The National:

ON Sunday October 3, a group of peace activists placed three large stones near the entrance to the UK Government building in New Street, Edinburgh.

The date was the anniversary of the first UK nuclear weapon test in the Monte Bello islands off the north-west coast of Australia in 1952, and the stones represented the three sites for the UK’s subsequent testing: Australia, Nevada and Kiribati.

The reception from the security people at the UK office was less than friendly, but quickly deteriorated in line with what seems to be an official conviction that the open piazza and terraces in which the building is set are somehow not public spaces, but under the whimsical regulation of anyone in a security uniform.

In this case the whimsy extended to an attempt to ban photography and to demand the instant removal of placards and stones.

The National: A billowing white mushroom cloud, mottled with orange, pushes through a layer of clouds during Operation Ivy, the first test of a hydrogen bomb, at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images).

The last UK real nuclear weapon test in the Nevada desert in 1991 was, like the entire British nuclear programme at the present time, conducted under US auspices. Nowadays the critical testing is done virtually by the Orion simulator at AWE Aldermaston.

Yet the testing matter is not just a bit of shameful history – its effects continue to impact on people across the world. It is also a guide to the nuclear weapon mindset that exhibits criminal carelessness, a racist and sexist contempt for its victims, and a macho sense of entitlement to ruin and destroy.

That mindset is one facet of the human attitude that is threatening all life with its determination to extract, exploit and pollute, with no thought for tomorrow.

READ MORE: Janet Fenton: There is one clear shortcut to a nuclear-free Scotland ...

The disastrous environmental effects of nuclear testing and the massive carbon boot-print of the entire military machine connects directly to the climate emergency and to COP26, now just a few weeks off.

On March 28, Peace Education Scotland and Scottish CND are arranging a parliamentary conference to examine these connections, and to hear from people affected and from acknowledged experts about the damage done by the nuclear tests – damage that persists to the present day.

What we must do is to strip away the distracting and sanitising terminology used by the nuclear weapon elite and instead insist that we face up to the realities of what these weapons have done and are designed to do.

The National:

Back to the stones and that little confrontation at the door of what so many of us hope will be before too long the UK embassy in Scotland ("Queen Elizabeth House", above).

The reduction of public space in our cities by a privatisation that is racing rather than creeping, and by public bureaucracies like Historic Scotland, is squeezing the citizen more and more into spaces regulated by the interests of the powerful.

In the same way, the vested interests that are resisting the necessary climate revolution are doing whatever they can to mute the claims of those who are already at the sharp end of the emergency. Just as we must reclaim public space we must wrest the climate agenda from the powerful.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has shown us how this can be done by refusing to engage with the abstracts of “strategy” and “deterrence”, and talking instead about the humanitarian consequences and the dire level of risk.

Janet Fenton is the vice chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament