Articles, Blog

The world doesn’t need more nuclear weapons | Erika Gregory

Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Camille Martínez Let me ask you all a question. How much weapons-grade nuclear
material do you think it would take to level a city the size of San Francisco? How many of you think
it would be an amount about the size of this suitcase? OK. And how about this minibus? All right. Well actually, under
the right circumstances, an amount of highly enriched uranium
about the size of your morning latte would be enough to kill 100,000 people instantly. Hundreds of thousands of others
would become horribly ill, and parts of the city
would be uninhabitable for years, if not for decades. But you can forget that nuclear latte, because today’s nuclear weapons
are hundreds of times more powerful even than those we dropped
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And even a limited nuclear war
involving, say, tens of nuclear weapons, could lead to the end
of all life on the planet. So it’s really important that you know that right now we have
over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine nations. And if you live in a city
or near a military facility, one is likely pointed right at you. In fact, if you live in any
of the rural areas where nuclear weapons are stored globally, one is likely pointed at you. About 1,800 of these weapons
are on high alert, which means they can be launched
within 15 minutes of a presidential command. So I know this is a bummer of an issue, and maybe you have that —
what was it? — psychic fatigue that we heard about a little bit earlier. So I’m going to switch gears
for just a second, and I’m going to talk
about my imaginary friend, who I like to think of as Jasmine, just for a moment. Jasmine, at the age of 25, is part of a generation that is more
politically and socially engaged than anything we’ve seen in 50 years. She and her friends think of themselves as change agents
and leaders and activists. I think of them as Generation Possible. They regularly protest
about the issues they care about, but nuclear weapons are not one of them,
which makes sense, because Jasmine was born in 1991,
at the end of the Cold War. So she didn’t grow up hearing a lot
about nuclear weapons. She never had to duck and cover
under her desk at school. For Jasmine, a fallout shelter
is an app in the Android store. Nuclear weapons help win games. And that is really a shame, because right now, we need
Generation Possible to help us make some really important
decisions about nuclear weapons. For instance, will we further reduce
our nuclear arsenals globally, or will we spend billions, maybe a trillion dollars, to modernize them so they last
throughout the 21st century, so that by the time Jasmine is my age,
she’s talking to her children and maybe even her grandchildren about the threat of nuclear holocaust? And if you’re paying any attention
at all to cyberthreats, or, for instance, if you’ve read
about the Stuxnet virus or, for God’s sake, if you’ve ever
had an email account or a Yahoo account or a phone hacked, you can imagine the whole new world
of hurt that could be triggered by modernization in a period
of cyberwarfare. Now, if you’re paying
attention to the money, a trillion dollars could go a long way to feeding and educating
and employing people, all of which could reduce the threat
of nuclear war to begin with. So — (Applause) This is really crucial right now, because nuclear weapons —
they’re vulnerable. We have solid evidence that terrorists are trying
to get ahold of them. Just this last spring, when four retirees
and two taxi drivers were arrested in the Republic of Georgia for trying to sell nuclear materials
for 200 million dollars, they demonstrated that the black market
for this stuff is alive and well. And it’s really important, because there have been
dozens of accidents involving nuclear weapons, and I bet most of us have never heard
anything about them. Just here in the United States, we’ve dropped nuclear weapons
on the Carolinas twice. In one case, one of the bombs, which fell out of an Air Force plane, didn’t detonate because the nuclear core
was stored somewhere else on the plane. In another case, the weapon
did arm when it hit the ground, and five of the switches designed
to keep it from detonating failed. Luckily, the sixth one didn’t. But if that’s not enough
to get your attention, there was the 1995 Black Brant incident. That’s when Russian radar technicians saw what they thought was a US nuclear missile streaking towards Russian airspace. It later turned out to be
a Norwegian rocket collecting data about the northern lights. But at that time, Russian President Boris Yeltsin
came within five minutes of launching a full-scale
retaliatory nuclear attack against the United States. So, most of the world’s nuclear nations have committed to getting rid
of these weapons of mass destruction. But consider this: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation
of Nuclear Weapons, which is the most widely adopted
arms control treaty in history with 190 signatories, sets no specific date by which
the world’s nuclear-armed nations will get rid of their nuclear weapons. Now, when John F. Kennedy
sent a man to the moon and decided to bring him back,
or decided to do both those things, he didn’t say, “Hey, whenever
you guys get to it.” He gave us a deadline. He gave us a challenge that would have been incredible
just a few years earlier. And with that challenge, he inspired scientists and marketers, astronauts and schoolteachers. He gave us a vision. But along with that vision, he also tried to give us — and most
people don’t know this, either — he tried to give us a partner in the form of our fiercest
Cold War rival, the Soviet Union. Because part of Kennedy’s vision
for the Apollo program was that it be a cooperation,
not a competition, with the Soviets. And apparently, Nikita Khrushchev,
the Soviet Premier, agreed. But before that cooperation
could be realized, Kennedy was assassinated, and that part of the vision was deferred. But the promise of joint innovation
between these two nuclear superpowers wasn’t totally extinguished. Because in 1991, which is the year
that Jasmine was born and the Soviet Union fell, these two nations engaged in a project that genuinely does seem incredible today in the truest sense of that word, which is that the US sent cash
to the Russians when they needed it most, to secure loose nuclear materials and to employ out-of-work
nuclear scientists. They worked alongside American scientists
to convert weapons-grade uranium into the type of fuel that can be used
for nuclear power instead. They called it, “Megatons to Megawatts.” So the result is that for over 20 years, our two nations had a program that meant that one in 10 lightbulbs
in the United States was essentially fueled
by former Russian warheads. So, together these two nations
did something truly audacious. But the good news is,
the global community has the chance to do something just as audacious today. To get rid of nuclear weapons and to end the supply of the materials
required to produce them, some experts tell me would take 30 years. It would take a renaissance of sorts, the kinds of innovation that,
for better or worse, underpinned both the Manhattan Project,
which gave rise to nuclear weapons, and the Megatons to Megawatts program. It would take design constraints. These are fundamental to creativity, things like a platform
for international collaboration; a date certain, which is
a forcing mechanism; and a positive vision
that inspires action. It would take us to 2045. Now, 2045 happens to be
the 100th anniversary of the birth of nuclear weapons
in the New Mexico desert. But it’s also an important date
for another reason. It’s predicted to be the advent
of the singularity, a new moment in human development, where the lines between artificial
intelligence and human intelligence blur, where computing and consciousness
become almost indistinguishable and advanced technologies help us solve
the 21st century’s greatest problems: hunger, energy, poverty, ushering in an era of abundance. And we all get to go to space on our way to becoming
a multi-planetary species. Now, the people who really believe
this vision are the first to say they don’t yet know precisely
how we’re going to get there. But the values behind their vision and the willingness to ask “How might we?” have inspired a generation of innovators. They’re working backward
from the outcomes they want, using the creative problem-solving methods
of collaborative design. They’re busting through obstacles. They’re redefining
what we all consider possible. But here’s the thing: that vision of abundance isn’t compatible with a world that still relies
on a 20th-century nuclear doctrine called “mutually assured destruction.” It has to be about building
the foundations for the 22nd century. It has to be about strategies
for mutually assured prosperity or, at the very least,
mutually assured survival. Now, every day, I get to meet
people who are real pioneers in the field of nuclear threats. As you can see, many of them
are young women, and they’re doing fiercely
interesting stuff, like Mareena Robinson Snowden here,
who is developing new ways, better ways, to detect nuclear warheads, which will help us
overcome a critical hurdle to international disarmament. Or Melissa Hanham, who is using
satellite imaging to make sense of what’s going on
around far-flung nuclear sites. Or we have Beatrice Fihn in Europe, who has been campaigning
to make nuclear weapons illegal in international courts of law, and just won a big victory
at the UN last week. (Applause) And yet, and yet, with all of our talk in this culture
about moon shots, too few members of Generation Possible
and those of us who mentor them are taking on nuclear weapons. It’s as if there’s a taboo. But I remember something Kennedy said
that has really stuck with me, and that is something to the effect that humans can be as big as the solutions to all the problems we’ve created. No problem of human destiny, he said, is beyond human beings. I believe that. And I bet a lot of you here
believe that, too. And I know Generation
Possible believes it. So it’s time to commit to a date. Let’s end the nuclear weapons chapter on the 100th anniversary of its inception. After all, by 2045, we will have held
billions of people hostage to the threat of nuclear annihilation. Surely, 100 years will have been enough. Surely, a century of economic development and the development of military strategy will have given us better ways
to manage global conflict. Surely, if ever there was a global
moon shot worth supporting, this is it. Now, in the face of real threats — for instance, North Korea’s recent
nuclear weapons tests, which fly in the face of sanctions — reasonable people disagree about whether we should maintain
some number of nuclear weapons to deter aggression. But the question is:
What’s the magic number? Is it a thousand? Is it a hundred? Ten? And then we have to ask: Who should be responsible for them? I think we can agree, however, that having 15,000 of them
represents a greater global threat to Jasmine’s generation than a promise. So it’s time we make a promise of a world in which we’ve broken
the stranglehold that nuclear weapons have
on our imaginations; in which we invest
in the creative solutions that come from working backward
from the future we desperately want, rather than plodding forward
from a present that brings all of the mental models
and biases of the past with it. It’s time we pledge our resources
as leaders across the spectrum to work on this old problem in new ways, to ask, “How might we?” How might we make good on a promise of greater security
for Jasmine’s generation in a world beyond nuclear weapons? I truly hope you will join us. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The world doesn’t need more nuclear weapons | Erika Gregory

  1. Lol just lol. First off the "key" has to be turned in the silo before the weapon can be launched, which means that hackers do not just need the code they would have to break in and turn the "key." Second there might be too many nuclear weapons, I can agree with you but nuclear weapons keep countries in check, it makes them think about repercussions. One country won't want to attack another because they know they might be nuked. I think 15,000 might be too many but I think 1,000 might be better split among multiple countries and to answer the second question "who is in charge of them" The President would be, The President.

  2. People in America need to stop saying such things like »We dropped« or »We invade«.

    Speak truth to power. Start to call politics by name if they trample on human rights and break against international laws.
    It's also badly needed to occupy pentagon and the Supreme Court.

  3. No country will destroy its own nuclear weapons for fear that the other countries might not. Who can blame them for that either? If you had the chance as a leader to be the one country left with nuclear weapons everyone would take it because it gives you the ultimate upper-hand. Since no one countries leaders can trust other leaders with that much potential power nobody will destroy their own nuclear weapons.

  4. There's more likes than dislikes .. why is everyone freaking out that there are 300 dislikes there's like double the likes than dislikes

  5. I don't understand the repeating of nuclear war ending the world as a counter point. Does everyone just think the world's super powers would just start throwing nukes at each other? Its like everyone forgot why the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Its like people forgot the chilling speech that Oppenheimer gave when he came to the realization of what he and other brilliant minds had created: a weapon that would shape the world in devastating and unspeakable ways.

    You think the people in charge of the weapons aren't aware of the devastation they would cause? Every single anti-nuclear weapons speech always jumps in with fear mongering trying to convince a few hundred people that the people who are in charge of these weapons are stupider then they are. The only reason nuclear weapons are still around is because nobody wants to give up the security one gets with having one.

    Nuclear weapons will never disappear because humans have the innate desire for self preservation and until people grow a fucking brain and decide that pointing a world ending device at everyone else isn't the only way to ensure safety, nuclear weapons will continue to be the biggest tool for national security. So unless you can provide an answer to what happens after nuclear weapons are out of the picture nuclear weapons will still be a key piece of maintaining what little peace we have left.

  6. funny im watching inferno, about a man made extinction plague when my phone brought this ted talk up haha, the premis of the story is that man is the virus

  7. If it weren't for massive nuclear arsenals, there would be a catastrophic land war in Europe RIGHT NOW. Literally this instant we would be in front line combat in Ukraine and Poland. Getting rid of nukes altogether will inevitably lead to more war. It is no coincidence that The Long Peace, the time we live in now with very minimal war compared to the past, started exactly when nuclear weapons were developed.

  8. If we have no nuclear weapon USA and Russia start wold war 3 in 1950s, and I never be borned. She probably will die becouse of chessburger so why she pissed of about nuclear weapon.

  9. Nuclear weapons are space weapons. We need them. The problem isn't in the weapons themselves, but in the fact that humanity is divided and this incredibly powerfull tool is pointed at ourselves.

  10. The biggest benefit that nuclear weapons brought to the table is its ability to be the one of the most effective deterrents to large scale war ever. The question she didn't ask is how to keep this benefit while reducing the risk associated with the weapons.

  11. wtf. 10s of nukes could NOT wipe out life on Earth.

    Nuclear weapons are a blessing to modern politics. Without the threat of these weapons, conflict would escalate drastically. If nuclear weapons didn't terrify the participants of the Cold War, we would've had WWIII, which I hope we can all agree wouldn't be good.

  12. nuclear weapons need to be maintained by at least the world's Global Powers. They prevent war between those Nations. The reason the Soviet Union in the United States never fought World War 3 was because of nuclear weapons.

  13. i forgot because she is a female she has no rights hmm i say we hang those who act like this because that reason is what is ruining our generation.

  14. In the last days of Obama's administration, Obama allowed delivery of Russian uranium to Iran. The amount is enough to produce 10 nuclear bombs.
    It's amazing how much damage one incompetent Liberal is able to make. …
    But again, is he really was just incompetent or it was by design? ….

  15. Since nuclear weapons arose on Earth there have been no one big world's war. This time we can call the biggest peace of all time. And If we remove all nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth, all world's leaders will begin to make war again and again, like it was before invention of nuclear weapons.

  16. Donald Trump @ POTUS (the real Donald) just tweeted: "Such an amazing speech, it totally changed my mind on nuclear weapons, this is a tremendous occasion for me to make a difference. Just kidding! That woman is so nasty.

  17. It won't happen. Nations who don't have a strong military as much as their possible rival won't give up their nukes. It's a guarantee, so a stronger nation won't give it up either. For example N.Korea vs. US. If N.Korea didn't have nukes, US would've possibly invaded it by now.
    So this great vision isn't possible at the moment. However, the number of the weapons we have is absurd. There should be a maximum number like 100. Anything below 10s of thousands for god's sake..

  18. Oh boy, lame video with obvious thematics peppered with inaccuracies.

    Comment section: "Hurr durr you dislike without watching it because she's a fat woman hurr murr"

  19. well, they are here now and it's virtually impossible to dispose of when the MAD-system is in place. The only way i see a global abolishment of nuclear weapons is if we had one massive world government and no more nation-state interests to defend.

  20. first we have to destroy ISLAM, oh did I say islam, of course I meant ISIS. And only then we can get rid of nuclear weapons and forget all that like a nightmare

  21. this is absolutely my vision…
    this is the best video of freedom!
    find me on Facebook with my hashtag #peaceandlove4lyfe I am poet with vision…

  22. it costs more to disable the bombs then to keep them armed and it is practically impossible to hack our weapons and we are needing them to protect against the terrorists with bombs

  23. it's impossible to "get rid" of nukes. that would leave the first people to get rid of them vulnerable, and assume that all of them were actually disposed of.

  24. "we have solid evidence terrorists are trying to get a hold of them" Wow! Really?! Who would have expected terrorists to want bombs?

  25. So many people here are upset at the dislikes. Those people are naive. Sure, this sounds great and all. Who wouldn't want to live in a world where the chance of turning to vapor in the blink of an eye was something only from the past. The world doesn't work this way. The world isnt a utopia. Its FARR FARRRRR from it. Crawl out of your shells and realize there are some terrible people in this world. Terrible people in charge of terrible nations (perhaps even your own). If these terrible people have no resistance, they very well may decide to exterminate you so they can turn your land into a bunch of condos for their generation a few decades later. The thought that all countries will simply drop their arms, and hop on board, its simply ridiculous. People arent disliking this video because they dont think it would be great, they are disliking it because they know its a fairy-tale thats not a probable outcome.

  26. MAD makes sense, but as the ghost of Cold War perishes, the threat of possibility in dysfunctional missile, or taking over of these assets to dubious actors make more sense.

  27. Anyone else here to continue the thumbs down war on TED? This project used to have such promise. If only feminists where less radical and more nuanced in the way they talk, it wouldn't matter what opinions they were expressing, it would just be more palatable. That is the point, right? Changing minds?

  28. Yes, it's very easy to erase the Life, but the life is not moral, since life eats life. It's not moral to impose someone to exist. It's not moral to fabricate a handicapped person. It's not moral to impose this person to arrive in a bellicose world, in an insane world, in a world where everyone must buy its body. It's not moral to fabricate a person to serve, because it's slavery. I know that, since I am myself a human being, fabricated without my will, fabricated to serve, so to be a slave. I don't ask to exist, but you obliged me to suffer to age and to die. What is the use, now, of my existence for you? You don't know me! I don't know you! You are not even my friend! Can I shake the hand of 7 billion human beings?

  29. isn't the acronym TED part of the patriarchal conspiracy. this brave girl makes me think it should be rebranded as MEG talks.

  30. Yes let's go back to the age of slaughtering each other by the millions in massive infantry based land wars instead of having a nuclear deterrent backed peace. Good plan. d-(x_X)-b

  31. Peace requires participation. As the older generation passes new thinking rises from the then threats which are extinguished. The definition of a threat as well as peace changes. So I agree our programs for protection and peace should follow suit.

  32. This was out of left field. But, it is clearly highly relevant.That tends to suggest our focus was elsewhere. Yes, the "button", as we call it, was something that I have been thinking about in the current political climate, but the details were not there. I hope we get some validation for this perspective or whatever would be regarded as most correct.

  33. Ukraine pays with human lives now for believing such bullshit. Ukraine received American guaranties for nuclear reduction.

  34. world war three would have happened years ago had it not been for nuclear weapons. Nukes are the only things keeping the major powers away from each other right now.

  35. She starts the video citing all these statistics that are irrelevant if you aren't a scientist but are designed to drum up fear and support- like when she talks about the amount of material needed fitting into a latte etc. Its fearmongering. Which I hate, because there are plenty of legitimate fears to be had.

    The only point I agree with is when she talks about the cost. It is an expensive project. But we are talking about tools which could destroy humanity, so since we need nuclear weapons- they have had an overall incredibly positive impact on the world (since WW2 there have been zero wars between nuclear capable countries)- I think its best we keep them in ship shape.

    The reason we have more nukes then we need to destroy the enemy is because delivering them to their targets is no guarnetee, especially now that we can't be certain what anti-nuclear weaponry the enemy has.

    Imagine if China developed a technology capable of shooting down nukes, then a crazed and corrupt leader within their party pulled the trigger on us, and we go to retaliate and fail.

    Thats game over.

  36. She's evidently never heard of MAD mutually assured destruction. This is why the US and Russia have never fought a conventional war causing 10's of millions of deaths. Today we fight small proxy wars, don't get me wrong all war is terrible. But this woman is clueless and clearly hasn't thought out the issue! People will always fight over resources and religion.

  37. But doesn't having nuclear weapons give nation's a sort of a balance? Every country with nuclear weapons has to think multiple times before they say "let's have war".

  38. out of 196 people in a room, 8 tough guys(who usually bully others because they are strong) hold bombs that can kill everyone. And the biggest guy(who hold the bomb in one hand, and a LOT of guns in the other) say "we don't need more bombs!"

  39. "Instantly." Isn't quite the right wording. But what was said about the amount of nukes being detonated. If a nuclear war was to happen with tens to hundreds of nukes will wipe out near to all life on earth. And if somehow they survive the detonation and following destruction. The nuclear winter would finish off the remaining human and animal and possible even plant life.

  40. She is disproving her own points, and I don't know what kind of utopia she believes she lives in. Modernization of nuclear weapons would be designed to keep accidents from happening, like those she talked about, even if they costed a trillion dollars. The F-35 Program alone costed that much, and she isin't complaning about that which gives no major beneifts to the country, unlike Nuclear Weapon modernization. And she forgot to mention the largest problem, which is expecting countires like North Korea, Isreal, Pakistan, India, Russia and China to willingly disarm their nuclear weapons, which will never happen. When she talks about terrorists, how would removing our current nuclear programs, which would take years of slow degredation, stop terrorists from getting nuclear weapons, instead of updating out nuclear programs to be safer and more secure.

  41. Nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to humanity that has ever existed. There is no sane reason to keep even one nuclear weapon.

  42. No need for nuclear weapons, vacuum bombs are better. Same boom, and all you have left, are the inside out remains of humans, that can be used to fertilize newly acquired lands. And as added bonus, everything is flattened for new real estate development. Did I mention, no radioactive fallout? Win/ win!

  43. You know what the world doesn’t need ?
    USA,RUSSIA,INDIA,PAKISTAN ETC……they all have nuclear weapons and still devlops them

  44. Why are so many posters here feeling so threatened by somebody simply questioning the need for additional nukes? It's not as if we don't have more than enough.

  45. Answer to opening question: San Francisco is about 13km wide. To demolish this would require a 3Mt weapon. By "weapons grade nuclear material", I assume you're referring to fissile materials. But as no pure fission weapon can produce such damage, we'll have to use Lithium deuteride fusion fuel. The answer is 74.44kg, or 90.78 Liters, about the size of the suitcase.
    1L (latte) of uranium or plutonium would generate about 4% of the energy needed to level San Francisco.
    Modern weapons are not hundreds of times more powerful than those dropped on Japan. The biggest weapon the US has is 52 times more powerful than that dropped on Nagasaki. Most are 5-25 times more powerful.
    The use of tens of weapons would not lead to the end of all life on the planet. We've already detonated over 2000 weapons, and we're not dead.
    Just under 15,000 in global stockpiles.
    If you're going to share info, make sure it's accurate please.

    "Will we further reduce stockpiles, or modernise them?"

  46. 13:40
    The Magic number of minimal credible deterrence is 100-300 weapons per country by the reckoning of 7 of the 9 nuclear nations.

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