Picture taken of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The picture was taken from one of the B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack.
Image- Public Domain
Comparable to the Cold War years, the world finds itself on the doorstep of nuclear destruction. With constant changes in world regional power struggles, political divergence, and the turmoil of cultural and religious instability, there is a crisis of global instability and conflict. Also contributing to the crisis of global instability and conflict are rivalries within the realm of third world nations that lack major power status. At the heart of this crisis are the rogue leaders who see nuclear weapons as their ticket to power and prominence. Disenfranchised nationalistic, religious, and cultural group’s see these same weapons as a legitimate means to pursue their political agendas are also inciting a state of crisis. Employing nuclear weapons would be an insane act that would be devastating to earth and all of its inhabitants.
If a twenty megaton nuclear warhead were to strike Boston, the city would literally disappear within a radius of four miles from the point of impact. More than 750,000 people would die outright, from concussion, fire, and heat. Many of them would be vaporized. Blazing windstorms, originating in a fireball as hot as the sun, would rage for a radius of twenty miles, killing 2,300,000 people instantly. Another 500,000 people would be disabled and in shock. Anyone who viewed the explosion from a distance of forty miles or less would likely be rendered sightless. Epidemic disease would be carried by flies and mosquitoes impervious to radiation, and in the opinion of a number of authorities, such diseases from the past as polio, dysentery, typhoid fever, and cholera would resurface.
A unique aspect of nuclear weapons stems from the fear that they promote. The entire world is familiar with images of the horrific results of a single atomic warhead (comparable to a one-megaton nuclear warhead) dropped on the city of Hiroshima. In that bombing 110,000 of Hiroshima’s 240,000 men, women, and children were killed. Another 2,500 people died annually for the next 35 years from complications ensuing from exposure to high levels of radiation. The magnitude of Hiroshima’s carnage has been imbedded into the world’s collective consciousness, and we now realize that nuclear weapons are indiscriminate killers of soldiers and civilians alike.
Bluffing with nuclear weapons (as outrageous as it may seem) was used with great success during World War II. The U.S. effectively bluffed Japan into conceding the war by using two of the United States three nuclear weapons. Japan, not knowing that there was only one remaining weapon, feared there was a much larger nuclear stockpile and found itself in no position to call the bluff. This bluff demonstrated the great utility of nuclear weapons in the termination of a conflict. A more overwhelming lesson learned from this first use of nuclear weapons is that they are not just battlefield weapons; they are also an effective political instrument of terror.
This mass-terror facet of nuclear weapons may signify the single greatest threat. Radical groups, similar to those who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, may turn to nuclear weapons to maximize the level of anguish they inflict on the major powers of the world. Not seeking concessions or dialogue with the major powers, these factions could, yet again strike without warning.
The average person is probably not aware that as many as 9 out of 10 people who die from a nuclear blast do not die in the explosion itself. Most people probably think that, if they die as the result of a nuclear blast they will simply see a flash and be promptly incinerated. If a one-megaton warhead were used, everyone within an approximate six-square-mile area would indeed be close enough to be killed instantly by the gamma rays emitted from the blast itself. Ghostly shadows of these people would be formed on any solid surface that lies behind them, and that would be the extent of their remains. They literally wouldn’t know what hit them since they would be vaporized before the electrical impulses from their sense organs could reach their brains.
Most people who would die from a nuclear explosion would not die in the initial gamma-ray burst, nor in the multi-spectral heat blast of, X-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths which would transpire in approximately a tenth of a second after the gamma burst. Nor would the pressure wave which follows over the next few seconds after the blast kill the majority, although it would cause bleeding from every orifice. Some people would be killed by the transitory high winds that accompany the pressure wave after the blast. Winds from the pressure wave would reach velocities of hundreds of miles an hour near the epicenter of the blast. If a one-megaton bomb was used, winds as far away as eight miles from the blast would reach a velocity of seventy miles per hour.
The immediate threat after the gamma blast, heat blast, and pressure wave would be the firestorm that would quickly follow. The firestorm would have intense heat and cyclonic winds, all driving towards the center with the radioactive mushroom pushing it miles up into the sky. This inferno would produce cyclonic winds in a matter of minutes, killing multitudes of people. The fire would burn so hot that the asphalt in the streets would begin to melt and then burn, and anyone trying to cross the streets would literally melt into the pavement. People who were burning would jump into existing lakes, ponds, or rivers, only to burst into flames again when they surfaced for air.
A nuclear weapon detonated prior to reaching the ground creates an electro-magnetic-pulse that could be larger than India and Pakistan collectively. The higher the altitude of the blast, the bigger the circle of damage would be. This electro-magnetic-pulse would electrify all forms of metallic structures that are not normally electrified, with the exception of the occasional short circuit or lightening strike. This would be somewhat like the entire country being struck by lightening all at once.
Some deaths would occur hundreds or even thousands of miles away because low levels of ionizing radiation is capable of causing a full spectrum of health effects. There would be radioactive runoff from the rivers and streams flowing through the affected region and the area under the radioactive mushroom cloud as it drift‘s. The radioactive mushroom cloud could travel for thousands of miles, raining on countries having nothing to do with the dispute.
In the span of an hour, one multi-warhead nuclear missile could destroy more cities than all of the seditious raids in history. The only thing that the person responsible for launching the nuclear missile would need to do to accomplish his task would be simply push a button from the comfort of an air-conditioned room, hundreds or even thousands of miles away. With automation, a human wouldn’t even have to touch the button.
The world would be a better and safer place if every one would stop and think of where the use of nuclear weapons will lead us, and choose wisely by saying, “I will not be party to this madness.” We do not need these weapons, and by using them we would be committing a sin against our own children, as well as our neighbor. Nuclear war could never be called anything less than genocide, and we should elect not to be a part of this insanity.