It remains my best advice.
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In our own home we did have a basement that was completely below ground level. One of the aspects of my childhood that I loved was my mother's extensive library of over five thousand hard backs. It was always part of my unstated plan to use those books to create a radioactive shield in the basement. I could live in a cube built of books that would both protect and educate me as time passed waiting for the half-life of whatever isotope was decaying outside my imaginary cube. The books were a replacement for telephone books, the then recommended poor-mans barrier against invisible death. I knew that my plan was weak, but I figured I had almost endless toilet paper, and I could even eat the paper when foodstuffs had been exhausted...anyway, I was twelve years old.
However, in their defense, at least those hiding in holes in the ground would have departed on their terms. Though I'm not certain most people thought in those terms, more likely, they'd convinced themselves that they'd emerge weeks later, filthy, smelly, and ravenously hungry to be some of the rare few to live through a nuclear war...futureless...but alive.
That same process is how we as common civilians are participating in the policing of our society. As unpopular as it may be with the politically correct crowd, we all profile in the process of assessing a situation. It used to be that I'd not give a seventy-five year old Caucasian lady a second glance other than be ready to assist her if needed, but I'd keep an eye on a person from the middle east that's wearing a beard and an angry face. But it's also no longer as patently obvious about who to watch and who to give a pass. It was just a few weeks ago that a British National beheaded an American journalist...on video! It's a whole other discussion about what kind of whacked out freak show could do such a thing, but, if dressed in jeans and a button down shirt he'd easily slip under the first blush radar of someone like myself looking for a suspicious character walking down the street.
I use the term nukes generically to speak about any weapon that energizes a uranium isotope, where by fission, or fusion. The former category is the technology of the atom bomb, as dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, fusion bombs, also known as hydrogen bombs are several orders of magnitude more powerful than an atomic bomb. It actually takes an atomic explosion to generate enough heat to ignite a hydrogen bomb, hence, the term thermo-nuclear. The good news is that the latter category of bomb is not likely to be available to a terror group, even one that has more leverage than we'd like to believe.
There's also the issue of an aging atomic weapons infrastructure. A few years ago, as part of researching my first book, "Weird Missouri", I took a private tour of Oscar One, the Launch Control Facility (LCF) at Whiteman Air Force Base in western Missouri. Oscar One is the lone remnant of the 351st Strategic Missile Wing, which had been comprised of fifteen missile sectors with each sector having fifteen Minuteman II nuclear tipped Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles with each sector having an LCF just like Oscar One. What the tour revealed was ancient equipment that was obsolete at the time of it's decommissioning, which happened as a result of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the US and the U.S.S.R.
Much of the generation of extremely dated and equally tired equipment present in Oscar One, is the same stuff that our missileers work with on a daily basis in today's world of watching and waiting to be told to bring the world as we know it, to an end. The point being that it may not be a terrorist event that brings about an atomic or nuclear catastrophe on American, English, or the soil of any other nuclear capable country.
Yucca Mountain, in western Nevada, was to be storage site that could handle our radioactive waste for decades to come, however, the Obama administration brought it's funding to an end prior to construction completion, leaving only the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIIP) in southeastern New Mexico's "nuclear corridor" to dispose of our significant quantities of radioactive waste. Living near WIIP would also be unadvisable. Of course, nuclear waste must be transported from its many disparate locations to WIIP, and the danger of containment being compromised during transport is also possible. Living along the transport routes has its associated dangers.
So-far-so-good with our nuclear power industry, but there have been close calls, Three Mile Island in central Pennsylvania, being most notable. It was at that facility that North Korean sleeper insurgents attempt to bring about a nuclear incident, but special operators from one of the US Army's most secretive groups literally swoop in to save the day. It's a scene from "World War III, Not How You Imagined", and is one of many instances in the story of terror thriving in a fictionalized American future.
There are many concerns in modern life, nuclear war and radioactive terrorism being one genre. However, I don't live my life fearful of dirty bombs, Kalashnikov wielding jihadists, or drunk drivers...well, maybe drunk drivers. But I'm also not blind to the potential for spontaneous madness to enter our lives at any instant.
Be prepared, but not preoccupied. Keep your head on a swivel, but don't break your neck looking for what isn't there. But if you see that bright flash...the one that leaves zero doubt in your mind that someone has just split the atom in anger...try to be somewhere else.
* What if relocating out of a major city isn't an option in the near future? For detailed tips on surviving a nuclear attack, click here (from building a fallout chamber, to what emergency supplies to have on hand, etc.)
| About the Author:|
James Strait's professional career began as a Special Forces soldier, where he became the youngest recruit to graduate Special Forces Training Group. After the military he enjoyed a thirty-year career as a professional pilot flying over one hundred different categories, types, makes, and models of airplanes. In parallel, Mr. Strait operated a small business providing a variety of services to civilian companies and the military. He also accumulated 3,000 skydives, Master Parachute Rigger Certification...and lots of memories. After retirement from professional aviation, Mr. Strait transitioned into broadcast radio where he has hosted "Strait Talks" radio since 2006 (now on hiatus). He began his professional writing career with the release of "Weird Missouri", in 2008. His second book and first novel was, "Déjà vu All Over Again", an action adventure novel taking place during the final 57 hours prior to the calendar turning 12-21-2012. His newest book is a best selling action adventure novel, "WORLD WAR III, Not How You Imagined". His future projects involve the 2015 release of his third novel, "Vector".