The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was signed in 2011, replacing START 1, and runs until 2021. It limits the number of warheads of the US and Russia to 1550 each. It’s interesting to try to imagine what the United States would turn into if 1550 nuclear warheads were to hit their target here. These modern warheads are not comparable to the two nuclear bombs dropped in WW2, which are puny in comparison. The modern warheads are much more powerful – some, for instance, more than 3000 times the explosive capacity of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Major targets are assumed to be hit with not just one but multiple warheads to ensure that at least one warhead gets through. So it is safe to assume that all major cities would simply be obliterated, given the magnitude of these weapons, leaving intense radiation in the surrounding area. Most of the smaller cities would also be hit, creating more radiation zones. All the strategic military sites would be targeted, of course, as well as major industrial sites, producing still more radiation zones. Basically, every missile that struck would create a large radiation zone where it would be hazardous for humans to tread, perhaps for decades.
The electrical grid would be destroyed so that there would be no power and no electricity. All 61 of the nuclear power plants in the US, without power, would no longer be serviced with the necessary cooling process and so they would all have unstoppable melt downs, creating radiation zones around them of approximately 50 miles in every direction – and these radiation zones would be permanent and very lethal.
Food distribution would simply end; and most of the population would not know how to grow food and therefore would be unable to feed itself, so that perhaps 90% of the population would die from starvation within a few months, or even sooner, depending on when their existing food supplies run out. Tap water would be a thing of the past, so that finding and purifying water would be a major and constant challenge (the human body can be in starvation mode for prolonged periods of time and can go without food entirely for up to 3 weeks, but cannot do without water for more than 3 or 4 days at most).
There would be no government and no law and order, and those who managed to survive the initial attack would quickly drop the thin veneer of civilization and turn into savages willing to do anything for food and water. There would be no hospitals or medical services, and cadavers would not be buried, as there would be no one to bury them. All the radiation would of course have an enormous impact on wildlife as well as the once fertile soil.
There would be small pockets of survivors in the remote countryside far removed from urban areas and from the various radiation zones. These rare individuals would survive because they just happened to know how to survive in the wild, like the fabled mountain men of the Old West. They would also be able to survive because they would be able to separate themselves and stay far away from the desperate.
The survivors in the northern states would consider their predicament facing harsh winters without heat. Many would attempt to migrate to the south to avoid severe winters. But this trek would be on foot, as the roads would be a shamble and many sections would simply be destroyed by missile strikes. And the trek would have to give a wide berth to urban areas, as these would be a radiation hazard. One option for survivors in the northern states like New England, facing the difficult urban corridor from Boston to Washington, might be to go north instead, to Canadian communities that were still intact.
All of the above would also take place in Russia. It would start in just 20 minutes and be over in a matter of a few hours. To the rest of the globe, these two countries would be considered no-go zones to be avoided at all cost. The world economy would collapse, so that destitution would be the rule rather than the exception.
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