The Nevada Paradox: How Atmospheric Bomb Tests Made Americans Paranoid About Nuclear Power


Atomic bomb caused, crater-scarred landscape of the Nevada Test Site: resulting from explosions in the period, 1951 to 1992. Image credit:Wikipedia

US citizens over age 50 (the Harry Reid demographic) had their childhoods shadowed by decades of terrifying atomic weapon tests. This demographic typifies baby boomers, and Tea Partiers. It is they who have passed their atomic fears on to Gen X'rs and beyond.

Ground zero for US atmospheric bomb testing was Nevada (as pictured). Counties in the Great Plains and inter-mountain west states received the highest radiation levels (see below for historic, radio-iodine dose map). Doses aside, the whole nation breathed anxiety and prayed for it to go away. We learned, in our strontium-90-laced bones, that the pairing of all things atomic with government could mean danger, in ways that no human had ever faced before. We learned to be cynical about what our government told us. Trust evaporated.Yucca Mountain - the cavernous but yet unused waste repository designed to safely hold all manner of high-level rad waste is in the same general area as where the bombs were open-air tested.

Have a look at the test-related, historic Iodine-131 dose map shown below and tell me if you can figure out why folks out west still aren't too keen about storing rad waste? This map indicates why government plans to permanently store spent reactor rods there are viewed as a paradox when used in the same sentence as "safely " - e.g. an apparently 'self-contradictory proposition.'

Note: Population centers with the highest nuclear power production capacities and also the greatest earthquake risk are outside much of the peak dose area.)


"Per capita thyroid doses in the continental United States of Iodine-131 resulting from all exposure routes, from all atmospheric nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site." Image credit:Wikipedia

For more background, see Nuclear Blast From The Past: Tectonics of Science, Politics, War, & Climate Change Here's a couple of key snippets.

Well after the atmospheric test ban was implemented, US public school teachers were still handing out monthly potassium iodide tablets to students in grades K-12. We kids appreciatively chewed the tablets, as they tasted much like Malted Milk Balls. (Oddly, there were no iodide tablets given out over summer vacation, which made me think - I was a kid remember - that either in summer we were relatively safe from nuclear attack or else somebody in charge was just plain stupid...Following several mandatory classroom showings of the totally-lame Duck and Cover film, in which it was taught that hiding under one's desk and putting hands behind one's head would actually protect kids from an atomic bomb, I realized that much of what 'the authorities' were telling us could well be total BS. When I saw bomb shelter construction being pushed on TV...that nailed it for me. Governments could not be trusted to tell the truth about something this dangerous.

The next Nuclear Renaissance awaits a generation of leaders not influenced by the Nevada Paradox
Newt Gingrich, was born June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg PA (home of Three Mile Island). Need I say more?

Mitt Romney was born in Detroit MI, March 12, 1947.

President Obama, birthdate: August 4, 1961, was a mere 2-year old babe in Hawaii when atmospheric testing was banned. He sorta missed the biggest part of the paranoia but is still going with the Reid generation.

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