President-elect Joe Biden has promised that on his first “working” day in office, presumably on Jan. 21 following the previous day’s inauguration, he will rejoin the Paris climate treaty from which President Trump, on Nov. 4, withdrew the Unites States.
The following day, Jan. 22, will see another international treaty take effect, which he should also sign or take needed first steps toward doing so. The U.N. Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons then will enter into force as international law, following its ratification, on Oct. 24, by Honduras.
Perhaps that Central American country, seemingly always in the direct path of Atlantic hurricanes made more destructive and deadly by climate change, felt special urgency in helping to avoid the other existential global threat — also increasing — from nuclear weapons.
Three international conferences this decade highlighted the gravity of risk from these. The Red Cross and Crescent warned of impossibility of meaningful medical-humanitarian assistance in any war with nuclear weapons. And, as documented by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the climate models had shown that even a small-scale nuclear exchange, such as between India and Pakistan, could “cause global cooling sufficient to disrupt agriculture for a decade.” The resultant food shortages and health effects could bring the death of perhaps 2 billion people worldwide.
I pray that President Biden will join the many other nations in signing onto the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty — for a world finally free of fear of ultimate destruction from them.