Aby August 1st, 2007
There is a popular myth is that a US vs Russia nuclear war would put an end to the existence of the human race or to an extreme, end living existence in the world itself. Such hypes are propagated mainly by anti-nuclear groups and Soviet strategists to alarm the masses or put an element of fear among their scientifically unaware enemies. If survival strategies are known and adequate protections are taken to limit casualties, a nuclear holocaust however destructive would yet be survivable.
A musical video pieced together by a YouTube user to simulate the outcome of a nuclear holocaust. (Please don’t click on the video if you are disturbed by brutal scenes)
It is beyond doubt that a full scale US vs Russia nuclear war would be destructive beyond comprehension to both these countries but the total elimination of either of these countries is far from possible. It would cause huge loss in terms of property and human lives on a massive scale, yet the total elimination human habitation is a far cry from reality. A lot of Americans however believe the exaggerated myths about the dangers of a nuclear holocaust which could supposedly ‘bring an end to human existence’. Ignorance about scientific facts and media myths by Hollywood movies (like Day the World Ended or On the Beach) are some of the important factors which contribute to such beliefs. It would be wiser and more sane to look into real facts before blindly believing fictitious myths.
Let us look at some scientific facts about a ‘nuclear holocaust’. If all the nuclear warheads possessed by US and the Soviets during the height of the Cold War were detonated, the average radiation dose per human being on this earth would be well below 10 REM (Roentgen Equivalent Man); as calculated using the data collected from the 500+ nuclear tests done by 9 countries till date. Such a low dose of radiation would cause cancer in less than 2% of the victims exposed to it and the chances of offspring being genetically mutated is extremely small, according to medical findings after the Chernobyl disaster.
Most of the devastating effects of a nuclear explosion would be in the first 72 hours of the blast in the form of high level radiation doses (300+ REM), firestorms which can ignite flammable materials on its way and also the high energy shock waves (overpressure) which can collapse building structures. However the shock waves would cease almost immediately after the blast, the firestorms would subside a few hours later and the radioactive remains would decay out in about 3-10 days depending on the weather. People protected in underground or overground shelters with thick walls and adequate provisions would face little of the shock waves, radiation or fire storms. In a few months, the survivors of a nuclear holocaust will live on, just like they did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A comprehensive and scientific analysis of a real nuclear war scenario has been done by the Nobel Laureate Physicist Eugene P. Wigner. which you can check out using the links provided below.
One popular claim that the U.S. and the Soviet Union have the power to kill the world’s population several times over is based on misleading calculations. One such calculation is to multiply the deaths produced per kiloton exploded over Hiroshima or Nagasaki by an estimate of the number of kilotons in either side’s arsenal. The assumption is that somehow the world’s population could be gathered into circular crowds, each a few miles in diameter with a population density equal to busy downtown Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and then a nuclear warhead would be exploded over the centre of each crowd. The fear mongers exploit the ignorance of people to incite panic and fear among them and this is one such case.
In a real world scenario it would be virtually impossible to assemble equally dense crowds in flat expanses of the world, so that nuclear bombs can be detonated in the centre of the crowd. Furthermore, the casualties of a nuclear war would exponentially decrease with every additional warhead deployed. For example the first 100 warhead dropped on 25 most populous US cities would kill up to 33% of the US population. The next 100 warheads would be able to kill no more than a further 6% and so on, decreasing due to the diversity of land terrain and uneven population distribution. In short, eliminating the entire population of a large country or destroying all habitation is an unattainable feat considering the current and near future nuclear technologies.
The whole of US or Russian nuclear stockpile would be emptied to zero if only the inhabitants of the small Himalayan country of Nepal or the mountainous Colombia were targeted and hit. The terrain of high mountains would shield the effects of the nuclear blasts and vastly increase the amount of warheads required to destroy a given area. Unless weapons which could destabilise the earth’s core are developed, eliminating the whole world would take much more. Even if such weapons were to be developed in the far future - no country, not even US or Russia or China would be mad at such wanton self-annihilation.
- Nuclear Weapons Myths and Facts - Eugene P. Wigner., Physicist and Nobel Laureate
- Nuclear Weapons and Radiation: Misc Facts - Nuclear Weapons Factoids (A nuclear information site by John Moore)