What if they didn't drop the Nukes?

Bit of a tangential, way out there type scenario but I am interested in views.

I was reading a rather interesting book on civil defence after WW2, and the thread on UK nuclear testing got me wondering as well, so here goes. There is a ine in the civil defence book about the effect the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had, and it made reference to the fact that the bombs turned public opinion against nuclear power. By the time the bombs were dropped the war in Europe was over, many people have said that not dropping the bombs would have meant a bloody and prolonged land battle in Japan, but what if they hadn't been dropped and effect would it have had after the fighting had stopped.

If, as it alluded to, the public had seen the destruction and pushed back against nuclear power, would not dropping the bombs have seen a more widespread adoption of nuclear fission? Without the demonstration of the power of a nuclear blast could we have seen the "Fallout" style science fiction world where miniature atomic piles were used in car, ships, or trains? Would the current climate change debate even be happening if decades of fossil fuels had not been burnt to generate electricity?

Would everything have been rosy until the first Chernobyl style blowout and it became clear that the genie in the nuclear bottle could really go pop big style?
 
People will be arguing about the rights or wrongs of dropping the bombs on Japan until the end of time.

However, what is well documented and harder to dispute is the extra-ordinary steps taken by the US to minimise the effects of the bombing in the eyes of the American public. This involves both censorship, notably in the cases of journalists John Hershey and Wilfred Burchett, and downright misinformation like General Groves claiming before Senate that 'Radiation sickness was a very pleasant way to die'

Their motive was straight-forward, they simply did not wish the US public to know the horrors of Nuclear War versus Conventional War and thus provide an anti-nuclear movement to counter America's potential new, and at that time unique weapon in their arsenal against the threat of the Soviet Union.
 
Bit of a tangential, way out there type scenario but I am interested in views.

I was reading a rather interesting book on civil defence after WW2, and the thread on UK nuclear testing got me wondering as well, so here goes. There is a ine in the civil defence book about the effect the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had, and it made reference to the fact that the bombs turned public opinion against nuclear power. By the time the bombs were dropped the war in Europe was over, many people have said that not dropping the bombs would have meant a bloody and prolonged land battle in Japan, but what if they hadn't been dropped and effect would it have had after the fighting had stopped.

If, as it alluded to, the public had seen the destruction and pushed back against nuclear power, would not dropping the bombs have seen a more widespread adoption of nuclear fission? Without the demonstration of the power of a nuclear blast could we have seen the "Fallout" style science fiction world where miniature atomic piles were used in car, ships, or trains? Would the current climate change debate even be happening if decades of fossil fuels had not been burnt to generate electricity?

Would everything have been rosy until the first Chernobyl style blowout and it became clear that the genie in the nuclear bottle could really go pop big style?

Well Japan would have been utterly depopulated, and the Japanese would have gone the way of Tasmanians. Truman wouldn't have gotten re-elected, and so really anything is up in the air at this point.
 
Next time I've got the ouija board out I'll ask my paternal grandfather. Actually I won't, because I'll know what he'll say "only two bombs? What about all the other cities"? He wasn't a fan of the Japs, you see.
 
IMHO, overnight, the opinion in some quarters changed from:
“Oh, you have so called “Nuclear weapons”, so what?”
to:
“Oh feck, let’s keep the tanks in the shed”.
also, conventional warfare on Japanese soil would have been down to the last man/woman/child standing.
 
A swift decisive victory was desirable for several reasons. The allies could not afford the economic, human, and materiel costs, but it also removed pretext for an increased Soviet involvement and thereafter presence.
 
Well thanks for the responses folks, however the gist of the question was actually "if the world hadn't seen the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, would we have had more nuclear power (because the scale of destructive power was not comprehended at the time)"

Any takers?
 
Well thanks for the responses folks, however the gist of the question was actually "if the world hadn't seen the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, would we have had more nuclear power (because the scale of destructive power was not comprehended at the time)"

Any takers?
They roughly knew how to calculate the yield of a nuke. the first one detonated in the new mexico desert at Alamogordo america yielded 19,000 tons. 16th July 1945. ;)

They knew how big the fireball was, wind speed of the blast, the area in square miles that would be effected, enough to roughly calculate how much of a big city would be totally raised to the ground. That is why all the other city's and towns were bombed back to the stone age. A few big Japanese city's were purposely left unscathed. Test beds for total destruction. What they were not so sure of was radioactive fallout, and its long term consequences. :eek:
 
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They roughly knew how to calculate the yield of a nuke. the first one detonated in the new mexico desert at Alamogordo america yielded 19,000 tons. 16th July 1945. ;)

They knew how big the fireball was, wind speed of the blast, the area in square miles that would be effected, enough to roughly calculate how much of a big city would be totally raised to the ground. That is why all the other city's and towns were bombed back to the stone age. A few big Japanese city's were purposely left unscathed. Test beds for total destruction. What they were not so sure of was radioactive fallout, and its long term consequences. :eek:
Ok I agree with the figures, but the specific section in the book I was reading was looking at the fact that the bombing of Dresden for example had taken several days and nights and a lot of aircraft, whereas it had taken one bomb on each Japanese sity to level large sections. Comparing this to the German bombing of the UK:

"If such a bomb was dropped on an ‘average’ British urban area, they estimated around 50,000 dead from one atomic bomb, with 30,000 houses destroyed and another 35,000 made uninhabitable. To put this into perspective, 218,000 houses had been destroyed and a total of 450,000 had been made uninhabitable during the Second World War, but that had been spread out over six years of war. It would take six atomic bombs to cause as much housing damage, but just one would come close to equalling the 60,595 deaths caused by enemy air raids over Britain.

Numbers on paper are one thing, but having it demonstrated and actually seeing the effect is something completely different.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Well thanks for the responses folks, however the gist of the question was actually "if the world hadn't seen the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, would we have had more nuclear power (because the scale of destructive power was not comprehended at the time)"

Any takers?

Opposition to nuclear anything has always been the default position of left of centre parties in the West, which has more to do with their relationship to our Cold War opponents than anything that happened to the Japanese - the revolutionary left has never been squeamish about body counts per se.

If it would help the revolution, they'd all be pro-Nuke in an instant.
 
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I think “no” is the answer, the bombs on Japan didn’t have any significant effect on the (lack of) proliferation of nuclear power. Two things make me think this:

1. Nuclear power plants don’t go bang in the same way as bombs. Even Chernobyl, Windscale, Three Mile Island and Fukushima, bad as they were, none went bang in the manner of Hiroshima. Yes, they lead to radiological issues, and localized structural damage, even severe localized structural damage in the case of Chernobyl, but nothing like the massive blast patterns of nuclear weapon detonation. The reactors are specifically designed to preclude the instantaneous critical mass. They can, and do, go tits up, but nowhere near as spectacularly.

2. The advances in nuclear weapon development in the 15 or so years following the war led to significantly greater yields, the H-bomb being the giant leap. The fallout generated by these much more powerful tests had a greater influence on the public perception of being irradiated.

The other thing to consider is the political imperative to stop the “wrong sort” from obtaining weapons. To make weapons, you need either highly enriched uranium, plutonium or both. Plutonium can be made in civil nuclear power reactors (Calder Hall, Chapelcross were built for this express purpose, and the other civil reactors of the day provided plutonium as a by-product). So the big boys‘ club sought to control the proliferation of civil nuclear power. not stop it, but control it. That continues to this day with Iran and NK. it’s all a bit “King Canute” like, but you can slow it down, if you can’t stop it. Bombing the living shit out of the Iranian nuclear site must have slowed them down a tad. Assassination of key men is another technique.

 
Well thanks for the responses folks, however the gist of the question was actually "if the world hadn't seen the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, would we have had more nuclear power (because the scale of destructive power was not comprehended at the time)"

Any takers?

Hands up those of us who've seen the devastation caused by a Nuke going off (and I would venture we're in the massive minority)? Ok, now lets ask: Are we behind more nuclear power or less?

Remember the average person in the Europe or the US hadn't seen much destruction. Where they had, it wouldn't have looked too different from their own street taking a stick of Jerry 500Kg's. Generally the people would have seen the images in black and white, and that's about it. Portraying information and scale to someone via an image is very very difficult. To illustrate this last point I recently brought a 1907 Bayonet for my collection, they're well known to be quite long, but it still doesn't prepare you for when you're holding it in your hand and you realise exactly how big it is. That's jsut a single item, now try showing off the destruction of an entire city.
This applies to Nuclear weapons as well, this lack of understanding of scale. I remember reading a textbook at school, which claimed to have a letter from a US Farmer to the military asking if they had any atomic weapons he could borrow as he had a particularly difficult tree stump to shift.

Then add in the absolutely pheromonal cost of Nuclear options. It wasn't until Project Orion that the US really looked at getting the cost down. There's also the complexity needed. The West had a large advantage in its learning in nuclear weapons, as the Soviets couldn't produce sub-1Kt detonations, yet we could.




Also, in the Fallout universe there's also a failure to develop microelectronics, and the things that surround them in our world, which leads to its unique feel.
 
There is a theory that the bombing of Japan with nukes was supposed to be seen by Russia as a display of American strength and power.
Stalin already knew of the power of the bomb. When Roosevelt at Yalta mentioned to Stalin that" we have a weapon that can wreck more devastation in one go, than all the bombs so far dropped" he never flinched, his demeanor never altered,......... he knew. ;)
 
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People will be arguing about the rights or wrongs of dropping the bombs on Japan until the end of time.

However, what is well documented and harder to dispute is the extra-ordinary steps taken by the US to minimise the effects of the bombing in the eyes of the American public. This involves both censorship, notably in the cases of journalists John Hershey and Wilfred Burchett, and downright misinformation like General Groves claiming before Senate that 'Radiation sickness was a very pleasant way to die'

Their motive was straight-forward, they simply did not wish the US public to know the horrors of Nuclear War versus Conventional War and thus provide an anti-nuclear movement to counter America's potential new, and at that time unique weapon in their arsenal against the threat of the Soviet Union.
Going to disagree with that one.

watch fog of war with Robert MacNamara.

Conventional bombing of Japanese cities was as affective if not more at destroying Japanese cities and its population than the atomic bombs.


nucleAr energy is linked with nuclear weapons which is why people don’t want it.

worth watching Pandora’s promise.


An environmentalist who wants zero carbon emissions tries to understand why nuclear energy is always sidelined. Sadly the anti nuclear lobby has pushed out an awful lot of pish about the dangers of nuclear energy in order to strengthen the position of the renewables lobby as theirs a f**k tonne of cash to be made out of renewables.

 
Bit of a tangential, way out there type scenario but I am interested in views.

I was reading a rather interesting book on civil defence after WW2, and the thread on UK nuclear testing got me wondering as well, so here goes. There is a ine in the civil defence book about the effect the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had, and it made reference to the fact that the bombs turned public opinion against nuclear power. By the time the bombs were dropped the war in Europe was over, many people have said that not dropping the bombs would have meant a bloody and prolonged land battle in Japan, but what if they hadn't been dropped and effect would it have had after the fighting had stopped.

If, as it alluded to, the public had seen the destruction and pushed back against nuclear power, would not dropping the bombs have seen a more widespread adoption of nuclear fission? Without the demonstration of the power of a nuclear blast could we have seen the "Fallout" style science fiction world where miniature atomic piles were used in car, ships, or trains? Would the current climate change debate even be happening if decades of fossil fuels had not been burnt to generate electricity?

Would everything have been rosy until the first Chernobyl style blowout and it became clear that the genie in the nuclear bottle could really go pop big style?
The mainstream stated objections to nuclear power centre around "what if it leaks?" and "where do we store the nuclear waste?", not "what if it blows up?"

The stories about nuclear powered cars, trains, ships, planes, etc., originated in the 1950s when atomic bombs were already a well known thing. If anything, the public were overly optimistic about what was possible with nuclear power.

The real campaign against nuclear power stems from using it as a symbol of modern industrial society and all its supposed ills. If anything the rosy images of nuclear powered cars made nuclear generating plants more of a target for environmentalists, as any symbol of a bright technological future was anathema to them.
 
Stalin already knew of the power of the bomb. When Roosevelt at Yalta mentioned to Stalin that" we have a weapon that can wreck more devastation in one go, than all the bombs so far dropped" he never flinched, his demeanor never altered,......... he knew. ;)
The problem of having a scientific workforce that had some members who were supplying the Rodina with raw data/information.

The FBI under mr Hoover needed a richt kick in the unmentionables for the loss of that data.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Moved to Mil Hist as I don't think we can really class the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings as 'current affairs' in all conscience :)
 

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