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“No previous war, no volcano, no earthquake, no plague has ever posed the type of threat to our civilization and our planet as does a general nuclear war.” Kennedy, Edward, and Mark Hatfield. Freeze. New York: Bantam Books, 1982, p. 66.

NUCLEAR WAR FACT: The bubonic plague kills over 30% of Europe’s population.

In a technical sense, this statement is true; however, it is typically misinterpreted to mean that massive death rates are unique to nuclear war. Populations have sustained severe impacts and recovered. The bubonic plague killed over twenty-five million people, 30 percent of Europe. There were more dead bodies than the living could bury. World War II resulted in the death of approximately forty million people. Also during World War II, over 1,700 Soviet cities were destroyed. Some cities were rebuilt where they originally stood, and others were rebuilt down the road. It was a difficult time because there was little or no machinery and few people, but it did happen, and the Soviet people did survive and rebuild. Between 1869 and 1870 in Bengal, India, three million to ten million people died of starvation. Between 1968 and 1974 in Shale, Africa, one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand people died of starvation. In 1976 in Hope, China, almost one million died in an earthquake. During World War II, Tokyo suffered 130 air raid attacks. One attack, which occurred on March 10, 1945, using conventional weapons, totally destroyed twenty-five square miles as a result of blast and firestorms. Within a two-hour period, 267,000 houses were destroyed and 83,600 people were killed. The death rate per kiloton was 49,176. By May 1945, the population had decreased from 6.5 million to 3.5 million, and the urban system had nearly collapsed. The fifteen-KT weapon detonated at Hiroshima resulted in a death rate of 6,667 per kiloton or roughly 14 percent of that from conventional weapons.

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