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A Disarming Argument

Hans Blix wants the United States to restart nuclear disarmament talks

1 min read

If you admire efforts by Henry Kissinger to revive nuclear disarmament negotiations, and yet you also respected Hans Blix for standing up to President George W. Bush in the run-up to the second Iraq war, then this little book about nuclear disarmament is for you. Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters is the latest—and one of the best—in an uneven but ambitious series of short and accessible introductions to various weighty subjects, from global poverty to capital punishment.

”Since World War II there has been a tremendous consolidation and expansion of international law,” Blix observes. ”Customary law has been codified [at the global level].” He lists trade, finance, communications, space, nuclear energy, and human rights as areas newly subject to such codification. It’s Blix’s belief that the continued consolidation of law—most significantly, nuclear disarmament treaty law—is the best way of heading off catastrophic violence. (Blix did concede, however, in a talk he gave earlier this year in New York, that some problems will remain intractable and make the use of force unavoidable. He mentioned a new international doctrine that’s been gaining ground—the ”responsibility to protect.” Perhaps in time that principle will be enshrined in our international code of conduct alongside the duty to answer aggression, so that there is a comprehensive standard for legitimate military action.)

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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