NUCLEAR WAR IN THE U.K.
An exploration of how the United Kingdom would fare in a nuclear war. There are chapters on: nuclear politics • nukespeak and 'nuclear theology' • atomic bomb tests and 'accidents' • American bases in the U.K. • the superpowers' military programmes and strategies • the cost of nuclear war • British civil defence • the Gulf War, 'infowar' and 'smart' technology • nuclear attack scenarios • and anti-war and peace initiatives.
Jeremy Robinson's books include Blade Runner and the Films of Philip K. Dick, Rimbaud, Lawrence Durrell and Hayao Miyazaki.
EXTRACT FROM CHAPTER TWO: “HELL ON EARTH”
A NUCLEAR WAR ‘WORST CASE’ SCENARIO
Here’s how you might die in a nuclear strike. Maximum capability is about one strategic warhead hitting a target every twenty seconds. Let’s take a one megaton air-burst scenario. At ground zero, all buildings would be destroyed. Winds of 1,000 mph. There may be an ‘echo’ of the blast wave (the ‘Mach’ effect), resulting in double the over-pressure. The fireball will rise at feet/ second, expanding to 6,000 feet diameter after ten seconds. The radioactive cloud would be 3 miles high in 30 seconds. All combustible stuff would ignite, some up to 8 miles away. Air heat rises to 10,000,000° C. Heat travels outwards at 186,000 miles per second. Flesh would melt. People would die in the suffocation from the firestorm. At 1.5 miles from ground zero over-pressure is 30 times than normal atmospheric pressure. From two to five miles away, most buildings would be flattened, within 15 or so seconds. Winds of 130 mph. Clothing would ignite. Radiation sickness is inevitable.
At three miles away you’ll feel a flash of light (christened the pika-don at Hiroshima); then intense heat which chars to the bone (full-thickness burns); fifteen seconds later the windows would be blown in by the blast wave; and you’d be thrown about by the wind. First degree burns as far as 20 miles from detonation. The EMP (electromagnetic pulse) will disrupt computers, telephones, radios, radars and power supplies.
Most people would be permanently blinded by the brilliant light. There are about 200 radioactive elements in fall-out. Fall-out is second-stage radiation, contaminating water, the food chain, everything. Everywhere would be a ‘Z Zone’, a fall-out zone. Nice to know, too, that radiation is undetectable by the five senses. You may have a mortal dose and not know it. You’ll know soon, though. You’re in for a party, with radiation comin’ at ya in four types: alpha, beta, gamma and neutron. Gamma rays can penetrate several inches of concrete. Uranium and plutonium isotopes are nice, affecting bones, the respiratory tract, the liver, kidneys and lymphnodes: radiation lasts up to thousands of years. Ionizing radiation’ll give you nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, delirium, exhaustion, haemorrhages, hair loss, ulcers, anaemia and leukemia.