The Forgotten Specter: Death by Nuclear Radiation

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What the use of Nuclear Weapons really means

Picture taken of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

It is beyond my comprehension how our president or any world leader can loosely and irresponsibly talk about nuking ANYONE on this planet, as has become so popular these days. The first time I heard words to that effect out of our president’s mouth I thought that alone was grounds for removal from office because it indicated a serious lack of understanding about what he was talking about … or, even worse, that he did know and would do it anyhow. And here he is seven years later, still acting as if nuking somebody is actually a choice. Did/does he understand what nuclear bombs DO? He is certainly not speaking for the American people when he threatens half the world with the use of these weapons!

In all the casual talk about nuking Iran or North Korea, or “keeping all options on the table,” not one person I can think of has talked about nuclear radiation and radiation poisoning. Not Jim Lehrer, not bloggers, certainly not our president, not Condoleezza Rice, not anyone in a responsible position in our government. No one is reminding us what a nuclear bomb is and what it does. I don’t hear reporters asking this question … “Are you saying you will authorize our military to kill millions of people by radiation poisoning?”

Everyone who supports our president is complicit in threatening the use of these weapons in the world. By supporting the president, they support the destruction of people and poisoning of the Earth in the horrific manner in which nuclear bombs act. How can we not speak the facts about the atrocity that our threat of using nuclear bombs represents? It needs to be said. People need to think about what all this means, not in some vague “star wars” way, but in real human terms, and every Congressional representative needs to hear that the American people are opposed to all this irresponsible and barbaric talk.

Despite all the information available to us, we seem to have no knowledge and no memory. The effects of the bombs we dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima have been documented. The awful ways in which people, animals and nature die have been documented … and the people that are most likely to die are children, women, men, old people: civilians, noncombatants, the infamous “collateral damage” of Pentagonese abstractions.

The effects of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl—one of the freshest in memory—have been documented. I don’t know what race of people our leaders represent, that they would completely without conscience threaten to unleash these destructive forces against innocent people and against the environment on this planet.

In the end, Einstein was sorry that he had done the work he had done, given the stupidity of the human race.

Nothing is more indiscriminate than a nuclear bomb in its killing power.

No matter how pinpoint its placement, the radioactive plume that moves outward from a nuclear explosion cannot be controlled and no one in its path is protected. The radiation that travels on wind currents and falls into water continues to contaminate and sicken people after the blast is over. At least a regular old explosive TNT bomb stops killing once it has fallen, once all the buildings have fallen down, the gas mains have exploded, and all the fires have been put out. But nuclear bombs keep on killing, and poisoning the environment for THOUSANDS of years. The actual decay rates run in the millions of years for certain isotopes of uranium, but the shorter half-lives are actually more radioactive, therefore more poisonous, for incomprehensible amounts of time. People get concerned about radon gas in their homes (naturally occurring radiation from Earth elements) and yet not raise a voice against these threats to massively poison people and the Earth?

I know it’s difficult to comprehend the fact that uranium releases radiation for thousands of years. But even a short focus on the immediate effects of exploding a nuclear device should be enough to make people furious that our government would be threatening the use of these weapons. Are we so inured to blood and guts and all the horrible ways of dying that we don’t give a damn? Have we no compassion at all for the children or those who will survive with all the lingering effects for untold generations? Do we not care at all about the poisoning of food supplies, food animals, and water, that will result from the use of even one of these weapons?


Radiation sickness: FAQS
“On Aug. 6, 1945, an American warplane dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. An estimated 80,000 people were incinerated. In the months that followed, another 60,000 died from the effects of radiation. The first symptoms [of radiation poisoning] start within minutes to days after exposure and may come in waves, with a seriously ill stage lasting from a few hours up to a few months. The cause of death in most cases is the destruction of the bone marrow, which results in infections and internal bleeding.

“Radiation sickness … occurs after exposure to a large amount of radiation within a short period. Early symptoms include skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, high fever, hair loss and burns to the skin. Other symptoms include diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, fainting, dehydration, inflammation of tissues, bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums or rectum, and anemia. Treatment for radiation sickness will only help relieve its symptoms. It won’t reverse the effects of radiation exposure.”

Not an (idiotic) Bruce Willis movie

A nuclear bomb is not a regular bomb. For all those alarmingly immature creatures out there, perennial male juveniles, who think war is a video game or scenes without real consequences from a degenerate “action thriller” and like to see explosions, yes, a nuclear bomb produces physical destruction, but the thing that distinguishes a nuclear bomb from an ordinary bomb, and this needs reiteration, is the invisible radioactive particles released which penetrate living matter and cause internal and irreversible damage to all living things.

Our soldiers in Iraq, the Iraqi people, the Afghani people, and the people in the Balkans are all at this moment suffering the effects of low level radiation poisoning caused by our military’s use of “depleted uranium” (du) projectiles in those countries. There has been much research and much written about the effects of the radioactive dust produced by these weapons. The results are horribly deformed babies and cancers that will last for generations. Sixty-seven percent of children born to British soldiers who served in the Gulf War have genetic deformities. That percentage is so extremely high that there can be no doubt about the causal relation between exposure to DU dust and genetic damage. Yet our military denies this. And this is “low level” radiation. A mega-ton nuclear bomb is not low level.

Our military is obviously willing to allow the Iraqi people and our own soldiers to be exposed and harmed in this way. One must assume that, on the direction of our president, our idiot military bureaucrats would be willing to unleash mega tonnages of radiation on innocent populations. And they are also willing to poison whole portions of the earth, committing ecocide of plants, animals, air, water, soil, which will continue for generations.

“After a massive dose of radiation the reaction may be so severe that death quickly ensues. This is usually due to severe anemia or hemorrhage, to infection, or to dehydration. Extremely high doses damage the tissues of the brain, and death usually follows within 48 hr, as was demonstrated at Chernobyl. There is no treatment for radiation sickness, although it is sometimes possible for persons to survive otherwise lethal doses of radiation if bone marrow transplants are performed. Potassium iodide is taken to protect against thyroid cancer from radiation exposure, but the drug should ideally be taken four hours prior to the exposure. Exposure to radiation causes genetic mutation; the progeny of those subjected to excessive radiation tend to show deleterious genetic changes.
“The genetic damage from the atomic bombs dropped on Japan is still evident and such damage will continue to surface in people directly affected by the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.”

Radiation Poisoning Symptoms

Nausea and vomiting
Skin burns (redness, blistering)
Weakness, fatigue, exhaustion, fainting
Inflammation of exposed areas (redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding)
Hair loss
Ulceration of the oral mucosa
Ulceration of the esophagus, stomach or intestines
Vomiting blood
Bloody stool
Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
Sloughing of skin
Open sores on the skin”

Keloids on Hiroshima victim, 1.6 km from epicenter

For those who cannot grasp how horrible this is, please see the movie “The Day After,” which was produced in the 1980s for the express purpose of showing people what nuclear bombs DO. It is a horrible way to die. Anyone surviving the blast of a nuclear bomb WILL suffer radiation poisoning.


“The Day After, a dramatization of the effects of a hypothetical nuclear attack on the United States was one of the biggest media events of the 1980s. Programmed by ABC on Sunday, November 20, 1983, The Day After was watched by an estimated half the adult population, the largest audience for a made-for-TV movie to that time. … ABC had distributed a half-million “viewer’s guides” and discussion groups were organized around the country. … The advance publicity was unprecedented in scale. It centered on the slogan: ‘THE DAY AFTER — Beyond Imagining. The starkly realistic drama of nuclear confrontation and its devastating effect on a group of average American citizens…’

“The Day After went on to be either broadcast or released as a theatrical feature in over 40 countries.

“Some critics objected that it was ‘too horrifying for the medium of television.’ Other critics found it too tame in its depiction of the effects of nuclear attack (abroad, this was sometimes attributed to American naiveté about war) — a reproach anticipated in the final caption: ‘The catastrophic events you have witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than … would actually occur …’ ”

This public education did, for a short time, bring home to people what our governments/militaries are capable of doing. It was enough to make world powers put on the brakes for a while, leading to agreements to dismantle nuclear stockpiles. You will notice, however, that the USA continues to have the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, and is continuing to develop new variations … bunker busting nukes … with all the attendant problems of nuclear radiation release into the environment. You will notice that there has been no public education about nuclear bombs and nuclear radiation during the Bush years. One wonders why. Possibly whoever really runs this country does not want you to remember.

It might be a good idea if civic groups would get a copy of this movie and show it at the public library or in schools, to educate people once again about what nuclear bombs really are and what they really do. It is unbelievable that we have forgotten, but apparently we have.

And once everyone is re-educated, maybe you can talk with your Congressional representatives about how dangerous you think the president, the vice president, and his cabinet are. Maybe you can talk to them about getting those people out of office as quickly as possible, before they do even worse damage in this world than they have already done. And maybe you can find out what you have to do in your state to recall your Congressional reps if they continue to disregard the wishes of the American people, who, on the whole, are not in favor of killing large populations of people and poisoning the Earth and everything on it in the process.

Offered in the hopes of peace and sanity.



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