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To promote nuclear weapons abolition: “Think globally, act locally”

When it comes to nuclear weapons policy, PSR is in the business of changing the (increasingly dangerous) status quo. To do so, we’re working to get more citizens—especially health professionals and young advocates—involved in promoting disarmament. And those of us who are involved need to convince decision-makers—including elected officials and those who seek to be elected—that they can’t afford to ignore the threat of nuclear war or defer this issue to some “more convenient” time.

According to Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, “All politics is local.” There are many ways that PSR members are thinking globally and acting locally this year to reduce the threat of nuclear war—and so can you.

Consider supporting a local or state resolution (like these representatives in the Washington Against Nuclear War coalition) and/or publishing an op-ed in a local publication.

PSR’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program, in coalition with other organizations such as Women Legislators’ Lobby, Union of Concerned Scientists and Peace Action, is stirring up local action to enlist the help of city councils, county councils and state legislatures to show support for nuclear disarmament.  Here are some examples:

In the last several months, these towns have passed Back from the Brink resolutions:  Springfield, MA; East Providence, RI; Portland, OR; Honolulu, HI; Arcata, CA, Philadelphia, PA , and Evanston, IL. In December, 2019, Montgomery County, Maryland passed the first-ever county Back from the Brink resolution.

There are moves afoot to pass similar resolutions in Barrington, NH, Frederick, MD, and Highland Park, IL. Meanwhile, representatives from several organizations, including ICAN and PSR leaders, testified January 28 before the New York City Council in favor of resolutions to divest city pension funds from nuclear weapons industries and declare support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (See the blog by PSR member Ellen Ferranti, MD here.) At the county government level, disarmament-minded activists are promoting Back from the Brink resolutions in Howard County, MD and Arlington County, VA.

Activists are also taking up these issues in state legislatures. The Washington Against Nuclear War coalition (pictured)—staffed by Washington PSR’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Organizer Carly Brook—is promoting joint memorials SJM 8006 (sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa) and HJM 4008 (sponsored by State Representative Gael Tarleton) in the Washington legislature. After a hearing in which WANW representatives testified in favor of it, SJM 8006 passed out of Rules committee on February 7 and is headed for the floor of the Washington state Senate. More info here. In Illinois, State Representative Robyn Gabel has introduced a Back from the Brink resolution, HR 676, on January 28 to the General Assembly. In New York state, Senator Julia Salazar introduced Senate Resolution No. 2648 on January 23 expressing support for the ban treaty. In Vermont, Missouri and Georgia, citizens should gear up to support No First Use resolutions in their legislatures.

If you live in one of these areas and would like to support these initiatives, please contact Martin Fleck, mfleck@psr.org.  If you’d like to introduce a Back from the Brink resolution in your own town, you can find everything you would need at the Back from the Brink website.

Another way to “think globally, act locally” that is both impactful and often satisfying is to write and submit an op-ed to your favorite local publication, either print or online. When your piece gets published, notify PSR (!) and spread the word in your own networks, via Facebook, Twitter, or gathered around the coffee urn at work.

PSR’s guide to writing and placing an op-ed here. 

For inspiration, use the links below to read some recent op-eds that have been placed by PSR members and staff.

Thank you for your work to change the status quo and give the next generation a fighting chance!

Deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons lowers the threshold for war
Bruce Amundson, MD and  Joseph Berskon, MD – Seattle Times

The Doomsday Clock Is the Call to Action We Need Right Now
Allen Hester – Common Dreams

The World Is Not Enough, Apparently
Olivia Alperstein – Inkstick Media

Nuclear Weapons Violate Human Rights
Martin Fleck – The Progressive

The road to Armageddon — our two existential threats and the 2020 presidential race
Robert Dodge, MD – The Hill

Get Rid of Nuclear Weapons
Olivia Alperstein – The Progressive

Why the U.S. nuclear weapons policy needs to be discussed in the Democratic debate
Denise Duffield and David Wright – The Sacramento Bee

Springfield City Council needs to speak out against nuclear weapons
Ira Helfand, MD and Sean Meyer – MassLive

The U.S. Should Never Start A Nuclear War
Olivia Alperstein – Common Dreams

The other existential threat candidates must confront
Irwin Redlener, MD – CNN

Reform U.S. nuclear weapons policy before it’s too late
Gwen DuBois, MD – The Baltimore Sun