The Doomsday Clock was created after the US dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan during WWII, and has never been more than 17 minutes from midnight. If we hit midnight, we hit Doomsday.
It’s currently 90 seconds to midnight, mostly because we keep making nuclear weapons instead of working on our very pressing climate change problems. It’s the worst possible use of our procrastination time!
Thankfully, humanity has since proven to be much more interested in threatening one another with their big bombs than actually dropping them, but the danger remains very real. Even if we never drop another one, the mere existence of nuclear weapons puts us all in a bad spot. Mass extinction caused by nuclear war is a popular sci-fi trope for a good reason.
Could a Nuclear Attack Really Happen?
What’s the probability of total human extinction by nuclear weapons, within this century?
Oxford University published a “Global Catastrophic Risks Survey” report in 2008 which estimated the risk for total human extinction from various causes. You’ll be happy to hear that molecular nanotech weapons and superintelligent AI are both much more likely to cause total human extinction (5% chance) than nuclear war (1% chance). I, personally, would like to avoid all of the risks they list, including garden variety war (4% chance).
There are currently 13,410 nuclear weapons in the world, and the vast majority of those are on a hair-trigger alert. Here are some of the specifics:
- Russia: 5,977 nuclear weapons
- USA: 3,750 nuclear weapons
- China: 350 nuclear weapons
- North Korea: 20 nuclear weapons
There is no shortage of war in the world. There are dozens of active conflicts, some of which have continued for decades. At the time of this guide’s publication (Aug 2022), the Russo-Ukrainian war was consuming a large portion of the daily news cycle. America’s involvement in that war means we’ve shoved our fingers deep in the nuclear pie, yet again.
Global treaties and common sense might eventually prevail, but nuclear attacks are absolutely still possible. Just like an earthquake, flood, or hurricane, a nuclear attack is a disaster to prepare for.
Can Preparedness Help Me Survive a Nuclear Attack?
Yes, it can.
To understand why a nuclear explosion doesn’t mean certain death for everyone in a 100 mile radius, let’s review some of the effects it would have.
- Flash: The bright flash from a nuclear blast is blinding, literally.
- Blast Wave: The force reduces buildings within several miles of the explosion to rubble, which can crush thousands of humans. The sound of the blast is loud enough to rupture eardrums.
- Radiation: Nuclear detonation releases neutrons and gamma radiation. Exposure to these damages the cells of the human body, sometimes rapidly.
- Fire and Heat: You’re gonna get some fires, and the radiant heat from the fire can burn you even if you’re far away. Larger explosions might also cause firestorms.
- Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): The EMP from a nuclear attack can knock out electrical systems that were not destroyed in the initial blast. EMPs can even damage electronics several miles away from the blast site.
- Fallout: It’s not just a videogame, broham! Fallout is the visible radioactive dirt and debris that rains down after a nuclear explosion. This can happen for hours after an explosion, and it’s basically poison to anything it touches.
There are ways to prep that will help you survive all of these terrible experiences! Knowledge is power.
Read on to learn how you can stay prepared.