Remember the Cold War? It is fine if you do not, the whole thing was over before even old, 30-something geezers like me hit our teens. For those of you too young to remember the O.J. Simpson chase, I’ll go over the bullet points.

After World War II America’s enemy of the hour shifted from the German National Socialists to the regular old-fashioned Socialists in the Soviet Union. Uncle Sam’s best buddy next to Britain when there was still Hitler to go over and boot in the bottom.

The U.S. Of A. were developing a fancy new weapons system. Not to let the Yankee Capitalist Pig-Dogs out to the Fatherland, they followed suit despite barely having enough Rubles for bread.

Things sort of got out of hand at that point, the threat of mutual destruction and nuclear war between the eras greatest Superpowers avoided by a hare’s breath.

So close

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How close was it? The Soviets had a missile base in Cuba, the warheads pointed directly at the South-Eastern Seaboard. So roughly 110 miles on the short end. It did not end with the official collapse of Communism of course, other countries having developed hugely destructive doomsday devices since then from the simply rude and annoying, such as France, to the honestly guano insane like North Korea.

There are still lots of nukes, about 14,900 at last count, the will not to use them seeming thinner by the month. Thus, it bears wondering what would happen if all nuclear weapons on Earth were launched?

It’s a blast

In the case that every nuclear weapon went off on land and did not drop off into the not insubstantial watery bits covering the entire planet, and are shared equally across the surface of all the nations of the earth in the name of equality; and so, as Tom Lehrer once put it, “we all will go together when we go”, roughly 94 kilometers (58 miles) of the landmass and 232,000 kilometers (144,200 miles) of the world’s infrastructure – those densely built cities still seem like a good idea? – will have been reduced to dust.

Soon after the dust storm, a massive fireball will form more or less vaporizing everything in its way within a radius of 79,000 kilometers (49,000 miles). On the upside it should be easy to see coming. Those not quick enough to getaway from the raging fireball will be covered in third degree burns. While possibly survivable, no one would want to.

Nuclear weapons and an air of hell

Not done yet, no sir, the blasts from the nuclear weapons would ionize the atmosphere basically making the air radioactive, contaminating an area of 284,000 kilometers (176,000 miles) give or take a foot or two. So good news – after a sort – if the massive fireball does not kill you immediately, the radiation sickness will.

Cold enough for you?

Those not melted by a fire ball or killed by the truly horrific effects of radiation sickness (Google it if you dare), there will be a destroyed wasteland with no infrastructure whatsoever to look forward to. You might as well move to Siberia now.

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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