Fallout – boy!

Aside from the whole shadow-of-the-bomber thing, I have an amateur (okay - more amateur, then) interest in the Cold War and the fear of nuclear war. Partly because of the obvious continuities and parallels with the area I'm studying, but also because I'm old enough to remember the last flowering of nuclear paranoia in the 1980s. Anyway, from time to time I may post items on the subject. Here's one: a map of the continental US showing the probable radiation exposure from a full-scale Soviet nuclear strike.Jonas Siegel, "The original nuclear nightmare", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 2005, 38-9. It's based on data compiled in 1986 by FEMA, and it would hardly have been comforting for policymakers - the 'low risk' areas in yellow represent an estimated exposure in a week of up to 3000 roentgens for unprotected persons, which would still kill many people and leave many more very sick. It looks like it was assumed that the Soviets were following a counterforce strategy - most of the heavily populated regions seem relatively unscathed (though you can say goodbye to Hollywood), and the main targets would seem to be in Montana and the Midwest, where most of the ICBM silos were.

1980s pop cultural landmarks of note: Lawrence, Kansas, was definitely in danger, in the high risk zone sandwiched between two very high risk zones. Goose Island, Oregon, doesn't exist, but it doesn't look like it could have been 'just three miles from a primary target' as the prof claimed. Calumet, Colorado, also doesn't exist, but would have been at low risk - go Wolverines! And Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, unsurprisingly appears to be in a high risk zone, but they wouldn't have been too worried about that, would they.

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