Harvard prof sparks questions on nuclear power

Which will be destroyed first: the U.S. Constitution or nuclear power?

One women proposed this question revealing that audiences members with the sobering truth that authorities have the ability to get rid of nuclear weapons but scientists are still not sure of ways to stop global warming.

Harvard University Professor of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value Elaine Scarry gave a talk titled “The Floor of the World.” She explored the idea of nuclear power in society and why it is dangerous. She gave many reasons for world leaders to end nuclear power.

Scarry mentioned the flexible floor doctrine where one leader would have the power to open a door that would essentially end an entire country in one day and one hour. One leader could decide the fate of millions of lives making a momentous shift in government.

Assistant professor of English Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner introduced Scarry to a large audience onMarch 18 in the Austin Reading Room at the Nicholson Library as part of the annual Ericksen lecture. He noted that Scarry is part of a list of the 100 most intellectual people.

Scarry talked about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction that enable a small amount of people with the power to kill a huge amount of people. She talked about the idea of how nuclear power leads to a war centered on power. Whoever has the most nuclear power would be the most powerful country. This idea causes all countries to want to expand their nuclear programs.

Scarry thinks that U.S. citizens do have the power to tell the government to get rid of nuclear weapons; as foreign voices who say they too want to see the end of nuclear power often go unheard.

“75 million people will be dead in twenty five minutes from a phone call that says to launch the nuclear missiles,” Scarry said.

She highlighted that many U.S. presidents’ have come painfully close many times to making the call to launch the missiles.

The black bag that carries the codes to launch nuclear missiles, also known as the football, is always within reach of the president. If it is not in the same room as the president it is in the room next to it. It never leaves their side.

Scarry noted that if we are thinking of it surely President Obama is too because of the constant proximity of the black bag. Many U.S. presidents have said they wanted to get rid of nuclear power but none have said actually said no to it.

Jonathan Williams