January 4, 2011

"In the face of a Strangelovian apocalypse, ['Duck and Cover'] might only have produced a slower death..."

"... but for those facing a terrorist bomb such protection is likely to be adequate, and much safer than, say, being stuck in traffic on the Beltway when the fallout begins to settle. Also, people sheltering in place won't tie up roads, making it easier for emergency services to get where they're needed. So the Obama Administration wants to encourage people to shelter in place rather than head for the hills in the event of a nuclear attack. Even sheltering for a few hours, or a couple of days, lets radiation levels fall dramatically and avoids road tie-ups for later evacuation."

Think about it.

35 comments:

Palladian said...

And a computer could be set and programmed to accept factors from youth, health, sexual fertility, intelligence, and a cross section of necessary skills. Of course it would be absolutely vital that our top government and military men be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and tradition.

Curtiss said...

Is this part of Obama's plan for absorbing the next attack?

Fore!

Lem said...

If Glenn Reynolds writes a post for Atlantic and then links to it in his own Instapundit website.. does that mean he has graduated?

David said...

This is the first step towards the concept of an "acceptable" terrorist nuclear attack.

Belkys said...

Store K pills

Penny said...

"An atomic explosion can blind you, burn you, crush you with explosive power, or poison you with radiation."

Not unlike your best friend being unkind at JUST the wrong time...

But I digress... with the silly whims of a narcissist who might foolishly compare one to the other.

Lem said...

How long before Glenn is called a fear monger?

Wait, Obama is putting this out?

Oh, its ok then ;)

traditionalguy said...

Leader Obama will soon have our High speed Trains Line of Defense in place where everyone goes quickly to Madison from Chicago. But I would store up some canned and dry foods. And don't forget extra ammunition to hold off the ChiTown Mafia.

Penny said...

"If Glenn Reynolds writes a post for Atlantic and then links to it in his own Instapundit website.. does that mean he has graduated?"

Ha ha Probably with the same credentials as MOST "graduates" these days.

Nice four-cornered hat, Glenn!

You show great promise for swinging your tassel.

John Lynch said...

Sigh. People so want to believe that they are helpless. Why is that?

Penny said...

Not sure I understand what you mean, John Lynch?

Just might agree with you, but if you could be more specific?

edutcher said...

I remember those days. Even at the time, I figured we would all pretty much buy it.

After years of selling nuclear (or nucular, if you prefer) Armageddon, now the Lefties want to sell survival. I've seen articles where the survival types say as long you're not directly in the path of the blast, you have a good chance of living through it. Don't know that I'd want to put it to the test.

Then again, it gives you the impression The Zero and his crowd know something is coming.

John Lynch said...

All the cynicism about our survival chances in the face of various apocalypse scenarios. In my life there's been nuclear war, ice ages, nuclear winter (nukes again), global warming, and zombies.

Other than zombies, it seems to me that the popular culture has this fatalism about humanity. We're all going to die. Well, all at once. Human civilization is doooooooooooooomed.

This pessimism doesn't make much sense. Even in places where everything has gone wrong (Somalia and the Congo come to mind) humans are thriving (in the sense that there are more people from one year to the next). We're actually very hard to kill.

So why, in the face of all evidence, is there this persistent idea that we're all going to die from some cataclysm?

We all die. What's interesting is how long it takes. In the face of really big disasters, most people involved in them survive. Even nuclear blasts and giant tsunamis leave a lot of people behind to pick up their lives. Why then are people so reluctant to learn how to live through worst case, mass casualty disasters like atomic blasts? It's really not that complicated.

Marcia said...

John Lynch -- My longstanding theory is that people grasp onto various end-time scenarios because they can't stand the idea that someday they will be dead, and the human race will go on just fine without them.

"Party over, oops, out of time" beats leaving the party in full swing.

Penny said...

"So why, in the face of all evidence, is there this persistent idea that we're all going to die from some cataclysm?"

I have a quirky theory about that, John Lynch.

It's wishful thinking.

If we ALL die in some cataclysm, then not a one of us misses a single moment of the "party" we called life.

All in all, it's a sadly optimistic view.

Penny said...

Just read Marcia's comment.

Guess my view wasn't as quirky as I thought!

ironrailsironweights said...

Oh no, the Towel Heads are going to Conquer the World! Paranoid schizophrenia used to be considered a serious mental illness. Now it's trendy.

Peter

Youngblood said...

Penny,

There's another element to apocalypse fetishism -- the belief that those who believe will be spared (or even rule) after the apocalypse. This is most obvious in things like the evangelical Rapture scenario, but it's implicit even in apocalyptic scenarios like peak oil and global warming.

The idea is that the wicked will be punished while the righteous will, in some way, prevail.

John Lynch said...

My own, mean-spirited, theory is that the Boomer generation is mistaking their own mortality for that of the world.

Just because they die doesn't mean the world will end.

But that's mean. Sure fits the evidence, though.

Roman said...

This is how herd animals "protect" the group. The old, slow, infirm will be lost to predators, the vast majority of the herd will survive.

When you act like prey, predators will take over. Show weakness and you will be dominated.

This is similar to using statistics to govern. Do not care for individuals, but protect groups to maximize "welfare" for the masses.

Youngblood said...

John Lynch,

In a comment on an earlier post, I mentioned the generational theory of Strauss & Howe, which is funny, because they suggest something similar.

However, the Boomers have fantasized about the apocalypse ever since they were young and imagined that they'd live forever -- the apocalyptic trend in fiction was one that held sway during their youth.

As they face their own mortality, the pressure will be on for them to leave their mark. God help whoever pisses us off if the Left- and Right-wing Boomers stop scratching at each other's eyes to deal with an existential threat.

There's a song about rows of burnished steel and and a terrible swift sword and a vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

It's kind of appropriate.

The Crack Emcee said...

And this end-of-the-world scenario is supposed to happen when, exactly?

Pogo said...

The left is becoming the monster they fought.

Leland said...

John,

It seems your concept is just a variation of Penny's and Marcia's. Dreams of the apocolypse is the fear the world will go on without you. Not really a quirky notion as Marcia thought.

HDHouse said...

Ahhh for the good old days of the early 50's and the cold war revisted...times don't seem to change.

.....Duck and Cover......

Original Mike said...

I'm trained in radiation physics. If a small terrorist nuke goes off in downtown Madison, I'm staying in my house, not heading out in my car.

bagoh20 said...

If you can't fight, flight is the remaining option. The victims of Pompey tried that duck and cover, and man, did they get the cover.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

In the U.S., due to wind direction, generally go west young women. But, you men, should head east. I heard there is free beer in Atlantic City.

Original Mike said...

@bagoh20: You're confusing the blast with the aftermath. If the blast gets you, the blast gets you. If it doesn't, you've got choices to make.

cubanbob said...

If such an event were to occur and it was a result of islamic terrorism then pick at random one of the 57 islamic nations and annihilate it. Repeat as often as needed.

jerryofva said...

Skepticism of this approach is rooted in a Cold War mentality where literally thousands of high yield nuclear warhead would be employed. We are talking about a single low yield terrorist weapon being detonated a specific point.

Contrary to popular opinion not everybody dies within 50 miles of a 10kt explosion. Most of the people will die from the blast and heat; and since we don't live in paper cities like the Japanese that number will be relatively small. By way of example if the we had dropped the first bomb on Dresden instead of Hiroshima the number of casualites would have been much less then the conventional bombing of the city. By limiting your exposure to the most lethal radiation that will fall in the first 48 hours your chances of survival go up very rapidly. So no, "Duck and Cover and shelter in place is not a stupid strategy for survival.

Sigivald said...

David, Curtiss: I realize it's an easy point to score, but... isn't it the Administration actually doing its job right for once?

If any mention of what to do if an attack occurs is shrugged off as a "plan for absorbing it" or making it "acceptable", then we're left with being completely unprepared if it happens.

And since it's nigh impossible to make it impossible to carry out, the alternative would seem to be "leaving people unequipped for the eventuality because you don't like it being mentioned", or the ol' head-in-the-sand routing.

(I'm pretty sure air raid drills at a military base did not signal that the Army intended to "absorb" the attack or that it was "acceptable".

Just that it might happen and that one ought to know what to do if it does.)

edutcher: As much as I hate to give "the lefties" credit about nuclear issues, where they're almost entirely wrong, there is (as Reynolds points out, even in the excerpt) a huge difference between megaton and multi-megaton attacks and the sorts of maybe-20-kt attacks a terrorist organization might be able to arrange.

David said...

Sig, your own post reveals acceptability through inevitability. To be clear, I do not think that the hints of acceptability are Obama's fault. It is simply a notion that is growing, and it's interesting that therefore a tactic formerly scoffed at is now promoted.

I am old enough to have been drilled in duck and cover when in grade school. We had been well educated in what a nuclear weapon could do, and did not think duck and cover would be very helpful.

What was helpful, it turned out, was the clear policy that a nuclear attack would result in a nuclear response against those ultimately responsible for the attack. Thus Kennedy's clear and unambiguous statement during the Cuban missile crisis that an attack from Cuba would be regarded as an attack by the Soviet Union, calling for "full retaliatory response."

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