'The U.S. response to Japanese concerns over radioactive fallout and the fears of nuclear warfare included such sensitive plans as the construction of an atomic power generator in Hiroshima to convince the Japanese with the "peaceful applications of atomic power."'
Eisenhower, Science Advice, and the Nuclear Test Ban Debate, 1945-1963, p.60
Following Where The Nuclear Carrot GoesAt the close of World War II, chemical weapons and nuclear arms technology that helped win the war were applied in peaceful ways in the U.S. Chemical weapons formulas were given to U.S. agricultural interests in their losing fight against bugs. The story of the application of atomic technology in post-war U.S. was a bit more nuanced. In the 1950s, Americans and peoples across the globe were growing fearful of atomic war and, hence, atomic weapons. So, through his 1950s 'Atoms for Peace' program, Dwight Eisenhower sought to convince Americans about the peaceful uses of atomic fission; atomic fission was the scientific principle that made possible the A-bombs that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Eisenhower had a motive (like every other nuclear power leader, who sees membership in a nuclear weapons monopoly as a requisite for continued global hegemony). Historians recall that '...Eisenhower expressed great interest in the peaceful application of atomic energy as a means of calming the public fear of the atom.' (ibid, p.18) This was done by selling atomic energy, aka nuclear power, as safe and beneficial. Yet, if you ask any energy expert, you'll learn that reactors are quite inefficient in terms of heat generation. They are also obviously much more dangerous than solar cells. The problem with Eisenhower's plan was that cancers and leukemias and birth defects were showing up in areas where the U.S. and the Soviet Union were busy developing and testing their atom bombs. All of this activity, necessary to build a huge and powerful nuclear arsenal, created disease clusters in black rain areas, downwinder areas, and so on. It wasn't just local areas that were impacted. A huge radiation hotspot was formed in the North American wheat belt after fallout from Hydrogen bomb tests in Siberia in the 1960s rained down during strong late winter/early spring storms. (This is still impacting our food supply.)
These dangers - associated with the lingering and long-distant transport aspects of fallout from open-air nuclear explosions - would taint the perception of the atom bomb (and the carrot, peacetime atomic applications) if recognized. So, the powers had a two pronged plan - one was to keep people from knowing any of this, that nuclear weapons use would contaminate large sections of the globe indefinitely, and would cause harm to surviving inhabitants of, or visitors to, bombed cities from the existence of lingering dangerous alpha radiation, like that which coated Hiroshima and Nagasaki for years, and would create hotspots like the black rain areas of Koi-Takasu and Nishiyama where the heaviest of the fallout landed from the A-bomb detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that atomic dust including plutonium would affect people further away like the residents of northern and eastern New Mexico who live amidst one of the biggest plutonium hotspots, formed from the small Trinity nuclear blast, and that people still even further away would be impacted (e.g., wind-blown dust from hotspots at the NNSS, the former Nevada Test Site, and elsewhere in the West's nuclear weapons complex, loft plutonium across the U.S. daily). Instead of the truth, the AEC, Hollywood and other corrupted organizations and entities waged an information war to convince us that a nuclear bomb detonation would only create immediate blast effects. That was the first prong of the plan. The second was to deny the true harm of chemicals like strontium-89 and strontium-90 and various radiocesiums. Through a new 'medical science' of the atom bomb survivors that was fully corrupted and deliberately made into a junk science, the radiobiological truths were covered up; this science relates to our understanding of the same poisons that have harmed the health of downwinders of nuclear power plants, including the victims of Fukushima and Chernobyl and TMI.
Nuclear weapons are the prize. Nuclear energy is the carrot. And this has happened because insane people are running the show and the voters were simply too immature, too proud about their nation and too forgetful of the purpose of their republic. They were too proud of their scientists and victories such that they embraced the atom - recall that an 'atomic fever' blossomed in the U.S. during the early atomic age. Meanwhile, they forgot that tiny piece of advice from 1700s revolutionaries, their founding fathers included, that government was supposed to be controlled by them, to secure freedoms and rights - not the other way around. Yet, Americans allowed their militaries and leaders to keep secrets left and right, up and down, and through the roof, and never was it fully ever realized by those without security clearance that Nuremberg-style abuses were being wreaked on unwitting subjects on the citizens' behalf (in the name of national security) in hospitals, atolls, testing grounds and essentially on the entire human population of the Earth. Later these things partially became known, but the ever-convincing (yet junk) 'medical science' discounted these nuclear crimes because, allegedly, no one really died (or not that many) from these immoral actions. Yet, people were dying. Just like the millions who died from cancers triggered by radioactive polonium-210 in their cigarettes, millions more died from cancers caused by strontium-90 and cesium-137 and plutonium-238 and -239 from nuclear fallout. Yet a cultural organization full of people who aren't mature enough to be stewards of the Earth, a democracy and especially atomic technology won't accept this as truth. A nationalist culture welcomes the infantile psyche and insulates it from any threat to the psychological nurturance that it bestows, including itself. The undeveloped psyche sees threats to the fabric which it desperately clings to - the security blanket - as greater a threat than the rash it receives from its overreliance on the fabric. The rash is, for all intents and purposes, invisible. It's as invisible as the collective medical and genetic health tragedy we've created. This is what can happen to a nationalistic culture, and has happened. No amount of reason or logic can penetrate this mode of thinking - because it is not thinking. We are not thinking beings. We are children with great, tremendous unmet needs who decided to create a nation and atomic weapons. That's a bad mixed drink.
We do have an outmoded way of perceiving things. And it is not suited to an atomic age. Either we change our ways of thinking (by starting to do it) or we face a future of horrific, brutal biological assault on the cellular level. Our anatomical environments are becoming more and more like spent fuel rods. The status quo guarantees this. And our genetic pool can't survive such an assault. It will eventually make us all infertile. And it's looking more likely that the thing that was going to kill us all, nuclear war, won't. It is the carrot that will lead us over the cliff, nuclear power.
PART 2: ...BUT THE DANGER OF NUCLEAR WAR REMAINS ALL TOO REAL...AT ANY MOMENT, a lone nuclear warhead launched from a missile silo at any place on Earth could begin an irreversible and sudden global catastrophe. In the very near future, just seconds away from now, many of us could unexpectedly be incinerated just like the victims of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. More likely, if you're not located in the explosive zone of an international nuclear weapons target, you'll know it's happening: you'll lose electricity or see a flash light up the sky or your windows around you will begin crashing as a shock-wave stampedes through your surroundings... We have to thank for this nightmarish possibility a handful of countries that have nuclear weapons and whose leaders and dogmas we actually don't think are 'crazy.' Yet these countries have opted for decades and decades to keep their nuclear weapons aimed at big and even small cities worldwide and keep these nukes on 'trigger-alert.' Within minutes of the onset of some terrible, belligerent provocation, whether real or imagined, Obama, or Putin, or any of the other leaders of the G8 powers, but not limited to just them, could authorize a first-nuclear strike, precipitating a global nuclear war.
But, nearly sixty years since the issuance of 'The Russell-Einstein Manifesto,' which warned us HOW to cope with the new age of WMDs, we haven't learned. Our willful neglect of this topic has allowed this most frightening threat to persist. And why? Is the thought of random, imminent universal death very uncool? Or even un-credible? Do we think that because nuclear warheads haven't been used in conflict since 1945, they won't ever again be used? Is this logical thinking? Do we really think cooler minds will always prevail, on both sides, during even the worst imaginable armed conflict? At some point our enemies (or ourselves) will resort to throwing even the kitchen sink during their battles. You have to admit, at some point, that it is inevitable. And do you think you will find it easy to survive in the wake of nuclear war? Think again. All of us will face a horrible fate, one described by Albert Einstein and ten other eminent intellectuals and scientists in a 1955 proclamation that warned of the dire consequences of nuclear war:
'...the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.' - The Russell-Einstein Manifesto
In his last public act before he died, Einstein warned us of the true consequences of nuclear war. Nuclear war will mean obliteration of cities and deadly global-circulating fallout dust that will cause disease and disintegration for the rest. Like the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there will be nothing that we can do to help ourselves. Few of us will escape the destruction in time or physically evade the missiles and the immense blasts and resulting firestorms, and, importantly, none would be able to stop the damaging influences of the deadly dust - or 'fallout,' a word that we think we know what it means, but have no real idea. (Learn how historical airborne fallout episodes, all considered 'minor' compared to the kind generated by nuclear war, impacted the Marshall Islanders, the residents of New Mexico, and the entire human population beginning half a century ago.) In the event of nuclear war, there will be so many sick and poisoned globally that no one will have access to good medical care. Mass disintegration will spare few, if anyone. All human life could perish.
'So, gosh, what do I do about it?,' you ask. Consider for a moment that that is NOT the right question. Consider that the challenge might be to accept it, to firstly adjust to the threat of a randomly occurring nuclear war. Accept that you and all the things you ever knew could disappear in a moment's flash. Accept that Hiroshima and Nagasaki is our future. Accept that in the future when you next blink your eyes, or you next take a right turn on to a side-street or when the phone rings, you could be incinerated, or that you will witness the flashes of lights, the skies darkening, the effects of the deadly, invisible poisons that will infiltrate every pocket of our existence as disease and disintegration begin picking off the people around us, and eventually taking us too. This adjustment, though incredibly painful, will reveal a truth about the truly pathetic future we, humanity, continually remake for ourselves...and when we see this insanity dead-on, when we finally 'own' it, then we won't need to ask that question - 'what do I do about it?' Our survival mentality will begin to work its magic - the magic of human ingenuity, imagination and hope, all combined. We will change to this adjustment and as we change the world will change around us.
'As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness.' - Ghandi
Maybe the only place where one can find happiness in our times is facing the fear of nuclear war and radioactive fallout and knowing that as we change, like a turtle adjusts his body and neck to better soak the rays of the sun on his back, the world changes with us. If we all adjust to the rays of peace, and a future of no more wars, and no more WMDs, then we will remake the world, the future and the reality all at once. This is how humans act when they are absorbed entirely in the consideration of their greatest family - the family we all share, which is called humanity.
As the one phrase that Joseph Rotblatt, the only scientist to leave the Manhattan Project on moral grounds, most fondly remembered years after he signed his name to the 1955 proclamation: 'Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.'