Nuclear Winter of our Discontent

The scenario is one where several missiles were launched. It doesn’t matter who, but the survivable options.

The fallout from a nuclear detonation will reach across many jurisdictions, potentially involving multiple States. Despite numerous technical analyses and modeling of the consequences of nuclear explosions, the results show that the first 24 hours will be chaos.

Blast, thermal, and radiation injuries in combination will result in worse prognoses
for patients than only sustaining one independent injury. Electromagnetic pulse effects could result in extensive electronics disruptions complicating the function of communications, computers, and other essential electronic equipment.

There will be no significant Federal response at the scene for 24 hours and the full extent of Federal assets will not be available for several days. Emergency response is principally a local function. Federal assistance will be mobilized as rapidly as possible; however, for purposes of this document, no significant Federal response is assumed for 24 – 72 hours.

Blast injuries, such as lung and eardrum damage, will likely be overshadowed by injuries related to collapsing structures. Many of these will be fatal injuries in the SD and MD zone. Further out, flying debris injuries will prevail. NATO medical response planning documents for nuclear detonations state that “… missile injuries will predominate. About half of the patients seen will have wounds of their extremities. The thorax, abdomen, and head will be involved about equally.”
The American Academy of Ophthalmology noted “Most injuries among survivors of conventional bombings have been shown to result from secondary effects of the blast by flying and falling glass, building material, and other debris. Despite the relative small surface area exposed, ocular injury is a frequent cause of morbidity in terrorist blast victims.”

An important effect of a nuclear detonation is the generation of an intense thermal pulse of energy (i.e., the nuclear flash). The thermal effect causes burns to people and may ignite certain flammable materials. The potential for fire ignition in modern cities from the nuclear thermal effect is poorly understood but remains a major concern. Fires may be started by the initial thermal effect igniting flammable materials. Secondary fires may be started by the ignition of gas from broken gas lines and ruptured fuel tanks. Fires destroy infrastructure, pose a direct threat to survivors and responders, and may threaten people taking shelter or attempting to evacuate. If fires are able to grow and coalesce, a firestorm could develop that would be beyond the abilities of firefighters to control. However, experts suggest in the nature of modern US city design and construction may make a raging firestorm unlikely

One of the primary outputs from a nuclear explosion is radiation. Radiation from a nuclear explosion is categorized as initial nuclear radiation (prompt radiation and neutron activation), which occurs nearly instantaneously with the flash, and residual radiation, which occurs after the initial explosion and is largely associated with radioactive fallout. Initial radiation can be an important contributor to casualties, particularly in the SD zone. The intensity of initial nuclear radiation, however, decreases with distance from ground zero. This decrease is a result of the radial dispersion of radiation as it travels away from the point of detonation and the absorption, scattering, and capture of radiation by the atmosphere and buildings.

elburn fallout shelter diagram

Hence the wind pattern will determine the damage. For a city like Chicago, movement to Indiana and Michigan would prove a poor choice. Heading South and West would be better.

A nuclear explosion will produce dangerous levels of initial nuclear radiation to those within a ½ mile from ground zero, and radiation from fallout radiation within 10 – 20 miles downwind. In a fallout zone, external exposure to gamma radiation is the dominant health concern, but beta radiation will cause severe tissue damage when fallout material remains in contact with unprotected skin resulting in ‘beta burns.’ Excessive radiation dose can cause acute health effects (short-term effects), including death, and long-term health risks, especially cancer. Moderate to large radiation doses are known to increase cancer, and any radiation dose is assumed to contribute to an increased risk of cancer. Generally, radiation doses received over a longer period of time are less harmful than doses received instantaneously.

They can prediction radiation deaths as shown.

elburn fallout shelter rad death

The most effective life-saving opportunity for response officials in the first hour following a nuclear explosion will be the decision to shelter populations in the expected dangerous fallout areas. When individuals remain in nuclear fallout areas unsheltered, the fallout deposited on the ground and roofs will lead to an immediate external radiation exposure from gamma radiation. The radiation dose from fallout is often referred to as the ground shine dose and it will typically be orders of magnitude greater than internal hazards resulting from inhalation or ingestion of radioactive material in the DF zone. To mitigate internal contamination, respiratory protection for the public, even ad hoc protection (e.g.,holding a cloth over one’s mouth and nose), is better than no protection at all.

The immediate result of 100 nuclear weapons roughly the size of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki being detonated would be the release of five megatons of black carbon into the atmosphere.

Black carbon, not too dissimilar to soot, would block out the sun and can also be fatal to humans.

Following a spell of black carbon rain, a deadly weather front that would devastate what remained of humanity following the nuclear war, the temperature of Earth would begin to drop.

After a year the temperature would fall by 1°C (2°F), while after five it would be 1.5°C (3°F) cooler than it is now.

About 20 years after the conflict it would warm again to just 0.5°C (1°F) below today’s temperature.

Accompanying what the researchers call ‘the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1,000 years’ would be a huge loss in ozone levels.

They say that global ozone losses of 20 to 50 per cent would occur over populated areas, ‘levels unprecedented in human history’.

The drop in temperature would produce ‘killing frosts’ that reduce the world’s growing season by 10 to 40 days.

Meanwhile the eradication of up to half of the ozone would increase UV rays in some locations by as much as 80 per cent, raising the chance of developing skin cancer for large swathes of humanity.

Combined with the global cooling, this ‘would put significant pressures on global food supplies and could trigger a global nuclear famine.’

The planet’s falling temperature would also decrease the amount of rainfall.

Five years after the conflict Earth would see 9 per cent less rain, while 26 years after the war there would still be 4.5 per cent less rain.

The result of all this would be devastation and ultimately death for hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions.

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