Oppenheimer film and Ukraine war are opportunities for peace educators
Peace educators have an important opportunity to teach people about nuclear weapons, and many are wanting to learn more, according to a new American survey.
For younger generations, the recent rollout of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer film might raise existential issues surrounding nuclear weapons, says the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine.
A recent joint Chicago Council-Carnegie Corporation survey among the American public shows that Americans are fairly mixed in their views about nuclear weapons. A limited percentage of Americans say they are familiar with U.S. nuclear weapons policy, their costs, their effects, and other issues related to the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. But regardless of their age, most Americans today do not consider themselves familiar with nuclear issues.
The survey found difference amongst age groups and racial backgrounds.
- Many Americans—especially younger and non-white Americans—don’t think nuclear weapons make a difference to U.S. national security or say they don’t know enough to give an opinion.
- Only among Americans over the age of 45 does a majority say that the U.S. nuclear arsenal makes the country safer (55 percent); a plurality of younger Americans say they don’t make a difference.
- White Americans are more likely than other racial groups to say nuclear weapons make the country safer, largely because Hispanic and African Americans are more likely to say they do not know enough to express a view.
- Republicans (61 percent) are more convinced than Democrats (45 percent) that nuclear weapons make the United States safer.
While lacking familiarity about U.S. nuclear weapons policy, a majority (60 percent) of the U.S. public also say they are interested in learning more.
- Read “Survey: Most Americans don’t know much about nuclear weapons. But they want to know more,” by Dina Smeltz, Sharon K. Weiner, published August 23, 2023 by the Bulletin