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What if We Nuke a City?

Playing around with nuclear weapons in videos is fun. There’s a visceral joy in blowing things up, and a horrifying fascination with things
like fireballs, shockwaves, and radiation. And while it does help put our destructive
power in perspective, it’s not the best way of understanding
the real impact of a nuclear explosion. This isn’t about city stacks of TNT, or about how bright an explosion is. Nuclear weapons are about you. So we’ve partnered with the Red Cross
and Red Crescent movement to explore what would really happen if a nuclear weapon were detonated in a major city today. Not nuclear war, just one explosion. *Intro* We begin our story in the middle of
downtown in a major city. People are going to work, studying for exams, are lost in their thoughts and daily lives. Right here a nuclear weapon is detonated
and time freezes. The first phase of the explosion happens
within less than a second. In a millisecond, a ball of plasma hotter than the Sun appears and grows in a fireball to more than 2 kilometres across. Within this ball, everyone is just gone. Think of water dripped on to a very hot pan. A sizzle, and then there’s nothing. Most buildings, cars, trees,
tacky sculptures and people… … all evaporated. First, the flash: an intense tsunami of light washes over the city in an instant. If you happen to have your head pointed in the direction of the explosion, it renders you blind for a few hours. The heat of this light produces a thermal pulse, so energetic and hot that it just burns everything as far as 13 kilometres from the detonation site. What this means is that everything in an area of 500 square kilometres that is able to burn, starts burning. Plastic, wood, fabric, hair, and skin. If you happen to be in reach of the thermal pulse, one moment, you’re on your way to work, the next moment, you’re on fire. Now the second phase begins. It happens in a few seconds. Most people will now first notice
that something is wrong, but it’s already too late for hundreds of thousands. The flash is followed by the shockwave. The heat and radiation of the fireball create a bubble of superheated and super-compressed air around it that’s now expanding explosively. Faster than the speed of sound, creating winds stronger than hurricanes and tornadoes. Human infrastructure is no match for its power. Most major buildings within a kilometre of the fireball are just ground up down to their base. Only steel reinforced concrete is able to
partially resist the pressure. In the surrounding parks where retirees feed the ducks, trees blackened and smoldering from the heat a second before snap like toothpicks. If you’re outside, you get tossed away
like a grain of dust in a tornado. The shockwave weakens as it travels outwards but still, about 175 square kilometres of houses collapse like they’re made of cards, trapping tens of thousands of people
who didn’t have any time to react. Gas stations explode and fire spread
throughout the rubble. A mushroom cloud made from the remains of the fireball, dust and ash rises kilometres into the sky in the next few minutes and casts a dark shadow over the ruined city. This violently pulls in fresh air surrounding the city, destroying more buildings and providing
an abundance of oxygen. It depends on the city what happens next. If there’s enough fuel, fires may turn into a firestorm that burns the rubble, everybody trapped in it and people trying to flee the devastation. Up to 21 kilometres from the explosion, people just like you rush to their windows to take pictures of the mushroom cloud, unaware that the shockwave is still coming at them, about to shatter their windows and create
a blizzard of sharp glass. The third phase begins in the coming hours and days. We’re used to the idea that help will come,
no matter the disaster. This time is different: a nuclear explosion is like every natural disaster at once. There are hundreds of thousands or millions of people with serious injuries: lacerations, broken bones, serious burns. In the next few minutes and hours, thousands more will die because of these injuries. Countless people are trapped in collapsed buildings like in earthquakes or blinded by the flash, deaf from the blast wave and unable to flee through streets impassable with rubble and debris. They’re terrified, confused, and don’t know what’s happened to them or why. Most likely, many hospitals have been leveled along with all the other buildings and most medical professionals are either dead or injured, along with everyone else. The survivors lucky enough to have been in metro tunnels or standing in the right place to be unburned and unhurt won’t have truly escaped harm yet. Depending on the type of weapon, where it explodes and even the weather, an awful black rain can begin, with radioactive ash and dust descending on the city, covering everything and everyone. The invisible, malicious, silent horror of
radiation takes its turn. Every breath carries poison to the lungs of the survivors. Over the coming days, the people who receive the highest doses of radiation exposure will die. There will be no help, not for hours or maybe even days. Civilisation doesn’t operate when
there is a total breakdown of infrastructure. Roads are blocked, train tracks warped, runways cluttered with rubble. No water, no electricity, no communication, no stores to replenish supplies from. Help from surrounding cities will have a hard time entering the disaster zone and even if they can, the radioactive contamination will make it risky to get too close. After a nuclear attack, you’re on your own. So, bit by bit, people emerge from the rubble on foot, contaminated with radioactive fallout, carrying what little they may have left. They are slow, in pain, traumatized, and they all need food, water and medical treatment fast. And the damage done by a nuclear weapon doesn’t end when the fires burn out and the smoke clears. The hospitals in the neighboring cities are under-equipped for a disaster of this scale and overwhelmed with tens or hundreds of thousands of patients with serious injuries. In the weeks, months and years to come, many of those who survived will succumb to cancers like leukemia. The reason no government wants you to think about all this is because there is no serious humanitarian response possible to a nuclear explosion. There’s no way to really help the immediate victims of a nuclear attack. This is not a hurricane, wildfire or earthquake or nuclear accident. It is all of these things at once, but worse. No nation on earth is prepared to deal with it. The world has changed in the past few years, with world leaders again explicitly and publicly threatening each other with nuclear weapons. Many experts think the danger of a nuclear strike is higher than it has been in decades. Governments tell their citizens that it’s good that we have nuclear weapons, but it’s bad when anyone else gets them. That it’s somehow necessary to threaten others with mass destruction to keep us safe. But does this make you feel safe? It only takes a small group of people with power to go crazy or rogue, a small misstep or a simple misunderstanding to unleash a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Exploding stuff in videos is fun. Exploding things in real life, not so much. There is a solution though! Eliminating all nuclear weapons
and vowing never to build them again. In 2017, almost 2/3 of all the world’s countries, supported by hundreds of civil society organizations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement agreed to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. It’s not about who has nuclear weapons and who doesn’t. The weapons themselves are the problem. They are deeply immoral and an existential threat to all of us. No matter what country you come from, no matter what political side you find yourself on, we need to demand that they disappear forever. This will not happen without pressure. If you want to be part of this pressure, there are things you personally can do too: Visit to learn more about nuclear weapons and what you can do about them. *Outro Music* *QUACK* *Outro*

100 thoughts on “What if We Nuke a City?

  1. As you may have noticed, we like to blow stuff up on this channel. So when the International Red Cross approached us to collaborate on a video about nuclear weapons, we were more than excited. Until we did the research. It turned out we were a bit oblivious off the real impact of nuclear weapons in the real world, on a real city. And especially, how helpless even the most developed nations on earth would be if an attack occurred today.
    This collaboration was a blast (no pun intended) and we want to say a huge thank you to the International Red Cross! Please check out to learn more about nuclear weapons and what you can do to stop them.

  2. I think North Korea will not listen about getting rid of the nukes. Even if they do they will try and find another weapon of mass destruction.

  3. Ну тут все будет в первых от рельефа зависеть. Во-вторых от мощности самой боеголовки.

  4. Let me tell you why nuclear weapons are not going anywhere. Imagine you're the leader of some country that is much weaker than some other country. Now imagine that country is your enemy (for some reason). So, if your country has Nukes, than the bigger country will not attempt to attack you, if all countries give up their Nukes, then the bigger and stronger country will have nothing stopping it from attacking your country, and your country will lose. so, now you understand why Nukes are here to stay?

  5. Video: Amazing
    Political Add: Not so amazing
    Entertainment combined with learning: Amazing
    Ramming beliefs and pressuring viewers through warmongering: Not so amazing

  6. That's great with disarmament… But what about the two other countries *cough Russia and China *cough, that really don't care. Won't they just ignore it or pretend to destroy their nukes?

  7. 3 billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare, the war against the Machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human Resistance… John Connor. My son. The first terminator was programmed to strike at me, in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself, when he was still a child. As before, the Resistance was able to send a lone warrior. A protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first…

  8. Eliminating nuclear weapons will just guarantee conventional war and fuck tons of other problems, we're just as fucked without them.

  9. I am from Pakistan we are always in danger of the nuclear war between us and India, warmongers in both countries don't know the outcome of a nuclear war, everyone needs to know what kind of devastation this isn't, it's horrible

  10. Deeply immoral? Not quite. The only reason we have problems in the world is because there are people in it. Destroy all people and world becomes 100% problem free.

  11. We must be aware that these are not stories on paper. Mankind has already dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and killed 250,000 people in seconds. It should be recognized again that our vote in democracy is the only thing that can prevent this situation. I just hope that the existing peace will last forever.

  12. Getting rid of these weapons is not possible. No country in their right mind would give up their superweapons. Global powers have too much distrust amongst one another to trust that the other country will destroy its weapons. All countries will say “after you,” and nothing will ever happen.

  13. The Cuban regime is developing weapons of mass destruction and exporting nuclear fuel and raw material in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with the help of Iran and other Islamic countries to fulfill the megalomaniac purposes of President Chavez.
    Please do something and help us

  14. My friend wants to be a nuclear physicist. I told him that he would probably have to go to russia or the United states because there is basically only nuclear stuff over there.

  15. Since the advent of nuclear weapons the number of people killed and injured via war has dramatically decreased. With nuclear weapons, it is hard to imagine if large scale conventional warfare is even possible.

    Imagine yourself on the frontlines of Ypres, or about to land on the shores of Normandy. In that moment, a world where leading powers have bloated security apparatuses, proxy wars, and nuclear arsenals would seem a whole lot better than a world where leading powers can physically march upon each other.

    It’s a very tough subject, and a fuller more honest conversation would need to take place outside a YouTube comment section.

  16. Trying to get rid of nuclear weapons is just silly it's never going to happen.
    Better to focus on something that can even theoretically be achieved.

  17. They call some numbers, but don't talk about power. They don’t care what warhead to talk about? Is it really not clear that there is a huge difference between the explosion of 50 kilotons and 50 megatons? Where did they get these calculations? I can draw the same pictures and talk bullshit too.

  18. Look for fools… Russia has already agreed with the United States on the disposal, only chemical weapons-Russia has fulfilled its part of the deal, confirmed by foreign observers, and America is in no hurry to fulfill its part. Where is the guarantee? America lies all the time… And America is the only country that has used nuclear weapons, and not against military plants, and against the civilian population, to see-how bahnet and show the USSR-LOOK WHAT I HAVE-you WANT and you BAHNET? Then there is operation Crossroads-broadcasts around the world. And who waved a nuclear club from 1945 to 1949? Is it a stronghold of democracy? In 1949, the truth went out-the reason the USSR had nuclear weapons… Paid advertising horror story-paid by the Pentagon through the red cross. Example " Learn more about nuclear weapons and what you can do to stop them
    EN, FR, ES, PT, DE, AR, RU, CH", and where is the link to the site in the stronghold of democracy in the United States? Or is everything OK there-the great celestials can only use nuclear weapons? Sorry for the mistakes I'm Russian, the one that you're scaring the kids…

  19. This is like the gun-free-zone argument: You say no nukes, the countries with good intentions get rid of their nukes, then the countries with bad intent keep them. Now what do we have? Good guys with no self defense capabilities and bad guys with nuclear weapons!

  20. Not even a mention of Mutual Assured Destruction? I think there's more danger of nuclear war if countries (seemingly) give up their nukes, than if we have an abundance of them. If a country thinks that their adversary gave up their nukes, they'll be less hesitant to use their own if they secretly kept some.

  21. A vote against nukes is a vote for world war. How many hundreds of millions of people will die in the next one that could have been prevented by MAD eh?

    EDIT: also you never stated your nuke size. a 6Mt airburst would have roughly a 2km fireball like in your video. No country uses a nuke of this size anymore. Nuclear devices have smaller yields these days due to MIRV's, and better targeting. So 1 6Mt detonation is horribly disingenuous. Rather multiple strikes from say 14 100kt warheads.

  22. A 2km diameter fireball equates to a 1 megaton class weapon, which are rare in current arsenals.

    Yes, objects close enough to the det point will evaporate.

    Yes, blinded from the flash will be experienced by those far outside the lethal radius.

    It is correct that 3rd degree burns will be encountered out to about 13km from a 1MT blast. Dry wood would only burn out to a radius of around 7km.

    In order to maximise lethal blast effects, a 1MT weapon would be detonated at an altitude of about 2.2km, too far away for any building to be turned to dust, but most residential buildings would be collapse to rubble out to a distance of 7km or so.

    Trees will break out to about 25km.

    175km^2 of collapsed houses is an accurate value.

    Yep, the cloud could be expected to rise to an altitude of 20km before leveling out, depending on local weather.

    Yep, updraft from the rising cloud would fuel fires, and lift of debris such as glass, but it wouldn't destroy more buildings.

    Yes, firestorms are a real threat, and are the most significant secondary effects of a full scale global nuclear war. Soot from these firestorms is modeled to drop global temperature by up to 8 kelvin, not returning to normal for around 15 years. This'll natural cause famine.

    Yep, glass will shatter out to a distance of 20 or so km.

    If the detonation is at ground level (no reason why anyone would do that against a soft target like a city), then yes, local fallout will begin within about an hour.

    Radiation levels outside the prompt lethal radius can be high that if you remain there for 3 hours or more, chances are you'll be dead within the next 2 months.

    All in all, this is pretty accurate, although the radii are 10% higher than those that'd result from a detonation of the most common weapon in the Russian arsenal, and also there's no good reason why anyone would use a groundburst against a city, so the local fallout effects can be ignored.

  23. In a millisecond A ball of plasma hotter than the sun appears bruh can you imagine all the things you could be doing in less than a second. One second your sending a text the next every atom in your body gets riped apart leaving no trace of your existence

  24. The only way this will ever work, is if we also collectively forget the knowledge of how to build such a device. This will never happen… Until possibly after a nuclear war.

  25. i'd like to think that all the dust being pushed away in the first few moments is mostly made up of body skin and evaporated human eyes

  26. While the idea of getting rid of nukes looks good on paper, if world powers were to get rid of them who's to prevent the nation with the largest most powerful army from taking over the entire world? And lets not fool ourselves: Even if every nation agreed to get rid of all of their nukes and promised never to make them again, you know they'd all keep a bunch of nukes stashed away in a bunker somewhere just in case.

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