One of Saint Peacock’s most intense fields of interest is “wellbeing” (especially its own), and while the most recent banter between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un might have quickened the pulse with its spirited hurling of superlatives, the prospect of it leading to a spirited hurling of nuclear weapons is less thrilling.
News that Kim Jong-Un’s top military big hats are developing a plan to test fire missiles to within 30-40km of Guam by mid-August provoked Donald Trump’s comment that “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met by fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Setting aside the pedantic observation that the world has seen a fair bit of fire and fury since its inception 4.5 billion years ago, much of it making a couple of missile strikes feel like party poppers, Donald Trump’s lack of concern for the prospect of triggering nuclear conflict means it’s time to check on one’s options for sitting out the after-effects of the US and the DPR of K going full octagon.
It was Donald Trump after all who said “We should not worry too much about the risks to the South Korean population. They have enough shelters there for everyone.” Does that sound like a man with reservations/any idea at all about the consequences?
“Among the early suggestions from the US government was that people should head for the countryside (if not already there), lie down in a ditch and cover themselves with earth.”
Shelter is only one component of the hierarchy of needs, of course, and while the fact that many of the pyramid’s other basic elements (food, water, warmth, security, let alone intimate relationships, feelings of accomplishment, achieving one’s full potential etc) may be a little tricky to lay one’s hands on when first emerging from the bunker, let’s not be too defeatist so soon into the process.
It may after all just be some elaborate diplomatic/parlour game, the rules of which are known to but a few initiates. Still, the prospect of such an exchange of technology has led a surge in Google searches for “How to survive a nuclear attack.”
For those not fortunate enough to possess the correct lanyard to access a mountainside facility, information has tended to be sketchy.
In the early days of nuclear testing in the US in the fifties, there was little thought at all given to quite how the general public should respond. When pushed to come up with advice, among the early suggestions from the US government was that people should head for the countryside (if not already there), lie down in a ditch and cover themselves with earth.
More elegant solutions involved the government placing huge metal tubes by roadsides, the fleeing public climbing in, then someone (not specified quite where they would appear from), would then block the tubes up with concrete. Cosy!
(See Annie Jacobsen’s excellent book The Pentagon’s Brain for more.)
The early 80s in the UK of course brought one of the great landmarks in the history of comedy, when the government was revealed to be planning to issue a booklet called “Protect and Survive”. Their key recommendation was to protect loved ones by building a spacious pillow fort. No tips were given on how to engage with zombie looters.
This time round, the US authorities have included a section on “nuclear blast” as part of their “Ready” campaign to prepare for disaster of all stripe. It includes sensible practical advice as well as some interesting shareables – did you know you shouldn’t look at the fireball because it might blind you? Or that when washing yourself to remove radioactive material you should not use conditioner because it will bind the radioactive material to your hair? So leave the Herbal Essences behind.
The UK authorities, though far from the Pyongyang–Guam flight path, seem a little “Once bitten…” following the Protect and Survive fiasco.
Indeed, writing in The Conversation earlier this year, Professor John Preston details how “The failure of Protect and Survive is the reason the UK doesn’t have public information on how to prepare for a nuclear war today.”
So what to do then? Short of viewing The Road on a loop and scanning the forums for occasional fragments of advice such as “Keep a supply of gold and silver coins handy,” the internet, normally such a helpful supplier of opinion, is quiet on the subject of practical doomsday preparation.
But then perhaps it has a point. Time spent preparing for the apocalypse represents valuable cocktail moments wasted.