This past week marked the 74th anniversary of the most dramatic uses of uranium and plutonium in world history. No, not used to power a nuclear submarine or nuclear power plants, among the most common uses for these two atomic elements. Wait, did I mention the word atomic? Yes, plutonium and uranium are atomic elements. So, what about this “most dramatic use…”? that leads this entry of my blog, heretofore to be known as Alas, In Dunderland.
August 6th and 9th of 1945. Holy U-235! Odds are you weren’t alive or very old back then, but thanks to the chronicling of history in print and film among other mediums, we can all immerse ourselves in history’s many episodes. In 1945, on the the 6th and 9th of August there were a couple hundred thousand humans of all ages who became history when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which then dropped Imperial Japan to its knees in surrender and the end of World War Two. One was a uranium bomb, the other plutonium. Approximately 150,000 people died in short order and thousands more succumbed to radiation poisoning in the ensuing months or years. Keep in mind, virtually all of the dead from these atomic bombs were civilian, although it was the means to the end of a war that had already claimed about 70-85 million lives. Nuclear energy, unleashed by the terrors of science!
Today, nuclear energy–in warm and fuzzy contrast– may be keeping your electricity flowing and thus your 65″ Ultra High-Def, 3D flat screen alive. Nothing to fear but for a power line going down in a storm. It’ll all be better in a matter of a an hour or so. Relax. Smell that latte brewing. But atomic bombs? Who drops atomic bombs anymore? Just those two times, over 74 years ago. Now, there are so many countries with so many nukes that it would be crazy–as in mutual assured destruction–MAD crazy for any country to go nuclear.
Since WWII, wars are much more scaled down. Korea, Vietnam, Gulf I & II and Afghanistan equal around 100,000 military dead. Plus even more civilians. But when it comes to a history of war’s carnage, when you think about 70 million or more dead from 1939-1945, and what was at stake–that being fascism versus democracy, writ global, it would seem post WWII humankind has not had it so bad. Oh sure, there’s been genocide and ethnic cleansings around the globe, plus the above noted conflicts, but no global, literal fight to the death really, for the right to live as free as possible from dangers of foreign forces from evil empires like Germany and Japan back then.
Today, life is so quaint when compared to a literal world at war with itself. Of course, those genocides and cleansings and dictatorships here and there are no Disney dreamsickle, but it depends on where one is born, and what race one is born into. Today’s bombs are dropped on a daily basis, but they are metaphorical mostly. Political hot air suffocating you, tweet by tweet.The new abnormal.
Industrialized nations are, for the most part, decent places to live. Here in the U.S. a lot of citizens are very happy with the externals of life. The fragility of anyone’s life is a matter of happenstance in many cases. No atomic bomb threats to freak out about, just a worry or two maybe about being layed–off or being mugged in the subway, or having a work crew unwittingly bust a gas pipe and blow up one’s house. Or, if you are of a certain manner born, one may worry about getting whacked in a drive-by as you stand on the corner, waiting for the light to change. Or getting shot dead simply because of being pulled over by a cop because your brake light isn’t working. Or having your door kicked-in and parents and children are suddenly separated. Or you decided to go to the mall. Or a movie. Or simply to work. And here comes that active shooter. Ooops. Wrong time, wrong place. Otherwise life is a breeze compared to a world war.
Anyhow, Hiroshima and Nakasaki. What a one-two punch to end that match between good and evil. But that fight will never really be settled. If there’s a Vegas line on that match-up, I’d go all in on Evil winning. That’s not cynicism, folks, that’s playing with the facts of the matter. It’s bread and circuses for the free world. Crumbs and cudgels for the denizens of underdeveloped countries. Ozone depletion, oceans warming, icecaps melting, and in the meantime, we simply consume, and distract ourselves. You don’t think so?
There’s a bomb ticking away. Science wants to defuse it, but the resources and will to do so are virtually nowhere in sight. And those who have the ability to do something are preferably checking their stock portfolios or consulting with their money donors rather than the taking serious the ever-more alarming climate reports; and their children and grandchildren will pay the price. For certain. It’ll be a slow death. Not a blinding flash in the sky and instant incineration. Oh no. This planet-killing bomb is ticking away, and unlike in the James Bond mode, agent 007 isn’t going to hit the kill switch with less than 5 seconds to detonation. No long sigh of relief. Maybe a last gasp, though. Know this: there is no 007. There’s only the Bomb. It sits there, in plain sight, while all manner of nonsense passes for news and analysis, babble and blathering, with political farce passing for governance. We are very likely beyond the point of no return. Once those two 1945 bombs left the bombay doors, there was no calling them back. Same goes for our 21st century bomb that’ll take out, ultimately, oh say 7 billion people. Maybe the cockroaches will survive. They’ll have have lots of rot to feast on.
Tick, tick, tick.