Good question. On the one hand, that's something you can never be 100% certain about. But on the other, that's the beauty of nuclear weapons - if they were ever to be used on a scale large enough to affect the world in a severe way, mutually assured destruction would kick in. Thus, in any war where nuclear weapons could be used to damage the environment beyond use, their usefulness is negated by cold logic. This idea, of course, is put into question by both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the recent India-Pakistan tensions. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis was necessary to show that when it came to down to the wire, nuclear weapons did successfully perform as a deterrant. On the other hand, Pakistan's threats were a bluff designed to force the rest of the world to intervene - again, it was a case of using nuclear weapons to avoid a conflict. Thus, while it would be downright foolish to say that there's no chance that a nuclear conflict would ever arise, it seems to me that the history of the past fifty years does indeed show that the probability of a nuclear conflict is not high enough for us to consider nuclear weapons a significant danger. When the US and Russia signed another arms reduction treaty earlier this year, I doubt there was all that many people out there who suddenly felt safer. Well, a few hundred or just one, it makes little difference on a nation-wide or world-wide scale. If you have such a tiny group in charge and no election mechanism, it's still a totalitarian government. It might be a 'benign' government at first, but that doesn't matter. The point is that you give up your right to exert influence on the government - once you switch to such a system, all you can do is hope that the people in charge don't decide to take advantage of it. That's certainly a valid question and a very real possibility. However, in a democratic system, there will almost always be an opposition strong enough to prevent such moves. And indeed, any attempt to do something like that is likely to get the afore-mentioned leader out of power during the next election - at least, in a well-functioning democracy. Of course, most (if not all) democracies of today do not function well, but this doesn't mean that the best solution is to throw away democracy altogether. The difference is in the potential of a mild dictatorship turning into a severe one, and in our ability to prevent that from taking place. As for nuclear weapons, I think what I said to LOAF is also a response to your points. Just a few things to add here. First, any race willing to ignore a "few" million deaths is not going to learn any moral lessons even if their lives really do depend on it. Secondly, the idea of our ability to kill each other serving as the catalyst to make us love each other is an impossible paradox. The Cold War has already shown us that - nuclear weapons prevented WWIII, but they also ensured constant mistrust between the US and USSR - so much for ethical pressure. It's also worth noting that there is no real reason to assume that the average person will ever have the power of a nuclear weapon. Right now, there are incredibly powerful hand-held weapons, but the average person is not likely to ever see them outside of an action movie.