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If one or a thousand hydrogen super bomb missile warheads were being launched this minute from halfway around the world or from enemy submarines off our coast before this program is over they would be overhead. For a war but. The National Association of educational broadcasters presents prepare for sort of a radio sounding board for facts and opinions on the civil defense. There's a lot and a lot of nonsense about how only 30 million people would be killed or only 60 million people would be killed or it wouldn't be any worse than the Black
Plague era one. One congressman said comfortingly here a couple weeks ago. Well you know that's a lot of that's a lot of nonsense. If you take a country of 170 million people and you kill 30 million people. That's not arithmetic. You don't have a hundred 40 million people left you don't have a nation left. Think of what a big hurricane or a big snowstorm just to Detroit or to Washington or are a fire in which a hundred people are dead. Now imagine a country in which 30 million people are dead. And imagine the destruction of communications sewage food supply. That goes along with it. Imagine the panic and the despair of the disease and the pestilence. You'd have a complete disorganization of the country would break up into separate parts or ruled out or critically by whoever was strong enough and well enough to take a gun and go out and forage for non-radioactive food. We we have got to
face up to the fact that as the president said to us a press conference one day war is now preprocessors. That was the word the president chose. And Art and the only way the only kind of civil defense will work. It is teaching people how to live together on this tiny planet. This is the sense of common humanity and common destiny. I want to do one thing planet is the only thing it's going to defend us and the other peoples of the earth are all in this together. That was the voice of Mr. I.F. Stone journalist and publisher of I.F. stones weekly and independent newsletter emanating from Washington D.C. The edited recordings you will hear on this program were made in the offices of the administrators legislators scientists technicians and citizens responsible for critical of and concerned with civil defense and survival on that day.
If and when the hydrogen bomb carrying missiles slip silently out of orbit and poised to strike anyplace in America on that day the only thing between you and death might be the civil defense preparations which you had made long before the sirens sound. Can civil defense defend or are all protective measures futile. When a single hydrogen bomb has seven times the explosive power of all the bombs dropped during the whole of World War 2. Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr Linus Pauling author of the book No More War speaks from his office at the California Institute of Technology. I think that if a nuclear war were navigable. They are what is called a civil defense that is some protection against the consequences of a nuclear war might have some value for a few people.
I think however that the nature of nuclear war are such that it is wrong far less to prepare to survive it or I would tell you to prepare to have a few Americans survive it I think that it is much more valuable for us to devote our efforts to attempting to decrease the chance that the nuclear war will break out. For example if we were to decide to spend 100 billion dollars shelters shelters against primarily a radioactive fallout. Them we would do this with the belief that the existence of these shelters might save the lives of many American people. In the case that there were a great nuclear rar perhaps save the lives of 20 million American people are even more let's say 40
million American people. But if we were to expand to the 100 billion dollars in such a way as to decrease the chance that nuclear war will break out. If we could cause a 10 percent or 20 percent decrease in the probability of an outbreak of a nuclear war from a high value of near unity let us say then in a sense we could say that this is saving the lives of 20 million or 40 million American people and in addition it is a step in the direction of more reality. It is a step that prevents the deaths of the other Americans too. And I contend that it has a wrong far us to make a great effort to save the lives of a small fraction of the American people. There exists the alternative of saving the lives of all of the American people
in case that we work to invest them in 1959 the operations research office of John Hopkins University conducted a survey of public opinion and civil defense in the Washington D.C. Montgomery County Maryland area. Dr. Ellis a johns and director of that office continues his report of its findings. Dr. Johnson is followed by General Condon director of civil defense for New York City and Congresswoman Martha W. Griffith's. One group 20 percent who said well it would be useless to do anything and so what's the use of Dorna. Well this is a group that I personally quarrel with because I don't think Americans should ever take the hope was that it showed So the fact the matter is that you can do something about it and you can almost make certain that your survival. But there was such a girl. Others said well they were sort of putting it off their interest and some said well I don't know just why they have probably 80 percent
and. Some said well they didn't know much about protective measures and so they didn't have any opinion. I think it's a very sad commentary on people who permit themselves to have that kind of thinking. And while I don't suggest that it lacks a spirit of good American ism it certainly reflects on the. Men and women who. Pioneered this country and the. Millions of young men who have given their lives are given their bodies to retain. This nation. I see it being no more futile that I would see us cutting out the police department because we're going to fight crime or cutting out the fire department going to going to have far our abolishing our military because the enemy seem very strong. The destruction of a part of New York City does not mean a
destruction of New York City as a whole. It made me know some of my family is destroyed and I'm not. And Congress that may mean just the other way essentially part of the whole American way of life to protect that is dear to us and that means our families are the protection of New York City is a solemn obligation on the part of every citizen and anyone who enjoys the. Opportunity of being an American and living an American has. A first obligation of all. To do those things over most nearly as yours are the continuation of our way of life. But I think there's a further thing. Actually I think that the Defense Department. And I cannot point to a single thing which identifies it. But I
feel that they have a feeling that in case of a heightened tack no man would live and that the situation is hopeless. And further more than that I would like to point out that many people when you bring up the subject say well if it comes. Let me be the first to go. This is ridiculous. It is your duty to live. One of the things that I think men should become accustomed to is the idea that he has now created a weapon. With which he can wipe out not only his own generation. But all generations that are to come. And I know. That no generation has this right. You should pass life on and it
seems to me that we have arrived at that moment when the critical question of our years do we have sent them to remain alive. Civil defense is an insurance policy it's like insurance. This is Washington D.C. The civil defense director Mr. George wrote regs are fortunate to have a nice boat and the very first thing we want to do that boat is to ensure that we don't always insure it because we have the money to do this so we want to but the people who finance the boat for us insist on it. But if we use it as an analogy the insurance in America we insure everything here and ice. I feel this way that we'd better look at civil defense from the standpoint of an insurance policy for the insurance insuring of for insurance for our survival. And that sense we can never do away with it as long as there are potential enemies who have a capability to kill us. The Society for the Prevention of World War 3 is a nonprofit educational
organization dedicated to the discussion of international political and economic affairs. And while it is not a specific organization Mr. Herbert great MN research director and acting secretary explains that there are more urgent survival matters pending than civil defense. It is realistic in the sense that. A certain amount of people perhaps. Could be saved of. A comet fall out of the bomb. How many. No one really know. But in the logic context of a hydrogen warfare. Civil defense is meaningless because the Russians will not throw one hydrogen bomb. And we will throw one wheel so as many as we think we can throw in order to knock out our opponent. And likewise the Russians. In other words what would happen
is that you would have an atomic graveyard. Which would encompass both continents and perhaps the whole wide world so that civil defense would become a meaningless thing. I think this is a very defeatist attitude. Certainly there will be a much higher level of contamination over large parts of the country. Than ever occurred from fallout from nuclear weapons tests. But in terms of the acceptable hazard to a surviving population from this contamination as compared to the problems the population would have after any war. I just asked just nature in coping with plague disease hunger and that sort. I don't think it's something that is insuperable to talk. That was Dr Charles L. Dunham director of the division of biology and medicine for the Atomic Energy Commission commenting on the assertion that after a nuclear war atomic radiation would prove universally fatal. Here again is Dr Pauli.
Well. What would happen if there were to be a nuclear war our first wherever a 20 megaton bomb was exploded. The region would be completely devastated over an area about 20 miles or 25 miles from diameter 400 square miles complete devastation with every one killed. No one could expect to survive in this area. Now in addition a great amount of radioactivity would be spread out over the countryside. When the plutonium and uranium nuclei undergo radioactive fission the particles they have sized nuclei that are produced in the fission are strongly radioactive. In the case of a ground burst when the bomb explodes within a couple of miles of the ground and the fireball reaches the ground the fireball has the temperature of the sun. It is perhaps four
miles in diameter from one of these 20 megaton bombs. Everything is vaporized with in it to. Thousands of tons of earth are swept up into the fireball and vaporized. And as this earth and other materials iron and concrete. That has been vaporized condenses into liquid or solid droplets. These droplets and trap of the radioactive material the fission products about 80 percent of the fission products are expected to be entrapped. This is what happened at the bikini bomb. And these droplets little particles of condensed material of them fall to earth within a few hours in the area around the point of the explosion of the bomb and contaminated with strongly radioactive fission products. In the case of the Bravo bomb in 1954 it
is estimated by the U.S. authorities about an area of 7000 square miles that was strongly contaminated by this local fallout so strongly that casualties would be expected in much of this area of 7000 square miles. People could hardly be expected to survive because of the fallout exposure to radiation would be so great if the fission products were spread uniformly over an area of 10000 square miles. The average person in this region of 10000 square miles during the first day would receive 20 times the exposure necessary to cause him to die in a few days of acute radiation sickness. Now there are some parts of this area of 10000 square miles where. The amount of radioactivity would be so great that no matter what efforts the man the
person made to shelter himself from the radioactivity he would be unable to prevent his death by acute radiation sickness. Other areas on the fringe of the contaminated region the amount of radioactivity might be such that if you were to remain in the open he would surely die. But if you were to be able to dig underground to get underground he would survive. There are the. Possibilities of survival by taking shelter against radioactive fallout. With the United States as it is now we have an area of 3 million square miles which means about three hundred bombs one for every 10000 square miles. Three hundred twenty might get time bombs could be expected to kill nearly everybody in the United States. Three hundred twenty megaton bombs
amounts to 6000. Megatons all together estimates of that have been made of the size of a nuclear attack that might be made by the USSR and the United States around the range. At. Two thousand or fifteen hundred Megatons to 10000 or 20000 megatons. The USSR might well be able to deliver 20000 megatons a thousand to 20 megaton bombs to the United States and of course we can i am sure deliver this much mega tonnage to the USSR. If I were an atomic attack personally I would rather be one of the people killed in the beginning because I wouldn't like to live through if I lived through the atomic fallout I don't particularly want to have to take too many babies.
Dr Dunham responds to this Barnard College sophomore. Well I think she's jumping to a totally unwarranted conclusion. Certainly if she had a high exposure to radiation which you probably wouldn't know at that moment her descendants would have some increased chance of being abnormal. But to jump to conclusion that all her children are older. Descendants are going to be abnormal is totally unwarranted. And as far as suffering the horrors of death from fallout there's nothing unique about. The situation it's a situation which has been seen in clinical medicine for years. When there is a failure of the bone marrow in many diseased syndrome it's not pleasant it's never pleasant to die but there's nothing bizarre and totally unusual about this.
And certainly many Japanese survivors went through a very severe illness. And are living very productive lives today. I think that most of the. Thinking in terms of fallout from a nuclear attack has been just in terms of what one calls a some magic effects to the rural populations that is to say the immediate effects from irradiation which are not lethal unless they involve rather high figures of radiation of an area of 500 Guinn's while this kind of radiation in terms of the long term effect is a very different thing. Mr. Donald keys executive director of the National Committee for a sane nuclear policy reinforces Dr pollings assertion that no civil defense can adequately protect us from the effects of a nuclear war. He is followed by Dr. Don cares a study that was as a summary of the testimony of James V Neal before a congressional committee on the
in the nuclear fallout attack hearings. And on the basis of what he had studied. He said on the basis of our present knowledge in any single post bombing generation. The disease and defect to be attributed to the bombings in terms of genetic damage. What amount to between 1 and 52 percent of the total observed damage in that generation. And he made some rather startling estimates. The degree of. Possible error in his estimates was admittedly very large and he allowed for it by any gave a low estimate and a high one. But these are the effects that he would expect to be visited on US citizens and subsequent generations after this relatively small nuclear attack. A low estimate obviously defective persons. Two hundred forty thousand two hundred sixty thousand a high estimate of nine
million six hundred thousand. To thirty eight million four hundred thousand similar situation in fetal our perinatal deaths. A low estimate of four million eight hundred thousand are a high estimate of three hundred and eighty four million over 30 generations persons with impaired vigor our fertility a low estimate of 12 million. A high estimate of seven hundred sixty eight million. Now in this 30 generations. There would be. One billion two hundred million Americans born. It's possible. According to his figures that out of that one. Billion two hundred million people there might be one billion one hundred ninety million nearly the full Thank you. And that had some defect or serious effect from that nuclear war. This is even if the people were able to survive Yuri here expecting some 40 million people to survive such an attack in fallout shelters. I think this kind of
long range effect has not been given much consideration. All you can do a great deal to protect against the fallout you can't do very much about the near and blast effects. But do adopt a defeatist attitude I think is totally unwarranted. Where the matter of a few feet of earth protection our foot of concrete one can cut down the. Exposure from Fallout thousand and out. So there's much that can be done and quite simply even in an ordinary basement you probably without any particular extra measures one might get a factor of 20 so that if you are in an area where there was. Say a thousand of our exposure which would be completely lethal you could cut that down by a factor of 20. Which brings you down to about
50 are which is something that you wouldn't want to have but it wouldn't cause you any serious trouble for the immediate future. Representative Jett Hollyfield is regarded by many in Washington as the most knowledgeable man on civil defense in the country. Mr Hollyfield is civil defense futile. No I do not think it is futile I think that all of the scientific testimony before our committee has shown that we could reduce the casualties from something like 50 million dollars of 50 million people in a nuclear attack of the size that we. Laid out in our study to about five million people. In other words underground shelters could save about 80 to 90 percent of the people. Now you have to start recovery of a nation after a war with people. And so the first and prime requisite is to save the people. The next thing is to ensure
there's their sustenance and to provide in the two to rebuild a shattered economy. And this can be done according to our best scientists and engineers through pre-attack preparation of shelters and stockpiling of food and medical supplies and reserve tools of all kind and which would be available after the attack had subsided. We had a we had a nuclear war hearing here last spring run by Congressman Hall failed and Congressman Hollyfield done a lot of good work on civil defense but these hearings were rigged. They were phony. This is journalist I.F. Stone. Mr. Stone covered the hollow field nuclear war hearing. They were phony in the sense that the public was told well this was this is what would happen in a nuclear war only 30 million people be killed some such nonsense. But it was not explained that they had
gone to the Pentagon and got themselves a nice. Medium sized atomic war. Based upon certain assumptions that were never clearly explained to the public. Assumptions as to why they picked a certain day. What would have happened if the wind would be different and how I could keep the enemy just lobbing 15:00 across at us when they could send 20000 megatons. And they put this nicely tailored made to order nuclear war right down on the lower level of the curve without telling us that if the thing rose from just a little bit further up to the dimensions of a real attack there just wouldn't be anybody left and it wouldn't be any civilization left in this hemisphere. Now all this nightmare talk about how the maybe the Russians might shoot fifteen hundred weapons over here and knock out all our bases. I think there's a lot of insanity just driving our people
mad when they do rational figures. If the Russians. Could man I don't attack those proportions without anybody knowing them. I don't believe that's possible we now have all kinds of means of surveillance over the Soviet Union. He's pro all kinds of secret and publicly known methods. But you know thank you exploded that many. That much megaton to join us. They would poison the rest of the world or at least the rest of the northern latitudes. And they and they are not crazy enough to think we could hit back. I think there's a lot of things wrong with the Russian government. And probably a lot of things wrong with our government. But I think that both these governments are not run by crazies. I think neither I think both these governments are afraid of each other and we have to find some way to disentangle from our mutual figures. And begin to settle down in a more reasonable frame of mind to get rid of some of these terrible weapons of slowdown the
arms race and learn to live together. And it's not just an American Russian problem. I WANT THIS WORLD with me. Rather than. Prepare for survival is a radio sounding board for facts and opinions on civil defense written and produced by Richard chick and directed by Alan Murdock. Next in the series the strategic importance of civil defense recording editor Ed Ream. Music by Rowena Logan speaking prepare for survival is recorded by Wayne State University Radio in Detroit for the National Association of educational broadcasters under a grant from the National
Educational Television and Radio Center. This is the end. The radio network.
Prepare for survival
Is civil defense futile?
Producing Organization
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on whether or not civil defense planning is worth the time and expense.
Series Description
A radio sounding board for facts and opinions on civil defense.
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Public Affairs
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Announcer: Logan, Dan
Director: Murdoch, Alan
Guest: Griffiths, Martha W. (Martha Wright), 1912-2003
Guest: Holifield, Chet, 1903-1995
Guest: Johnson, Ellis A.
Guest: Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994
Guest: Condon, Robert E.
Producer: Schick, Richard
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
Writer: Schick, Richard
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-52-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:27
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Chicago: “Prepare for survival; Is civil defense futile?,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Prepare for survival; Is civil defense futile?.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Prepare for survival; Is civil defense futile?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from