August 9th, 1945: Nagasaki

Video: 1. minute 13 seconds

Have been using this space to talk about candidates for the statehouse. However, I read a short but very thought provoking article by Helen Caldicott, world renowned activist against nuclear weapons, on the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan at the end of WWII. She then assesses our current state of nuclear armament. Realizing what date it is, I thought this would be a much better use of the blog today.

Paul Deaton has posted a couple of very fine articles on the atom bombing of Japan here and here. They are definitely worth a couple of minutes to read.    

After a short description of some of the destruction that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Caldicott discusses the current situation, which is scary:   

The United States and the Soviet Union decided to outdo each other by conducting a nuclear arms race, building tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Between 1945 and 1998, the United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests, producing cancer in tens of thousands of people. It has built more than 70,000 atomic and hydrogen bombs; the Soviets and later the Russian Federation had tried to keep up, building at least 55,000 of their own.

Arms control agreements over the years have managed to reduce stockpiles to about 14,000 nuclear weapons today, in the possession of nine nations: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. The United States and Russia still lead the pack, each with more than 6,000 total weapons, including about 1,600 each that are actively deployed.

A nuclear “exchange” between these two superpowers would take little over one hour to complete. A twenty-megaton bomb (the equivalent of twenty million tons of TNT) would excavate a hole three-quarters of a mile wide and 800 feet deep, converting all buildings and people into radioactive fallout that would be shot up in the mushroom cloud. Within six miles in all directions every living thing would be vaporized. Twenty miles from the epicenter, huge fires would erupt, as winds of up to 500 miles per hour would suck people out of buildings and turn them into missiles traveling at 100 miles per hour. The fires would coalesce, incinerating much of the United States and causing most nuclear power plants to melt down, greatly exacerbating radioactive fallout.

Potentially billions of people would die hideously from acute radiation sickness, vomiting, and bleeding to death. As thick black radioactive smoke engulfed the stratosphere, the Earth would, over time, be plunged into another ice age—a “nuclear winter,” annihilating almost all living organisms.

Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission. Our planet is in the intensive care unit, approaching several terminal events.

Caldicott concludes her article by referencing the current situation by postulating that no one ever factored in the possibility that one day the finger on the nuclear trigger might belong to an immature petulant man-baby. What is truly scary is that Trump is a person to whom revenge is a driving force. 

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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