Kennette Benedict

Kennette Benedict

Articles by Kennette Benedict

16 July 2012

Mind the gaps between climate science and social policy

Kennette Benedict

With temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit this month in Chicago, thoughts turn to global warming. Whether any particular extreme weather event could be a symptom of climate change is difficult to say. Even higher-than-normal regional temperature patterns may not be direct evidence of the planet's warming overall. Climate models cannot forecast changes in temperature or rainfall at local levels.

15 June 2012

Stuxnet and the Bomb

Kennette Benedict

With confirmation that the United States was behind the 2010 cyberattack on Iran's nuclear enrichment facility, the world has officially entered a new era of warfare. The New York Times' comprehensive reporting details how the US and Israeli governments developed the malicious Stuxnet software and how they deployed it in the digital wilderness of the Internet specifically to attack the plant at Natanz.

9 May 2012

Dream deterred

Kennette Benedict

The dream of a shield against nuclear bombs has been around since the earliest days of the nuclear age. The idea has always been deceptively simple: Build missiles that can shoot down nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles as they come across the ocean from the Soviet Union toward the United States (or vice-versa). Although this would be the equivalent of trying to hit a bullet with a bullet or an arrow with an arrow, there have always been political and military leaders who feel sure it can be done.

29 March 2012

Nuclear security begins at home

Kennette Benedict

Everyone seems to be talking about Iran these days. Foreign affairs watchers, policy makers, and Middle East experts are all speculating about when Iran will get a nuclear bomb, about what the United States should do to stop Iran, about what the United States should and should not tolerate from Iran, and about how neighboring countries will act if Iran does succeed in making a nuclear weapon. These issues have been disputed for more than 30 years -- and regularly covered in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

20 February 2012

Zone defense

Kennette Benedict

With political upheavals in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, this might seem like a bad time to begin talks on a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. And, in fact, some claim that meaningful progress on a treaty cannot be made until order is restored -- under publicly accountable authorities with clear control of military forces and weapons. Others suggest, however, that undertaking multilateral negotiations now would calm fears, provide transparency about nuclear weapons, and encourage a regional peace process that would contribute to stability. So, which should it be?

19 December 2011

Nunn-Lugar: 20 years of Cooperative Threat Reduction

Kennette Benedict

December 12 marked the 20th anniversary of the Cooperative Threat Reduction legislation introduced by US Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar to aid Russia in dismantling its nuclear arsenal after the end of the Cold War. The program created by that initial legislation is the most significant and successful postwar effort since the German Marshall Plan helped Europe recover from World War II.

9 November 2011

A democratic theory of disarmament

Kennette Benedict

In a recent editorial, The New York Times proposed that "All Americans need to be part of [the] discussion" to reassess "where nuclear weapons fit in today's world" and went on to suggest cuts to the US nuclear weapons budget.

13 October 2011

The banality of death by nuclear power

Kennette Benedict

Scientists estimate that 1,000 people will die from cancer as a result of their exposure to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. This number is often contrasted with the 20,000 who died in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear debacle -- presumably to suggest that the 1,000 deaths are less significant and should not be used to justify a nuclear power shutdown.

11 August 2011

Fukushima and the Doomsday Clock

Kennette Benedict

When dreadful events occur, reporters, readers, and interested citizens contact the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asking whether we will move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock. The alarming nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station on March 11 prompted e-mails and calls to our office seeking the Bulletin's reaction as well as accurate information about what was happening in Japan.

26 March 2011

The road not taken: Can Fukushima put us on a path toward nuclear transparency?

Kennette Benedict

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is a sobering reminder that nuclear power relies on the most dangerous technology on Earth. Though we do not yet know what the total effects of this nuclear tragedy will be, we do know that plant workers are suffering from radiation exposure, that lowered water levels have partially exposed fuel rods causing irremediable damage, and that the release of radioactive materials has displaced thousands of residents and contaminated tap water and some food supplies.