chapter  1
17 Pages

The Environmental Effects of Nuclear War—An Overview

WithJulius London, Gilbert F. White

The evaluation of nuclear warfare effects has been chiefly in terms of the direct impacts of the blast, heat and local radioactive fallout as they destroy humans, artifacts and social structure. Greater attention is turning toward the environmental consequences of nuclear detonations. The vision of increasing through civil defense the number of survivors from direct impacts becomes morbidly whimsical if the survivors are in environments no longer capable of providing essential water and food. As the official view of nuclear arms as a basis for massive deterrence shifted to entertain the possibility of limited nuclear exchanges and of rebuilding a viable society thereafter, public discussions of environment effects received less attention. The quality and extent of impairment to widespread life support systems from various patterns of nuclear explosions have been in controversy. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.