Does Nuclear Weapons go bad? This question haunts all of us. It has stayed with us through countless movies and books, but why is it so elusive to us? The answer can be attributed to several factors, including accidental use, technical errors, irresponsible leaders, nuclear terrorism, and even hackers taking over nuclear chain of command. Some of these factors may be at play at the same time.
When a nation launches a nuclear war, cities are often targeted, producing tons of smoke. That smoke would remain in the stratosphere for years, blocking out much of the sun’s light. This would lead to colder temperatures, less precipitation, and widespread famine. These effects would make the use of nuclear weapons so dangerous that a nuclear war should be avoided. Clearly, such a war would be devastating for mankind.
The intensity of nuclear explosions varies dramatically. For instance, a ten-kiloton bomb would kill fifty percent of the population within a two-mile radius, a fireball of superheated air would form within 10 seconds. This fireball would be miles in diameter and radiate heat, and it would be thousands of miles across. Ultimately, the blast would be enough to kill millions of people, and there would be no survivors.
Although there is no single answer, nuclear weapons are not without risk. Nuclear weapons emit a neutron blast, which is associated with high levels of radiation. The radiation from nuclear weapons can be radiated into the stratosphere, causing untold amounts of radioactive contamination. These particles could be transported across the globe, spreading radiation for decades to come. This scenario would be a major setback in the United States.
As nuclear weapons age, plutonium in the warheads may have a very long shelf life. While U.S. weapons are nearing thirty years of age, scientists have been worried about plutonium deterioration. However, a new study suggests plutonium can last for as long as 85 years. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find weapons with this high shelf life. However, many scientists still remain skeptical about their long-term effectiveness.
When the United States is attacked, one nuclear war in which all of its components explode simultaneously will kill over half of the population. The prompt effects of an all-out nuclear war may not be noticeable, but the damage from the fallout would be catastrophic for those in the vicinity of an explosion. The fallout is dangerous for people within the radii of destruction, and will last for hundreds of miles. As the isotopes decay, the lethal fallout becomes less lethal and thus, the risk to humans diminishes.
While the United States has an issue with excessive spending, nuclear weapons spending is a different matter altogether. Federal spending on entitlement programs is known and public, whereas nuclear weapons spending has never been fully understood. While the costs of entitlement programs are public knowledge and debated frequently in Congress, the cost of nuclear weapons spending is secret and unknown. As a result, many Americans are not informed about the full costs of nuclear weapons. This may not be the case with nuclear weapons.
The impact of a nuclear explosion is based on many factors, including weapon design and yield, target type, and detonation altitude. There are many other factors that affect the consequences of nuclear weapons. Once a nuclear weapon is triggered, the energy released in the explosion is released as neutrons, which can then careen into neighboring atom nuclei and split them apart. Eventually, a chain reaction can occur that can be uncontrollable.
In the case of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, a “Nuclear Nino” could occur within a few years. The oceans would be cold and dark, reducing the amount of aragonite. This would be bad for marine life, as it is essential for shell formation. Furthermore, coral-reef ecosystems are already under threat of global warming and acidification. A nuclear war could further devastate these ecosystems.
In the case of the United States, nuclear weapons have been used twice in war. In 1952, the U.S. detonated a plutonium bomb over Hiroshima, which destroyed nearly one million lives. The Soviet Union detonated a megaton hydrogen bomb in August 1953, and the US followed suit in 1954, detonating a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. The explosion created a mushroom-shaped cloud and fireball about four kilometers wide.
However, the question of “Does Nuclear Weapons go bad?” is a contested one. Both the military establishment and the peace movement have questioned the usefulness of nuclear weapons. In 1996, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion that stated that using nuclear weapons would be a violation of international law, but would be lawful in some rare circumstances. Fortunately, the International Atomic Energy Agency was created in 1957, which provides international safeguards against nuclear proliferation.