Ever since the first nuclear bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, the world has become obsessed with controlling the devastating power of these weapons of mass destruction…and for good reason.
Nations have agreed to disarm their own nuclear bombs, others have made treaties and strategic alliances, and one country, namely South Africa, has voluntarily disarmed every single one of it’s nuclear bombs.
With Kim Jong Un pushing forward his nuclear program, however, new concerns have been ignited over the mass scale of destruction that these weapons can create. Just how powerful are they, though?
The first deployed nuclear bomb, detonated over Hiroshima, killed approximately 80,000 people instantaneously. Tens of thousands more died over the next several weeks. The bomb, however, which was equivalent to 15 kilotons, is nothing compared to what we’ve developed since then.
The bomb dropped on Nagasaki had an explosion of roughly 21 kilotons, compared to Hiroshima’s 15—if you lived within 1 mile of this blast, there would be a nearly 95% chance of death. If you lived within 1.38 miles of the blast, there would be a 100% chance of 3rd degree burns, often requiring amputation.
Although this may not seem like a lot, consider the population density of DC. If a nuclear bomb like the one dropped on Nagasaki were to be dropped on our capital, roughly 130,000 people would die, and that’s not even including the estimated 170,000 injuries.
If you were one of the unlucky souls that wasn’t killed immediately by the nuclear detonation, you’d likely suffer severe injuries, including vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhaging, blindness, emaciation, and even death.
Pictured below are actual people who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts:
Despite the horrifying impact that these bombs had on Japan, they completely pale in comparison to the bombs that exist today.
The largest nuclear weapon currently in the US arsenal, the B83 Bomb, produces a blast of nearly 1.2 Megatons, which 80x stronger than the Hiroshima bomb.
The horror doesn’t stop there, though. The “Castle Bravo,” which is the largest nuclear bomb ever tested by the United States, has a blast impact of 15 Megatons, which is equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima bombs. Pictured below is the destruction it could cause:
Even this, however, is nothing compared to the largest bomb ever detonated by the Russians. On October 30th, 1961, the Soviet Russians tested the Tsar Bomba, which has a staggeringly brutal blast impact of 50 megatons. This is equivalent to 3,333 Hiroshima blasts. In fact, it was so powerful that:
- It almost destroyed the very plane that dropped it
- It shattered windows as far away as Norway (despite being detonated on Severny island, over 600 miles away)
- It’s shock waves circled around the entire earth 3 times.
Even the Tsar Bomba, however, was only a scaled down prototype of an unnamed bomb, which was planned to be twice as big. Fortunately, the soviets never created it, but one can only imagine the ungodly ruin that this could have caused.
The unnamed bomb, which we’ll call the “Theoretical Tsar Bomba,” would have had a blast impact of 100 megatons, equivalent to roughly 6,666 Hiroshima bombs. If detonated over DC, here is what it would look like:
If the soviets really wanted to do some damage, however, they would drop it over New York City, which is the most populous city in the entire United States. If this “Theoretical Tsar Bomba,” was in fact dropped in the epicenter of Manhattan, it would cause a mind-boggling 8 million deaths, in addition to nearly 6.7 million injuries.
Although these nuclear bombs have unfathomable power, thankfully, 85% of nuclear weapons are owned by only two countries: The United States of America and Russia. Here is a list of countries with the most nuclear bombs, in descending order:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- North Korea
- Israel (supposedly)
Although Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program is absolutely nothing compared to the United States or Russia, a bomb dropped on New York City would still be absolutely devastating. Below is the blast radius of a bomb which North Korea tested in 2013—by now their weapons are likely far more powerful.
In addition to the immediate deaths caused by the explosion, and the deaths suffered over a month due to radiation poisoning, there would also be terrible ecological ramifications. From the Guardian:
“In a new study of the potential global impacts of nuclear blasts, an American team found even a small-scale war would quickly devastate the world’s climate and ecosystems, causing damage that would last for more than a decade.”
“Speaking at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting in San Francisco yesterday, Richard Turco of UCLA said detonating between 50 and 100 bombs – just 0.03% of the world’s arsenal – would throw enough soot into the atmosphere to create climactic anomalies unprecedented in human history.”
According to the research, tens of millions of people would die, we would see a second ice age, and most of the world would be unable to grow crops for at least five years. This would literally be the end of civilization.
Richard Turco of UCLA said that the effects would be “much greater than what we’re talking about with global warming and anything that’s happened in history with regards volcanic eruptions.”
In addition to this, the ozone layer would be depleted by roughly 40% over many cities, and by up to 70% at the poles, causing massive environmental changes that humanity would likely not be able to weather.
Again, although our nuclear arsenal is far more powerful than North Korea’s, any nuclear bomb dropped on a major city will cause catastrophic devastation. It’s paramount that Donald Trump handles the North Korea missile crisis skillfully, lest we end up with a deranged psychopath who wants to bomb Lower Manhattan.
If Kim Jong Un does, in fact, start a nuclear war, this could very well be the end of humanity. We must all give our government the support that it needs to handle this potential catastrophe, for our lives may depend on it.