WHILE listening to a brilliant programme on Radio 4 this week on nocturnal media habits, I heard one of the guests use the phrase “doomscrolling”.

She was describing the social media phenomenon of consuming a never-ending litany of negative and worrying news online, where we keep scrolling through our feeds, becoming more and more anxious with every terrible headline. I had never heard this exact phrase before and yet it is such a perfect expression for our current times, and so recognisable to so many of us in this year of doom, upon gloom, upon total disaster.

I now realise I was doomscrolling myself this past Sunday when I happened upon some news that was the very antithesis of dark catastrophe. In fact, it was a shining light of hope provided to the world – and Scotland in particular – by a simple yet vital act of peace from Honduras. This small republic in Central America had become the 50th state to ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, triggering the treaty’s entry into force and making history in the process.

This treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with a goal of leading towards their total elimination. Now, on January 22 next year, the treaty will become international law, making it illegal for the countries involved to use nuclear weapons, test or develop them, produce, possess, transfer or station them in a different country.

READ MORE: Campaigners in Faslane demo to mark 50th ratification of nuclear arms treaty

Leading campaigners, who have fought tooth and nail for many years for this moment, are describing it as “a new chapter for nuclear disarmament”. These are the words of Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. In his statement on this tipping point, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres commended all the countries involved and in particular, singled out the civil society groups who he said had been “instrumental in facilitating the negotiation and ratification of the treaty”.

It is amazing what people power can do. Although, of course, you won’t find the UK on the list of nuclear powers that have signed this accord. Along with China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Russia and the USA, Britain boycotted the negotiations that created the treaty just three years ago. Fihn argues that “nobody’s immune to peer pressure from other governments”, and that eventually, these countries will buckle under the weight of stigma and global condemnation.

Let’s hope she’s right. Because Scotland has nuclear weapons aplenty thanks to the UK’s intransigence and careless location choice, squatting on our land like a dangerous and sinister uninvited guest. And the UK Government doesn’t have a good track record on respecting international law or indeed meeting UN standards on poverty or immigration, for instance.

For too long, first the US base in the Holy Loch and Polaris and then Trident at Faslane have cast a black shadow over Alba. The weight of such danger hangs heavy on our shoulders, a burden we carry for the whole UK, but we have all the responsibility, all the risk, and very little rationality on how exactly we are being protected.

There is justifiable concern on safety – just last week we read in the news about a Royal Navy commander being sent home after turning up drunk for duty on a nuclear submarine near Faslane; the subs in question carried missiles with nuclear warheads whose combined power would be the equivalent to 30 bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

Back in 2018, a nuclear submarine was in a near-miss with a passenger ferry on the Belfast-Cairnryan crossing – if it hadn’t been for the look-out on the ferry spotting the periscope at close quarters and the captain taking swift action, a collision would have occurred.

The Maritime Accident Investigation Branch revealed it had been an unsupervised trainee on periscope duty that day who had incorrectly estimated the distance between vessels. These are not isolated incidents, they have happened before. What if they happen again and human intervention can’t prevent a catastrophic accident?

To say Number 10 is not meeting its responsibilities on our nuclear concerns is a masterpiece of understatement! Trident costs eye-watering sums to maintain, and for what?

READ MORE: Would careerist politicians allow nuclear weapons to remain in Scotland?

Now, with this prohibition treaty in place, we can see that the tables will turn when Scotland becomes independent. The removal of Trident would be such a symbolic and indeed vital part of our brave new nation, a sign to our citizens that we are serious about honouring our promises, that we have listened to civil society, that nuclear weapons and the threat they embody have no place in our free land. That we have the backing of the UN in our bid to be nuclear-free.

Forget renting our country out as a holding pen for these weapons; it’s got to be zero-tolerance for weapons of mass annihilation. Then Scotland as an independent nation could take our place in this international movement for peace and humanity. And we could use our influence to put pressure on our neighbours, to make them look again at their responsibilities to protect and preserve, and to work towards reduction and indeed elimination of their nuclear weapons.

Scotland could be an integral part of the UN’s vital work on nuclear elimination, protecting ourselves and our global neighbours, rising above macho displays of dominance, of pointless posturing and “my missiles are bigger than yours” stand-offs. The combined pressure of international governments who have listened to civil groups shows us that there is another way out of the gloom that consumes us on our vulnerability to nuclear threat.

The world is watching, the time is right. And that gives me hope.

But Scotland can’t afford to wait much longer.