Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Mar 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

No Nukes Is Good Nukes

Film_CountdowntozeroS4'Countdown To Zero' an urgent wake-up call for nuclear disarmament
What with the economy, the still-bleeding ulcer of wars in the Middle East, the horrific Gulf oil spill, and the ongoing crisis of global warming, it's tough to make room on one's plate for any more urgent issues. But instead of trying to scrape open a little wedge on that plate, you might as well grab an ice cream scoop and plop the issue of nuclear disarmament smack on top of all the others, according to Lucy Walker's profoundly disturbing and persuasive documentary, Countdown To Zero.

Even global warming still needs a little time (although not much) to wipe us out. But the issue of nuclear weapons is so volatile, one mishap (intentional or otherwise) could destroy upward of tens of millions of human lives in minutes, and render most of the remaining real estate uninhabitable. Walker saves the scary statistics until the end of her film: everything within a two-to-five-mile radius vaporized in temperatures "hotter than the sun," oxygen-consuming fire raging outward in all directions, asphyxiating and incinerating everything in its path, toxic atomic clouds polluting the atmosphere. Imagine if the epicenter is in, say, San Francisco (as the graphics in Walker's film often do) and consider the devastation. But Walker assumes her audience already knows what a nuclear holocaust would be like. Most of her film is devoted to telling the much more frightening story of the global proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, and the ease with which they can be stolen, smuggled, and/or built—by anyone with a grudge against anyone else. Her reference point is a speech given by President John F. Kennedy in the early '60s about the "sword of Damocles" of nuclear weaponry hanging over the earth's population that might be triggered at any moment by "accident, miscalculation or madness." Things have not improved much since then. Most of us perceive that the nuclear arms race has been downsized since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but 23,000 nuclear weapons still exist in the world, and the potential to build more increases every day. In the "madness" category of JFK's warning fall the new generation of virulent terrorist extremists, who have wrought plenty of destruction with non-nuke bombs over the last decade in places like Madrid, Bali, London, Mumbai, Oklahoma City, and New York City. Says outed ex-CIA op Valerie Plame Wilson, "If terrorists could acquire nuclear weapons, there's no doubt they would use them."
Film_countdowntozeroThank heavens nukes are secure, right? As if. Harvard grad students can build a nuclear bomb out of spare parts, lacking only the highly enriched uranium (HEU) to detonate them. Materials like HEU and plutonium, stockpiled in Russia since the Cold War, are warehoused under lax security ("Potatoes are better guarded," we're told), accessible to any factory worker who wants to make a few rubles on the black market to buy a new refrigerator—or a Lamborghini. Smuggling nuclear materials across the Russian border into Georgia is the express route to markets in Afghanistan and Iran.

Smuggling uranium is disturbingly easy; a simple lead pipe will shield it, while expensive monitors erected at all U. S. ports of entry are more likely to detect kitty litter than nuclear material. The only way to stop the traffic in uranium, Robert Oppenheimer once said, is "with a screwdriver"—to open every container that comes into a city. And, as one of the crew of nuclear physicists, political scientists, investigative reporters, military personnel, intelligence ops, and politicians interviewed by Walker opines, "If you can get hold of nuclear material, it doesn't take a Manhattan Project to make a bomb." It doesn't take malicious intent to explode one, either. Walker trots out a dismaying roster of near-catastrophes: nukes mistakenly loaded onto the wrong plane, aircraft lost or downed with nukes aboard, ships lost or sunk to the bottom of the sea, their nukes never recovered. Government "safeguards" often go awry; in 1995, a U.S. research plane launched from Norway nearly triggered an armed response from Russia. At command central at NORAD, other "false alarms" have been triggered by a flock of geese, and the moon. Embracing a no-nukes-is-good-nukes philosophy, Walker's experts advocate phased reductions (as were used to eradicate chemical weapons), and the film steers viewers toward the Demand Zero movement and website. Walker's lucid film resurrects a critical issue many of us complacently assumed was as dead as the bomb-throwing anarchists of old.

COUNTDOWN TO ZERO ★★★ (out of four) A film by Lucy Walker. A Magnolia Pictures release. Rated PG. 90 minutes. Watch film trailer >>>
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals