Huff Post thinks Nuclear War might do More Damage than Global Warming

Castle Bravo Nuclear Bomb test at Bikini Atoll. Public domain image, source Wikimedia

Castle Bravo Nuclear Bomb test at Bikini Atoll. Public domain image, source Wikimedia

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Huffington Post has suggested that a full scale nuclear war, and the climatic aftermath, not only might do more damage that anthropogenic global warming, but it might actually be more likely.

Climate Change for the Impatient: A Nuclear Mini Ice Age

Everyone has heard about climate change caused by fossil fuels, which threatens to raise Earth’s average surface temperature by about 3-5°C by the year 2100 unless we take major steps toward mitigation. But there’s an eerie silence about the other major climate change threat, which might lower Earth’s average surface temperature by 7°C: a decade-long mini ice age caused by a U.S.-Russia nuclear war.

This is colder than the 5°C cooling we endured 20,000 years ago during the last ice age. The good news is that, according to state-of-the-art climate models by Alan Robock at Rutgers University, a nuclear mini ice age would be rather brief, with about half of the cooling gone after a decade. The bad news is that this more than long enough for most people on Earth to starve to death if farming collapses. Robock’s all-out-war scenario shows cooling by about 20°C (36°F) in much of the core farming regions of the U.S., Europe, Russia and China (by 35°C in parts of Russia) for the first two summers — you don’t need to be a master farmer to figure out what freezing summers would do to food supply. It’s hard to predict exactly how devastating this famine would be if thousands of Earth’s largest cities were reduced to rubble and global infrastructure collapsed, but whatever small fraction of all humans don’t succumb to starvation, hypothermia or epidemics would need to cope with roving, armed gangs desperate for food.

Unless we take stronger action than there’s current political will for, we’re likely to face both dramatic fossil-fuel climate change and dramatic nuclear climate change within a century, give or take. Since no politician in their right mind would launch global nuclear Armageddon on purpose, the nuclear war triggering the mini ice age will most likely start by accident or miscalculation. This has has almost happened many times in the past, as this timeline shows. The annual probability of accidental nuclear war is poorly known, but it certainly isn’t zero: John F. Kennedy estimated the probability of the Cuban Missile Crisis escalating to war between 33 percent and 50 percent. We know that near-misses keep occurring regularly, and there are probably many more close calls than haven’t been declassified. Simple math shows that even if the annual risk of global nuclear war is as low as 1 percent, we’ll probably have one within a century and almost certainly within a few hundred years. We just don’t know exactly when — it could be the day your great granddaughter gets married, or it could be next Tuesday when the Russian early-warning system suffers an unfortunate technical malfunction.

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Some of the near misses are truly terrifying. For example, the 1983 Soviet Nuclear False Alarm, when the world was saved because one Soviet officer stood by his judgement that the inbound ICBMs detected by their early warning systems were a software glitch;

Shortly after midnight, the bunker’s computers reported that one intercontinental ballistic missile was heading toward the Soviet Union from the United States. Petrov considered the detection a computer error, since a first-strike nuclear attack by the United States was likely to involve hundreds of simultaneous missile launches in order to disable any Soviet means of a counterattack. Furthermore, the satellite system’s reliability had been questioned in the past. Petrov dismissed the warning as a false alarm, though accounts of the event differ as to whether he notified his superiors or not after he concluded that the computer detections were false and that no missile had been launched. Later, the computers identified four additional missiles in the air, all directed towards the Soviet Union. Petrov again suspected that the computer system was malfunctioning, despite having no other source of information to confirm his suspicions. The Soviet Union’s land radar was incapable of detecting missiles beyond the horizon, and waiting for it to positively identify the threat would limit the Soviet Union’s response time to a few minutes.

It was subsequently determined that the false alarms were caused by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the satellites’ Molniya orbits, an error later corrected by cross-referencing a geostationary satellite.

In explaining the factors leading to his decision, Petrov cited his belief and training that any U.S. first strike would be massive, so five missiles seemed an illogical start. In addition, the launch detection system was new and in his view not yet wholly trustworthy, while ground radar had failed to pick up corroborative evidence even after several minutes of the false alarm.

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The risk of nuclear war has largely faded from public consciousness, but given the number of unstable states jumping onto the nuclear bandwagon, the risk of a major nuclear exchange might actually be higher now, than during the classic cold war years.

Even if the nuclear threat is never realised, there are plenty of other threats likely to emerge in the near future, as our species explores the possibilities of nanotech, biotech and artificial intelligence.

The one silver lining of these rapid and accelerating changes to the global threat landscape, is that the idea that anthropogenic climate change is the worst threat we face is becoming increasingly untenable. Even the Huffington Post is starting to question this assertion.

121 thoughts on “Huff Post thinks Nuclear War might do More Damage than Global Warming

  1. An EMP warhead coming from the Gulf of Mexico is more of a worry than Global Warming or Russian Nukes.
    Except the part that the EMP might be made with some “lost” Russian nukes.

    • It would make a good novel! On February 17th, it was reported that Baghdad had reported stolen, some radioactive material the size of a laptop. Nothing has been said about it since!

    • most of the world’s weapons grade material is in Japan. japan only recently sent plutonium to the US via ship, that weapons grade material is also not mentioned by Obama in his recent speaking on nukes.
      A nuke was flown across the US on a bomber not so far back wasn’t it. An live nuke at that.
      If that bomber had crashed, and the resulting explosion could have caused nuclear war
      An asteroid can start a nuke war
      We dont have to worry about “bogeymen” that have never materialized in 4 decades, and the only nation to use them was not an “unstable state”. So there’s that.
      A conventional war between nuke powers, a total war, would lead to nukes being fired by the first side to face total defeat. Remember Japan was totally defeated and surrendered totally bar keeping the emperor, so the choice before the allies was let japan keep the emperor (atleast temporarily) and end the war, or drop a nuke, they chose to drop a nuke.
      No one needs unstable nations, Russia and America have done just fine bringing us to the brink.

      • A nuke carried on a plane once crashed in a farmer’s field in Goldsboro, North Carolina. So, yes, crazier things have happened.

      • A crashing plane will not set off a nuke. You need a precise sequence of signals with sub-nanosecond timing to trigger a nuclear reaction. Exploding the shell around the nuclear core with anything less than that and all that happens is a few pounds of radioactive material gets spread around the landscape.

      • A crash won’t set off a nuke.
        The combined yield of all nuclear weapons on earth is less than 5000 MT, ie the equivalent of five billion tons of TNT. The energy of the K/T extinction impact was equivalent to around 100 trillion tons of TNT, ie over 20,000 times more powerful.
        All the nukes in the world aren’t a pimple on the posterior of the dino-killing asteroid or comet.

      • Mark, you have some odd ideas.
        1: You can’t set off a nuke by crashing it. You couldn’t have even set off the crude little boy that way, much less the much more precise nukes we have now. If you watch “The Peacemaker”, that’s probably the only movie I can think of that treats nukes accurately.
        2: Japan had not offered any terms of surrender before Hiroshima. I have heard conflicting accounts about whether overtures had started before Nagasaki (though I am doubtful), but no formal offer of surrender was given until after both bombs had dropped. The choice Truman made was nuclear weapons or operation Downfall, with its predicted millions of casualties.

      • Japanese military officers tried to keep the emperor from surrendering even after Nagasaki. They were going to kidnap him and destroy the recording of his surrender speech.
        Millions of Japanese would have died in 1946 and the northern half of the country would have been occupied by the USSR without the A-bombs.

      • “Bye Doom May 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm”
        Before Hiroshima, the US wanted to surrender, unconditionally. Japan refused. After Hiroshima, the US offered the Japanese to surrender their military, thus saving face for the Emperor. Japanese politicians refused. The second weapon was deployed. The first weapon was not armed before it was flown to Japan, mostly due to aircraft crashes on the island. It was armed in the air before the drop. I understand the last human to touch the first nuclear weapon used in war still holds the “plugs” he removed while arming the weapon is still alive.

      • Voice of authority here, having been to nuke weapons school and having patted more than a few on the nose when pre-flighting the bomb bay :
        Bombers do not fly with nukes on board in peacetime. When nukes are flown anywhere, they go on cargo aircraft.
        There is no such thing as a “live” nuke.
        Our nukes are “smart.” They have a sequence of things that must happen before they detonate, and the first thing is that they must have permission to start the sequence. Everything must work perfectly, or they don’t have the capability to go off.
        The explosive sphere around the plutonium is segmented. Each segment is separately detonated, and if they aren’t triggered at exactly the same time, you just blow bits and pieces all over several hundred yards of territory. A crash, if it even causes a detonation, will not do so symmetrically.

        • I’ll bet you can recall that shortly after the CSSC was installed, word came down to NOT put S-A-C-S-U-X in the windows? ;).

      • Well, that’s something they can’t accurately test. I do have my doubts, as the hundreds of nuclear tests over the 20th century should have had measurable impacts if the atmosphere was that sensitive. Most likely, it will have some impact. However, I’m more worried about the direct and indirect effects of hundreds of nuclear warheads destroying the world’s civil and financial infrastructure. Little inconsequential things like massive fireballs and radioactive fallout.

    • It’s now possible to make non-nuke EMP weapons, but a single one can’t take down the grid and electronics of a whole continent.

    • Except the part that the EMP might be made with some “lost” Russian nukes.

      Nukes need maintenance. They have polonium and tritium in them that have pretty short half-lives. If a nuke stays lost for more than a couple of years, it won’t go off properly, it’ll fizzle. See wikipedia and Clancy’s Sum Of All Fears. You need a professional crew and industrial materials and equipment to maintain a nuclear bomb of modern design.
      This is a Good Thing(tm).

      • Whose to say that the people who “found” those nukes don’t have the information to keep them maintained?

      • Polonium-210 is only for primitive nukes – it helps initiation if your engineering quality isn’t good enough for symmetrical implosion. US and Russian nukes don’t need it. North Korean ones probably do. In 1957 in the fire at Winscale UK, there was a big release and land contamination with Po210 which was covered up by the British authorities, primarily so that the Americans would not know how primitive our own (British) nukes were.

  2. HuffPo needs eyeballs… pay the writers union dues and in turn to use union dues for superpac campaign donations. Every little bit helps the demented cause.

    • Watch people’s faces when you refuse to cave to the fear–and straight-faced sight primary sources. They damn near turn purple. The Matrix is cracking, now, folks . . .

  3. Robbock’s scenario is preposterous. Its assumptions are far more ridiculous even than those of “climate change” models.

  4. Gee. Ya think?
    The sad thing is that this speculative assertion – written as if there might actually be some doubt – is the most rational thing I’ve seen from the Huff and Puff in years.

  5. Nuclear Winter was considered to be a real threat in some (alarmist) quarters in the 1980s. The notion was thoroughly discredited after the Iraq oil well fires of 1991.
    It is so long ago now that the younger crowd probably has no idea what we are talking about with Nuclear Winter.

    • The well fires did not falsify “nuclear winter,” inasmuch as the “nuclear winter” scenario involved the presumption that the nuclear fireball would transport smoke aerosols above the tropopause.
      But “nuclear winter” was bunk for other reasons, having to do with the fact that the weapon yields that would have caused fireball ascent through the tropopause would have such short residence times near the ground that they could not have collected any smoke aerosols.

      • The astronomical Dr. Sagan also made ludicrous assumptions about soot. In the first place, most US nukes were targeted on Soviet nuclear weapons located in remote areas, not on cities. Some Soviet ICBM silos were in forested areas, but others in desert, tundra or steppe.

  6. Know what else might do more damage than global warming?
    Yep, you guessed it; an attack by space aliens.
    Sure, eventually some virus gets them but hooboy, the damage they do before then.

    • Zombies do more damage. Or visigoths. Or, for that matter, the yuppies who bought up our town, paved it over and painted it green circa 1988. And now drive Priuses my tax dollars subsidize.

  7. This story is poppycock. More doom and gloom from propagandists trying to scare us into complying with their agenda.
    “Since no politician in their right mind would launch global nuclear Armageddon on purpose…”, complete and utter crap of a statement. Politicians of one stripe or another will indeed, with malice aforethought, order or allow nuclear strikes if they believe it will further their cause.
    As for the chance of a nuclear war happening… it’ll depend on whether the USA, China and/or Russia decide to mix it up. If they do, the war will go nuclear, very quickly. And if that happens, most of us won’t care a great deal about whether the theories of nuclear winter are correct, or not.

    • Between Iran and N. Korea, there are a non-trivial number of politicians who aren’t in their right minds, who have (or will shortly have) access to nuclear weapons.

      • MarkW is correct. We have several delusional leaders in the world who are about to get some very dangerous weapons.
        We should not allow them to acquire them, if we have any sense.
        If it were me, I would station some Aegis cruisers and destroyers off the coasts of North Korea and Iran and would shoot down every ballistic missile they tried to launch, in their boost phase. I would mess up their test program real bad! 🙂
        Yeah, I know they won’t like it. That’s tough.

  8. Huffpo sez “Since no politician in their right mind would launch global nuclear Armageddon on purpose…”
    Now, consider Kim Jong-un or the mullahs in Iran. Nuff’ said.

    • Kim Jong-Un is certifiable, and while he might deem it very impressive to launch a rocket with a weapon on it, there is little prospect that it would function all the way to target.

    • Pristina Airport Incident 1999. Came damn close to a shooting war between Russia and USA back then. Luckily, for every military leader who thinks it would be a good idea, there are usually 2 or 3 who don’t and are willing to put the brakes on.

      • NATO told Turkey to cool their jets, so to speak, after shooting down the Russian Su-24 over Syria.
        At Pristina, British General Mike Jackson wouldn’t go along with US General Wes Clark’s desire to block the runway.

      • dickon66 wrote: “Pristina Airport Incident 1999. Came damn close to a shooting war between Russia and USA back then.”
        Yeah, that was our old buddy General Wesley Clark, who almost got us into a war with Russia.
        in 1999, Bill Clinton had originally refused to put American ground troops into the Kosovo war. Clinton wanted to just stick to bombing the Serbs from 25,000 ft.
        After it became apparent that Clinton’s bombing campaign was not going to dislodge the Serbs, the NATO commanders wanted to send in ground troops to defeat the Serbs (which they did in a matter of weeks, once they were introduced into the theater).
        But Clinton, being a lily-livered Liberal, did not want to send in American ground troops, and initially balked at doing so. This had the very fortunate benefit of causing the NATO allies to appoint a British general to be in charge of the NATO ground force.
        Normally, the American General Wesley Clark would have been the commander. This was a fortunate circumstance indeed.
        Because, you see, at one point, the NATO ground troops had Russian troops surrounded at the Pristina airport, and the Russians were refusing to leave the airport.
        So delusional General Wesley Clark advocated that the NATO ground troops attack the Russians and force them out of the airport.
        Happily, the British General, who was firmly anchored in reality, told General Clark that he was not prepared to start World War III that day, and refused to follow Clark’s recommendation.
        A couple of days later the Russians agreed to leave the airport peacefully.
        Nowadays, we get General Wesley Clark posing as an expert military advisor on Liberal television. Don’t ever listen to advice from General Wesley Clark. He will lead you astray.

  9. What is HuffPo talking about, aren’t there 4 Hiroshima bombs exploding every second in our atmosphere already?
    I don’t think one more will make much difference really.

  10. I thought that the “Nuclear Winter” hypothesis was debunked even before Carl Sagan kept repeating it in his “Comos” TV series in the early 1980s.
    But I agree, nuclear war would be much worse than the CO2 based Anthropogenic Global Warming, which appears to be not a threat at all.

    • So far more plant food in the air has been a good thing, and is liable to remain so. A doubling of CO2 from 280 to 560 ppm in 250 years (AD 1850-2100), should it occur, would be more of a good thing. Any warming is liable to be zero to one degree Celsius, not the 3-5 degrees imagined in GIGO science fiction GCMs.
      Nuclear war, however, would be a bad thing even without the nuclear winter ravings of the astronomical Dr. Sagan and his Commie cohorts in crime.

      • Even 3-5C of warming would not be altogether bad. I strongly suspect that even for that much warming, the benefits will outweigh the negatives.

    • It depends on how many nukes surely which would be akin to an asteroid bombardment. If the US launched all it’s 5000 at the ready arsenal and Japan Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, I suspect South Korea, and god knows who else, all launch theirs too, the damage from that is not possible to assess. :p
      There is probably in excess of 10000 serviceable powerful nuclear warheads on the planet and plenty of weapons grade material to make more.
      Given the crackpots we call leaders, sociopath or psychopath, in all nations not just perceived “unstable” nations, this is just insane. Civilians do not want nukes, and apparently the government works for us, as if. 😀

      • Do you have any evidence that the civilians do not want nukes?
        I for one would rather they not existed, but so long as nations that are hostile to us have them, we need them.

      • Marko the people in the other nation dont want them either. It’s the governments of both sides, do you not see that

      • and of course, your nukes forced the other nations to get them now you need them to feel safe from the nukes your nukes created.
        Vicious circle

      • Right now humans are living in the most peaceful time in our existence. The reason? Nuclear Arms. With out Nuclear weapons, the cold war would have been a hot war. One that would have made WWII look like childes play. Even those civilians who think they don’t want nukes, what they do want requires nukes.

      • Is Iran deterrable? …with its end of days, apocalyptic, 12th Imam belief and its love of death? Maybe it is deterrable. Maybe not. Critical to guess correctly here. North Korea at least wants to be around to conquer and win. We have to do deep study, soon, of the mind of the mullahs. They DID allow a bunch of their children to die in the minefields of Iraq-Iran war.
        Iran has got to have enough 80% U235 for a Little Boy rifle bomb. Now. We know this because the IAEA has been telling us that Iran is six months from having a bomb for the last five years. The Deal was a hush hush agreement for delay in exploding this device until after the election, in return for which Iran could get lots of goodies. Got to be. No other explanation fits. Each side knew what the other wanted like the thirsting rich man in the desert encountering a man with a jug of water. No talking or record keeping needed.

      • Mark, I see you making naked assertions, and then repeating those assertions.
        I’ve never seen a survey that supports your contention, nor does it reflect the reality of the areas that I have lived.
        Just because you want to believe something, does not make it so.

  11. What threat do the vast reservoirs of volatile organic compounds trapped beneath the earth’s surface represent? Is there a potential that these pockets could explosively ignite from a meteorite of sufficient size?
    One way to dissipate such a threat would be siphon off these VOC’s in a controlled way over time. As humans, we could leverage the power of these compounds to create food, shelter and medicine for entire populations. We could set up a comprehensive distribution scheme such that these compounds are made available to each individual for heat, transportation, or whatever need is prescient, rather than burning them en masse. IOW, we could recognize the benevolence of modern man.

  12. I want nukes. Heck I want more nukes. I want more powerful nukes. I want to ensure that if any 2 or 3 nations decide it is time to take out the US, we can respond by turning them into giant, radioactive, glass lined holes in the ground.

    • IMO we currently have enough, at least until China gets as many as the Russians.
      The problem with US nukes is that they are old and many probably wouldn’t work. Russia is busy fielding brand new models and entirely new types. China is also rapidly upgrading its still small forces, to include MIRVing its new ICBMs, using technology Clinton gave them in exchange for campaign cash, with Prince Albert Gore as the bag boy.

  13. Just a vehicle to impart to the LIV of the oh so dangerous and impending DOOM of AGW. Global Warming is such a joke.

  14. Oddly enough–and completely obvious to any professional in the field–we will need nuclear devices on the scale of hundreds of megatons in order to effectively intercept any impending meteoroid colliders. (Not to blast them into smithereens, but to detonate at a distance and give them a push with the X-ray “slap” produced by such a weapon.) Playing around with any other method is a useless waste of time.

  15. This old lark again? Nuclear winter is even easier to debunk than climate change. All you have to do is look at the tactics and warhead yields, and you realize there’s never enough dust thrown up to cause much of a change at all, let alone a lasting change.

  16. If a nuclear war will lower temperature by 7 degrees and global warming will raise temperatures by 4 degrees then all we have to do is make sure that instead of an all out nuclear war we drop enough bombs to lower the temperature by 4 degrees then everyone should be happy. Global warming solved at a fraction of the cost.

  17. … might lower Earth’s average surface temperature by 7°C: a decade-long mini ice age … more than long enough for most people on Earth to starve to death if farming collapses

    I see a massive growth of coal fired power plants with greenhouses attached to their stacks .

    • Heh, maybe we should start playing the warmunists game. Somebody should write and article (propoganda) with a head line that says something along the lines of, Climate Scientists Advocate Nuclear War to Cool the Earth. It could be just as factual as the tripe the faithful put out.

  18. Fear nukes not global warming
    Amazingly HuffPost mirrors Donald Trump:

    I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons.

  19. Well, nuclear winter, maybe not – but a carefully modeled climate response to a few hundred air bursts over selected carbon-polluting population centers would instantly reduce the global demand for fossil fuels, slowing catastrophic global warming in concert with aerosol cooling which would bring global warming smoothly to a standstill without the dread nuclear winter. The bombs would be loaded with aluminum foil chaff, carefully calibrated to disperse in the upper atmosphere in just the way the models predict.
    Old Dr. Sagan wasn’t wrong, he just didn’t have modern climate modeling tools at his disposal. I’m sure he would now be applying for grants for peaceful uses of nukes to effect climate change stopping – er – regression – er – return to whatever went before, but will never return.
    Hey, there is nothing wrong with destroying a village to save it…
    Oh yea, the HuffPuff. Don’t support clickbait.

  20. Nuclear war will not cause global cooling. How do I know this? Because dropping nukes is precisely Elon Musk’s plan for making Mars inhabitable.

  21. If full scale nuclear war between the USA and Russia were to occur, dying of starvation 10 years from now would be WAY down on my list of worries.
    Number one on our priority list should be getting a core of humanity down into some of our deep mine shafts, where nuclear reactors could provide energy, and animals could be bred…. and slaughtered, and 10 beautiful women for each man could start reproducing, I think we could get back to our current GDP within 99 years. Now, where did I put that circular slide rule….

    • Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but I would rather have 10 women who can cook, sew and do manual labor. Being able to brew beer is also a good quality.

  22. I’ve never had the slightest desire to be an infantryman in a re-run of WW2 (nor any other kind of soldier, sailor, airman or civilian). Nukes good.
    Only way for regime change in a country is then by its own population. Hence the population needs to be heavily armed in case its government goes off the rails.
    Also good for asteroid deflection and building real spaceships.

  23. So the HuffPo resurrected Turco et al (akaTTAPS). At least it is as discredited as CAGW, so why not bring up another bad computer model? 🙂

  24. Eric,,, ” Huffington Post has suggested that a full scale nuclear war, and the climatic aftermath, not only might do more damage that ” should be THAN ?

  25. From the article: “John F. Kennedy estimated the probability of the Cuban Missile Crisis escalating to war between 33 percent and 50 percent.”
    If Fidel Castro had had his way, the probablity would have been 100 percent. Castro begged the Soviets to nuke the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tens of Millions of Americans would have died, had they done so. The Soviets finally concluded that Castro had lost touch with reality, after they realized he was serious.
    See “One Hell of a Gamble” for the details.

  26. The Huffington Post has quite a few articles on climate change. Please go over there, read some of the articles, and comment on them. The reality is that the climate change we are experiencing today is caused by the sun and the oceans and Mankind does not have the power to change it. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate. So the real culprit in terms of climate change is Mother Nature. If you do not like it try taking legal action against her in the World Court. Lots of luck getting Mother Nature to pay for her wrong doings. An all out nuclear war may have some short term climate effects but no long term ones. We must remember that the previous interglacial period was warmer then this one with more ice cap melting and higher sea levels yet CO2 levels were lower than today. Unless we reestablish an equatorial current between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the next ice age will probably begin within several thousand years and we will not have to worry about the ravages of global warming for at least another 100 K years. New ice sheets will assure that sea levels will be lower and CO2 will decrease as the oceans cool.

    • +4. The discussion seems to be missing the point that climate change has a large natural component and nuclear war does not. War comes from pure human dumbass, a quality the religious left has in abundance.

      • I believe that aggression and war is a natural state for humans. Being dominant and taking weaker beings things is how humans have survived through the ages. It is just framed differently today.

  27. EMP the threat that never was, never will be and did not occur.
    Operation MIKE would have destroyed all the electronics, near and around Bikini if it were true. Having been calculated to be 5 Megaton, because of an error in understanding the neutron flux ability to produce more Li7 out of the Li6 in the mix as the explosion occurred the actual yield was 15 megatons. There were enough calculations to have ships posted around the radius of effect, who were exposed to more blast and effects that originally anticipated. NONE SANK and NONE had knock outs of electrical systems.

    • The “D” model B-52 used in the last drops had primitive electronics compared to the digital age. But we did enough testing on the wooden trestle under the giant “zapper” to know that the much newer OAS bomb-nav gear in the final “G” and “H” models would have functioned through nuclear detonations.

      • The problem is that “primitive” electronics are more resistant to EMP than the “digital age.”
        Also, any nuclear exchange would probably provoke a complete traffic saturation of cell phone channels. (Years ago, we had an earthquake in Seattle. All the cell capacity was clogged. People had to resort to land lines to call home and get damage status.)

      • Depends upon how “primitive”. Vacuum tubes, yes, better. Early solid state, no. Now most of our nuclear weapons and delivery systems are hardened.

      • Before the “tall tails” retired in 1983, the last 75 Ds left got the DBNS, digital bomb-nav system. I only had 200 hrs of “D” time, all on Guam, 1980-82. My G and H time was ’75-’80 (moved to left seat in ’79) and ’82-’85. After that I had staff jobs.
        BTW, Soviet doctrine was VERY different from ours. They did not believe “winning” and “nuclear” were mutually exclusive, nor any sort of oxymoron. As a Soviet marshal once told a USAF 4 star, “You don’t want war; we don’t want war. But we don’t want war less than you don’t want war.”

      • Rip,
        Correct. Soviet doctrine was to fight and win nuclear war. Their ICBM silos and SLBM tubes were and are reloadable. They were trying to get their nuclear artillery rounds down to 122mm from 152mm so that even regiments could be nuclear-armed, not just divisions and armies. And they had a staggering number of divisions.
        American government analysts consistently underestimated the number of Soviet tactical, operational and strategic warheads, which in fact numbered about 42,500 before the arms limitation treaties, ie about twice as many as the usual guesses.

    • There’s a big difference between EMP at low elevation and high.
      During the first US nuclear test in 1945, electronic equipment was shielded due to Enrico Fermi’s expectation of an electromagnetic pulse from the detonation. However, the magnitude of the EMP and the significance of its effects were not realized for some time.
      During British nuclear testing in 1952-1953, instrumentation failures were attributed to “radioflash,” then the British term for EMP.
      High-altitude nuclear tests in 1958 were the first indication in US testing that high-altitude EMP could be more than 1000 times as intense as low-altitude EMP. The first reported instance of this unique high-altitude effect was in the 1958 Hardtack-Yucca test. The EMP results of Hardtack-Yucca were so different from the expected results that the data were apparently dismissed as an anomaly.
      The high altitude nuclear tests of 1962 increased awareness of EMP beyond the original small population of nuclear weapons scientists and engineers. The larger scientific community became aware of the significance of the problem after a series of three articles was published by William J. Broad in “Science” about nuclear EMP in 1981.

  28. “Nuclear War might do More Damage than Global Warming”
    No kidding. Of course it would. “Global Warming” is a non problem. Nuclear war is a REAL problem.
    I agree with the headline…

  29. Huffpo thinks“. Well, there’s your problem right there at the very beginning,….

  30. This is what liberals do all day long. And if you say, we better be prepared, they scoff. They would rather face an imaginary threat with overwhelmingly destructive political and economic mandates rather than a bit of defensive armament and a realistic appraisal of current events.

  31. Tom Trevor, May 10, 2016 at 6:57 pm wrote: “What is radioactive material doing in Baghdad? Is that the yellow cake uranium that Saddam got from Africa?”
    Saddam had the intention of developing nuclear weapons. His program never got very far, but Saddam told all his generals that he already had nuclear weapons and other WMD.
    That’s one reason all the world’s intelligence agencies thought Saddam had an active WMD program. Saddam wanted them to think that. Saddam thought that would keep his enemies and his own generals in line. It ended up getting him killed.
    I don’t know where the yellowcake originated, and it would be interesting if it did oame from Africa. I remember how the Liberals ridiculed the idea of Saddam buying yellowcake uranium from Africa, during the Bush administration.
    The Liberals didn’t have much to say about that 500 tons Bush removed.

  32. Dead is dead. One of the things on my list of stupid things people do is worry something nuclear causing it. It is just irrational fear.
    Nuclear weapons are now obsolete. This was demonstrated in Iraq. Russia, China, and France objected but had no stomach to do more than run off at the mouth. Conventional weapons can thwart military ambitions of single aggressor countries.

  33. It has become fully apparent to me that political confidence in humanity’s collective future has evaporated, instead all that is on offer is an endless stream of gloom and doom scenario’s advanced to what end. Am I alone in finding this pathetic. We have now evolved sufficient grip on technology to resolve most of the problems our earlier industrial development created. Yet instead of pursuing solutions the world seems dominated by those advancing ideas that would take us backwards, and in doing so will condemn several billions to a hopeless future.
    Integral to this miserable scare-mongering are the MSM, this article about nuclear war on a scale that would destroy the globe being another example of the crap put out by modern journalism. The truth is that whatever the close calls in the past, it has never been all that likely despite notions suggested by some military people that such a conflagration can be won. What is much more likely today is the use of device by a fringe group of lunatics or minor nation like North Korea. Efforts to deal with that are in hand, but we can never be too vigilant.

  34. I don’t believe in nuclear winter. It requires much more than 100 firestorms from nuclear bombings to start a nuclear winter. Nagasaki did not have a firestorm but the models assume a doomsday scenario. I think Sagan et al were just scaring the public so military leaders will avoid a nuclear war. Dr. Strangelove did better on the scare tactic with his Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) policy. Only a fool will start a war whose outcome is annihilation of all. Unfortunately fools abound nowadays.

    • Dr. Strangelove and the doomsday machine. Funny but is really based on game theory. Dr. Strangelove was a parody of John von Neumann, the mathematical genius and US military adviser who invented the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) strategy in 1950s

      • Well, I have read that Kubrick stated that the model for Dr. Strangelove was Henry Kissinger. Given the accent and the wavy hair and the demeanor of someone who can think the unthinkable, I am persuaded.

  35. “Live nuke carried across the US,” the 1961 Goldsboro crash, Palomares in 1966.
    Y’all do some Goggling for “Broken Arrow.” Back in the day, we had numerous aircraft accidents while carrying nukes. We also had airborne alert. We didn’t stop “Chrome Dome” until the 1968 crash in Greenland. As to the 1961 crash, before he died, McNamara gave a speech in which he claimed that every safety feature but one had failed in one of the bombs. However, since that B-52 had reported an emergency and was known to have just a malfunction (fuel leak from a skin crack; the “G” had a wet wing design), the chances of a war starting from it crashing were zero – – with or without a bomb cooking off in the crash. BTW, our weapons are designed to NOT produce a nuclear yield in a crash and of course none of them ever did. Palomares wasn’t even the only mid-air; an F-86 hit a loaded B-47 over SC.
    Everybody gets an opinion as to the odds some crisis in Brussels about the Brits leaving the EU or the next Yugoslavia breaking up or the next round of women getting groped en masse by roaming bands of young aliens . . . that any such event will produce another “Guns of August” only this time with nukes instead of just shelling and rifles. However, IMHO, anyone who believes such an event has odds even as high as 1% of producing a nuclear war is either crazy or lying.

    • A crash cannot ignite a nuclear detonation, nor could a fire “cook” one off.
      The shockwave formed by the explosives needs to be perfectly spherical in order to compress the core enough to ignite a nuclear explosion. The shell is made up of a large number of individual charges, each with it’s own igniting wire. These explosives are timed with sub-nanosecond accuracy.
      Fail to get that sub-nanosecond accuracy and all you get is a few pounds of plutonium scattered over the landscape.

      • Pu and U are toxic hazards and not radiological hazards.
        So if you find a old broken nuke, do not heat it. For most of you this is useless advice, but you never know what ‘journalists’ might do.

      • This is called “one point safe”. To prevent capture of our tactical nukes, we would place a 15lbs shaped charge over the “destruct dot” on the outside of the box the nuke traveled in (coffin shaped). This lined up with the nuclear material.This would have been an enourmous blast as we would have destroyed up to 6 at once. Because this was not the precise explosion directed from many angles to compress the nuclear materials there would be no nuclear detonation.

  36. 2007 ish couple of years back they had massive forest fires in Australia they said were the equivalent of a thousand Nukes going off , which threw millions of tons of smoke and ash into the air ,that didn’t blot the sun out

  37. I do not think that Japan has weapons grade Pu. The best I can tell is that it is Chinese communist propaganda. The Chinese people have been indoctrinated to hate Japan and everyone for that matter.
    I did not detect much racism among the highly educated Chinese I worked with but encounters outside of work found many not shy about expressing racist views.
    I also did not comment on Mao hero worship by saying that the west considered a mass murderer. I do not think that the Chinese leaders will start a nuke war. It is really bad for business. The irony is that that business depends on the US Navy to keep the sea lanes open.

    • Shortly, business may depend on PLA Navy moat dragons guarding the sea lanes into China.

  38. Hence, Obama gave the Iranians the cover and protection from Israel to build as many nuclear bombs as they wish in order to provide his psychopathic solution to global warming, nuclear winter. In one fell swoop Obama solved the problems of Islamic terrorism, world over population and man made climate change by arranging for a group of sociopaths in robes to cleanse the earth with religious zeal of its most virulent virus…mankind.
    /sarcasm or not?/
    Feckless incompetence, breathe taking hubris or malevolence? Does it really matter in the end? Will you survive it?

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