President Trump recently announced that the United States is going to back out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia.
According to National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who is not a favor of arms control treaties, Russia has already violated the INF, giving the United States valid reason to leave the treaty, which had originally been signed with the now defunct Soviet Union.
John Bolton’s position on arms control treaties makes sense, as they usually hamper the United States more than those we sign them with. Overall, the USA depends more on military technology than any other country in the world. Ever since before World War I, part of the US military strategy has been that it is better to expend things than people. This attitude came in part due to our national wealth and part in response to the high number of casualties we suffered in our Civil War.
Arms control treaties generally limit newer and more powerful military technologies, something that we as a country depend on, more than other countries do. In addition, many countries find ways to interpret these agreements, which allow them to do what they want, while hamstringing the American military. Such is the case of the INF, which the Russians have negated by the development and deployment of a new cruise missile.
The danger of backing out of the INF is that we could very well find ourselves back in another Cold War, with the US and Russia building up nuclear stockpiles in a return to détente through Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). If that happens, we will once again be only a button push away from thermonuclear war on a global scale.
It may seem a bit strange talking about nuclear survival now, when it will take us six months to finish the process of backing out of the treaty. But there’s a good reason for that. It will take you and I much longer than six months to prepare for nuclear war. Surviving a nuclear war is one of the more complex survival problems around, as tough as surviving an EMP, but in different ways.
There are actually three different phases of survival that we would have to pass through, if our country were ever involved in a nuclear war. These are:
- Surviving nuclear war
- Surviving nuclear fallout
- Surviving nuclear winter
Nuclear explosions have the capability of killing in several different ways; but the majority of those who are killed will be killed either by the heat of the explosion or the blast force, which will generate enormous winds, flattening everything in its path.
Surviving the war itself is the shortest survival problem and depends more on your location than anything else. The closer you are to a target, the greater the impact that the heat and blast force will have, killing even before the radiation can. Those who are the closest to the blast will probably die without even knowing what is happening. Those farther out may have as much as a minute to seek shelter before the heat and blast can reach them.
Radiation poisoning isn’t just a short-term problem from the explosion though; it is also a problem from fallout; the falling of radioactive debris (mostly soot). This fallout will occur over the next 30 days and will follow the prevailing wind, as the wind blows the radioactive soot across the surface of the planet.
Click here to find out how to survive when the lights go out!
I distinctly remember fallout drills, much like fire drills, when I was in elementary school. Our class was to take shelter under the stairway in the school building. Looking back on it, I can’t see how that would have done any good, as there was no way all those kids could have survived in that small space for 30 days; there just wasn’t enough room, let alone things like food, water and toilets.
Finally, there will be a portion of the soot which will be blown up into the upper atmosphere, where it will remain for years, not falling back to the Earth in the form of fallout. This will block a portion of the sun’s light, causing a “nuclear winter” as temperatures plummet. A worldwide nuclear winter could be caused by as little as 50 – 15 kt nuclear bombs (the size dropped on Hiroshima), actually fairly small devices by today’s standards.
How much they plummet will depend largely upon how much soot ends up blowing up into the upper atmosphere and that depends on where the nukes are aimed. The worst is if they are city-busters, as there is a lot of flammable material in a city. This nuclear winter could last for years, perhaps even more than a decade.
The Effects of Nuclear War
An important part of studying nuclear war is understanding what potential targets there are out there. I’m sure that during the Cold War there was a lot of effort on the part of the CIA and other intelligence agencies to figure out how the Soviet Union was targeting us. Military targets obviously received the highest priority, but government centers, our missile silos, nuclear reactors and major population centers could all be targeted as well.
In a “limited” nuclear exchange, with “only” 500 nuclear warheads hitting the United States, we could count on every military base and state capital being hit, with many major cities and nuclear reactors destroyed as well.
What that would mean is that our entire government would be decapitated at the state and federal level; military forces would be largely destroyed, except for those deployed on ships and overseas, our nation’s power grid would be down and the entire infrastructure we depend on, including the distribution of food and other goods disrupted. It could easily take years to put enough of the United States back together to have a viable government and infrastructure once again.
From a survival viewpoint, once the war was over, the situation that those of us who survived would be living through would be much like an EMP, with a large portion of the population dying off, either from the war itself or from starvation afterwards. The two major differences would be that our electronics would not be fried, so could be used off of off-grid power and that it would actually be easier to get at least localized electric grids up and running once again.
Surviving the Nuclear War
There are two workable strategies for surviving a nuclear war and the aftermath. The first is to be so far out in the boonies, that you aren’t affected by it. Even then, there will be the dual problems of fallout and nuclear winter. The second is to be underground, surviving in a bunker.
Surviving the War
The two options I just mentioned will both work for surviving the war itself. It is even theoretically possible to survive near ground zero, if one is in a deep enough bunker. But the reality is that most personally-owned bunkers are not deep enough for that. However, if you live out in the suburbs and are several miles from any target, you could easily survive the war phase in a bunker.
The idea here is that the radiation, heat and blast will all pass over your head, with the ground your bunker is buried in protecting you. Of course, the farther out you are from ground zero, the better; but even being a mile from the epicenter will protect you, if you are in a bunker.
If you are not in a bunker, you will need to be several miles away from the burst, to be protected from any permanent injury or death. A 20 kt nuclear bomb will flatten all buildings out to about a mile and blow glass out of windows out to about three miles. Third degree burns and flash fires will occur out to about 3.5 miles.
Surviving the Fallout
Your best option for surviving fallout is to be in a bunker, below ground level. If you don’t have a bunker, the basement of your home will suffice. However, you can even survive fallout at ground level, if you are inside a sealed building and don’t go outside.
The key here is to not have any contact with the radioactive soot that is falling. Being underground provides you with a greater level of protection than being at ground level, as the ground will absorb some of that radiation, especially from fallout that doesn’t fall right beside your shelter.
It should be noted that you can be pretty far from a population center and still have problems with fallout. In some parts of the country, where there are high winds, fallout can travel great distances from the blast, especially if there is a lot of flammable material to turn into radioactive ash.
Surviving Nuclear Winter
Perhaps the biggest challenge in surviving a nuclear war will be surviving the nuclear winter that follows. How bad that winter will be is not something that can be predicted accurately, simply because there are so many variables to consider. But there is a good chance that it will be bad enough that growing food will be a challenge, especially in the northern part of the country. Perversely, this means that some of the best places to survive the war will be the worst places to survive the nuclear winter.
There are ways of growing food, even in the midst of a nuclear winter. The greenhouse was invented for the purpose of growing food during cold times. It is essentially a passive solar structure, designed to turn the sun’s light into heat. While sunlight will be diminished, there will still be sunlight available, so it will be possible to grow plants in a greenhouse.
The heating and lighting in a greenhouse can also be augmented in other ways. Putting black plastic barrels, filled with water in the greenhouse is a great means of making a solar heater. The sun can warm the plastic barrels during the day, with the water storing that heat. At night, the heat will radiate out into the greenhouse. Fire can be used as well, which will increase the carbon monoxide in the greenhouse. That’s good for the plants.
Making a Simple Bunker
I mentioned that it will be easier to survive a nuclear war in a bunker. Yet building a bunker is an expensive proposition, with a minimal price tag of about $10,000; and that’s assuming you do the work yourself. But there is a cheaper way.
If your home has a basement, you can convert part or all of it into a bunker fairly easily. You’ll already have a cement floor and at least two walls. You can add the other two walls, if you’re not going to use the whole thing as a bunker, making them out of cinder block. The tricky part will be the roof of the bunker, which should ideally be made out of steel and concrete, so that if the house burns or falls down, the bunker will remain intact.
Taking that idea a step farther, you can add plumbing and an air handling system to that basement bunker, giving yourself a water supply, some sort of septic tank and a way of getting filtered air into the bunker, even if the house above you burns down. These provisions will need to last you at least through the time of fallout. Once that is over, you can replenish your water and build an outhouse.
Bob L. | March 12, 2019
Conventional nuclear war is suicidal,and outdated. The only ones possibly ignorant enough to consider it are those who are “religiously” suidical, those with the technology and more advanced EMP weapons may put the idea on the table, but also know what goes around comes around and there still would be no winner.
Armin | March 12, 2019
I agree with you, Bob. This article is a moot point and nothing less than blatant scare-mongering. Putin may be a lot of things but he’s not stupid. At least not as stupid as Trump. Putin must know that there are no winners in a full out nuclear assault. He’s not stupid enough to start a global nuclear war. All the nuclear weapons in the world are a deterrent. Nothing more. No sane leader would willingly launch a first strike knowing that they’re committing nuclear suicide and possibly plunging the world into a nuclear winter that could last for years. I would be more worried about a world wide depression something along the lines of what’s happening in Venezuela. I don’t lose one minute of sleep worrying about nuclear war. As you say it’s outdated and very definitely suicidal. Those who think that nuclear war is a viable means to win a conflict are naïve fools.
David | March 12, 2019
I really liked this article. My question is this…How deep do we have to be underground, to be safe in a nuclear war? How thick should the concrete ceiling and walls be? Also, how much soil or sand should be above ground on top of the underground bunker.
Thank-you in advanced.
Peter Denholm | March 12, 2019
The Russians may have some vendetta against the developed western nations, or perhaps against the whole world, similar to the ideas of the Natzis.
If that is true, knowing that the Russians during the cold war dug in pretty good, and may be still digging. They will protect their own people for a century or two underground, after they have started a nuclear conflict destroying and poisoning the whole earth.. Then two centuries later they come back to the surface and have the whole earth.. But if the Russians have started to enjoy life similar to what the Chinese are doing, then the nuclear war may not happen. What is this vendetta, why do they threaten the west. Is it genetic, insanity, evil leaders ? That is the question I am not sure anyone can answer. Until we can answer that question, we may be unable to stop the war of total destruction.
Rudolf R. Blaser | March 15, 2019
Peter, if you seriously consider the land of the brave, the land of the free as a developed western nation of which the Russians are jealous about, this would simply expose you as a naïve brainwashed, sleeping person, not realizing that “God’s country” in the meantime mutated to a land of “brave” murderers and furthermore did not recognize that the land of the free in the meantime transformed to an evil police state, similar to the Nazi Gestapo, with the small difference perhaps that the Nazi cops were not so overweighed criminals. If I were wrong, then could you perhaps tell me, why your FEMA has prepared 10 million body bags, 20 million disposable coffins, 15’000 gallons of cyanide, 2 Billion rounds of hollow ammunition, 100’000 guillotines (2’000 for every state) together with 30’000 spare hatchets, concentration camps for 6 million “American terrorists” in the former Walmart’s and the abolition of the 2nd amendment? Why FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE should the VALDIMIR push the button WHEN YOUR EVIL AND MURDERESS COUNTRY – infiltrated by traitors in now all of your 5 separations of powers, will destroy you devils from within as described in Revelation as the “Whore of Babylon” which shall receive its due and just punishment!
You, dear Peter, should furthermore NOT forget, that your murderess country is blessed with the Yellowstone caldera which we expect to explode now on an hourly basis to destroy this USA demon with 585 mi3 (2’450 km3) of ash and this is NOT a fantasy of a lunatic, because you should always consider also, that the US agreed with Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Australia to have the permission to evacuate 240 Millions of its citizens to those countries in case of an emergency!
Dear Peter, a shy question herewith remains: Are you simply a slumbering naïf or are you YOURSELF a traitor??
Rudolf R. Blaser | March 19, 2019
Dear Peter, a shy question herewith remains: Are you simply a slumbering naïf or are you YOURSELF a traitor, by accusing the INNOCENT VlADIMIR??
Dale | March 12, 2019
I must correct one, potentially deadly mistake you made in the article. Using fire to heat a greenhouse will, indeed, produce carbon monoxide. But plants do not use carbon monoxide, they use carbon DIOXIDE. Big difference! If you fill your greenhouse with carbon monoxide you’ve just created a death trap. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless, meaning that you won’t know it’s there. However, it bonds with the hemoglobin in your blood 30 time more readily than oxygen bonds with your blood. Your body will absorb carbon monoxide instead of oxygen and you will die. That’s why firefighters wear air packs when fighting fires. We want to avoid the carbon monoxide.
Don’t use an open fire to heat your greenhouse, especially not a charcoal fire. If you must use fire, make certain that the greenhouse is well-vented to allow the carbon monoxide to escape and fresh oxygen to enter.
radarphos | March 13, 2019
There was something not said by this article; and it is the size of the nuclear crater at Ground Zero, as well where all the dirt and stone went as it exploded out of the crater. Now I don’t claim any knowledge of what I am talking about. But I read in Cresson H. Kearney’s book (Nuclear War Survival Skills), who studied war time shelters during WWII in jungles, and who studied impact zones in the USA desert, that a pre-1980 nuke could create a crater 100s of feet deep within the first mile of ground zero, and “pile” a mound of dirt around the crater (with material coming from the crater hole) up to 100 feet high within a mile from ground zero (if I am recalling the depth and mound height accurately).
So, my home is within 1 mile of one of Cresson Kearney’s identified Types of targets (that would become a crater if it was the ground zero target). And my house one mile away would be buried under a mound, and under up to 100 feet of dirt from the nuclear blast. Therefore, though there could be survival in a bunker within a short distance from Ground Zero, that bunker may well be merely a coffin, if you can never dig yourself out because of the crater’s mound.
Maybe Bill White knows more about this subject (of nuclear craters and surrounding mounds as it may apply to non -desert areas of USA than I do;. And if you do, Bill, please Share!
What I know from Cresson H Kearney’s book (sold on Amazon) is that he was there when the above ground atomic blasts occurred (at least one that has been shown on TV before…maybe in the 1960s or early 1970s.. And prior to the desert above ground blasts, he was part of the architectural team building homes miles from the blast site(s) in order to study survival above ground and at distance. He also offers detailed plans for building a back-yard fallout shelter (within 3 days, by yourself; and 1 day with a team of about 8 people), along with mechanical ventilation. It is a good read for nuclear weapons far less powerful than what exists today, even though an enemy nation would not necessarily use a more powerful weapon on a small target.
Maybe that would not happen in much of USA because of geoilogical ground conditions being different from the desert where above ground nuclear testing was being done prior to the 1980s.
Yosemite | March 14, 2019
There is a lot that depends on the immediate Fall Out. Weather and depends on IF it is an Air Burst. or a Ground Burst.
Ultimately the best chance and defense for a Nuclear Blast/Detonation is being as far as possible from it and DO NOT look at it
There are areas around the world Fall Out still rains don from ALL of the above ground testing during OPERATION CROSS ROADS….. You can find numerous videos about it.
My Dad was at Kwajalein /Bikini Atolls for test shots ABLE and BAKER. He was on a ship Twelve miles from one shot/Blast and Eighteen miles from the other. His ship NEVER SAW any major effects from the blasts other than EXTREMELY BRIGHT FLASH. They were on deck and covered their eyes with their arms. They had no radiation exposure badges or dosimeters..
They got covered in a warm mist and only a mild ripple in the water that was clear and beautiful to muddy and murky and lots the dead fish AFTER the Blast.
This Flash is Dangerous to the human eye and can will cause blindness and there are also Flash Burns close enough to the blast.
There are shadows Left behind on a bridge and elsewhere where people ere standing when he blast went off. there were many that were in the city and close to if not at Ground Zero at the detonation. The device bomb used was an air burst…
There were two different types of bombs devices used on Japan. There is One individual that happened to survive BOTH Blasts/Bombings…….
Obviously people in here have access to internet. Use search engines and search for Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki bombings and OPERATION CROSSROADS I cannot stress enough for people to do so. You can see how why people survived.
BOTH cities have been rebuilt and people living in them and the cities are thriving………
When it comes to the bomb/warhead/device used. Radioactive materials have a HALF LIFE …..Some are very quick….. do a search on Radioactive particles/ rays and half- lives.and type ALPHA BETA GAMMA and learn what protects you and how to protect yourself
Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were largely paper cities… I have heard the blast was only 10 -12 Kilotons…No matter. There is not much difference in the output unless one squares the size of the device.
Concrete structures did survive the blast…….damaged but survived
The islanders were allowed to return in the 70s…The island was beautiful again but they had to leave. The Fruit trees were deadly with radiation and the Islanders were evacuated again.
I do not know where the crater mentioned above post is located……I am sure if it there it WOULD be mentioned in he History of OPERATION CROSSROADS. I MIGHT have missed it ……THE ABOVE Ground testing was ended in an agreement between the US and the Former USSR in 1963.
The author did not mention about gas mask or that they need filters rated to protect from Radioactive particles…NOR not a word about a contaminated water.
Putin is an Old School KGB Soviet …….He knows that Nuclear War as we take it to mean is clearly unwinnable……..When it comes to nuclear war…. unless a terrorist or seriously deranged leadership in a nuclear capable country…..The Losing side is the losing side is going to be the one to toss the first Nuke…..
Pakistan and Indian are Two countries to keep an eye on both have Nukes and well not necessarily the best of friends.
Nuclear Weapons are a cheap form of defense of ones country. Consider the cost of maintaining a Man Power Military would take to offer the same defensive power IF it could possibly be done.
Nukes are a Blessing and a Curse…… the offer protection and no one so far have ever been able o get rid of them and No sane individual ants to use them.
My thoughts are Putin is up to something……I know he is up to something I can only speculate hat….Perhaps with all of his new weapons systems his alleged Hyper-sonic missiles that supposedly cannot be shot down and his drone submarine carrying nuclear weapons. He is building and increasing his military with leaps and bounds with technology……
America is once again playing Catch up Thanks to the devastation ONE BIG ASS MISTAKE AMERICA did his best to destroy. He left the US Military far behind the level before WWII.
Perhaps Putin is going y and Blackmail the Us by stating The US cannot clearly win and with all of the Division and Hatred and the rise of Socialism in the US . Telling the US to Concede or fight a war Putin thinks America cannot win…and possibly force the US to go Nuclear….
That s only a thought and Like everyone else WE do not know what we Don’t know. All we have is a little evidence and facts to formulate speculation.
There is a lot to be learned about Nuclear Deices and searching for OPERATION CROSSROADS and videos and websites.
There is a Lawsuit for Atomic Veterans and their families and others that were part of Nuclear Testing/Mining etc.
Here is a link to read over about ho qualifies.
Look it over no matter if applies to you or not! Some good information is there for people interested in learning about
Radiation effects on humans and more…..Who knows you or someone you know might qualify