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How Do Weapons Affect the World?

Weapons are, probably, one of the most controversial inventions ever known to humanity. Their invention and the armaments race are negatively associated with the commoditization of the advancement of science and technology. Evidently, the use of weapons have destructive effect on societies, individuals, the states, and the environment. Environmental, economic, political, and socio-cultural implications of the application of weapons voice some major ethical concerns. Under the circumstances of commoditization of labor, information, and the development of science and technology, people began to think about weapons as the commodity as well. Clearly, this way of thinking is unacceptable and even dangerous under the circumstances of globalization, urbanization, spread of violence and bias, and human alienation from nature.Before the analysis of the environmental, economic, political, and socio-cultural implications of weapons, it is essential to know how weapons were invented, what has led to the event, and what the consequences of the invention of firearms were. Developing an interest into the mystery of death marked the transition from the primeval state of consciousness to the age of reason. To these days science serves the purpose of answering some fundamental questions, such as, for example, how the universe came to exist, what the origin of life looked like, what the end of the universe would be, and what is there beyond the threshold of death. Carrying out the experiments on outlasting death, the Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder about 850 AD.Gunpowder is, basically, a mixture of oxidizing agent potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal. The Chinese Sung dynasty used gunpowder to protect their lands from the Mongol raids. The Chinese people invented flying fire, an arrow fixed with a tube of gunpowder that ignited and would propel itself across enemy lines. In the centuries that followed, the Chinese perfected their warfare techniques and weaponry against that of the Mongols. Historians think the first grenades and canons were invented at around that time.Chinese experiments paved the way for the inventions of fiery arrows, rifles, canons, and grenades. Firearms radically changed the way battles were fought. More importantly, the fact that the invention of weapons changed the principles of warfare turned out to be one of the deciding factors in redrawing the map of the world.The invention of gunpowder became known in Europe and the Islamic world. In the middle of the fourteenth century, English and French armies used rudimentary gunpowder canons to fight against each other in the Hundred Years’ War. The next important step for gunpowder came when it was inserted into the barrel of a handgun, which first appeared in the mid-15th century and was essentially a cannon shrunk down to portable size. The invention and use of gunpowder canons has led to the foundation of infantry - a new class of soldier. Most importantly, the invention of firearms contributed largely to the creation of the modern army. With regard to this, it is important to point out that gunpowder is no longer the most powerful explosive force used by the armies these days. Evidently, the invention of gunpowder and forearms has had some considerable effect on states and societies and has led to invention of new types of weapons.Nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the process of weaponization of biological agents, chemical substances and compounds. Asphyxiating and deleterious gases are typically categorized as the chemical weapons; they are two broad categories encompassing a variety of subcategories. The battle of Ypres (Belgium), that took place in the April of 1915, was the first time chlorine gas was ever used in the battlefield . The gas attack during the battle of Ypres alone took the lives of 5000 French soldiers, injuring 15000. Mustard gas is another type of chemical weapon that did, probably, the most extensive and severe damage in the WWI. A number of international treaties claim that using chemical and biological weapons violates the principles of just war. Thus, they prohibit using chemical and biological weapons in the battlefield. However, to these days the limitations, reductions, and elimination of so-called weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to international security and safety in the global sense. In this respect, it is crucial to admit that the concept of weapons of mass destruction needs disambiguating.Weapons of mass destruction are an important term in a sense that oversimplifying or interpreting it is misleading, politically dangerous, and cannot be justified on grounds of military efficiency. Disambiguation of the concept of weapons of mass destruction is, therefore, one of the number-one priorities for international organizations and initiatives affiliated with attaining peace and building a global and sustainable society free of exploitation, injustice, inequalities, and violence. Whilst chemical weapons is a general term used to denote all weaponized chemical substances and compounds known to mankind, one can defined biological weapons as weaponized biological agents (mostly, bacteria and viruses). All in all, there is no denying the fact that chemical weapons (mostly, their development and disposal) cause considerable damage to the environment and the life of societies in the first place. With regard to this, the fact that biological weapons affect human health and the environment seems to be self-evident.Invented in the 1940s, nuclear weapons these days pose the most serious threat to international security and, basically, to the life on the planet. Nuclear weapons represent mankind’s ultimate confrontation with the natural environment that sustains us. Uranium is the material that nuclear warhead are made of and it poses a threat to individuals, societies, states, and the environment alike. Nuclear weapon testing is the problem that triggers some major concerns. Even though science, technologies, and medicine have made a huge leap forward in the twentieth century, the biological implications of radiation exposure are still beyond the contemplation of contemporaries. The nuclear status of some states greatly influences the balance of forces on the international arena. Climatic effects of nuclear weapons use are understudied. However, the evidence does support the fact that exposure to radiation affects the wildlife and contributes to climate change. “Fires ignited would release copious amounts of light-absorbing smoke and debris into the upper atmosphere”, causing the planet’s surface to cool. Nuclear weapons waste disposal is an important political, economic, and environmental issue within the framework of nuclear disarmament. Nuclear weapons were last used during the WWII in 1945. In 1962 miscalculations on both sides resulted in Cuban Missile Crisis. Still, some of the world’s most powerful states decided to retain their nuclear stockpiles.To a greater or lesser extent, firearms, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons affect individuals, societies, states, and the environment. Taking the history of the twentieth century into account, humanity should realize we have a duty to care for nature, livestock and wildlife. Measures have to be taken to make sure weapons do not become a commodity. In order to build a safer, happier, environmentally-conscious, and sustainable society, the contemporaries should reconsider the way they think about, use and/or dispose of weapons.
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