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Occupy SMA

By David Stea

Among the disturbing comments made by US President Donald Trump about nuclear weapons, perhaps the most chilling was, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Mr Trump’s meager knowledge of such weapons, of their potential, and given his vocal interest in the military, ignorance of the “nuclear triad” (referring to the three components of a strategic nuclear arsenal, land-based ICBMs, strategic bombers, and submarine-based ballistic missiles, or SLBMs), is frightening.

Meeting and Talk
Occupy SMA presents “Nuclear Winter Revisited”
By Dr. David Stea
Mon, Jul 24, 1pm
Quinta Loreto Hotel, TV Room
Loreto 15, Centro
Free

Over recent decades, public preoccupation with nuclear weapons and their impacts has dropped far below that of the fearful 1950s. But the presence in the White House of a person who has said the above words means that we need to reexamine earlier concerns. One of these, which will be revisited in the upcoming OccupySMA presentation (accompanied with two short films), is the possibility of “nuclear winter”—the severe and prolonged global climatic cooling effect that may result after widespread firestorms following a nuclear war. This is not due directly to nuclear detonation itself but to resulting fires injecting soot into the stratosphere, blocking some direct sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface.

The possibility of the effects on our climate from a nuclear war was introduced to science fiction in the late 1940s, and a theoretical basis was laid during the following three decades. However, it remained for astrophysicist Carl Sagan to introduce it to the general public in 1983. This possibility of catastrophic decreases in temperature due to globe-girdling cloud cover following a nuclear holocaust, resulting in the extinction of much of the planet’s life forms, both plant and animal, was truly terrifying.

Since that time, more research has been done qualifying Sagan’s dire prediction. But the threat, even if reduced, remains fundamentally the same. In the interim, the nuclear triad has changed.

Four decades ago, strategic bombers, land-based and later submarine-based ballistic missiles were the primary delivery systems of smaller but more numerous nuclear weapons. Information on the possible effects of multiple nuclear detonations has been extrapolated from data on soot released into the stratosphere from massive wildfires, WWII urban firestorms, and major volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Iceland, particularly during the past two centuries. The effects would be catastrophic. Join the discussion on Monday. Our events are free.

Dr David Stea is a university professor and semi-retired in San Miguel de Allende. During the late 1950s, he worked for Sandia Corporation, prime contractor to the US Atomic Energy Commission. This presentation is dedicated to the memory of Leonard Bird of SMA.

 

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