Debunking the hardened dogma of exaggerated nuclear weapons effects and "ridiculed" cheap civil defence
The most vital job of civil defense in the first place is to boost war deterrence to PREVENT war. If you exaggerate the effects of war so much that it is totally incredible, you might as well disarm and wave a white flag: an incredible weapon is no deterrent. Damage area and casualty equivalent megatons (“equivalent megatonnage,” EMT) are proportional the product the the number of bombs and the 2/3 power of the yield of each bomb. 2.2 megatons distributed in 22 million conventional 10-7 megaton bombs is therefore equivalent to 22,000,000(10-7)2/3 = 474 one megaton blast bombs, or 948 nuclear bombs each with a blast yield of 1 megaton (blast being 50% of the total energy of a nuclear explosion). In other words, even a thousand megatons in a nuclear war would not be on a different scale to 2.2 megatons of highly effective, dispersed small bombs in WWII, and simple shelters could eliminate or drastically reduce casualty rates as in WWII where pre-war casualty predictions were grossly exaggerated.
Let's try to make this simple for people to grasp: the 2.5 megatons of average 0.1 ton TNT sized conventional bombs dropped in WWII are relatively more efficient than nuclear weapons due to correct non-linear (cube root) blast scaling law, so they're equivalent roughly to 1000 megatons or so of 50% blast thermonuclear weapons.
Due to thermal shadowing in modern cities, and the relative inefficiency of a thermal ignition of anything but thin kindling fuels (easily stamped out) in modern concrete cities near rivers or ocean (50-80% air humidity, unlike 19% for Nevada during the "Encore" nuclear test), the few seconds of ablative-smoke-screen-raising nuclear weapon thermal pulse is less efficient than the 15 minute burning of the magnesium/phosphorus/napalm incendiary bombs of WWII.
Similarly, the intense local radioactive fallout threat is highly defensible by civil defense, and is a weather-dependent surface-burst application of nuclear weapons that is avoidable in air bursts that maximise other effects ranges, so it is analogous to the 12,000 tons of Nazi tabun nerve gas stockpiled in WWII but never actually dropped. In other words, surface burst fallout can be viewed as an escalation that can be easily and cheaply defended against, either by deterrence from escalation within a war (as for chemical warfare in WWII), by natural winds blowing the "wrong way"( or rain washing fallout down drains), or by evacuation/sheltering of fallout areas is today easier with modern weather computers than in the infamous 50s Bravo nuclear test upwind from inhabited islands where fallout knowledge, clothing or shelter was available.
We have nuclear weapons today because they're cheaper and a safer deterrent than the equivalent in conventional arms, which failed to prevent WWI or WWII. It is simply untrue that a single 2.5 megaton nuclear bomb was equivalent to the 2.5 megatons of bombs dropped in WWII, and only fanatical liars say so in an effort to awe people and close down understanding, creating a taboo of fascist denialism. In reality, even forgetting the correct damage scaling laws, you can't equate a single bomb to a lot of bombs, which can be used against a variety of targets, and are less vulnerable to enemy defenses or an enemy offensive first strike.
In addition, if it were true that the nuclear bombs we have are so incredibly, unnecessarily destructive, we could simply replace them with lower-yield warheads! The range of yields tested successfully spans from 0.02 kiloton of TNT (blast yield equivalent to 0.01 ton of TNT or 10 tons, like the largest conventional bomb dropped in WWII) for the W54 or Davy Crockett, to 50 megatons. So the reason we have the weapons we do have is that they're necessary for the kind of deterrent security we want! If they were too destructive, we wouldn't have them. This fact is totally taboo to exaggerators. If we get rid of the nuclear deterrent, but want to avoid war, we'd need a similar capability in conventional weapons, thus a great deal more bombs, delivery systems, personnel, militarism, expenditure, etc., which would increase the risk of war. If we reduced the deterrent, we'd increase the risk of war.
The "peace movement" has always been a lucrative war-mongering terrorism campaign to frighten people away from rational free debate, a war on democracy, a war on the only proof tested means to maintain peace through deterrence; in summary, peace propaganda is the use of lies and subjective scare-mongering to declare war on the very principles of liberty itself. If you want peace, be ready for war. If you want to encourage aggressors, disarm.
Dr Spencer Weart, "Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another" (Yale University Press, 1998, ch. 1):
“This idea had been developed by 1785 ... A world where every state was a democracy, [Immanuel Kant] wrote, would be a world of perpetual peace. Free peoples ... will make war only when driven to it by tyrants. ... there have been no wars between well-established democracies. ... the absence of wars between well-established democracies [has a probability of being coincidence] less than one chance in a thousand. ... robust statistics ... When toleration of dissent has persisted for three years ... a new republic [is] ‘well established.’ ... [Diplomatic pacifism made war by the ‘appeasement trap’ of trying to ‘accommodate a tyrant.’] ... the tyrant concluded that he could safely make an aggressive response ... [thus] negotiating styles are not based strictly on sound reasoning.”
As Spencer Weart's 1998 book "Never at War" proved, democracies that have tolerated dissent for at least the last three years are never at war and the probability that this is coincidence is under 0.1%; wars involving democracies result from the "appeasement trap" where a democracy makes peace treaties or talks with a dictatorship (treating it as a fellow democracy), and then the dictatorship sees this as a sign of exploitable weakness and unwillingness to fight, thus using threats and coercion, and treating the democracy as foolish. Thus, appeasement, rather than replacing threats and violence with dialogue and civilized debate as its "pacifist" backers claimed, caused wars (not just with Hitler but with other dictators like Saddam).
On 14 March 1933, Lt Col Moore Brabazon complained of Britain’s disarmament policy to the House of Commons: “The enemy of the Air Force is not across the Channel, it is in Whitehall.”
“Feeling in this country runs the way the party in power at Westminster wants it to run, its wishes being conveyed to the public by means of carefully prepared propaganda in the newspapers. … [Hitler] has not kept strictly to the letter of the disarmament clause … The cost of a thousand aeroplanes today would be nothing to what failure to safeguard ourselves might cost.”
– W. E. Johns, Popular Flying editorial, January 1934.
But the disarmament fanatic Lord Londonderry, Secretary of State for Air, on 22 October 1934 attacked calls for “a vast armament of aeroplanes” in a speech to the Mechanics Institute in Darling. Winston Churchill responded in the Daily Express on 1 November 1934:
“Germany is arming secretly, illegally and rapidly. A reign of terror exists in Germany to keep secret the feverish and terrible preparations they are making.”
But the disarmers simply dismissed him as scare mongering for political ends (warmongering). W. E. Johns pointed out in his “Popular Flying” Editorial, December 1935:
“However appalling war may be, and however remote the chance of success, a nation that can lay any claim to the title will always fight rather than suffer an intolerable peace. ... There seems to be only one thing that we can do, and that is pick up the weapons we so foolishly laid aside when we went to Geneva...”
|Popular Flying Jan 1934: Captain W. E. Johns editorial on Adolf Hitler's challenge to disarmament propaganda thugs as of January 1934, pages 526 to 527.|
After the Disarmament Conference collapsed as he predicted, the Government quangos inevitably attempted to place the blame not on Hitler but on those who wanted to deter Hitler, people like editor W. E. Johns:
“... the Royal Commission on the Private Manufacture of, and Trading in, Arms ... in its report ... has quoted certain statements that have been made on this page and endowed them with a meaning far from the one intended. ... I have supported armaments – or, rather, the policy of rearmament - ... because it is my firm conviction that only by a fair balance of power can peace be maintained. ... The Disarmament Conference failed ... The reason was that England had lost her talking point. With 3,000 more aeroplanes in the nation’s hangars our ‘friends’ would have been more genuine in their anxiety to talk of peace. Surely it must be quite clear to anyone who has watched the march of events since 1918 that England, inadequately armed, was wasting her time by even attending conferences of any sort, where the men who have the guns have ever called the tune.
“Following the line of argument of the disarmament theorists, we might as well disband the police force in the hope of ending crime.”
- W. E. Johns, “On the folly of war,” Popular Flying editorial, May 1936.
|Popular Flying Dec 1938 issue editorial, "On Peace in Our Time" by Captain W. E. Johns, pages 433 to 435|
|Popular Flying Dec 1938 issue editorial, "On Peace in Our Time" by Captain W. E. Johns, pages 433 to 435|
- W. E. Johns, Flying, 29 October 1938.
“The danger was there for all to see. Most people saw it. Unfortunately, those whose business it was to take the necessary precautions did not see it. Or if they did they buried their heads, ostrich-like, in the sands of their commendable but out-of-date belief in British immunity from catastrophe. ... Parity is not enough. If Germany has 5,000 bombers, then we must have 10,000. For every blow that Hitler can strike, we must be able to strike two in return. This is the only argument dictators understand.”
- W. E. Johns, “On Peace in Our Time,” Popular Flying, December 1938.
P. B. Ellis and J. Schofield state in their biography of Johns, “By Jove Biggles” (published by Norman Wright, 2003, p. 146):
“[W. E. Johns] returned to London in early January  to find his editorial attacks on the Government had upset several prominent politicians who were now bringing pressure to bear on [publisher] George Newnes Ltd to have him removed from his editorships. Johns … had been removed from the editorship of the weekly Flying and given notice that the May issue of Popular Flying would be his last as editor. … According to information that Johns gave his [book] publishers, Hodder and Stoughton: ‘In 1939, as a result of criticism of the Government’s lagging air policy, he was removed from the editorial chairs of both Popular Flying and Flying …’.”
Therefore, the problems of nuclear war are not of a different order than those of "conventional warfare" as feared in the 1930s, when civil defense and war risk facts were made "taboo" by irrational disarmament fanatics, who lied and labelled anyone who wanted to prevent a second world war a "warmonger".
So we in England based all our cold war civil defence on our first nuclear test Operation Hurricane at Monte Bello in 1952, which proved the validity of the WWII Anderson shelters and concrete buildings (unlike the wooden houses that burned down in Hiroshima) and we've uploaded key declassified reports at the UK National Archives to Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/BritishNuclearTestOperationHurricaneDeclassifiedReportsToWinston This is all still censored out of lying cold war "historians" who were trained by CND's A. J. P. Taylor (aka Moscow's "World Peace Council").
I've uploaded a new compendium of declassified previously secret civil defence survival effectiveness data and related documents to the Internet Archive (click link here). This includes extracts from T. K. Jones' 17 November 1976 testimony to congress on civil defence in Hiroshima and the USSR's approach to nuclear war, which eventually helped to lead to Reagan's election as President. This compendium also contains the core documents for British civil defence at the UK National Archives which were just ignored by professor Baron Peter Hennessy's book The Secret State. Some of the documents which Hennessy includes are relevant, but his selection is biased and leads to the usual, very politically correct, diatribe against nuclear deterrence safety by downplaying civil defence.
|T. K. Jones' 17 November 1976 testimony to congress on civil defence in Hiroshima and the USSR's approach to nuclear war, which eventually helped to lead to Reagan's election as President! Long before his "evil empire" speech and his "Star Wars" ABM/SDI programme to challenge USSR "Peace" propaganda, Reagan in 1979 challenged Carter over the civil defense gap as an election issue! Even as early as 1964, Reagan realized the importance of defeating the USSR to end the risk they would start WWIII:|
Nuclear Weapons Effects exaggerations in Peter Hennessy’s scare-mongering book The Secret State
In July 1990, when as a teenager I got a reader’s ticket for the National Archives (then called the Public Records Office) in Kew, I started reading the files being released annually under the 30-year-rule of the UK Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch. These files are located in classes HO 225, HO 338, DEFE 16, etc., including exposure of WWII Home Office air raid shelters to British nuclear weapon tests. My book summarized this declassified material proving the basis for civil defence, and was rejected by all the military and general book publishers on the stated basis of a lack of interest in the scientific facts behind civil defence. Peter Hennessy’s either poorly researched or else paranoid and bigoted book The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War, which was first published in 2002, totally avoids the crucial scientific basis for civil defence such as the nuclear test results and selectively compiles together politically correct quotations from scientifically irrelevant or misleading declassified reports, by omitting their politically incorrect scientific or pseudoscientific contexts. By pandering to existing prejudices, Hennessy achieved a level of success akin to the type of popularity that fear-mongering among prejudiced, bigoted and ignorant people often brings when dictatorships are popular. The bestsellers “The Communist Manifesto” and “Mein Kampf” proved that it is possible to publish and sell politically correct yet factually incorrect books, which pander to mass prejudices. Godwin’s law states childishly that we must not criticise a pro-Hitler, pro-Stalin or pro-appeasement based attack on civil defence, such as the attacks on civil defence in the 1930s which led to Chamberlain’s appeasement policy and created scientifically unjustified bias against simple civil defence countermeasures.
But if millions of people die because of an accidental or deliberate nuclear explosion in the future, in which no precautions are taken, blame must be fairly and squarely allocated to the lying deceit over proved cheap, effective civil defence! Hennessy’s book at admits its bias in favour of the kind of crap written by Duncan Campbell and CND’s Phil Bolsover’s in its dismissive approach to Peter Laurie’s civil defence facts (Hennessy, 2003 edition, p 171):
“Like all else to do with nuclear war, the degradation of the United Kingdom into twelve shrivelled irradiated little fiefdoms filled with wretched and desperate survivors theoretically governed by men in bunkers … is too ghastly to contemplate. But contemplate it, in secret, the planners were regularly required to do. At every level, one finds scepticism tinged with irony on the part of those involved.”
Wrong, Dr Hennessy. You’re exaggerating the scale of the attack by considering only a contrived massive attack in order to try to dismiss civil defence. You’re using the old 1930s delusion of assuming no deterrence within war and assuming a massive attack. What about the fact Hitler didn’t use his 12,000 tons of tabun nerve gas because we had gas masks and liquid agent (mustard or nerve proof) rooms? Get it, matey? Get the value of civil defence as bolstering deterrence even within a war like WWII, to prevent escalation to certain types of weapon? What about small scale limited nuclear war risks which experts like Herman Kahn argued to be a greater risk than an all-out klockout blow, such as an accidental attack, a “warning shot”, fallout from a war on the Continent, even a conventional (non nuclear attack)?
Hennessy’s masterpiece is the Strath report (CAB 134/940) which warned that “If no preparations of any kind had been made in advance” then ten 10 megaton H-bombs [100 megatons total] successfully dropped “on the main centres of population” would kill 12 million and seriously injure 4 million. The Strath report bases this on a “complete devastation” (in modern concrete cities, not wooden houses) radius of 2-3 miles for 10 megaton ground and air bursts, and house ignition out to 10-15 miles, ignoring shadowing by tall city buildings, an assumption George R. Stanbury disproved.
If you air burst to maximise heat, you lose the fallout casualties, and if you surface burst, you lose the heat effect. What Hennessy doesn’t point out here is that a radius of 2-3 miles for complete devastation by a 10 megaton surface or air burst can be compared (with cube-root scaling laws) to the radius of 0.12 mile for 50% survival in concrete buildings in the 16 kt Hiroshima air burst (as stated by Glasstone and Dolan’s Effects of Nuclear Weapons).
In other words, there’s very little coverage of a large modern city by unsurvivable effects, and as the yield goes up civil defence becomes easier because the average arrival time of the blast over the bigger blast area, and also the longer duration of the heat and radiation pulses, gives more time for “duck and cover” to avoid flying debris within buildings. Although the blast impulse increases with yield for a given peak overpressure, you have more time at that given peak overpressure to take cover on seeing the flash, and thereby to avoid the wind drag and flying debris.
Hennessy quotes Strath’s figures for no civil defence, but then fails to point out the fact from another secret report, which Strath received in 1954 (by Home Office shelter and evacuation expert Edward Leader-Williams), which showed that simple countermeasures like city centre evacuation and sheltering the evacuated people using adapted versions of cheap WWII shelters, would drastically reduce the casualties to zero for a 100 megatons attack city centre pattern, and to 2% of population if the attack was redirected to maximise casualties in the evacuated and dispersed population.
Why would an enemy attack under those circumstances? Therefore, civil defence is of use in deterring an attack by making it ineffective and incredible. Instead of pointing out the declassified originally secret Leader-Williams Home Office Scientific Advisory branch report and the direct 1952 data from British nuclear tests on cheap shelters, Hennessy deceives outright by his blatantly biased statement (on page 141 of his 2003 revised edition) that not only are the Strath devastation forecasts (that assume no precautions) reliable for the case of actually civil defence, but they somehow prove “the impossibility of fighting the post-H-bomb fire hazard”:
“All of Strath’s readers would have had a still-vivid memory of the blitzes of World War II. The sheer impossibility of fighting the post-H-bomb fire hazard would have been instantly apparent on being told that the ‘heat flash from the hydrogen bomb would start in a built-up area anything up to 100,000 fires, with a circumference of between 60 to 100 miles’. [Ref 86 to CAB 134/940, the top secret Strath report, “The Defence Implications of Fall-Out from a Hydrogen Bomb”, 8 March 1955.]
No, Dr Hennessy, no. That is a falsehood in every sense. The actual Home Office WWII blitz expert who worked during the war on firestorms, George Stanbury, disproved it by shadowing effects. Civil defence handbooks openly published included the facts, although they were derided by ignorant jackasses, unlike Stanbury who worked at the actual nuclear tests in Australia with his colleague Frank Pavry who checked the shelters surviving in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even if you could make 100,000 fires in fine kindling, as Stanbury explains, these are not serious fires, burn themselves out quickly and harmlessly in normal (non desert) humidity and don’t have any similarity to incendiary bomb fires. Nuclear weapons don’t pour gasoline, phosphorus, or burning magnesium over people or property before igniting it, which makes all the difference to WWII. Likewise, the Twin Towers which were bought down not by aircraft impacts or explosions, but by heat from thousands of gallons of burning aviation gasoline running into the steel supports and turning them into putty. Nuclear weapons at best deliver a brief match ignition to unshielded dry fire kindling, they don’t deliver the minutes of heating needed to dry out and ignite anything thicker than paper! Beside the Thames, London air of around 80% humidity gives wood a moisture content of around 16%, entirely different from the dry Nevada desert where flashover did once occur in a wooden hut with just 19% air humidity at the 1953 Encore test. Even in the 1953 Nevada Encore test, a large window had to be exposed to an unobstructed radial view of the whole fireball.
Stanbury simply points out that only the upper windows in a city are exposed to the fireball, and only dry kindling – much easier to put out than the magnesium, phosphorus, or napalm incendiary – are ignited. You can stamp out fires; in Hiroshima people could beat out ignited clothing with their hands without suffering burns, as you can put out a match with your fingers. Although wide areas of broken windows and flying tiles and even the collapse (or explosion outward) of ordinary houses can occur, as Penney proved in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki even for wooden houses, the area used up by the blast wave in causing destruction reduces the range compared to predictions based on an unobstructed desert. The presence of city buildings causes an irreversible loss of energy available in the ground level blast. Blast absorption and also blast diffraction by obstacles reduces the overpressure and can eliminate the blast wind (dynamic pressure), just as blast reflection on the surface of an imaginary, rigid, totally reflecting surface increases the overpressure. Obstacles like buildings in a steel and modern concrete city also absorb much of the direct nuclear radiation and a considerable portion of the scattered radiation, quite apart from the shielding due to being actually within a particular building. Ducking reduces the exposure to flying debris and, by placing obstacles between the person and the fireball, also reduces radiation exposure.
Hennessy (2003 revised edition) on page 136 mentions Cabinet Secretary Sir Norman Brook’s 21 April 1955 briefing (DEFE 13/45) to Prime Minister Anthony Eden (who took over from Churchill on 6 April) which summarized Strath’s “broad conclusion … that although a determined hydrogen bomb attack against this country would cause human and material destruction on an appalling scale, it would be possible to contain its effects and enable the nation to survive if adequate preparations had been made in advance.” These preparations were for evacuation in a crisis to help send the strongest possible signal to a potential aggressor of our willingness to actually go to war to preserve our freedom (like that done in London on 1 September 1939, before our declaration of war on 3 September) and WWII style blast and contamination shelters. Although there was no little risk of radioactive fallout from Nazi atomic weapons research in WWII, there was a risk from contamination by liquid droplets of mustard “gas” which is a lingering threat with some basic similarities for inner refuge protection, to radioactive fallout.
Hennessy also quotes without criticism or correction passages which Strath inserted into his report which were pure fantasy and were not in the scientific report of Leader-Williams. For example, Hennessy on page 138 quotes Strath’s incorrect arithmetic comparison of the energy of a ten bombs of 10 megatons of TNT each (total 100 megatons) to the actual damage from about 2.2 megatons distributed in small (roughly 0.1 ton average size) conventional bombs. Strath is duped into believing that 100 megatons in 10 bombs is equivalent to 45 times the bombs dropped in Europe in WWII. In fact, with the verified cube root damage distance scaling law for diffraction target damage (WWII shelters etc), the correct ratio is not simple arithmetic but a power law, the two-thirds power of yield for comparing damage areas. Although blast wind pressure duration increases with yield at a given overpressure, so does the average blast arrival time over the bigger area of a given overpressure from a larger weapon, which allows duck and cover to be more effective, which - as data shows (see plots of casualties per ton of explosive for a variety of large explosions in previous blog posts) - more than offsets the increased blast duration.
In fact, there is no yield-dependent blast duration versus bomb yield effect for the peak overpressure or peak wind speed or wind pressure: they still reach a "peak" which has no significant duration! Instead, what really occurs is that the decay rate from the peak pressure is slower, i.e. the duration of the lower pressures following the peak pressure (not the PEAK) gets extended. This has a minimal effect. Suppose, for example, that 1 psi peak overpressure and 70 mph peak wind speed occurs about 1 mile from 1 kt air burst, arriving 4 seconds after burst and lasting about 0.5 second. Scaling to 1 megaton using cube-root scaling laws, the 1 psi and 70 mph wind peak arrives 10 miles from ground zero at 40 seconds after burst, lasting 5 seconds. But this 5 seconds duration is not 5 seconds of 1 psi and 70 mph winds. The pressure and the winds are decreasing to zero over the 5 seconds.
Additionally, the "blast impulse" i.e. pressure integrated over time, is irrelevant for causing damage at the threshold damage level. Consider pushing on a door or window or wall. If you push with a force that is below the threshold needed to break down the door, window or wall, it won't break, irrespective of the time and therefore irrespective of the impulse!
If a wall needs a threshold 5 psi peak overpressure to knock it down, it won't fall down if you apply a lower pressure for eternity.
Put it another way, if impulse was the correct criterion irrespective of a threshold damage pressure, then you have the paradox that chairs sat on for a long time should fail as soon as the force-time product reaches the value that makes them collapse when delivered a sudden impulse. In other words, impulse is only significant for short duration pulses; for long durations it must be curtained by a the imposition of a pressure (force per unit area) threshold for damage. Otherwise, long durations of 1 mile/hour winds would have the same effect on trees as short gusts of 100 mph winds!
The blast duration effect on damage is therefore only important IF the peak pressure of the blast wave is above a threshold needed to damage a wall or blow a person along (overcoming the contact ground resistance force). If the peak pressure is below that threshold, then no matter how long the decaying phase of the blast wave lasts, no damage occurs.
In adddition, it is not true that an increasing duration of the decaying blast phase (after the peak overpressure) automatically increases casualties, because if people are lying under tables, the longer duration of a blast will blow debris down range, decreasing the weight per unit area of debris in a house. This contrasts with WWII bombing data where the short duration of conventional blasts maximixed the debris load per unit area inside a house, because it simply fell in on itself. With nuclear weapons having long duration blast winds, most debris is blown horizontally; only gravity causes the vertical fall. If the top floor of your house is blown down range, the debris is spread over a wider area and people have less weight of debris falling on top of them. So they are better able to escape injury and free themselves than the WWII conventional bombing situation where houses collapsed their entire debris load vertically on top of a table shelter! The rescue situation is much improved over WWII conventional bombing. This is ignored in bigoted "criticisms" of nuclear age civil defence.
Damage area and casualty equivalent megatons (“equivalent megatonnage,” EMT) are proportional the product the the number of bombs and the 2/3 power of the yield of each bomb. 2.2 megatons distributed in 22 million conventional 10^-7 megaton bombs is therefore equivalent to 22,000,000(10^-7)^2/3 = 474 one megaton blast bombs, or 948 nuclear bombs each with a blast yield of 1 megaton (blast being 50% of the total energy of a nuclear explosion). In other words, Strath’s and Hennessy’s mathematical inadequacy completely reverses their conclusion. Even a thousand megatons in a nuclear war would not be on a different scale to the 2.2 megatons of highly effective, dispersed small bombs in WWII!
When you point this out to people, the normal response is anger and an argument over the time scale of the casualties, which is sophistry given the usual propaganda claims that nuclear casualties are spread out for longer than conventional war effects. Repeated nightly bombing air raid sirens prevented a good night’s sleep even for families unaffected by bomb blasts. This was a form of “crying wolf” in the sense that a large percentage of WWII London Blitz families did not go out to shelter in the winter of 1940, but stayed in the warmth of their homes. Protracting a threat builds up anxiety and stress, lack of a good night’s sleep, etc., even in the survivors. In addition, delayed tamper-fused explosives and some explosive incendiary attachments were be dropped in large numbers in conventional air raids to hinder civil defence rescue and damage mitigation. This is not possible using a small number of nuclear missiles, which makes the rescue operation more straightforward and speedy.
Hennessy ignored the 1954 Leader-Williams report on civil defence against the H-bomb, instead lists effects for the May 1953 Home Office predictions of casualties and house damage from a massive attack of 132 atomic bombs of 20 kt yield dropped on 39 British towns (CAB 134/942). This is closer to the SLBM MIRV warhead yield today than the 10-20 MT H-bombs considered in 1954-5, which wouldn’t even fit by itself into a typical modern missile today, no matter how clever the weaponeer. Hennessy fails to make the most important point, which is the relatively few casualties per bomb, in his table on page 130, compared to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in wooden cities. The 1953 study found that 35 Hiroshima-Nagasaki 20 kt atomic bombs would be needed to kill 422,000 people in London with WWII type civil defence evacuation of women, children and the disabled, and sheltering applied to all likely targets. A similar total number of fatalities occurred with just 2 bombs in the Japanese wooden cities in August 1945, thereby suggesting that raw data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki exaggerates crude fatality rates by a factor of about 35/2 = 17.5, but Hennessy fails to mention this evidence for civil defence. The total dead of 1,378,000 for the 132 nuclear weapons on 39 British towns and cities implies an average of 10,439 killed per 20 kt nuclear weapon, a very small fraction of the death toll per atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In addition, the 132 atomic bombs study of 1953 shows that 12,326,000 houses are damaged to the point of being at least temporarily uninhabitable (17.5% of these are irreparable), in other words the 9 houses are made uninhabitable per fatality. This signifies the relatively good survival of people compared to houses, and also the need for civil defence to set up emergency feeding, emergency shelter for the homeless refugees, etc. Hennessy again makes no comment concerning this obvious inference.
Finally, while the 35 atomic bombs dropped on London produce an average of 12,000 fatalities and 6,900 seriously injured, and 112,000 temporarily uninhabitable or irreparable houses each, Hennesy’s table also shows that casualty rates are low in smaller towns, for example 1,000 fatalities for an atomic bomb on Grangemouth. This again points up the need for more effective evacuation of targets that was assumed for the 1953 report; casualties are proportional to the population density in the target area. Instead, Hennessy on page 131 chooses to compare the 1,378,000 dead from 132 nuclear bombs on 39 towns and cities to the 60,000 dead civilians from bombs on Britain in WWII. Hennessy makes no mention of the point that Peter Laurie brought out of relevance for nuclear civil defence from the 60,000 civilian dead in WWII: namely that the 1930s predictions before WWII had exaggerated the casualty rate to figures similar to a nuclear war. Simple civil defence had mitigated blast and fire and had actually helped to deter the use of Nazi weapons of mass destruction such as nerve agents tabin and sarin. No mention of this aspect of civil defence in WWII, relevant to nuclear deterrence, is made.
This is especially relevant, given wind dependence similarity of gas to radioactive fallout which is made clear by a quotation Hennessy emphasises on the first page to chapter 4, titled ‘Beyond the Imagination’: the Spectre of Ever-Greater Annihilation:
“To render the UK useless as a base for any form of military operations the simplest and most effective form of attack would be by surface bursts effected in suitable meteorological conditions. These, besides causing local damage, would cause very considerable areas of the country to be affected by fallout. We are advised that something like ten ‘H’ Bombs, each of a yield of about 10 megatons, delivered on the western half of the UK or in the waters close in off the Western seaboard, with the normal prevailing winds, would effectively disrupt the life of the country and make normal activity completely impossible.” (Joint Intelligence Committee, “The ‘H’ Bomb Threat to the UK in the Event of a General War,” 13 January 1955, CAB 158/20.)
Hennessy on page 137 calls attention to a surprise “Bolt out of the Blue” attack, as named in the August 1952 Ministry of Defence “War Book” (DEFE 7/2056). The surprise attack possibility is always invoked as a disprove of evacuation plans of the 1 September 1939 “Operation Pied Piper” type, which are based on a realistic period of tension preceding an attack. If you are Prime Minister and the enemy starts evacuation of their cities in preparation for a nuclear attack on you, what do you do? Nothing? Declare in deep voice: “We won’t evacuate because we’re more moral; we prefer to let our kids be killed and then we will retaliate to pacify the mourners!” Or, last option, do you launch a first strike and hope that will somehow pander to popular sentiments? So you see, evacuation has its place in civil defence, if nothing else at least as a credible, sensible, tension-reducing deterrent against a fanatical enemy evacuating its own cities in preparation for war! A civil defence gap is a real threat. Hennessy instead of discussing these issues (which were well described in Herman Kahn’s 1960 On Thermonuclear War), contrasts the surprise attack possibility to the “Pollyanna” assumption of a period of international tension assumption made in civil defence evacuation planning.
Hennessy tries, it appears to this reviewer, to muddy the waters on cheap civil defence evacuation (which is cheap to prepare for, mainly printing posters and preparing plans) in order to try to exaggerate the role of expensive shelters. He quotes Prime Minister Clement Attlee declaring on 1 October 1948 to the Cabinet Committee on Civil Defence, GEN 253 (CAB 130/41) that it is “essential to avoid a situation in which the Government would be driven to devote resources to civil defence on a scale which would cripple the national economy, detract from our power of offence and alienate our allies in Europe … weakening our striking force or impending our economic recovery.” (Quite a militant statement, considering that as Labour leader in 1935, Attlee had dismissed arms: “we shall be no party to piling them up.”) This ignores the cheapness of the house collapse proof-tested Morrison table shelter in WWII. It ignores the cheapness of plastic bags of water as nuclear radiation shields.
Hennessy in chapter 5, “ ‘Breakdown’: Preparing for the Worst” complains about how many megatons will disrupt the UK Government enough to break down its control to the point where morale falls to the point that people no longer carry out the Government’s orders. Well, in 1978, the UK came to a virtual standstill in the “winter of discontent” without a single megaton being dropped. A few leaves on train tracks or the “wrong type of snow” have also been known to bring the country to a standstill. The number of people who could be killed by radiation cancer in a nuclear war is always similarly trivial, compared to the peacetime natural cancer risk, as Herman Kahn first pointed out over 50 years ago. Hennessy fails to compare nuclear war to normal life, which in some respects can be worse. If any government followed the disarmament fanatics, as occurred in the 1930s, to “set an example” for another aggressive dictator to start WWIII, it would be immoral for anybody to pay serious attention to such a government, which would not deserve to govern. So this “breakdown” of government authority in the immediate crisis period after a nuclear war (or a general strike by the trade unions, as has happened more than once) is irrelevant scare-mongering. Civil defence (survival of civilians) is not useless if angry nuclear war survivors stop trusting nefarious “leaders” who get them into WWIII. Civil defence is about defending civilians, not about coercing them! What Hennessy and Duncan Campbell are concerned with here is a breakdown of “civil coercion,” not a breakdown of “civil defence.”
Hennessy quotes a 25 October 1955 memorandum on “Shelter Policy” (CAB 134/1245) by Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George (the son of WWI Prime Minister David Lloyd George), estimating that constructing an underground shelter for every house would cost £1.25 billion, and making out that this expensive shelter option was somehow necessary for effective civil defense, and also totally unaffordable. Hennessy ignores the evidence that extensive underground shelters for 70,000 were unoccupied in the surprise nuclear weapon attack on Nagasaki! In addition, he points out on page 45 that far more money than this was spend on British nuclear weapons (“by the late 1980s, it had probably absorbed between £40 and £50 billion all told”). This relatively small £1.25 billion therefore seems to contradict Hennessy’s own claim on page 46 that “the capacity to retaliate against a Soviet bloc attack with nuclear weapons became the political, psychological, and above all, financial reason for not creating a serious civil defence system in Britain.” To Hennessy, “serious” is synonymous to “expensive.” But that is a falsehood scientifically. “Shelters” against fallout need not be underground.
A hat, boiler suit and soap would have prevented beta skin burns from fallout at the 15 megaton Bravo test on 1 March 1954; gamma radiation is shielded by plastic bags of water in boxes on and round a table. The costs are absolutely trivial and well within the budgets of the poorest in society, even those living on welfare or disability benefits! For the aged and disabled with bad backs, a hose pipe can be used to fill the plastic bags in situ, preventing any heavy lifting whatsoever. You can politically “ridicule” the experimental fact that water absorbs radiation for a million years, but facts remain facts. Ingress of fallout is a dust and it is not impossible to clean up dust and chuck it outside if it enters. A report planning for the evacuation of 11 million vulnerable people from damage areas by the Civil Defence Corps was completed on 29 December 1955, “Evacuation and Peripheral Dispersal, Report by the Official Committee on Civil Defence” (CAB 134/1206). Food, fuel, medical supplies, C7 post war high efficiency civilian gas masks and radiac radiation meters were stockpiled.
Hennessy also omits the role of civil defence as a means to prevent nuclear escalation, just as gas masks and gas proof room knowledge had helped to prevent chemical warfare from arising by escalation within WWII. Herman Kahn first published his “escalation ladder” on page 185 of his 1962 book, “Thinking About the Unthinkable” (Horizon press, New York; not to be confused with his entirely different similar-titled book “Thinking about the unthinkable in the 1980s,” of 1984).
Update: 21 May 2014 Daily Mail news that Prince Charles likened Putin to Hitler over Ukraine (the analogy to Hitler's 1938 invasion of Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, on the pretext that nearly 4 million German immigrants lived there and were in danger):
|Above: Dr Samuel Glasstone's originally secret Los Alamos report LA 1632 on nuclear weapon design shows how implosion increases the effective number of critical masses in a nuclear weapon's core until the optimum time for neutron initiation of the chain reaction. This proves the intrinsic safety of nuclear weapons from accidental detonation, due to the precise timing of the various steps required!|
"... one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe ... It would have been bad news - in spades." - falsehood in popular scaremongering bestseller.
This kind of claim is a popular deception which is often used to "support" propaganda claiming the need for unilateral nuclear disarmament, while keeping us vulnerable to enemy terrorists!
Even if a nuclear explosion occurs, it's likely to be less powerful than the charge of conventional explosive in it. The reasons are technical and due to the very difficult electronics problems in firing a lot of detonators simultaneously with a battery whose internal resistance is always too high to provide enough current under the load (even though the battery contains enough energy to fire all the detonators, it can't do so at the same time, directly).
No practical battery pack in a deliverable nuclear weapon with 32 or more point implosion nuclear weapon has ever been capable of setting off the nuclear weapon directly because of the tremendous current needed. This has nothing to do with the energy in the battery, which is of course adequate. The problem is that batteries have an internal resistance which limits the amount of current (which limits the rate at which they deliver energy).
To overcome this, implosion weapons from Trinity onward have used an X-unit containing a bank of high-capacitance capacitors. Energy is first transferred from the battery to the capacitors during a charging taking about a minute or so, then - at detonation time - the capacitor bank is discharged by a very special, high-current switch which can cleanly deliver an abrupt pulse with a rapid rise time (either a special krytron cold-cathode gas filled tube, or an explosive switch which fires a pointed metal stud through two metal conductors which are separated by a plastic insulator).
This charging of the X-unit means a very severe limitation on the yield of accidental nuclear weapons. If you drop a nuclear bomb, even if switches are triggered in the impact, the X-unit is not going to be charged up at the right time to cause a full yield nuclear detonation. Nuclear weapons have "one-point safety", so if you were to close the switches and fire the weapon before the X-unit is adequately charged, which takes many seconds, inadequate current will be delivered to the detonators (which are connected in a parallel circuit, requiring an immense current to fire simultaneously). So most likely, all the detonators will just warm slightly, without firing. Even if there is enough current and one does fire (the one with the least resistance, the weakest link in the circuit, which gets hottest), it is a one-point explosion with the nuclear fission equivalent of just 4 pounds of TNT or about 2 kg of TNT. This nuclear explosion will be dwarfed by the explosion of the conventional explosives in the weapon, which in implosion devices greatly exceed 2 kg of TNT equivalent.
To get a higher-yield nuclear explosion, modern warheads need not only simultaneous detonators to be fired by a recently charged-up capacitor bank, they also need the neutron gun to be fired about the time of maximum core compression, a matter of very careful timing, roughly millisecond or so after the X-unit is discharged by the special high-current switch to cause the implosion! Here, again, the electronics timing circuit is fully in control, and makes the weapon safe.
The American bombs also contain disabling devices that prevent unauthorized or accidental nuclear explosions due to impact or theft, so the probability of random switch closures occurring at the right times for charging the capacitor bank, firing the detonators, then firing the neutron gun, is so astronomically insignificant you should worry more about the finite probability of everyone on earth being killed by a car accident on the same day, so we go extinct.
For modern thermonuclear weapons, there is an additional switch which needs to be set off at a suitable time during the preparation in advance of the explosion: the fission stage boosting from deuterium and tritium gas mixture, which is injected into the hollow core prior to the explosion. (Some older weapons had the gas in sealed pits which avoided this, but since tritium has a half-life of only about 12 years, this meant that the pits had to be regularly taken out, unsealed, and re-gassed. A separate gas reservoir in the weapon allows tritium gas to replenished more easily after it decays.)
The Americans have been declassifying the key documents required a realistic, post-Cold War understanding of nuclear weapons (link here for some summary-extracts from nuclear weapons development history and here for actual effects data).
“In 1957 ... Nevil Shute Norway published On the Beach, a description of mankind wiped out by radiological warfare [he had also previously published guesswork speculations about war in Britain in his April 1939 novel, What Happened to the Corbetts, which incorrectly speculated that bombing would cause a lack of clean water and cause that diseases like cholera to spread]. Norway's poignant translation of apocalyptic disaster into the everyday voices of real people caught the imagination of the world. His book became an international best-seller and was made into a successful film. The book and the film created an enduring myth, a myth which entered consciously or subconsciously into all subsequent thinking about nuclear war. ... Almost all the details are wrong: radioactive cobalt would not substantially increase the lethality of large hydrogen bombs; fallout would not descend uniformly over large areas but would fall sporadically in space and time; people could protect themselves from the radioactivity ...
“The first generation of hydrogen bombs which were tested in 1952 and 1954 had yields running from ten to fifteen megatons. They were, from a modern point of view, absurdly and inconveniently large. ... By the time I paid my first visit to Los Alamos, in the summer of 1956, hydrogen bombs of the twenty-megaton class were already considered technologically obsolete; all the experts I spoke to were working on smaller bombs with lower yields. ... The race toward smaller bombs has been driven by ... the cruise missile and the MIRV (Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicle). ... As soon as cruise missiles and MIRVs are available, high-yield weapons rapidly become obsolete. ... The central paradox of the arms race is the discrepancy between public perception and reality. The public perceives the arms race as giving birth to an endless stream of weapons of ever-increasing destructiveness and ever-increasing danger. ... In the 1950s there was indeed a race to produce weapons of mass destruction ... Since then the arms race has been running strongly in other directions, away from weapons of mass destruction toward weapons of high precision. ... One consequence of the computer revolutions has been the replacement of big hydrogen bombs by the MIRV and the cruise missile.” (Emphasis added.)
"One result of REDWING ... later exploited very successfully by UCRL was the outcome of the Huron shot, which featured a LASL two-point GNAT primary and an experimental spherical secondary. The use of spherical secondaries would become nearly mandatory in a few years for small-diameter, lightweight, high-yield missile warheads." - "Swords of Armageddon 2.0" page IV-193.
"LASL also made much progress during REDWING, testing several small, low-yield devices and a radically-new spherical secondary compressed omnidirectionally within an ellipsoidal radiation case (the EGG device fired during the REDWING Huron shot ..." - "Swords of Armageddon 2.0" page IV-198.
The advantages of having nuclear weapons rather than the equivalent deterrent in conventional weapons are:
(1) the cost is cheaper when stockpiling nuclear rather than conventional weapons, both in the weapons, the delivery systems, and the personnel required to employ them (you'd need a vast army to deliver the same deterrent threat in conventional arms than in nuclear weapons, the production costs would be higher, etc.). Most of the explosives actually used in WWI and WWII were actually manufactured during the wars themselves, and not during the "arms race" period before the wars!
As the Cuban Missiles Crisis in the Cold War proved, vast nuclear stockpiles in combination with some credibility (civil defense, and decisive, unambiguous promises to retaliate under clearly defined circumstances as in President Kennedy's TV speech of 22 October 1962) were required to deter severely provocative actions. Small nuclear fission bomb stockpiles in 1945-52 failed to deter massive provocations: (1) the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe by puppet governments, (2) the Berlin Blockade of 1948 that tried to starve West Berlin into surrendering even before the USSR had tested a fission bomb, and (3) the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.
The American nuclear superiority in 1962 helped to force Khrushchev to listen to sense; Khrushchev had previously falsely denied sending any arms to Cuba, just as Putin is now denying sending arms to Ukrainian rebels. In fact, the small, limited amounts of arms in the pre-war stockpiles before WWI and WWII on both sides created the instability, contrary to revisionist historians like A. J. P. Taylor who ignored the fact that the pre-war stockpiles were trivial compared to the megatons of weapons actually used. Taylor tried to reverse this, using the 1914 UK Foreign Secretary Edward Grey's lying "arms race + accident" excuse for WWI, when in fact it was the lack of credible deterrence in 1914 that made enemy aggression plausible, causing instability. This is why, to credibly deter war, you need vast military power.
(2) the smaller number of nuclear bombs allows more effective control (e.g. each nuclear bomb can be fitted with an expensive and effective safeguards system, which would be uneconomic for the vast equivalent number of conventional bombs),
(3) the amount of fear and suspicion from conventional weapons is actually greater as proved in WWI and WWII outbreaks. E.g., in WWI because conventional weapons were used, they had to be mobilized using millions of conscripts and this was enough to raise tensions and cause counter mobilizations. In addition, the vast conventional mobilization process induces war mentality in millions of people, and the whole thing develops a momentum that is hard to stop let alone reverse without a war. In the 1930s, efforts to control conventional arms through unilateral "arms control" and disarmament by France and Britain, which intended merely to "set a good example" and lead the world to peaceful utopia, instead actually led to war by encouraging Hitler's secret rearmament of Germany, which exploited the weaknesses of appeasement.
Blast damage area equivalent megatons for destruction area and casualty comparisons (“equivalent megatonnage,” EMT) are proportional the product the the number of bombs and the 2/3 power of the yield of each bomb. In WWII, 2.2 megatons distributed in 22 million conventional 10^-7 megaton bombs were therefore equivalent to 22,000,000(10^-7)^2/3 = 474 one megaton blast bombs, or 948 nuclear bombs each with a blast yield of 1 megaton (blast being 50% of the total energy of a nuclear explosion). In other words, even a thousand megatons in a nuclear war would not be on a different scale to the 2.2 megatons of highly effective, dispersed small bombs in WWII.
As another example to debunk hype, about 65 million years ago, 70% of species were killed by the K-T impact event, a 10 km diameter asteroid which hit earth at roughly escape velocity, releasing an impact energy of 100,000,000 megatons of TNT equivalent. That's 100,000,000 one megaton bombs, or roughly 10,000 times the largest Cold War nuclear weapons stockpile! Yet that was obviously a survivable event for 30% of the species on earth, so it's quite feasible on that basis alone that most people could survive if they were warned and able to evacuate a reliably forecast impact area, and then shelter against the widespread indirect effects like blast, thermal radiation and climatic effects from the dust loading (or heating by a CO2 injection if the asteroid hits limestone CaCO3 rock and reduces enough of it into calcium oxide plus carbon dioxide in the fireball).
People need to understand nuclear weapons better in order to appreciate their role in deterring mass wars and ending the conscription or national service that lasted until 1960 in Britain and 1975 in the USA. By this time, nuclear deterrence had taken over from conventional war deterrence. In America it took longer because they thought they could win a conventional war by forcefully persuading the enemy without using nuclear weapons, an idea debunked in Vietnam by 1975 when simple Vietcong tunnel shelters helped to negate the effects of immense payloads of conventional weapons! A return to conventional weapons would either mean risking a return to the World Wars of the pre-nuclear era (WWI and WWII being examples) or alternatively increasing conventional weapons deterrent power to the equivalent of nuclear weapons, which means a massive increase in military expenditure, probably a re-introduction of national service for millions, with an increase of militarism in society. It's time to face the truth about Hiroshima and the validity of civil defense in case of nuclear terrorism or accidents:
18 July 2014 update:
|The Russian SA 11 Buk anti aircraft missile system, developed by the USSR to shoot down high altitude American B-52 bombers during a thermonuclear war, was probably used to shoot down civilian airliner MH17, according to Ukraine's radio intercepts, and filmed by Ukraine agents being returned to Russia secretly at 4:50 am this morning (18 July 2014) as crisis erupts, moving towards the Russian border, near the town of Krasnodon. Do the Americans have satellite photos/film to confirm this video? Ukraine’s interior minister adviser Anton Gerashchenko stated that “it’s not hard to guess why” President Putin decided to withdraw the SA 11’s to cover-up Russian involvement.|
Anton Gerashchenko stated the video was made by Ukrainian intelligence agents at 04:50am as the launcher was on the move towards the Russian border near the town of Krasnodon:
SA 11 Buks being returned to Russia on a low loader truck at 0450 hrs 18 July 2014 moving towards the Russian border near the town of Krasnodon.
|Daily Mail graphic of SA 11 missile attack on MH17 well within the Donetsk separatist region (about 80 miles from its border): note the SA-11 (Buk 9K37) only has 20 miles horizontal range, so only a launcher within Donetsk could have fired the shot that blew up the civilian airliner. So it must have been a Russian supplied launcher, based on this fact.|
A Russian Army Colonel (retired), Igor Strelkov, 43, is in charge of the Donetsk region, and has admitted complicity:
|Russian Army Coloney (retired) "shooter" Strelkov's complicity and cover up on twitter. See also Business Insider for the Russian language twitter screen prints before their deletion.|
Above: Russian paramilitary leader Igor Strelkov, 43 (real name Igor Girkin) tweeted that his pro-Russian militia had "In the area Torrez just downed aircraft, like the An-26 ..." As soon as it became clear that it was not an An-26 but civilian airliner MH17 with 298 civilians killed, he deleted the tweet. Strelkov, 43, is a retired Colonel in the Russian Army who as "Commander of Donetsk People's Army" is now a mercenary for Putin with experience on the Serbian side in the Bosnian War. (He changed his surname from Girkin to "Strelkov" because it means "shooter" in Russian.) He fought for Russia against Chechnya separatists and also for Russia in the conflict in Moldova. More recently, Strelkov organized the disciplined pro-Russian rebels during the invasion of the Crimea. This was why they were organized with unmarked Russian supplied uniforms, body armor, and weapons, ad with unmarked Russian supplied trucks. He thought his rebels had shot down another Ukrainian Air Force transport place with their ground-to-air missile, but it was actually a civilian airliner so he then deleted his twitter post.
|Igor Strelkov, Russian Army Colonel and now commander of Russian rebels who boasted on twitter of downing MH17.|
|Stelkov publicity photo taken on 10 July 2014.|
|Russian Army Colonel (retired) "shooter" Strelkov, the separatist commander of Donetsk, with a couple of friends.|
Ukraine released a recording of intercepts reportedly between Russian Colonel Vasyl Mykolaiovych Geranin, Cossack military leader Mykola Kozitsyn and rebel agent codenamed Bes, discussing the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine.
Intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of terrorist groups, released by the country’s security agency: