It seems that Seattle has a bit of a problem.
I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not too many Starbucks. It’s even worse. Evidently, Seattle is a prime target for a nuclear attack.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Seattle is a major supply line for the rest of America. That’s because Amazon is headquartered in the area, so a nuclear blast might delay Prime shipments by a day.
- It is also home to Microsoft, so a friendly power might bomb the place just to prevent another release of Windows.
- Boeing is in Seattle, too, and a hostile government might try to cripple America by detonating a bomb that would push the seats on Boeing’s planes even closer together.
Now, let’s see, there was one other reason…what was it again? Oh, yeah–Seattle is sitting on a stockpile of roughly 1,300 nuclear warheads. So if an enemy nation–say North Korea–decided to drop a big one on the Space Needle, it might set off a chain reaction similar to what one would see if you set off some dynamite in a fireworks factory, except, you know, with gigantic mushroom clouds instead of pretty colors.
Really. It’s against the law.
There is actually a law in the state of Washington that specifically bans localities from preparing for a nuclear attack. The law does require municipalities to prepare a comprehensive, all-hazard emergency plan for everything else including, presumably, a resurgence of grunge bands, but it prohibits that plan from including “preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of nuclear attack.”
In other words, they’ll get you out of town if there’s a volcano eruption, an earthquake or a Pearl Jam concert, but if there’s a nuclear explosion, you’ve got to stand there and take it like a man. Or a woman. Or a barista.
I know what you’re thinking: the Washington state legislature must have had a good reason for its anti-nuclear-protection law. Well, you’re wrong again. They had a reason, all right, but not a very good one.
Dick Nelson, a former state representative, points out that the law was enacted in 1984, as Cold War tensions were easing. “Anything that was a prescription for more concern, like civil-defense exercise, was felt to be nonproductive,” he said. “People didn’t want to be in any sort of posture that people were anticipating more (nuclear) threats. We wanted to reduce the threat.”
Put another way, the state legislature passed a Zenlike bill on the premise that, if they didn’t think about it, it couldn’t happen. It’s like saying it will only rain if you’re carrying an umbrella, when everyone knows the opposite is true, except in Seattle, where it’s going to rain whether you have an umbrella or not.
Another theory behind the law was that, since nobody would survive a nuclear attack anyway, they were better off devoting their resources to other disasters. That seems to make a little sense, until you look it up and realize that roughly 45% of Hiroshima residents survived the blast there, at least in the short term. Granted, today’s nuclear arsenal is much more efficient than those primitive WWII models, but it would still be nice to have a plan in place for survivors.
Washington’s state government is considering new legislation to deal with our new, improved 21st Century nuclear threat. Perhaps they’re thinking that they may now permit nuclear preparedness but forbid any tsunami warning systems.
Or maybe they’ll simply tell citizens that, in the even of nuclear attack, they should just relax and have a latte.
See you soon.