Nuclear weapons should not be abolished if you could abolish them.
Debate Rounds (3)
Nuclear weapons are the produce the largest explosion of all current weapons making them some of the best options to intercept a large number of ballistic missiles close together. While alternatives are cheaper for taking out single ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons are the best for taking out a volley or another nuke using counter measures. The shear fact that nukes are the best counter for massive amounts of ballistic missiles is a good enough reason to keep them.
Low yield airburst nuclear weapons can be used to take out hardened missile silos. While conventional weapons have some capabilities to take out enemy ballistic missile silos, they don't have as high of probability of success as a single accurate nuclear blast. It is important to note that air bursting nuclear weapons produce little nuclear fallout and little nitric oxide. Also important to note is that low yield nuclear weapons produce less intense flash meaning they are significantly less likely to produce a firestorm and thus would not produce a nuclear winter. On top of that, enemy missile silos aren't filled with much flammable matter as a city thus producing no soot.
Nuclear weapons can also be used to destroy incoming meteors and asteroids. It is important to know that meteors and asteroids can do several times more damage than any nuclear weapon can. Giving up the strongest thing we have against these forces of destruction seem like a bad idea. I much rather have a nuclear weapon and not need it than need a nuclear weapon and not have it.
My primary contentions are:
Nuclear weapons cannot discriminate. In modern war culture we strive to separate cilivians, on either side of a conflict, from the actual soldiers. If 20 enemy soldiers are killed in a strike it is a victory, if 20 civilians in the enemy country are killed it was a terrible mistake. Due to the massive blast radius and lingering radiation, there is no effective way to use a nuclear weapon for its designed purpose without presenting a noticable and unacceptable level of danger to unarmed civilians.
Nuclear weapons create a demand for more nuclear weapons. If you have something of value, generally you want to have more of that something. Even if they are not in use, nuclear weapons are of tremendous value. If we begin using them, even if for non-leathal purposes, we'll effectively make it more and more acceptable to use them, and we'll create a demand for more and more weapons. Regardless of how non-lethal the deployment is intended to be, we'll still begin to create unanticipated environmental effects by introducing large quantities of radioactive material and instances of sudden and massive temperature and pressure change. Fission is not something that happens naturally anywhere on Earth, at least not in any noticable quantities.
Nuclear weapons are an empty threat. If you intend to use a nuclear weapon for its intended purpose, then the threat is an empty one. It is widely held that a nuclear exchange will not leave winners. Any participants will be devastated, and chastized, and if the exchange is large enough it will damage the entire planet, including every innocent bystander in every country.
The person that launches the first nuclear weapon will have committed the ultimate warcrime. Something that no reasonable, or even semi-unreasonable individual would never do.
Now to comment on my opponent's points:
In response to the use of nuclear weapons to generate EMPs.
My intial point, of nuclear weapons inability to discriminate has sway here. A non-nuclear EMP device has a much smaller effective radius, which means more will be needed, yes, but more control over the effected area in order to keep the negative effects from innocent bystanders.
A Nuclear EMP would black out a large area, almost certainly affecting many who are not the intended target, which presents an unacceptable risk.
Just as well, the radiation still is created and still has to go somewhere. Usually it gets swept into the belts which are formed from the Earth's magnetic field (if I remember my physics right). But as only a few nuclear weapons have ever been detonated in the upper atmosphere, we have no real data to say what will or will not happen if we start adding more and more radiation to those belts.
In response to nulcear weapons used as an airburst.
Minimal radiation is still probably too much. It leaves environmental damage as well as potential damage to innocent future bystanders if the area isn't quarantined properly.
In response to nuclear weapons used to take out missile strikes.
Even if it is the most efficient method, it is incredibly dangerous. Producing radiation is a danergous thing.
In response to nuclear weapons used to take out asteroids.
It is generally widely regarded that blowing up an asteroid is the worst possible response. The momentum of a medium to larger asteroid is so great that a nuclear blast might split it, but each individual piece will still continue towards Earth and then instead of one big asteroid, we have hundreds of medium sized asteroids.
Slow calculated nudges, or the use of gravity tractors or implanted propulsion systems are all much safer and more effective.
In the end I argue that you should only use a knife as a knife, not as a screw driver. It can be done, but it isn't very safe, or efficient.
These uses for nuclear weapons are all uses apart from the intended use implied by the design of the bomb. If you want to cause those listed effects, it would be better to spend time in designing a non-nuclear solution, than to increase the potential use of nuclear weapons.
With your comment on nuclear weapons damaging the environment, keep in mind nuclear weapons aren't much worse than most other weapons. Conventional explosive leave chemical residue that can take decades to decompose while causing many health effects. For instance, the health effects of napalm can be felt decades after their use. People are still getting sick from napalm used in the vietnam war and japan, while the radiation effects of the two atom bombs is less than what you get from flying in an airplane.
Now with your comment on demand for nuclear weapons, it is important to note that even without nuclear weapons you are going to have demand for destructive weapons. Recent advance of thermobaric weapons have even surpassed the destructive capabilities of tiny nuclear devices. There are currently no treaties regulating thermobaric weapons so as soon as nuclear weapons got abolished you are going to have another arms race with no regulation. Now your comment on if you use a nuclear weapon you are going to have more demand for them is true. This is the reason why casual use of nuclear weapons is frowned upon. But the reason for the non-lethal purposes for nuclear is not for casual using them, it is for an alternative to using them like they were in WW2. If you were in a situation where you had to use a nuke, would you rather vaporize a city or emp a country? Now again with your comment on the radiation they produce, it is important to know that emp and missile intercepting produce no radiation at ground level, the radiation the do produce is so fine that they stay in the air until they decompose to harmless levels. And in instances of air burst majority of the radiation also stay in the air til it decomposes, and the radioactive material that does fall down loses majority of their negative effects in two weeks. And your comment on the environmental effects produce by instances of sudden and massive temperature and pressure change, is null and void since you would get the same effect from a power conventional weapon.
You also made the comment that fission is not something that happens anywhere on earth, please remember that fission is constantly happening in the earth's core and actually produces about half of the heat there. Of course you probably mean on the earth surface but even there you can have natural nuclear reactors.
Now your comment that nuclear exchange will leave no winners is only partially true. Keep in mind majority of nuclear weapons used in an exchange are going to be aimed at the others nuclear missile silos. The concept that nuclear weapons will completely annihilate both parties is false. The reason why MAD or mutually assured destruction worked is that there are still going to be major consequences of a nuclear war, such as universal shunning, a few destroyed cities, and a lot of craters. No party really wants such a large amount of destruction even if they could win the engagement. Now the reason your statement is partially true is that in most wars there are no winners, even if you win doesn't mean you don't take losses. Now if you had a full nuclear weapons exchange, the effects on the earth would depend on how those weapons were used. If they were surface blast then the effects of the radiation can be far and wide. Surface blast also produce significant amounts of nitric oxide, which damage the ozone. If there was a extremely large nukes used on multiple cities then you would have a massive fires that could produce enough soot to cause a small decrease in global temperature.
Important to note that the extremely large nukes that are good at causing large fires are considered to be ineffective compared to smaller nukes. A single nuke that is a thousand times stronger than a smaller one, is multitudes weaker than a thousand smaller nukes. Also important to note that the surface burst I previously mentioned are unlikely to be used because they produce smaller explosions than airburst nuclear weapons. The radiation and nitric oxide produce by airburst is minimal and aren't going to produce global effects even if used in large quantities.
Now my rebuttal to your counter arguments:
In any situation where you are willing to use an nuclear emp, you are in a situation where you are willing to use a nuclear weapon regardless. Also keep in mind that there are situations where multiple weaker emps are not going to get the job done. You are not going to know where every enemy is thus you can't hit every enemy with weaker emps, on top of that there are military defenses that are still operational if you don't emp the entire country. Also remember that there are enemy bases in cities, so in order for you to emp with non-nuclear emps you are still going to emp every civilian city.
Now you have a misconception about high altitude emps. While there is radiation produce, it still decomposes fairly quickly. And the radiation swept into the Van Allen Belts has zero effect. Keep in mind that these belts get constantly bombarded by something that make our strongest nukes look like firecrackers. The solar wind is constantly producing highly charged particles in this belt, and on top of that solar storms can turn the entire belt into a speedway of dangerous high velocity particles. If you think all of the worlds nuclear weapons shot into this belt would even produce a noticeable effect compared to what happens there regularly, then you greatly disappointed.
In response to your response to airburst nuclear weapons.
Radiation produce by airburst nuclear weapon becomes negligibly in within a couple of weeks. By future bystanders I hope you mean within days of the nuke being drop because other wise radiation wouldn't effect the people a few months latter.
Also important to know that environmental damage produce by a small nuclear weapon would be less than a equally powerful explosion cause by a thermobaric weapon. This is due to the effects of the chemicals in thermobaric weapons can have lasting effects decades later. Also a large thermobaric weapon would create massive fire despite how small or large it is, so your actually more like to have a thermobaric winter than nuclear winter.
Now your complaint about nuclear weapons being used to take out ballistic missiles is unfounded. Keep in mind that interception of a ballistic missile is going to happen in space. When used that high they don't even produce an emp effect on the ground let alone and radiation.
Your comment on the fact that nuclear weapons are not going to produce good results when used to destroy said asteroid, is correct. I am sorry for not elaborating on uses of nuclear weapons on asteroid since they are very useful for deflection of an asteroid. Important to note that nuclear weapons produce the greatest force of all mankinds weapons. This great force is very useful for deflecting giant objects in space. Several properly positioned nukes calculated to detonated in such a way to deflect a dangerous asteroid, is one of the best hopes we have to prevent such a disaster. Now your comment on the use of gravitational tractor to deflect an asteroid is one I am aware of. Only problem with gravitational tractors is that they require knowledge of said asteroid years or even decades before it hits. If you were to realize it lets say a single year before it hit, you would need nuclear weapons to deflected it.
In the end, nuclear weapons have a purpose on this earth.
MegaAfroMan forfeited this round.
Nuclear weapon have many uses such as EMPs, interceptors, and airburst. I have demonstrated that harm cause by them is equivalent to the harm done by non-nuclear weapons. I have shown that nuclear weapons are the best way to prevent life on earth from getting destroyed by an asteroid, by using nuclear weapons to deflect the asteroid. I have shown that abolishing nuclear weapons would not end the arms race but only revitalise it with an arms race for the strongest thermobaric weapons.
In the end abolishing nuclear weapons provides no advantage for the world, and will instead increase the likelihood of its destruction.
However I would like to note, completely off the record, some comments that would have appeared in my round 2 post had I been able to make one.
I do believe you are confused on the point of stating that Fission occurs within the Earth's core and provides half the heat there.
From all the research I did on that point alone, along with my previous standing knowledge of planetary physics, fission does not occur within the cores of planets in any significant amount. I think you may be confusing fission with heat from radioactive decay. They are not the same things. If you have a source for your statement I suggest you cite it next time you make this debate with someone. A quicker mind than mine will probably catch you on that.
Likewise your claim to natural fission reactors is a shakey one at best. As far as I can tell, there is only one reported case of this ever occuring in the Earth's history. You'll need more than that to claim it is a perfectly natural and normal process for the environment to deal with.
Your claims to the length of time that radiation and fallout can affect an area are also very subjective.
Some incidents can cause minimal fallout and radiation, yes.
But others can make an area a radioactive hazard for years.
This has to do with fallout, essentially radioactive dust, and transmutation from beta particles.
Fallout isn't the only radioactive product from a nuclear blast.
Beta particles can transmute surrounding matter to make it generally unstable and radioactive. These generally do not penetrate surfaces however.
Alpha particles can cause genetic and cell damage, but not as much environmental damage. These can penetrate certain materials and be stoped by others, generally metals I believe.
Then Gamma rays. These monsters pass through pretty much anything. Lead can stop some of them, but not all.
They're not as environmentally destructive, but they can rip genetic strings, and cells to shreds.
It seemed that air detonations produced more gamma rays than they did the other forms of hazard, but I didn't get enough time to make any definite calls on that.
Also, you sort of missed my entire point on target discrimination.
A larger blast radius, and more secondary hazards, follows directly to less discrimination of targets.
It's basically like saying a scatter shot has less discrimination than a sniper rifle. Because it does. If someone was holding you hostage and was pulling you along to use you as a shield, you'd probably prefer a trained sniper shoot at you than someone with scatter shot.
The sniper can discriminate better, simply because of the smaller affected area.
A smaller bomb, or a smaller emp, can discriminate military from civilian targets multitudes better than a nuclear device purely because of the blast radius difference.
Then finally the claim to a thermobarric race is an unfounded one.
There is simple physics/chemistry behind why that is.
The amount of potential energy present in a fission reaction, is thousands of times more than some of our most potent chemical fuels.
In order to meet your power consumption needs, you have to burn oil (one of our more chemically rich sources of energy) at a fairly large rate.
Where as if you were to do so with a fission reactor, you'd produce about a coke can or two's worth of waste, if I remember correctly.
Regardless the largest thermobarric, will NEVER surpass the largest fission or fusion bomb in terms of raw energy output
It is a physical impossibility.
It'd probably be a better thing for the world if we tossed out nuclear devices and made an arms race in thermobarric. Because that would most likely lead to that being heavily regulated and banned, and then it would continue dwindling our available options for warface WMDs.
Now, back on record.
Vote for my opponent, purely because I missed round 2.
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