There appear to be three primary paths to Armageddon in this century. All three deserve immediate action to mitigate disaster. In order of speed and efficiency, they are: 1. global warming, 2. world pandemic, and 3. nuclear war.
A nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia could take about 30 minutes, with the world completely destroyed. Continued proliferation of nuclear weapons presents the real possibility that they will be intentionally used or accidentally deployed, initiating a chain reaction or response that cannot be stopped.
Additionally, the world's worst toxic cleanup sites are always nuclear production facilities or where there have been nuclear accidents. Unfortunately, the Hanford site in the U.S. is a stark warning of the dangers of manufacturing nuclear weapons. The plutonium cleanup projects at Hanford have been continuously over-budget, behind schedule, and have no clear path for 100% success.
Fortunately, there are some signs of sanity on the horizon. The START I treaty, signed by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1991, reduced the total number of nuclear weapons from around 70,000 to 14,000. Extending the START II treaty by Biden this month keeps the U.S. on a path for the eventual removal of these weapons of mass destruction from the planet.
There are three essential immediate steps that the U.S. can take to ensure world safety. These are:
1. Establish a "no first use policy."
2. Remove the 150 nuclear weapons in Europe, thus reducing the direct threat to Russia.
3. Actively pursue arms control worldwide.