Posts Tagged poison gas


Posted by on Wednesday, 28 August, 2013




I get asked the craziest stuff.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad,  why are chemicals banned and yet  nuclear weapons aren’t?  What’s with that?

Dear boys and girls. Don’t look for a scientific explanation here, okay? People do what they do. The chemical ban was a reaction to some stuff during World War I when nuclear weapons hadn’t even been invented yet.  “Poison gas” did awful things to a lot of people including lots of civilians so an international ban was passed. Later, it was broadened  by a separate ban on biochemical weapons. Modern treaties (1972 and 1993) replaced the older language.

Now that we have even worse weapons why not ban them too?

Ha ha. Good one! It’s a miracle that we ever passed those first two. Not every country signed those accords. This is probably a terrible time to mention it, but Syria didn’t sign (although it did sign the older version so we get to claim they are still bound by the rules).

We won’t be passing other international bans anytime soon. Nuclear weapons are owned by the major nation states who are the self appointed custodians of the planet having nearly blown it up only once . Those combined nations don’t want chemical and biological weapons out there because they could fall into the hands of a single idiot who could  act even more irrationally than a  nation full of idiots.

That’s the theory, anyway.

Anyone with chemical weapons could use them as weapons of terror, threatening to release them in a crowded area such as a subway or a sporting event. Anyone with  biological weapons could eliminate complex life from vast reaches of the earth’s surface – no missiles or bombers required. You can see why there’s some concern here, right? Responsible nations with nuclear weapons feel comfortable with the status quo. Ban the other stuff and we’re good.

According to them.

I should point  out that the chemical and biological bans really apply to nations, not to individuals. So you can think of them as “See how serious we all are on this matter even though there’s no practical way to apply it to individual crazy people, just countries as a whole”.

If you’re the type that stays up all night worrying about things, I wouldn’t suggest turning in early.

– – – – – –

The drawing is mine. So is the shirt.