Saturday, June 25, 2022

Oh great, we’re a nuclear sponge

Editor | March 16, 2022 7:50 AM

You know, since we’re on the precipice of World War III I figured I’d better make a plan in case things go south and I have to evacuate to another part of the country or the world.

My plan has always been to go to a wilderness area somewhere, particularly the one that’s just to the east of town, namely because it’s convenient and I can walk there in a day or so.

But my hopes were dashed this weekend when I learned that Montana is what they affectionately call a nuclear sponge.

It’s not exactly the sort of thing you scrub your toes with, either.

Turns out (and I sorta knew this already) that Malmstrom Air Force Base has about 150 nuclear missiles, give or take the evaporation of a small city or two.

The idea behind a nuclear sponge is when a nuclear war takes place, the opposing country sends a bunch of its nukes to a place like central Montana to destroy ‘em, which, presumably, means they’re not going to cities across the country.

It’s a neato theory, I must admit, unless you happen to live in Montana, particularly east of the divide (though I gotta think that the Ruskies would chuck a nuke a Hungry Horse Dam just for fun, don’t you?)

It also puts a serious crimp in my escape to the Bob Marshall plan, because just one little shift in the wind, assuming I survive to begin with, will mean I get irradiated anyway, which might just be worse than being evaporated, since radiation poisoning doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.

I mean heck, I only let my dentist take X-Rays once every couple of years, just in case.

(To be honest, that has nothing to do with radiation, it has more to do with being cheap.)

There’s also another problem with the “nuclear sponge” plan, too. And that’s that both countries have more than just a few hundred nukes, they have thousands.

Still, I gotta think that someone would survive.

Of course, someone has put pencil to paper on this.

“Following a major nuclear war, approximately 1 billion people would be left dead, and millions more, probably hundreds of millions more, would be injured,” according to a 1986 study by John W. Birks and Sherry L. Stephens of the University of Colorado.

Outside of being fried and radiated, there’s also the problem of the ozone layer, they found.

Depending on how many bombs are detonated, the ozone layer, particularly in the northern hemisphere, could be depleted up to 43% they said.

So first off, you would have unimaginable smoke and debris the air, which could result in a “nuclear winter.”

Then once it cleared, there would be a hole in the ozone, which would cause even more problems due to radiation from the sun.

“Those who would survive the prompt effects of a nuclear war would face a radically altered physical environment. A period of weeks to months of darkened days and subfreezing temperatures would stress the ecosystems, on which mankind ultimately depends, in ways unprecedented in recorded history. Not only would the distribution of existing food stores be interrupted, but the growing of food would become impossible. As the sooty smoke is slowly removed from the atmosphere and the sunshine begins to break through, it is likely that this light would be highly enriched in damaging ultraviolet radiation—adding a further insult to the already injured biosphere. There would always be great uncertainty about the safety of any food eaten, because it could be contaminated by chemical toxins, in addition to radioactivity,” Birks and Stephens concluded.

In other words, it sounds like we better start getting along.

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