The destructive power of existing military arsenals is unthinkable. Most of it comes from nuclear weapons.
The current nuclear arsenal amounts to 15,000 weapons. Each has an average power of 443 kt, or 29 times the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
The detonation of a mid-sized nuclear warhead (475 kt) over a populous city would cause 750,000 fatalities and 2.7 million injured; extreme, heavy and medium damage would happen 0.7, 5.5 and 8.8 km around ground zero, respectively (www.nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap).
The total power of the existing nuclear arsenal is about 6,600 mt, or 680 kg of dynamite per person on Earth.
Global military spending amounts to 1.7 trillion dollars per year. Involved governments claim its purpose is defense. If no country would attack another, then military spending is no longer necessary.
Some countries have voluntarily abolished military forces, inter alia Costa Rica, Haiti, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Panama. Andorra, and some Caribbean and Pacific island countries were established without military forces.
After the unthinkable, yet comes the inexplicable.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council possess 98% of the nuclear weapons, and are the major producers of conventional weapons.
Despite recognizing that peace is essential to sustainability, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ignores main precursors to war, such as spending on military forces and weapons. The much softer term “conflict” is used instead of “war”, but no goal or target addresses conflicts either.
Peace on the contrary is commonplace along the SDG Agenda, from preamble to declarations, to Target 4.7 and Goal 16.
Goal 16 seeks to promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Its peace-related targets include reducing violence and death rates, and combat terrorism and crime. The focus however is exclusively on the low end of the scale. Military spending, --which ultimately leads to high-scale violence, terror and death-- is ignored.
On what moral grounds would governments promote peace and non-violence among society, while spending on preparedness for war, the worst kind of violence?
Moreover, Goal 16 promotes participatory decision-making, and accountable and transparent institutions. How participatory, accountable and transparent is decision-making on military spending anyhow?
SDGs are hampered not only because valuable resources are diverted from development to preparedness for war, but also because the paranoid race between countries increases military spending further.
Being the most devastating human activity, war is perhaps the most important threat to sustainability on Earth.
Bottom line: the SDG Agenda has an elephant in the room!
The SDG Agenda, as it stands now, lacks the fundamental SDG on which the rest of goals could be safely built.
The missing SDG could be formulated as follows:
** SDG 0 - Initiate an irreversible process of gradual disarmament and demilitarization **
Unrealistic? For the time being, perhaps. How realistic are the 2030 SDGs, anyhow?
The hypothetical SGG 0 bring us back to the origins of the UN. If there is a single reason for its existence, this is peace between nations.
After all, the member nations of the United Nations should behave as united nations (or not?).