Nuclear Proliferation, Risk and Responsibility is the title of the Report published in 2006 by the Trilateral Commission (Allison, De Carmoy, Delpech, Min Lee). In it Henry Kissinger stated:
If one imagines a world of tens of nations with nuclear weapons and major powers trying to balance their own deterrent equations, plus the deterrent equations of the subsystems, deterrence calculation would become impossibly complicated. To assume that, in such a world, nuclear catastrophe could be avoided would be unrealistic.
By a significant coincidence, twenty years earlier – in 1986, the year that went down in history on account of the Chernobyl disaster – Ulrich Beck published Risk Society. In it he maintained that the nature of technological risks underwent a radical transformation in the second half of the 20th century. Placing the focus on the relationship between what we know, what we are entitled to do and what we are able to do (what he called “the relationship between knowledge and non-knowledge in the modern world”), Beck analysed man’s response to risk through two phases: in the first a future similar to the present is presupposed, so it is considered possible to manage uncertainty thanks to the improvement of the mathematical models of risk; in the second – which he called reflected and which paradoxically is a collateral effect of previous successes (innovations) – society must come to grips with a series of incalculable unknowns, which cancel out the very bases of a rational approach to risk through the calculation of probabilities and the application of the models of the present to future scenarios