We all know a nuclear war would be bad, but it’s kind of abstract. Personally, I always just assumed I’d be vaporized if a nuclear bomb fell near me. Apparently not, according to this video, which provides a terrifying, in-depth look at just what would happen if you were close to a nuclear ground zero. The real problem, we discover, is that “close” is a relative term.
For instance, if the bomb dropped on a clear night, people up to 53 miles away would experience flash blindness. People 7 miles away would get first-degree burns. Within 5 miles, it’s third-degree burns—which, if they cover 24 percent or more of your body, are very likely to kill you. But we’re just getting started:
Within a 4 mile radius, according to our video friend, the blast force would be 180 tons. This would not be good for you or the structure you live in. Within a bit more than a half mile, windspeeds would be over 700 kilometers per hour. You can survive that, but a building would probably fall on you. All this, by the way, is from a one-megaton bomb. The Russians have tested a 50-megaton bomb.
Oh, and none of this includes the radiation element—which is kind of a big deal. That could land you with genetic mutations or an increased risk of cancer. And if it doesn’t kill you—and the bomb was part of even a small-scale nuclear war—the nuclear fallout could dominate the atmosphere, causing a significant loss of annual rainfall. That would devastate crop harvests and, by one estimate, could starve as many as 2 billion people to death.
Now remember who has complete, unregulated control of our nuclear weapons.
Here’s Why Trump Can’t Be Trusted with the Nuclear Codes
It’s not only about worldwide destruction, as expert John Noonan explains
hn Noonan knows nukes. He has spent his entire life in the defense community, first as the son of a career Naval officer, then as a student in military institutions, then as a United States Air Force launch officer within the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB) system. He’s spent countless 24-hour shifts 100 feet below ground, surrounded by ten nuclear missiles to which he has the launch codes. After leaving the Air Force, he became a spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee and served as a national security advisor to both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
Before this election, Noonan was mostly behind the scenes, a powerful man who worked in the shadow of even more powerful politicians. That is, until Donald Trump came along and started running his mouth about using nuclear weapons with the flippancy with which most of us deploy angry-face emojis.
Noonan is a low-key guy, but such a fundamental misunderstanding by a presidential nominee of our most powerful war deterrent was too much. So he took to Twitter. In a twenty-tweet rant, Noonan rained scunnion down upon poor Donald with a series of logical points that led to one conclusion: Trump should not be given the ability to launch a nuclear weapon.
Since the tweet storm, Noonan has been in constant demand for television and radio appearances, and his op-ed cup overfloweth. By his reckoning, he is at minute fourteen of his fifteen minutes of fame. We figure we’d snag the last one.
ESQ: One of your most damning condemnations of Trump was the observation that he did not seem to know in concrete terms, about the “Nuclear Triad.” Why does it matter that he knows submarine-launched missiles, ground-based missiles, and air-launched/dropped nuclear weapons?
JOHN NOONAN: It’s evidence that Trump doesn’t have any damn respect for this country. When you run for president, you need to know certain things: You need to know how much a gallon of milk costs. You need to know the names and the proper pronunciations of major world leaders. And you sure as hell need to know some basic facts about nuclear weapons. When Mitt and Jeb ran for office, they studied. They asked questions. They had a hunger and desire to learn, because they knew that the demands of leadership are unforgiving. Ignorance is a choice. And Trump’s choice—to not do the work—is essentially saying “I don’t care about you or the demands of this office.”
You were a nuclear-weapons officer, trusted with the launch codes and keys that could end the world. What was it like to have the fate of the world in your hands. literally?
Well let’s not get too hyperbolic. The era of tens of thousands of missiles and bombs on alert went out with parachute pants and the Sugar Hill Gang. Nuclear forces are much smaller these days.
That said, a nuclear exchange between two major powers would reshape the world in a drastic and nightmarish way, take the lives of millions, and have catastrophic environmental effects that would last generations. So we’re not playing with Lincoln Logs here either.
And yes, it’s a hell of a responsibility. Consider this: The president gives an order. But a missileer, or a submarine or bomber crew, all have to choose whether or not to follow that order. In a sense, the decision to release nuclear weapons isn’t the president’s alone. It’s shared by everyone in that chain of command. Don’t get me wrong, I would have done my duty and I can damn near guarantee everyone on alert right now wouldn’t blink either. But think of that as an added responsibility of the presidency: You aren’t just ordering nuclear release—you are asking everyone in that chain of command to own it, too, and to live with it for the rest of their lives.