Will Mankind Destroy Itself?
IT WAS clear and sunny over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on that fateful day—August 6, 1945. As the city awakened, no one in his wildest imagination could have foreseen the devastation that broke out at 8:15 that morning.
What happened was described as a “rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on earth.” Mankind had now entered a new age of warfare, opening a door to awesome means of mass destruction.
Did this development have anything to do with someday bringing about what the Bible calls the “end of the world”? Before answering, let us consider just why what happened that day in August was such a dreadful milestone.
“Someone shouted, ‘A parachute is coming down!’ I responded by turning in the direction she pointed,” began one woman who was in Hiroshima. She continued: “Just at that moment, the sky I was facing flashed. I do not know how to describe that light. I wondered if a fire had been set in my eyes.
“I don’t remember which came first—the flash of light or the sound of an explosion that roared down to my belly. Anyhow, the next moment I was knocked down flat on the ground.
“Soon I noticed that the air smelled terrible. Then I was shocked by the feeling that the skin of my face had come off. Then, the hands and arms, too. . . . all the skin of my right hand came off and hung down grotesquely. . . . What I saw under the bridge was shocking: Hundreds of people were squirming in the stream. I couldn’t tell if they were men or women. They looked all alike. Their faces were swollen and gray, their hair was standing up. Holding their hands high, groaning, people were rushing to the river.”
This woman saw the first use in warfare of what newspapers called “the most terrifying engine of destruction ever devised by man”—the atomic bomb. Though tens of thousands were killed instantly, many perhaps completely vaporized, those who survived the initial blast grasped the real horror of nuclear warfare. Because of exposure to lethal doses of atomic radiation, they soon became incapacitated with nausea. This led to vomiting blood, a high fever, extreme diarrhea, bleeding from the bowels and an agonizing death within 10 days. The final toll was estimated at nearly 140,000 deaths—all from one bomb!
It has been 35 years since that new era dawned. Only one nation then possessed the bomb. But what has happened since?
The Age of Overkill
Soon other nations developed atomic weapons, and as international tensions grew, the nuclear arms race was on. More and bigger bombs were developed. The one dropped on Hiroshima, nicknamed “Little Boy,” carried a punch equal to 13 thousand tons of TNT. Yet this was truly like a “little boy” compared to today’s bombs. Some already tested are equal to 60 million tons of TNT!
Tens of thousands of these bombs of various sizes are stockpiled in many arsenals. The United States alone has sufficient atomic warheads to kill every man, woman and child on earth 12 times over. But firepower is only one alarming development.
You may still feel somewhat secure, knowing you are thousands of miles from an unfriendly country. Today, however, there are systems equipped to deliver atomic warheads whose accuracy defies imagination. Missiles carrying up to eight separate atomic warheads are now capable of traveling 6,000 miles (9,656 km) and hitting within 492 yards (450 m) of the target. Soon they will be able to strike within a few yards! Clearly, no one on earth can really feel safe or “out of range.”
To add to the overkill, some nations have armed themselves with chemical and biological (germ) weapons. “New death sprays,” reports one authority, “are being manufactured, the most minute droplets of which can cause heart attacks.” A top scientist who has devoted much time to studying the subject warned: “BW [Biological warfare] still is an enormous threat to the world.”
“A weapon even more awesome than the nuclear one” is how Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev described recent developments in armaments. He urged “banning the creation of new types of weapons of mass destruction.” Many feel that he was talking about “weather warfare,” the making of environmental changes to destroy an enemy. The Soviet journal Red Star warned of “the exceptional danger of the whole world” as a result of tampering with the environment “for destructive military purposes.” It is feared that one country could cause floods, droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, even hurricanes to happen in enemy territory. When you consider that one hurricane packs the power of 1 billion tons of TNT, 16 times stronger than the largest nuclear bomb, such weather warfare could be enormously destructive.
Obviously man already has at his disposal the means to destroy himself and leave this earth a radioactive waste. Yet, since 1945 nuclear weapons have not been used in warfare. For this reason many feel safe, thinking the world will never see an all-out atomic war, which, according to one who helped develop the bomb, Albert Einstein, would mean “annihilation of all life on earth.”
[Picture on page 6]
The United States alone has sufficient nuclear warheads to destroy every man, woman and child on earth 12 times over