Evolving the nuclear conversation

How often do you think about nuclear war? It is a constant threat, an existential question hiding in plain sight for all of us across the world. As global powers jostle for power and the political climate polarizes, we need to do some long, hard thinking about nuclear weapons. Thankfully, people like Erika Gregory, director of N Square Collaborative, are on the case.

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As Erika described at our recent Virgin Unite and Igniting Change gathering, nuclear weapons are a “super-wicked problem” – a complex, multi-faceted challenges where time is running out; there is no central authority; those seeking to solve the problem are also causing it; and present policies discount future irrationality. She rejects the notion of clinging to nuclear weapons as a tool to deter aggression, seeing them as “disproportionate, immoral and unjust” in a world that has other options for maintaining stability

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Today, 14,000 nuclear weapons are in the hands of nine nations; lots are hundreds of times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. America and Russia hold 92 per cent of nuclear weapons, with many ready to launch in 15 minutes. As Erika warned: “In the US, the President has the sole right to do so without consulting any other person...” So why is there room for optimism, and how can smarter thinking reframe this problem as an opportunity? By rethinking the notion of cooperation. “The future of humanity may rest on our capacity to understand the dynamics of diverse teams.”

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N Square Collaborative brings together smart people with unusual skill combinations, to work together to unknot nuclear challenges. Whether it’s using emerging technology or reframing the way issues are portrayed in games and television, they are pushing nations to discard their nuclear stockpiles. As Erika explained: “New solutions are only going to be found at the points of intersection, where different fields combine. What if nuclear threat reduction became one of the brightest sources of creativity and innovation on the planet?”

A young local student from Cedar International School, Tatiana Fahie, gave me great hope as she made diligent notes and summarised what she had learned beautifully: “To extrapolate from Erika's analogy of nuclear weapons being bullies, national leaders such as presidents can be categorised as teachers. Likewise, isn't there a demand for a principal?” “A principal with principles,” replied Erika, with a smile.

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She believes 2045, the hundredth anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a viable goal to begin an inspired new chapter in the story of humankind, free from the existential dangers associated with nuclear weapons. Watch Erika’s TED Talk to find out more and head over to N Square Collaborative to support the push for a nuclear weapon-free world.

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