I trust — and I hope I am justified in this — that no one wants a nuclear war. I know I don’t. We already have a set of environmental problems that are worse than a limited nuclear war, and may be facing an environmental crisis that might be as dire as a large scale nuclear war, specifically, a collapsing atmosphere. Adding a nuclear war to our list of problems — to vastly understate — is, um, undesirable. We should therefore, and must, do everything we possibly can to prevent nuclear war.
The world at large learned of nuclear war pretty much at the same time as it learned of the existence of a “new” element, plutonium, about which we now know a great deal more than we did at the time of the announcement. The point of this article is to discuss the psychological and practical relationship of plutonium’s existence to the probability of nuclear war.
We now know that plutonium once occurred naturally on earth, but with the exception of a few atoms discovered in California in lanthanide/thorium ores at Mountain Pass by Darleane Hoffman1 of UC Berkeley, all of the primordial plutonium that was once present on this planet is now extinct, although its “bones,” if you will, its ashes, its fossils, remain in many places, notably in our atmosphere as an isotope of the noble gas xenon, but also in fact in many other places on earth, from the crust to the core.