Total Nuclear Death

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by Portfolio Armor
Sunday, Apr 30, 2023 - 21:00
Nuclear exchange map.

The Ultimate Catastrophe

Thirty-three years ago, Playboy magazine asked Donald Trump what would be on his mind if he became President some day. Trump's response? The "ultimate catastrophe", nuclear war: 

What would be some of President Trump’s longer-term views of the future?
I think of the future, but I refuse to paint it. Anything can happen. But I often think of nuclear war.

Nuclear war?
I’ve always thought about the issue of nuclear war; it’s a very important element in my thought process. It’s the ultimate, the ultimate catastrophe, the biggest problem this world has, and nobody’s focusing on the nuts and bolts of it. It’s a little like sickness. People don’t believe they’re going to get sick until they do. Nobody wants to talk about it. I believe the greatest of all stupidities is people’s believing it will never happen, because everybody knows how destructive it will be, so nobody uses weapons. What bullshit.

Unfortunately, our current leadership has been less concerned about nuclear war, and has increased the risk of one happening via its proxy war against Russia in the Ukraine. Media attention seems to have shifted somewhat from the war after the recent leaks suggested the tide had turned against the Ukrainians, but a recent news item highlighted the continuing risk that it could spark a nuclear war. 

Maybe part of the problem is, contra Trump, our current leadership has forgotten how destructive a nuclear war would be. I have a reminder for them below, an excerpt from a powerful post detailing exactly what would happen in a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States.

Before we get to that though, a brief note about the bank situation after the collapse of First Republic Bank. 

After The Fall of First Republic

In a post on Saturday, I mentioned our bets against First Republic Bank:

Since then, I've identified another regional bank with metrics as bad or worse than First Republic's were before it released its earnings. I have a limit order in on a bet against it now; If you'd like a heads up when it fills, feel free to subscribe to my trading Substack/occasional email list below. 

Update: Our Latest Bet Against A Bank Just Got Filled

This one has 8x more potential upside than potential downside. 

Now, back to nuclear war: 

Authored by Paulos at Myth Pilot

Total Nuclear Death

I’ve recently been playing around with Nuclear War Simulator which is exactly like it sounds: less a game and more a tool. Originally used by researchers at Princeton and the Pentagon, it’s now available on Steam. Here there are no points to win, only scenarios to run: each one terrifying in both scale and particulars. Did you know that today’s ICBMs carry up to ten warheads each? Each warhead, typically 30 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, can be independently targeted to strike a different city, or the same city if you really want to be sure the job is done. Russia has an arsenal of at least 400 such missiles in addition to nuclear weapons carried on bombers or submarines, for an estimated total of 5,977 warheads as of 2022. The United States has 5,428. All of these are available to you in Nuclear War Simulator, where you can push a button to launch them in great curving arcs over the Arctic Circle to rain down nuclear fire from the stratosphere on Russian and American cities below.

Once the bombs have dropped, you can run casualty simulations to see the death totals in fine-grained detail. There are myriad ways to die when getting nuked: instant radiation burns, crushed in falling buildings, burned in the good old-fashioned type of fires which would rage through the wreckage after being ignited by the heat of the blast, or death from radiation poisoning from lingering fallout carried on the wind. To make things terrifyingly personal, you can even place icons on the map representing friends and family and watch how they’d fare if positioned in a car, in a basement under a concrete building, or ominously “in the open.”

“I began (like many of us) to wonder in my idle moments whether my house was within the blast radius of a Russian bomb.”

So obviously, in this day of heightened tension with Russia, when we learn through a zoomer whistleblower that US forces are significantly more engaged with fighting Russia in Ukraine than the public, and maybe even Congress, had been led to believe, I began (like many of us) to wonder in my idle moments whether my house was within the blast radius of a Russian bomb. There are various kinds of hypothetical scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons, including those in which the nations involved decide to target the enemy’s population centers instead of merely just their military forces. To get a sense of the greatest possible destruction, this MAX DEATH scenario was the one I chose to run. Results discussed below:


  • Plan: OPEN RISOP Countervalue + Counterforce 2021.06.01

  • US fatalities: 71 Million

  • 82% of US petroleum refining capability destroyed (3.2 million barrels / day remaining)

  • 18% of electric power plant capacity destroyed (926,000 megawatt remaining)

  • Top 50 seaports destroyed: 99% of US shipping capacity by tons destroyed

  • All Class B (major commercial) airports destroyed

  • Vast swathes of prime US farmland irradiated

  • Soot in the stratosphere: 19 Tg (from US alone)

Eastern seaboard of the United States. Casualty clusters are in green/blue, with fallout trails drifting eastward

A war of this kind would instantly plunge the United States and Russia (and any other nations dragged into the conflict) into a world lit only by fire. hose left alive nearest any blasts could expect very little assistance: FEMA guidance calls for response teams to stay out of Dangerous Radiation Zones and leave survivors to shelter and evacuate as best they can under their own efforts. In addition to radiation, response teams could expect to contend with damaged infrastructure, roadways choked with disabled vehicles, knocked out power, and enormous fires as structures and fuel lines ignited. Most immediate efforts would therefore be limited to firefighting on the perimeter and camps to treat any survivors who managed to self-evacuate. The attack would last several hours or days, involving multiple rounds of exchange as the US and Russia exhausted missiles, then submarine-launched weapons, then finally cruise-type weapons launched from bombers as cleanup. By the end of it most cities would be left in smoking ruins and the US population would be reduced by 20%... Read the rest here


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