Sunday, June 11, 2017

It’s 2 1/2 Minutes to Midnight, Part I

The famous Doomsday Clock was the idea of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It’s now 2 1/2 minutes to Midnight. The Atomic Scientists — some of them worked on the Manhattan Project — have set the Clock 1/2 minute closer to the extinction of people. Also: polar bears, orangutans, and the EPA. 

Are they worried about Global Heating and Climate Chaos reaching the Point of No Return? Perhaps — the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are now above 400 ppm for the first time in many millennia. But, the major concern of the Atomic Scientists is nuclear radiation. Lately, they’ve been reminded of the fallibility of mankind re: 1) nuclear weapons and 2) nuclear power plants.

First, the bombs and missiles. Nowadays, the nuclear weapons of US and Russia add up to  about 1400; France, UK, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel together have another several hundred. Poor North Korea has only about 5. Lowering the total by even 5 would matter.

So, how crazy (stupid?) is it for the US not to negotiate a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War, when Kim Jong Un has said several times that he will undo his nation’s nuclear program the moment a treaty is signed?  You mean there’s only a cease fire between the US and North Korea all these decades?  Of course, we must be officially at war to make “overflights” of North Korea with B2, nuclear-capable bombers?  That’s just politics??

Whom else are we targeting with our nuclear missiles? Not Russia now that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are friends and have business together. Not China — Walmart would never agree to that. Did anyone suggest dismantling the US nuclear arsenal? 

     Perhaps the Atomic Scientists read some of President Trump’s tweets with no semblance to reality, posted in the small hours of the night,. 
    Perhaps they read the recent reports that a diver may have discovered a nuclear bomb lost off British Columbia in 1950. It was reportedly marked with the identification M IV. The diver was scared to death it might go off if he touched it. He came to the surface and called the Mounties who called in the Royal Navy.

    
The Atomic Scientists were also aware there have been more than 32 other “significant incidents and accidents” with nuclear bombs, six never recovered. Several were well known to the public at the time they were lost. The short list includes: 
    The day in 1958 that two planes collided off Savannah, GA — one carrying an H-Bomb. The B47 was damaged badly and decided to drop its Bomb into the sea near the Savannah River. Search teams were quietly sent to cordon off Wassaw Sound. They searched underwater, from the surface, and from the air, but couldn’t find the Bomb or the plutonium trigger. Two months later, the search was suddenly called off — the teams had to be sent to South Carolina where another B47 accidentally dropped its H-Bomb. 200 lbs of TNT (part of its trigger) exploded on impact, scattering radioactive debris across the landscape. Fortunately, the core of the bomb didn’t detonate. The Air Force sheepishly requested one replacement bomb. The Savannah bomb is still missing. 
      In 1961, a B-52, carrying 2 nuclear bombs, exploded and crashed near Goldsboro NC, ejecting its H-Bombs. One landed in a swamp and broke apart without blowing up; the other deployed its parachute and landed tangled in a tree. Incredibly (or not so), 5 of the 6 fuses inserted to prevent an unintended detonation failed. [Sometimes, failure can be good.]
    In 1966, near Palomares, Spain, a B 52, carrying 4 H-Bombs, crashed while trying to refuel midair. One bomb hit the ground and was recovered smashed up a bit; the TNT of two exploded, scattering radioactive debris everywhere; and one landed off shore in almost 3,000 feet of water. A mini-submarine located it several months later. Whether it was ever recovered depends on whom you ask. That “significant incident” on foreign territory, not under the authority of the CIA, could not be hushed up and remains in the folklore of the villagers of Palomares.
    Two years later, a B-52 carrying four H-Bombs caught fire and crashed in Greenland (Danish territory) near Thule Air Force base. The TNT of the plane’s 4 bombs exploded strewing radioactive uranium, tritium, and plutonium across the ice.
    Also in 1968, the nuclear attack Submarine, Scorpion, carrying two nuclear torpedoes, sank in 9,800 feet of water near the Azores. Both (torpedoes) are still there.   


    Several extra nuclear bomb "accidents" of US origin have also occurred. A bunch of  nuclear military catastrophes of the Soviet Union have added to the total. Now, we must include radiation on the list of man-made environmental dangers in the world.

    The US government has so many incidents and “accidents” with nuclear weapons that it had to create a file — they call it Broken Arrow.

   A few years ago, I published a cartoon showing a building with many towers and transmitters. Nearby, an ICBM had just been sent off to a target. A voice from the building says, “Lunch? I thought you said Launch.” 

    That’s just the military side of the madness. Next issue of the Sylvanian, Gadfly sets its satirical eye on the civilian side. Watch this space for Part II.

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