Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have called for an increase in spending on the nuclear arsenals within their respective nations over the past few weeks, and new reports out of South Korea suggest that Kim Jong-Un’s regime may possess a nuclear weapon by the end of 2017. There are currently eight nations in the world, including America and Russia, with confirmed caches of nuclear weapons, with North Korea potentially making nine in the near future.
Relationships between the U.S. and at least four of the eight non-American nations to possess these weapons of mass destruction have grown increasingly tense in recent decades. Russia, our old Cold War nemesis, with Putin at the helm, has been at the center of a number of recent international incidents that have put them at odds with American interests, including the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her bid for the presidency, as well as their bombing campaign in Syria.
China and the U.S. have been involved in at least three military incidents over the past year, with American and Chinese military aircraft intercepting one another over the South China Sea and a Chinese naval vessel recently taking (and then returning) a U.S. Navy submersible drone.
Tensions with Pakistan are always high, as American politicians continue to question the Arab nation’s loyalty to the cause in the War on Terror. North Korea is, well, still North Korea. Even American relations with longtime ally Israel are historically bad as a result of the U.S. choice to abstain from vetoing a U.N. resolution banning their development of settlements on contested land. Altogether, that makes 7,770 nuclear weapons that could potentially have targets somewhere within the United States—more than enough to wipe America, if not the majority of the world, off the map.
So what if one of these nations, or a rogue group that somehow managed to acquire a nuclear weapon from a cash-strapped nuclear power like North Korea, decided to pull the trigger? Although there would certainly be an incredible response from the U.S., her allies, and any number of other reasonable nations across the globe, that response wouldn’t be enough to save you and your family on such a fateful day if you found yourself within the blast radius. Indeed, if a nuclear weapon goes off and you’re anywhere within the “kill zone,” your chances of survival drop to near zero, meaning the only sure-fire way to survive such an attack is to not be there for it in the first place.
That’s where the website, WouldISurviveaNuke.com, comes in. This simple map generator allows you to enter your current location, or any other location in the world, choose the size of the nuclear weapon you might assume would be detonated, and get an estimated kill radius, as well as the radius that would result in first-, second-, and third-degree burns.
I live in the woods of Georgia, but I’m keenly aware of the tactical value Atlanta, the closest major city to me, possesses as a large economic producer and the primary location of America’s Centers for Disease Control. Indeed, a strategy that includes nuclear weapons may well also include other non-traditional ones, and attacking Atlanta first could hinder the U.S.’ ability to produce and deploy a response to chemical and biological agents released by other weapon systems. So naturally, the first thing I did was choose Atlanta and the largest nuclear weapon any of our potential enemies possess: the Russian Tsar Bomba, a 50-megaton behemoth even larger than Russia’s recently unveiled “Texas-destroying” Satan II ICBMs.
Fortunately for me, my little town is far enough away from an Atlanta ground zero that I would survive the initial blast, and if I was lucky, could get my family out-of-town before the radioactive fallout turned us into super-mutants (or just regular dead folks). This is, of course, assuming there was only one detonation of a single warhead at Atlanta’s center, as many ICBMs are now designed to distribute multiple warheads for an even larger destructive radius.
The NukeMap at NuclearSecrecy.com offers a similar tool created by Alex Wellerstein, with even more variable options to choose from, such as the theoretical 100-megaton iteration of the Tsar Bomba, or even a custom yield of your choosing (in case you’d like to know how powerful a nuke needs to be to take out your place of work without vaporizing your house, too).
Although neither of these tools can help you to survive a blast that has already happened, they can give you a reasonable sense of how far you are away from potentially high-value targets. This information needs to be considered when putting together any serious bug-out strategy, as an invasion of the continental United States would likely be preceded by an attempt to cripple the American infrastructure and its ability to rapidly deploy defenses. Few methods could be used more effectively for that purpose than nuclear weapons.
Despite rising tensions with other nuclear-capable states, the chances of all-out nuclear war in the near future are still slim. With that said, it’s important to remember that weapons are built to be used, and no potentially tide-turning weapon is developed (at great expense) and then ignored when nations become desperate. If the day ever comes that the United States falls victim to the very world-shattering power it first harnessed over 70 years ago, it’s in your best interest to know how you’d fair.
Image courtesy of survival-mastery.com