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The purpose of this book is to provide Americans and other unprepared people with information and self-help instructions that will significantly increase their chances of surviving a nuclear attack. It brings together field- tested instructions that, if followed by a large fraction of Americans during a crisis that precedes an attack, could save millions of lives. The author is convinced that the vulnerability especially of Americans to nuclear threat or attack must be reduced and that the wide dissemination of the information contained in this book will help preserve peace with freedom.
Underlying the advocacy of Americans learning these down-to-earth survival skills is the belief that if one prepares for the worst, the worst is less likely to happen. Effective American civil defense preparations would reduce the probability of nuclear blackmail and war. Yet in our world of increasing dangers, it is significant that the United States spends much less per capita on civil defense than many other countries. The United States' annual funding is about 50 cents per capita, and only a few cents of this is spent on war-related civil defense. Unless U.S. civil defense policies are improved, you are unlikely to receive from official sources much of the survival information given in this book.
Over 400,000 copies of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory original 1979 edition of Nuclear War Survival Skills have been sold by various private publishers. A few additions and modifications, some helpful and others harmful, were made in several of these private printings. This updated and expanded edition is needed because of changes in nuclear weapons and strategies between 1979 and 1987, and because of improvements in self-help survival equipment and instructions.
The 1987 edition provides current information on how the Soviet Union's continuing deployment of smaller, more accurate, more numerous warheads should affect your shelter- building and evacuation plans.
In the first chapter the myths and facts about the consequences of a massive nuclear attack are discussed. Two post-1979 myths have been added: the myth of blinding post-attack increased ultra-violet sunlight, and the myth of unsurvivable "nuclear winter" - along with refuting facts.
A new chapter, "Permanent Family Fallout Shelters for Dual Use", has been added, because the author has received many requests for instructions for building permanent small shelters better and less expensive than those described in official civil defense hand-outs. Another new chapter, "Trans-Pacific Fallout" tells how to reduce radiation dangers that you will face if one or more nations use nuclear weapons, but none are exploded on America.
Improved instructions are given for making and using a KFM, based on the findings of numerous builders since 1979. (The KFM still is the only accurate and dependable fallout radiation meter that millions of average people can make for themselves in a few hours, using only common household materials - if they have these improved instructions with patterns.) Field-tested instructions for easily made Directional Fans, the simplest means for pumping air, have been added to the "Ventilation and Cooling of Shelters" chapter. Also included in this book are scores of other new facts and updatings likely to help save lives if nuclear war strikes.
A new appendix gives instructions for a home makeable Plywood Double-Action Piston Pump, inspired by a wooden air pump the author saw being used in China in 1982.
This first-of-its-kind book is primarily a compilation and summary of civil defense measures developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and elsewhere over the past 24 years, and field tested by typical untrained Americans in many states, from Florida to Washington. The reader is urged to make at least some of these low-cost preparations before a crisis arises. The main emphasis, however, is on survival preparations that could be made in the last few days of a worsening crisis.
The author wrote the original, uncopyrighted Nuclear War Survival Skills while working as a research engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As a result, he has no proprietary rights and has gotten nothing but satisfaction from past sales. Nor will he gain materially from future sales, as can be judged by reading his copyright notice covering this edition. Civil defense professionals and others concerned with providing better self-help survival information can reproduce parts or all of this 1987 edition without getting permission from anyone, provided they comply with the terms of the copyright notice.
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by Edward Teller
January 14, 1994
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the unimaginable catastrophe of all out nuclear war has become truly im- probable. At the same time this unexpected event taught a lesson: being prepared for trouble may help to eliminate the source of trouble. Perhaps, after all, the atomic age might become a happy age.
Possible but not yet probable. Proliferation of nuclear weapons is more of a danger than ever before. But the danger is now different. What may happen is still horrible but it is no longer a catastrophe beyond our power of de- scribing it or preventing it.
As long as the superpowers faced each other with tens of thousands of megaton-class weapons, any defense seemed insufficient. It was a palliative of unclear war. It played more of a role as part of the deterrent. To many of us it seemed to be a necessity. But in efforts to convince the general public we made little progress. The question could not be resolved by reason alone.
The problem of ideological conflict is disappearing. The problem of a violent dictator is still with us. With weap- ons of mass destruction he could do enormous damage. Furthermore, the proliferation of ballistic missiles is not a pos- sibility but a frightening and growing reality. But we are now no longer facing tens of thousands of weapons. We need to worry about at most hundreds. Defense, therefore, has become a rational possibility.
But if defense is possible, it is also most important for four connected but, at the same time, distinct reasons. One is that in the case of war defense may save many thousands, maybe even millions of lives. I do not disagree with those who say that the main problem is to prevent war itself. I do disagree when prevention of war is considered the only problem.
The second reason is that defense helps to prevent proliferation of weapons of aggression. If defense is ne- glected these weapons of attack become effective. They become available and desirable in the eyes of an imperialist dictator, even if his means are limited. Weapons of mass destruction could become equalizers between nations big and small, highly developed and primitive, if defense is neglected. If defense is developed and if it is made available for general prevention of war, weapons of aggression will become less desirable. Thus defense makes war itself less probable. The third reason is of a most general character. One psychological defense mechanism against danger is to forget about it. This attitude is as common as it is disastrous. It may turn a limited danger into a fatal difficulty.
The last and most important reason is that the world has become thoroughly interdependent and the time has come for the positive use of this interdependence. International cooperation is obviously difficult. It lacks any tradi- tion. It is best started by modest activities that are obviously in everyone's interest. War-prevention by defense seems to be a good candidate for such cooperation. This would be particularly true if the effort would be both modest and effective. This book is an excellent example of an international initiative that with a minimal effort could have a maximal beneficial effect. It describes simple procedures of individual defensive measures which should be used in many areas of danger including those where it is wrongly believed that defense is impossible. It can be used in advanced countries and in countries at an early stage of development. Electronics makes the book available throughout the world.
This book will not satisfy the demands of those who are interested only in final solutions. Indeed, I do not believe that final solutions exist. The more important and difficult a problem is the more it becomes evident that the answer lies in a careful development consisting of small steps. This book prepares us, throughout the world, for one of the small steps that must be taken if the twenty-first century is to escape the curse of war.