Boom 2053

Recently, Adam M. Sowards, a historian and environmental interdisciplinarian, posted a link to his Twitter account that showcased every nuclear explosion on the planet from 1945 to 1998.  The video itself is cinematically underwhelming–sometimes feeling like a mixture between a bad techno beat and an Atari game from 1983.  Yet, if the viewer spends the time to watch the clip in its entirety, I would expect that they would walk away feeling somewhat nauseated having realized that most of the world’s superpowers–namely the U.S.–have unleashed such a destructive force on Mother Earth 2053 times.  What really makes this clip hit home is when it is paired with actual footage of nuclear explosions like that compiled by Atom Central.  The negative environmental impact created by these explosions must be staggering.  The realization of the detrimental effects of radiation has steadily increased since 1945, but more responsible testing methods do not negate the long-term impacts of tests from years-ago.  The CTBTO has a number of reports and educational resources that better illustrate the negative side-effects of nuclear testing.  In addition to the environmental impact of nuclear weapon testing, their financial impact must be considered as well.  Brookings Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project lists 50 facts about U.S. nuclear testing.  Number 50 tells that over 35 trillion dollars have been spent on nuclear related activities in the U.S alone between 1940 to 1998.  Of course there are a number of potential benefits like propulsion systems and energy that the nuclear age has engendered, but can we justify killing our planet and mankind along with it in the hopes that one day we might be able to responsibly control the atom.    



One thought on “Boom 2053

  1. Great resources, Chuck. The CTBTO site is especially helpful (and will be used in my Global Environmental History course this coming spring). One of the major issues with nuclear science is that it first gained success during a massive war (success meaning that scientists could create a nuclear explosion, nothing more implied) – thus, it will always be tainted by that fact and by its subsequent development during the Cold War. All the potential positives are outweighed by its clear and prevalent problems.

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