What Happens in Nuclear War?
In August 1945 the Untied States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, killing 300,000 human beings and creating continuing suffering in the lives of countless survivors.
Now nine nations have nuclear bombs and thirty more have the capacity to make them. These bombs are many times more powerful than the relatively small atomic bombs that we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today there are, all over the earth, in combat readiness, enough nuclear bombs to wipe out the world population 690 times, and there is no defense.
Here is what happens in nuclear war. First, the blast creates enormous pressures, topples buildings and trees. It kills people by shockwave and wind, by flying debris, by throwing people against fixed objects, by crushing them in collapsing buildings.
Second, an enormous fireball is formed, causing flash burns and igniting raging firestorms. People far from the blast may be burned or blinded.
Third, enormous doses of radiation are released, killing people close to the explosion immediately. Smaller doses cause acute delayed radiation sickness and possibly death. Radiation affects future generations genetically.
Fourth, fallout radiation spreads out, sometimes killing people hundreds of miles from the explosion. It causes leukemia and other forms of cancer everywhere on earth for decades. It increases the incidence of stillbirths, tumors, congenital malformations, and cataracts.
Furthermore, nuclear explosions pollute water, earth, and air virtually forever. Forests and agricultural land are destroyed by heat and blast. Animals and birds die from radiation. Most bacteria, fungi, viruses, and insects will flourish because they are resistant to radiation.
The disorganization of society will be catastrophic. Medical facilities and energy production will be disrupted, government authority will break down, and disaster relief will be difficult. Diseases and epidemics will spread. Survivors will probably fight for scarce food supplies that might still be uncontaminated. Psychologically, there is likely to be despair at the overwhelming task of reconstruction, with the possibility of another nuclear war in the offing.
Excerpted from Relentless Liberal by Jerome Grossman