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Good News: San Diego Isn’t a Top Nuclear Target. Bad News: We Don’t Have Much of a Plan in Place

Local writer Ryan Bradford specializes in humor, but there was nothing funny about Saturday, January 18, 2018. He started the morning by diving near his hotel in Maui, where he was traveling for a friend’s wedding, but as he surfaced for when. , he saw an urgent man beckoning him back to shore.

“It had this calm calm that made me think something was really wrong,” Bradford said. “He’s trying to pretend everything is fine, he’s trying to warn me not to panic.”

Maybe a shark was hiding nearby, Bradford thought. But the truth was even more disturbing.

Phones across the state of Hawaii were recently called with an emergency alert: “BALISTIC THREATS THREATENED IN HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. This is not an exercise.” Similar messages interrupted television and radio broadcasts as well.

A man ran down the beach shouting while Bradford and other members of the wedding party were running to nearby hotels.

“It was by far the most surreal moment of my life,” he said. “Everyone had this really panicked and solemn energy – moving fast, facing, wanting a destination but not knowing where to go.”

The alert, of course, was a false alarm, a product of a monstrous vice-up in Hawaii’s emergency management department.

“Before Hawaii, nuclear war was just a product of the 1980s Cold War science fiction movie that I grew up watching,” Bradford said. “And it puts the possibility in my head of my brain.”

He has a lot of company this month. Russia’s war against Ukraine and the surprise launch last week of an intercontinental missile by North Korea has focused more on the prospect of nuclear war than at any time in at least three decades. Hawaii is so prepared that its emergency siren is set to emit a unique sound in case of an incoming nuclear attack. But what about San Diego?

Experts do not think we are one of the largest nuclear targets in the United States, but we are still at the tip of Russia or North Korea. While we’ve had several times in books, TV shows and a movie, there’s little special preparation for nuclear attacks here, and it seems unlikely that we’d get a Hawaii-style warning alert.

Is San Diego a Major Nuclear Target?

You might think we would be a target during a nuclear war, because we are a major military center. But experts believe that the Russians, at least, would first target missile silos in the Midwest and the centers of power on the East Coast.

Alex Wellerstein, a historian studying nuclear weapons at Stevens, said: “If there was a Russian attempt for a ‘decapitation’ attack, they would be willing to first try to prevent the United States from responding in kind,” he said. Institute of Technology. “So the target would presumably be American Mice that have not yet been launched, as well as US command and control – political, military, and technical agencies and those in charge of ordering to launch mics.”

However, he said, “if you imagine this as a response to indications of a US attack, they might not be bothered to attack missile silos if they thought it would be too late to be worth it.”

Experts believe that major subways like San Diego would be bombed at a later stage in Russian nuclear attacks aimed at killing tens of millions of Americans. As for North Korea, San Diego can be a higher target Because we are a major port in the Pacific Fleet, the Washington Post reported in 2017. The paper also noted that “a missile defense system in Alaska and California is designed to protect the United States by intercepting bombs entering space, but the tests “I don’t know the technical problem and its efficiency is unknown.”

Surfers walk by Oceanside Harbor Beach. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Would we get an emergency warning?

It seems doubtful.

“There are several agencies, at the state, federal, and sometimes local levels, that would be involved in spreading these types of alerts,” Wellerstein said. “It’s not always clear that in a crisis they would work as intended or be as clear or helpful as they want. The false Hawaiian alert would be a real wake-up call on this front, but the main answer seems to have become more wary always on the quality of these systems.

A Congressional bill was introduced by a U.S. senator from Hawaii after the false alert was aimed at demanding that the federal government handle emergency alerts on nuclear attacks. But the bill failed.

There is another potential issue with emergency alerts: Missiles travel quickly, unlike in the Cold War era when they traveled on bombs that would take hours to get here. Stephen Schwartz, a former member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, says Stephen Schwartz, missiles leading to the United States can take just 30 minutes to reach our shores, and those from North Korea will take a small time again. (They are the people behind the Doomsday Clock, which estimates how close we are to the apocalypse from nuclear war or other causes.)

Missiles fired at Russian submarine shores could take less than half an hour to arrive.

It is hard to imagine that emergency management officials would be able to confirm and coordinate emergency messages to the public at that time.

What would happen if a nuclear bomb hit San Diego?

Wallerstein has created an online simulation called NukeMap who imagined what would happen anywhere in the world in various nuclear attack simulations. I used the site to simulate what might happen if an 800 kilo Topol Russian missile exploded on the San Diego Convention Center.

An estimated 216,000 people were killed and 494,000 injured. Everyone and everything in about half a mile – including the Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza, and the ballpark – would be burned by a fireball. Third-degree burns would hit people from Serra Mesa to Chula Vista and from Ocean Beach / Point Loma in almost as far east as Highway 125. (These burlesques are the worst kind.) ruins as far as San Ysidro, La Mesa. , and University City.

Nuclear researcher Schwartz said that even a single nuclear bomb would create more burn victims than the number of burn treatment beds in the United States.

There are bigger bombs than one in this scenario that would do even more damage and kill more people, by NukeMap. If placed above the convention center, China’s largest nuclear missile, Dong-Feng 5 5,000 kilotons, could kill 456,000 people and injure 1.4 million.

How is San Diego preparing for a nuclear attack?

San Diego County has a emergency operation plan but it mainly addresses terrorist-related nuclear threats and the nearby San Onofre nuclear power plant, not missiles. Ventura County, by contrast, is a leader on this front: It has released a 18-page nuclear attack preparedness and safety guide.

San Diego County used to keep a list of bomb shelters but it doesn’t. (In the 1960s, a report said we were ill-prepared for a nuclear attack, wise shelter.) The county’s airstrike system, which was in place during the Cold War, was dismantled.

So, is it even worth preparing if we are all going to toast?

We’re not all going to toast, at least not right away.

“The public assumed that once a nuclear attack started, everyone would die very immediately,” Wellerstein said. “Many people would survive such an attack, even in the cities under attack.”

In the Russian nuclear attack scenario above, for example, an estimated 1.43 million people in the county would be directly affected by the bomb, mostly from damage and injuries. But most would live – just like almost half the inhabitants of Hiroshima after the attack of World War II.

“Even in a total nuclear attack, most of the country would survive,” Wellerstein said. “More serious, it means there would be many more survivors who would have to deal with the catastrophe, and the cleanup, and the grief and the loss, and the terrible damage to food supplies, the environment, infrastructure, government services, and so on. “This is where the Hollywood version, where everyone dies, has a sense of purpose. The reality is that there would be a lot more long – term shocks for an unimaginable number of people.”

The Waterfront at Seaport Village / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Wait, did you say San Diego continues to attack in fiction?

Yes! We just sit here handling our own solar business, but dirty novelists and screenwriters insist on blowing us into misery.

Last year, a best-selling book called “2034: A World War I novelCo-written by a well-known retired Marine Admiral named James Stavridis, imagined that San Diego and Galveston, Texas, were hit by Chinese nuclear missiles. We have become a country with “poor camps” where “such as typhus, measles, and even smallpox have often been pushed into kidney-free latrines and plastic tents.”

We’ve had a tight call in another recent book: 2018 is well reviewed ”Commission’s 2020 report on North Korea’s nuclear attacks against the United States: a speculative novelA North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fired missiles at Pearl Harbor and San Diego to prevent a U.S. invasion by sea. “He misinterpreted a tweet by then-President Trump called him “Rocket Man.”) missiles also targeted the White House, New York City, and Mar-a-Lago.

Most of the 13 North Korean missiles went wrong, and those headed for San Diego landed safely in the ocean. Wow! But Manhattan is not so lucky, nor is Florida.

There is more. Back in the 2000’s, the TV show “Jericho” about post-war nuclear war include us on a map in the city that was bombed in small pieces. Besides: 2017 movie “Blade Runner 2049” shows a San Diego bombing as a dump for LA filled with garbage dump pirates. And the science fiction TV show “Babylon Five” refers to “San Diego Wastelands” after the nuclear attacks after our bombing in 2157, just before breaking ground on the Convention Center expansion. Show creator J. Michael Straczynski later confessed about why he nuked us. “Living in San Diego from 1974-81 is just the way I give a wink to the old town,” he said.

All this is done death and destruction caused by a T-Rex landfill on San Diego in “Jurassic Park: The Lost World” seems like a walk in … you know.

What should we do now?

Wallerstein said it’s good to be ready.

“Preparing for a nuclear attack is basically the same for most natural disasters,” he said, “and with climate change we will have many more of these anyway. sa.

Former “Canna and Lids!” The Cold War movie gets a lot of ridicule, but the general idea holds up: Protect yourself physically right away. The advice changed, though, and now focus on the moments after an explosion. Ready.gova government preparedness website, includes the following advice under a photo drowned and triggered by a nuclear mushroom cloud: Go to the heading radiation inside, preferably underground, and not out for 24 hours or until there is an all-clear.

For now, “search the basement,” the site advises – clearly a non-Southern California resident – and prepare an emergency kit.

As for the biggest threat of nuclear war, Wellerstein said “the most important thing in my mind is that people start to see this as a real part of their lives, and not a kind of metaphor or abstraction. Once they do, there a lot of possible options for thinking about what to do next, both individually and collectively. Until this begins, people will be part of the problem, not the solution. ”

Good News: San Diego Isn’t a Top Nuclear Target. Bad News: We Don’t Have Much of a Plan in Place Source link Good News: San Diego Isn’t a Top Nuclear Target. Bad News: We Don’t Have Much of a Plan in Place

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