The Possible Effects of Nuclear Weapons & a Realistic Scenario for the
Days after the Initial Offensive
(NOTE FROM SYSOP - this article has some SERIOUS errors, omissions, and
falsehoods in it. I will try to add some footnotes on these later. I'm sure the
author tried to do the best job he could. However, if the work that you use as
a reference is wrong, your summation will be just as wrong.)
The largest bomb of the Second World War exploded with a force
equivalent to thirteen kilotons, thirteen thousand tons, of dynamite
(TNT). This bomb was called "Little Boy". The ironic thing about the
name is that when the bomb is compared to the warheads of today, the only
word that comes to mind is little. Most of our modern warheads are a
hundred times as powerful, or more.
To give you a little perspective, let's say that a fifteen kiloton
nuclear missile exploded over New York City while most of the population
was out to lunch. A report from the Secretary-General of the United
Nations says out of the eight million people in the city, approximately
one million people will die on the first day. If a one megaton bomb was
exploded over Detroit, approximately 640,000 people would die immediately.
If a twenty-five megaton bomb exploded, approximately 3.2 million people
would die out of the four million people living there.(1) A megaton is
equivalent to a million tons of TNT. It would take 10,000 railroad
freight cars to carry one million tons of TNT.(2)
The following is the possible outcome of an explosion of a one megaton
nuclear warhead over the city of Detroit, Michigan. At ground zero,
directly underneath the bomb, there would be a crater measuring one
thousand feet wide and two hundred feet deep.(3) There would be a highly
radioactive rim extending two thousand feet from the center,(4) this would
keep unprotected persons from entering this circle for nearly twenty-five
years. Up to 1.7 miles from the center you would not see any signs of
buildings. All buildings within this circle would be completely destroyed.
Between 1.7 and 2.7 miles from the center, you might be able to see the
infrastructures of the more heavily built buildings.(6) There would be
almost no survivors until after 2.7 miles from ground zero.(6) Up until
approximately eight miles out, houses would be flattened from the
over-pressure produced by the bomb.(7) From 2.7 to 4.7 miles, all light
walled structures would be destroyed and the contents of the top floors of
the strongest buildings would be blown out into the street.(8) The
over-pressure, about five pounds per square inch, would cause the windows
and frames of all buildings to be blown out.(9) In the band from 4.7
miles to 6.3 miles out, the 3 p.s.i. over-pressure would cause people to be
blown out of modern office buildings and would cause millions of flying
projectiles. These projectiles are capable of killing anyone they hit.
The winds would cause people to be blown against walls with a force many
times greater than gravity.(10) Up to fifteen miles from the explosion,
the winds would cause objects to fly with a force capable of fracturing
the skull (of a human) fifty percent of the time.(11) The bomb would
cause the death of approximately 640,000 people on the first day.(12)
There are approximately 2.75 billion people in the world. The NUCLEAR
ALMANAC says that approximately 20 - 160 million civilians would be
immediately killed by a nuclear attack on present United States' strategic
weapon bases by one megaton warheads (as you know, the Soviets have 100
megaton warheads). the radioactive cloud produced by these weapons would
cover about fifty percent of the United States.(13) Approximately 25
million more people would die to cancer and genetic defects caused by the
nuclear weapons. Added to what is the predicted deaths of other
countries, the total deaths would be from 120 to 260 million people.(14)
This means that from 4.3 to 9.5 percent of the Earth's population would be
killed within a couple of years after the war. (Remember, radiation causes
sterilization. This was not placed into the above calculations.)
In 1958 there was a study on the possible fatalities in the United
States during a hypothetical nuclear war. The explosive power totaled
2,500 megatons and the population 175 million persons. They figured that
on the first day 42 million people would die. By the seventh day 17
million more would die. On the fourteenth day there would be a total of 71
million people dead and by the sixtieth, 83 million people would have died
in the U.S.(Remember: the strategy of the time was military targets, now
we go after large civilian populations, large industrial areas, etc.)
There would be 25 million injured and 67 million left uninjured.(15) It
is predicted that up to 2/3 of the injured would eventually die from their
injuries. Almost half of the population of the United States would die.
A so-called limited attack by the Soviet Union on ten U.S. refineries
using about two percent of the nation's nuclear arsenal would kill more
than 5 million U.S. citizens.(16)
The following is a summary of a fictional account of what may happen
after a nuclear attack:
Almost right after the attack, people from all over crowded into the
rural towns. They were escaping from the destroyed cities, looking for
food, shelter, clothing, and medical attention. They had nothing except
the clothes on their back. They had no where to go. After the first few
days the hospitals closed their doors to new patients. Not only because
of the high radioactivity outside, but they just did not have any room.
The very sick were left to die. The others were left to fend for
Radio communications were nearly wiped out. The President came on the
air once in a while.(Chances are no one would hear him: EMP) he would
usually talk about the "cease-fire". He kept telling them about how the
Soviets were hurt just as much as the U.S. He told them 100 million
people were killed. He said the government was doing all they
could.(Let's remember, the Pres. is a rather nice distance underground and
most likely not seeing true reports on what is going on.)
Food became scarce. People raided the grocery stores and the houses of
the people living in shelters. Some were stealing the farmers' cattle. A
few went out into the woods to try to find the few remaining wild animals.
About two weeks after the explosions, the food did all but run out.
People looked to the government, or what was left of it. The president
said they were doing all they could.
In the spring, people changed their attitude. Crops were planted.
Some even tried to rebuild the cities and factories. The government tried
to stop the barter system and reinstate currency. People found the money
worthless and kept trading. Some thought things were going to get better.
When winter came around, the food ran out. People started eating dogs,
cats, and rats; animals by their habitat were protected from the
fallout.(also cockroaches) The weak, the old, and young started to die.
The first winter took its toll on the living. People were rebelling.
The government came together to figure out what to do. They could not
come up with a decision that would agree with everyone. By then, no one
knew what to do. The life they were used to: cars, computers, the office,
golf, schools, the Superbowl, parties, all disappeared. What was left?
It is interesting how after our civilization becomes so technologically
advanced and complex, we could destroy it all in a matter of moments. Our
lifestyles would go back to the horse and buggy era. Most of our
complexities, i.e. computers, would be forgotten. We would learn how to
farm and care for animals. We probably would not be able to rebuild our
previous civilization until after a few generations. The survivors would
concentrate on survival, not worrying about selling stock for IBM or even
going to school. There would be no use for them. Our country would be
set back a couple of hundred years. People might even deny our previous
civilization, and turn back to a more simple life: one in which there
would be no offices, no taxation, no hostility. We might even become
friends with the Soviets.
Hopefully, we, the people of this planet, will one day realize the
dangers of nuclear war, and will stop it. Hopefully everyone on this
planet will become on family, working for the betterment of all. Maybe
we will one day become the perfect civilization that only Karl Marx, Plato,
and other philosophers have dreamed of.
1 Congress of the U.S., Office of Technology Assessment, THE EFFECTS OF
NUCLEAR WAR, 1980, pp. 27-33
2 ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA, 1985 ed., s.v. "Nuclear Weapons."
3 Neville Brown, NUCLEAR WAR: THE IMPENDING STRATEGIC DEADLOCK, (New
York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., Publishers, 1964), p. 14
5 Congress of the U.S., pp. 27-33
7 Jack Dennis, ed., THE NUCLEAR ALMANAC (Reading, Mas.: Addison - Wesley
Publishing Company, Inc., 1984), p. 101
8 Congress of the U.S., p. 31
10 Dennis, p. 102
11 Ibid., p. 101
12 Congress of the U.S., p. 27-33
13 Dennis, p. 154
15 Linus Pauling, NO MORE WAR! (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1983),
16 Dennis, p. 153
17 Congress of the U.S., pp. 124-138
Brown, Neville. NUCLEAR WAR: THE IMPENDING STRATEGIC DEADLOCK. New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., Publishers, 1964
Congress of the United States, Office of Technology Assessment. THE
EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WAR. Washington: GPO, 1980
Dennis, Jack, ed. THE NUCLEAR ALMANAC. Reading, Mas.: Addison - Wesley
Publishing Company, Inc., 1984
Foster, Jr., John S. "Nuclear Weapons". ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA. 1985 ed.
Pauling, Linus. NO MORE WAR!. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1983
What you have just read was written by yours truly in December of 1986
for people who have limited knowledge pertaining to nuclear weapons, etc.
To keep the feeling of the original script, I only made changes in
punctuation and added words in (). I apologize for some of them, it's
late and I am tired. I am sooner or later going to write another
"article" with newer data and maybe more info pertaining to blast effects,
radiation levels, current armament and strategies. I hope this will be
helpful. I will gladly accept any pros, cons or general howdies, etc.
from anyone who has read it. I'm Fred Witsl. Give a holler.