Apocalypse Now: Let’s Do the Numbers

The world is closer to nuclear conflict than anytime since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. So what would a full-scale nuclear exchange look like in reality? Is it truly Armageddon, or would it be survivable for some people and places?” in “What the science says. Could humans survive a nuclear war between NATO and Russia?

— Alliance for Science, March 10, 2022

The Apocalypse was once envisioned
as an act of Biblical proportions, a
sacred act of God’s wrath punishing
man’s rejection of His laws, love and
It came as a bolt out of the blue,
surprising humanity engaged in its
pursuit of material bliss, bereft of
The Apocalypse has been secularized,
no longer executed by the invisible
hand of God, but by the many hands
of our many-headed monster of
violence, greed, inequity and
It’s horsemen have been riding slowly,
the final destruction is coldly calculated,
its coming has been proclaimed by our
prophets and visionaries, our sayers of
Preceded by the destruction of our
environment, state terror and state
violence, the Apocalypse is viewed
not through the eyes of philosophers
or historians, but statisticians and
So, let’s do the numbers, as they say
on NPR’s Marketplace: only 100
nuclear warheads can finish off the
human experiment, the USA and
Russia alone possess more than
The odds are against us, we’ll all
go together, although the truly wealthy
are building fortresses in mountains
and routes for their yachts to escape
the inevitable but always preventable
fate of the masses.
It will find no depiction with Strangelovian
humor, Sieg Heil slapstick, and GI Joe
American bon homie. Our end was not by
the hand of God, but by our own murder,
suicide and lingering illness of mind and
“We must love one another, or die” a poet
wrote, 2 and we’ve spent the 83 years since
not hearing.

  1. “…in 2018 testing another study also concluded that it would take 100 nuclear bombs to end this world,” in “”Secret study in 1945 shows how many nukes it takes to end humanity,” History of Yesterday,” February 9, 2022. []
  2. W.H. Auden, “September 1, 1939,” Collected Poems, p. 97. []
George Salamon, in St. Louis, MO, wonders if more Americans will, finally, start asking that question. Read other articles by George.