]]]]]]]]]]]]     THE SOBER FACTS ABOUT NUCLEAR WAR      [[[[[[[[[[[[[[ 
                                                       
     [This short article by Petr Beckmann was originally published as 
a special supplement to the May 1982 issue of ACCESS TO ENERGY. Since 
then, many thousands of copies have been mailed out on request; it has 
also been reprinted by several organizations, in two cases as a special 
booklet.]

*        YES, NUCLEAR WAR WOULD BE HORRIBLE, and the facts below   *
*   are in no way intended to belittle its horror. They are,       *
*   however, intended to refute the myth that nuclear war means    *
*   the end of civilization, making the defense of the Free        *
*   World pointless.

     IS IT NOT TRUE THAT EACH SUPERPOWER HAS ENOUGH NUCLEAR WEAPONS TO 
KILL ALL MEMBERS OF MANKIND SEVERAL TIMES OVER? Yes. And the same is 
true for kitchen knives.      
     BUT A SINGLE NUCLEAR BOMB CAN WIPE OUT A WHOLE CITY. No, it 
can't. You would need 438 one-megaton bombs (the power of 22,000 
Hiroshima-sized bombs) to destroy Greater Los Angeles [1] and none of 
them could be "wasted" on pulverizing the rubble, or you would need 
more.
     THEN HOW COME HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI WERE EACH DESTROYED BY A 
SINGLE BOMB? They weren't. Earth-covered backyard shelters were un-
damaged at 100 yards from ground zero, and photos [2] show wood-frame 
houses at 1 mile from ground zero at Hiroshima badly damaged, but not 
beyond repair. The day after the blast the bridges were open to traf-
fic, the second day trains were operating, and the third day some 
streetcars resumed service [3]. The people in the two cities had 
neither warning nor basements; yet in Dresden, where they had both, 
about as many were killed in the air raid of 13 February 1945 as in 
Nagasaki.
     BUT THE HIROSHIMA BOMB WAS 1,000 TIMES LESS POWERFUL THAN THE H-
BOMBS USED IN TODAY'S WARHEADS. The distance of equal destruction 
varies as the third root of the released energy; 1000 times more 
powerful means the same destruction at 10 times the distance. An 
earth-covered shelter would be undamaged at 1000 yards from ground 
zero, and a wooden house as above would be comparably damaged at a 
distance of 10 miles rather than 1 mile. Grim, but not the end of the 
world.
     BUT THE RADIATION FROM NUCLEAR BOMBS WOULD LEAVE THE EARTH A 
RADIOACTIVE INFERNO FOR DECADES, AND THE SURVIVORS WOULD DIE OF CAN-
CER, LEAVING GENETICALLY DAMAGED OFFSPRING. This, paradoxically, is 
wishful thinking: if it were so, no one would contemplate nuclear war. 
In fact, only a few hundred of Hiroshima's 70,000 dead were victims of 
radioactivity, and no genetic damage could be detected against the 
normal background among the survivors, though they (and even their 
chromosomes) have been examined with extraordinary thoroughness for 
decades. This is not surprising, since ordinarily only those who 
suffer unprotected exposure to the initial radiation will receive a 
dose high enough to be lethal (400 rems will kill half the exposed 
victims, 1000 rems virtually all of them).
    BUT THE FALL-OUT WILL EVENTUALLY KILL EVERYBODY. No, it won't. In 
essence, the highly radioactive isotopes will soon spend themselves, 
while the long-lived isotopes do not radiate intensely (though some 
can be dangerous if they get into the body). Shelters can protect from 
early fallout and filtration can prevent ingestion of radionuclides 
such as strontium and iodine. Iodine is typical for the scare-
mongering: the defeatists fan hysteria for levels one thousand times 
lower than those at which radioiodine is given to healthy patients for 
diagnostic purposes.
    BUT THAT WOULD MEAN SPENDING YEARS IN SHELTERS. No, it wouldn't. 
Use the rule of seven: For every sevenfold increase in time, the 
radioactive level due to fall-out decreases by an order of 10. If the 
level 1 hour after detonation was 1000 units/hour, it will decline to 
100 units/hr in 7 hours, and to 10 in 7 x 7 = 49 hours, or about two 
days. The level measured 1 day after detonation will decline to 1/10 
in a week, to 1/100 in 7 weeks, and to 1/1000 in less than a year 
(7x7x7 = 343 days).
    AND HOW DOES ONE LIVE WITHOUT FOOD AND WATER FOR 343 DAYS? One 
does not have to. Food and water are not contaminated by fall-out 
radiation, only by the fall-out particles themselves. Dust-proof 
packed food remains uncontaminated, and radioactive particles can be 
filtered from contaminated water. For details, see Kearney's "Nuclear 
Survival Skills."
    BUT INSTEAD OF ALL THESE GRUESOME DETAILS, IS IT NOT BETTER TO 
KEEP THE PEACE BY THE "BALANCE OF TERROR" VIA "MUTUALLY ASSURED DE-
STRUCTION"? There is nothing balanced or mutual about this doctrine; 
it is the root of America's present predicament. Under the MAD stra-
tegy of unilateral self-deterrence, the US dismantled its anti-
aircraft missile defense, canceled its anti-ballistic missile system, 
and deliberately let its civil defense die, all under the assumption 
that if the civilian populations were defenseless hostages to nuclear 
destruction, it would deter war.
    AND DIDN'T IT? To the contrary, it brought war much closer. The 
Soviets were not so stupid as to accept the MAD strategy. While Ame-
rica disarmed, they feverishly built up their forces and turned civil 
defense into a weapon of war: their grandiose evacuation plans would 
allow them a first strike against US missile silos, risking the loss 
of only a few million people (peanuts to the fanatics in the Polit-
bureau) in a retaliatory strike by the US; but such retaliation would 
not come, for no US president could agree to losing more than half of 
America's population if the Soviets threatened a second strike in 
return.
    WHAT HAS PREVENTED THEM DOING THAT? Insufficient accuracy for 
pinpointing US missile silos (or oil refineries and power plants, or 
similar jugular points) and an unwillingness to gamble. Once they have 
achieved the necessary accuracy, they will believe (with good 
reason??) that America will give in without resistance under the 
Chamberlain-Carter-Kennedy mentality.
     What, then, WILL prevent war? What has unfailingly deterred war 
through the ages: the will to fight and the capacity to win. In time, 
America's technological superiority might let it regain the capacity 
to win; but it is the will to defend itself that is now being dan-
gerously sapped by defeatists, demagogues and fear peddlers.
     BUT THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A WAR AS TERRIBLE AS NUCLEAR WAR. There 
has never been a war as terrible as the next one. Yet there have 
always been men and women who stood up to evil and risked their lives 
for their liberty.
    BUT THE LOSSES IN NUCLEAR WAR WOULD BE SO TERRIBLE THAT DEFENSE 
FOR WHATEVER REASON BECOMES IMMORAL. The morality of war does not 
depend on the weapons with which it is fought. You have exactly one 
life to risk in the defense of everything that makes it worth living, 
and it matters little whether you lose it to a spear, a bullet, or 
nuclear radiation. Your forefathers risked, and often lost, that one 
life for your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. You have no 
right to squander your heritage, to invite war by weakness, and to 
leave your children to the demeaning cancer of serfdom.
     
                         * * *
     
    (1988-Updated) REFERENCES: [1] "Interview with Gen. J.K. Sing-
laub," SURVIVE, May-June 1982. [2] THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, 3rd 
ed., US Dept. of Defense, 1977. [3] L.W. Beilenson, SURVIVAL AND PEACE 
IN THE NUCLEAR AGE, Regnery/Gateway, 1980. [4] DOCTORS AGAINST HEALTH 
and THE RADIATION BOGEY, $2 from Golem Press, Box 1342, Boulder, CO 
80306. [5] C.H. Kearney, NUCLEAR SURVIVAL SKILLS, Oregon Inst. f. 
Science & Medicine, Box 1279, Cave Junction, OR 97523, $9.50; [6] THE 
EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WAR, Office of Technology Assessment, May 1979; [7] 
A.B. Robinson & G. North, FIGHTING CHANCE, Or. Inst. f. Sci. & Med., 
Box 1279, Cave Junction, OR 97523, $5.95.
     
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