behavior, with origins – among others – in an illicit alliance between:
- an extreme form of extractive patriarchy that has created an economic system that prioritizes profit for the very few, a system protected and advanced by aggressive militarism and dependent on relentless exploitation of the earth’s resources, and
- an overriding of matriarchy in which empathy, compassion, and ethical sensitivity have been repressed.
- They produce the same results, both separately and in tandem—e.g., reduced quality of lives for millions, the erosion and obliteration of human rights and dignity, ongoing extinction of life on earth, and the annihilation of environments essential to survival. While it is true that if governments wanted to spend money to address climate change, they would find the money, it is also true that trillions of taxpayer dollars are being devoted to the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons. This comes at a time when taxpayer dollars could be so much better put to use by addressing the climate crisis instead of unfettered nuclear militarism.
- Of direct relevance to the twinning argument is the reality that changes in one existential threat can exacerbate the changes and existential impact caused by the other threat—i.e., catastrophic climate change dramatically increases the likelihood of armed conflict and nuclear war. Likewise nuclear war would cause even more catastrophic climate change than is already occurring. Any type of nuclear exchange would have the potential to cause a global nuclear winter, an irreversible climate catastrophe that would change life on earth forever. And, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., what use is it to protect our children from climate catastrophe today if they are all just going to get blown up in a nuclear war tomorrow – and vice versa?
- They vie for “leadership” in the realm of immoral actions that threaten the survival of humankind.
- They both hold the prospect – on the positive side – of providing a model for success in addressing urgent existential threats to the planet and its 8 billion inhabitants.
Context of Proposal
Through pursuit of this campaign, Massachusetts can become a model state for building a movement that simultaneously addresses the twin threats to survival of life on earth that human beings have created. MAPA has already made strides in this direction and solid initiatives are already underway in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- MAPA is already committed to supporting relevant nuclear weapons and climate state bills in Massachusetts, including Back from the Brink and the Nuclear and Climate Commission. A major goal of the current proposal is to strengthen support for those bills.
- MAPA is also already committed to being a partner in a Massachusetts Warheads to Windmills (W2W) coalition, which has the support not only of MAPA’S NDWG and Peace and Climate groups, but also of MAPA as a whole–along with, so far, 350 Mass, Climate Action Now, Better Future Project, Mass Interfaith Power and Light, Nuclear Free Future Coalition, with other groups likely to join soon.
- The statewide W2W coalition is primarily but not exclusively concerned with building support for the state Nuclear and Climate Commission. On the federal level, the Norton “Nuclear Weapons Abolition and (Climate) Conversion” bill, which was launched in Congress on April 21, 2023, deals specifically with both nuclear weapons and climate problems. Moreover, there are certainly other educational and outreach opportunities focusing on the “twin existential threats” with which our coalition can work.
- In terms of “actions” there are also proposals in Massachusetts as elsewhere for “fossil and fissile” divestment campaigns on college campuses and in cities, towns, faith communities, businesses, etc. that target both the fossil fuel companies and the nuclear weapons companies, as well as targeting the big banks that fund both.
- Also, in regard to the interconnections between the nuclear and climate existential crises, there are the more immediate links highlighted in the new Warheads to Windmills report:
- The biggest carbon polluting countries in the world all have nuclear weapons pointing at each other; unless we address the growing tensions and animosities between these countries, there is no hope of being able to work together on climate, which can ONLY be adequately addressed at the international level, since climate is not separated by national boundaries.
- Heading off a climate catastrophe will require a lot more concerted “moonshot” effort than is currently devoted to it; instead of putting our best scientists, engineers, technicians, researchers, laboratories, etc., to work on solving the remaining challenges to a fully decarbonized economy, we have created circumstances in which all too many of those people and resources are going into nuclear weapons and other military research and development instead.
Goals and Purpose of the Campaign
The purpose of this campaign is to address the twin existential threats of nuclear war and climate change. The campaign seeks to achieve measurable results 1) by organizing and encouraging participation in educational events such as webinars, briefings, and standouts 2) by advocating for relevant legislation and policy change, 3) by strengthening strategic alliances, and 4) by building broad awareness about the interlinked causes and consequences of these twin threats. The campaign will identify, highlight, and promote urgent actions needed to help avert climate catastrophe and nuclear weapons disaster. It will mobilize MAPA members, allies, community leaders, elected representatives, policy makers, and students among others to take action and collaborate across movements.
Our specific goals are:
- To grow and strengthen the collaboration between peace and climate and nuclear disarmament movements by:
- Running webinars and in-person events that increase awareness of the climate crisis among peace activists and increase awareness of the nuclear weapons issue among climate activists, and
- Organizing and coordinating meetings of the coalition to discuss common issues and to plan joint activities.
- To collaborate with the peace and climate and nuclear disarmament groups within Massachusetts and nationally to promote legislation at the State House and in the US Congress that seeks to address both climate mitigation and nuclear disarmament, such as:
- The Nuclear Weapons Abolition and (Climate) Conversion bill, H.R.2775
- The MA Nuclear Weapons and Climate Commission bill, H.738
- To get towns and cities in Mass to pass resolutions and take additional steps to address both nuclear disarmament and climate, including for instance “fossil and fissile” divestment that targets both the major oil and the nuclear weapons companies, as well as Back from the Brink and other resolutions.
- To educate the public about the twin existential threats and what we can all do as individuals, families, communities, and voters to confront those threats and preserve a livable future for ourselves, our families, and our communities, through:
- Exchanging ideas, experiences, and strategies with other peace and climate and nuclear disarmament groups, particularly those within Massachusetts;
- Educating the public, including youth, faith communities, and underserved communities about the costs and the immorality of the fossil fuel, nuclear weapons, and other industries within our militaristic profits-over-all military industrial complex;
- Holding press conferences promoting our joint campaigns;
- Staging, in Boston and other MA towns and cities, song and arts festivals that celebrate peace, nuclear disarmament, and retreat from the use of fossil fuels;
- To utilize and develop further tools to assess the success of the program.
Activities and Tentative Timetable
- Educational Events, Lobby Days, Webinars, “Actionars”, Standouts could include the following:
May 7 Webinar Launch Warheads to Windmills Coalition
May 10 Briefing @MA State House, Briefing Future of Clean Heat S.2105/H.3203
May 22 Webinar Review MAPA’s “lobby day” strategy for state bills + talking points
May 23 Lobby Day @MA State House, H.738/S.1488, S.1487, S.1651/H.2480
May 29 Dialogue @Tufts, Urge Fletcher to replace Raytheon “chair” with climate
June 6-8 Lobby Day @US Congress, Lobby for Norton Bill, People/Pentagon, H. Res 77
June 18-20 Events @Boston Harbor, Golden Rule with Mothers Out Front
June 22 Webinar Conduct follow-up to 05.07 Warheads to Windmills webinar
July 22 Actionar Advocate for state and federal legislation
Aug 22 Inspection @Raytheon in Andover, TPNW Treaty Compliance Unit
Sept 22 Inspection @Draper Labs in Cambridge, TPNW Treaty Compliance Unit
Oct 22 Actionar Advocate for U.S. ratification of TPNW, plan for events in NYC
Nov 4 Standout @NYC, United States Embassy to United Nations
Nov. 5 Briefing @NYC, Civil society workshop TPNW 2nd Meeting of States Parties
- Advocate for legislation at state and federal levels. Develop and implement coordinated MAPA strategy.
- Special Commission bill H.738/S.1488 L.Sabadosa/J.Comerford
- Executive Action to set up Special Commission on Nuclear Weapons and Climate Gov. M. Healey
- Back from the Brink Resolution S.1487 J. Comerford
- Divestment bill S.1651/H.2480 J.Eldridge and M.Connolly
- Future of Clean Heat S.2105/H.3203 C.Creem/S.Owens
- Norton Bill
- Back from Brink H. Res. 77
- People over Pentagon Lee/Pocan
- Our preliminary timetable(subject to approval by collaborating groups) is:
- In April and May (preliminary steps to launch campaign):
- Form a collaborative peace and climate/nuclear disarmament team, which will engage in outreach to peace and climate programs across the state;
- Plan for and make invitations to collaborative peace and climate and nuclear disarmament webinar (May 7) begin work on collaborative announcement;
- Plan for and prepare to recruit youth, faith communities, and representatives from underserved communities.
- In May and June (potential collaborative actions for potential discussion among collaborators):
- Identify and reach out to potential allies (ex. anti-war groups, climate advocates, racial justice activists, Poor People’s Campaign, faith communities, labor groups, parent groups, etc.)
- Conduct a survey of MAPA supporters
- Create outreach plans and tools to engage potential allies
- Conduct outreach
- Prepare for a collaborative peace and climate and nuclear disarmament webinar that will include as speakers two member of active climate groups and two members of active nuclear disarmament groups across the state, with no more than two speakers from MAPA and offer that webinar (tentative date May 7 with W2W).
- Conduct collaborative planning for collaborative actions across the state during the summer—for example, at the sites of fossil fuel-related and weapons-making sites, complicit banks and other financial institutions, etc.
- Offer a two-session Twin Threat speaker-training series such as Ira provided on nuclear weapons speaking last summer.
- Submit op-eds, letters to the editor, and articles to sites such as Common Dreams regarding the Twin Existential threat.
- For May 23, contribute to MAPA’s current plans to organize a Lobby Day and Briefing at the State House to promote the Nuclear Weapons and Climate Commission bill and others.
- Offer a follow-up webinar ‘forum’ in conjunction with Jonathan King’s People over Pentagon plans, that focuses on some of the details of conversion from nuclear to climate, with speakers from labor unions, engineers, economists, etc. and
- Campaign in support of Norton Bill “Nuclear Weapons Abolition and [Climate] Conversion”, including possible Lobby Day in DC.
- During the summer months
- Conduct collaborative actions
- Develop plan for evaluating successes
- During the fall months
- Promote GB-PSR series of webinars on climate and nuclear weapons.
- Conduct major campaign effort to get Governor Healey to set up Nuclear and Climate Commission.
- Lobby to get Back from the Brink bill passed in the Senate, including written and verbal testimony at committee hearing.
- Continue recruitment efforts
- Evaluate preliminary results of campaign
- Plan for new campaign initiatives.