Do people really see a movie and think it conveys what the deal was with all those backyard bomb shelters in the 60s. Here is a hint: Hollywood does not equal reality.
All this started a week or so ago, when I was watching “The Hunt for Red October” with some friends and their kids. The Cold War seemed distant. They are a bit younger than I am, but then again I am NOT older than dirt. They didn’t know what a MIRV was. (No it isn’t in the movie.) It stands of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles. Which also came as a surprise as they didn’t know ICBMs went into space. The kids especially were adamant – you can’t survive close to a nuclear detonation. Not sure who told them that. Hollywood?
But was it so long ago that people believe a bad movie, like “Blast from the Past” has anything to teach about nuclear war. You would think so based on what I heard that night and have read since. Hollywood does not equal reality.
Here are a few ideas that it may be hard to wrap your mind around.
You don’t have to spend 20 years in a fallout shelter following a nuclear attack. 28 days. (21 to 28 days depending, but 28 days for sure.) That is 28 gallons of water per person, and meals. Affects of a dirty bomb are a different story, but I don’t believe that any reasonable dirty bomb will affect nearly the area of an actual nuke. Especially a thermonuke. Now you may want to have (in the fashion of the Mormons) a year’s worth of food after that 28 days. But you don’t need to spend that year underground, and you certainly don’t need to spend 20 years hiding from radiation.
You can survive fairly close to ground zero (1.5 to 3 miles is survivable provided you have a blast shelter). Yes. 1 and 1/2 miles. You need to be in a shelter against incident radiation (4 or 5 feet underground) and you need protection from the blast wave. (7 bar or 100 PSI) You can build a DIY blast valve out of some 2 by 8′s and the rubber cut from your car tire. (Don’t believe me? Google is your friend – the tests were run by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1970s before the Test Ban Treaty took affect.) After incident radiation, there is gamma radiation for the first 3 or 4 days, followed by the fallout. It has a fairly short half-life, all things considered.
I am not saying that everyone needs to sink a bunker into their back yard. The risk of nuclear war is slightly less than it was in 1963. But all those people who built bunkers 50 years ago were not insane. They just had access to more information than you do. They also faced a very real risk that the Cold War would turn (nuclear) hot.
Not all countries have completely ignored the area of Civil Defense.
Switzerland is unique in having enough nuclear fallout shelters to accommodate its entire population, should they ever be needed
The US and most Western powers have ignored Civil Defense. (There are lavish bunkers for legislators and bureaucrats – or there were at one time. Not sure about their current state.)
For some information on radiation you could see my post, from shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the resultant problems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, entitled “The Banana Equivalent Dose: Or your food is radioactive.”
And you really shouldn’t get your information about the world from Hollywood movies. If you did you would think you had forever to put on an oxygen mask on an airplane if a window shattered. (Look up “explosive decompression.” You have 15 seconds before you black out, not the minutes you see on TV and the movies. That’s why you “put your own mask on first,” then help others.)