Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Remembering Hiroshima. While the World Quietly Burns . . . .

August is the time for recalling the atomic slayings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sixty-eight years ago, The Pentagon exacted a savage retribution for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941.

Hiroshima served as the testing ground for the first of two different nuclear detonation devices.

Hiroshima, August 7th 1945
Little Boy, the 15-kiloton obscenity that tore apart history was based on a very simple design. A relatively small pellet of HEU (highly enriched uranium) was shot into a larger block of HEU in order to produce a sufficient mass of heavy radioactive metal to shatter atoms and release a fury of destructive energy that instantaneously transformed the entire city of Hiroshima into what John Pilger called “an atomic desert.” The blast killed over 100,000 of the city’s inhabitants within seconds.

                                                                                    But this was not enough. 

Nagasaki, August 11th 1945

The torching of Nagasaki followed three days later. The bomb dropped on Nagasaki was cynically named Fat Man by its creators. It was a larger “device” than that gifted to Hiroshima and was of a more complex design. It consisted of a central core of plutonium into which multiple explosive charges impelled smaller lugs of heavy metal to bring it to critical mass. It “yielded” an explosive force equivalent to 22,000 tons of trinitrotoluene - TNT. Herein we witness the wonders of contemporary techno-chemistry.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were part of an infernal calculus coldly rationalised to test the effects of these finely wrought carriers of an inhuman fury. 200,000 lives were vaporised in those two insane lashings. The lucky ones died immediately. The less fortunate ones dragged their flayed flesh and seared futures through agonising days and weeks. Tens of thousands walked wailing through the ruins of what has been forgotten by so many in these amnestic times.

And have things changed since then? On a positive note, the 50,000 nuclear warheads that bristled during the 1980s have been halved. In this thirteenth year of the new millennium, we can rest easier in the thought that a mere 20,000 nuclear infernos rest silently in rocket cones stored in deep silos, on floating platforms, in the hardened steel chambers of sleek and silent submarines that cruise the world’s oceans, or in "retirement" in warehouses in the United States and the Russian Federation.

An “exchange” of 50 such nuclear warheads between say, India and Pakistan, would vaporise the lives of millions of people and shred the futures of many more. And in addition to producing radioactive fallout on a global scale, such an event would blow out even further the tenuous layer of high atmospheric ozone that shields us from those higher frequencies of solar radiation that can tear apart the delicate helices held within the nuclei of our own cells, thereby darkening even further an already darkened future.

According to reliable sources, it is estimated that the US presently holds a cache of over 8,000 nuclear warheads; the Russian Federation holds an additional 11,000. The United States plans to spend over US$200 billion on the maintenance and modernisation of its nuclear arsenals over the next ten years. And Russia has slated US$60 billion for its own modernisation program.

And it costs about US$500 to sink a well in India that can provide an entire village with enough water to spare women hours of daily walking to fill the family pot with water needed for drinking and washing. 

Vincent Di Stefano D.O., M.H.Sc.
August 2013