Among the few countries in the world with nuclear weapons, the United States has one of the most and has the most advanced technology. This type of ammunition, which is lacking in Spain, has been replaced with new, more powerful missiles in a 1.5 billion-dollar plan. Its consequences can be dire, especially for the American population, as shown in this study from Princeton University. If their weapons were attacked, 300 million people would be at risk of deadly radioactive fallout.
One of the most talked-about film releases in 2023 is Oppenheimer, the biopic about the creator of the atomic bomb, which shows the greatness and darkness of this invention. But what many people don’t know is that this film had huge success all over the world at the same time The United States is preparing to renew the nuclear arsenal that has spread throughout the country and is the target of possible attacks whose catastrophic consequences have been recreated by a team of scientists.
Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, and North Dakota house 450 silo launching facilities or US land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). They are always alert and ready to launch, even if their function is to deter a possible enemy attack. However, over time, it was understood that this strong shield would become a weak point in the country and part of the American continent.
Any enemy would attack these points first to avoid US retaliation. Due to the recovery plan, only reports have been made on the environmental impact, and previous studies from the 1970s and 1980s evaluated the consequences of an attack in simple climatic conditions without considering the current changing climate patterns.
The academic and nuclear weapons expert Sebastien Philippe from Princeton University conducted a more accurate study to show the risk to the population if these silos were attacked. The new maps illustrate that almost the entire population of the contiguous United States and the most populous areas of Canada, as well as the northern states of Mexico, may be at risk of deadly radioactive fallout, depending on the weather conditions at the time of the attack.
The worst-case scenario of a nuclear attack by the US Scientific American and Sébastien Philippe Omicrono
The image at the top of this article shows the worst-case scenario analyzed by Princeton researchers in 2021. If the attack is concentrated on missile silos, the results will depend on the wind patterns of that day, but most people in North America live in places where approximately 1% are likely to receive a radiation dose greater than 1 Gand through the open air, which can cause deaths from acute radiation syndrome, especially in children.
The probability of receiving a fatal dose increases as the silos get closer: three million people run the risk of receiving 8 Gy or more, which scientists consider lethal. However, the immediate radiation produced by nuclear explosions is not taken into account.
This scientific article is part of a special report that analyzes the possible impact of rebuilding the US nuclear arsenal from several scientific and social angles. Along with this, a documentary and a series of podcasts have been released today that aim to inform the population of the risk. Additionally, an accompanying editorial in Scientific American “calls on the United States to stop upgrading its aging nuclear weapons, especially silo-launched missiles, and learn from the lessons of the 20th century,” said the scientific organization.
The 20-minute documentary traces the legacy of nuclear weapons in the American West, from the site of the first nuclear bomb detonated on American soil to the scientific laboratory that created the next generation of atomic bomb detonators. Meanwhile, Princeton University student Ella Weber, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations, explores the history of this nation in a podcast series. Native American tribe, the only one hiding nuclear weapons within its reserve.