An allied correspondent stands in a sea of rubble less than a month after atomic bombs leveled most of the buildings in Hiroshima, Japan.

Stanley Troutman / The Associated Press 1945

Sixty-nine years ago this week the Atomic Age was opened by our bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

During the Cold War, as we and the Soviet Union developed massively more powerful weapons, it became evident that a small error by one person could result in mutual annihilation. Since both nations recognized this, both tried to develop safeguards — but human error remained the major hazard.

Meanwhile, the technology to make such weapons has spread to other nations, some of whose behavior is beyond unpredictable. We have also learned more about the results of even a “minor” exchange of bombs, such as between India and Pakistan: widespread famine “downwind,” affecting billions in China and other countries, and thereby hazarding other wars to obtain sustenance.

As the risks of catastrophe, up to and including WWIII, have increased, so has apathy about avoiding it.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CNTBT) has been on the table for several years, but guess which countries have failed to sign it? America and China!

Despite the efforts of many groups, including our parent Physicians for Social Responsibility, the U.S. still has some 5,000 nuclear missiles ready to fire — and available to human error.

Meanwhile, our relations with Russia have deteriorated nearly to Cold War levels, while they retain the capabilities of the Soviet Union, and we have no reason to think them less capable of error than we are.

If we wish to leave our grandchildren an intact world, the only solution is total nuclear disarmament. This includes the U.S., and of course Russia and China, to be significant.

The first step is to convince our own government to engage. Every reader can help do this by contacting Congressional representatives of both parties, and encouraging the U.S. to become a leader in promoting our survival.

Drs. Raymond Graap and Schuyler Hilts, both of Tucson, are members of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Contact Graap at