Black fog and black tourism

Disarming Doomsday. The Human Impact of Nuclear Weapons since Hiroshima
Forfatter: Becky Alexis-Martin
Forlag: Pluto Press (Storbritannien)
Atomic Race: MODERN TIMES here brings another angle to the same important book, more from a "radical geography".


Along with the nuclear race emerged the secret city. Los Alamos was placed on the map of 1943 deep in the desert of New Mexico and is probably the best known example of this particular type of settlement that was overlooked by cartographers right from the start. Many of these societies emerged in the United States and the Soviet Union, but also in England, France and China, and they served exclusively to develop the deadly weapon.

Admittedly, Gorbachev and Reagan created history in 1986 when they decided to speed up the disarmament at the Reykjavik summit, but this process has never really ended and Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to completely cancel the agreements from that time. And not least, the secret cities still exist. Mercury, which between 1951 and 1992 served as a nuclear test station in a remote corner of Nevada, has continued to be 500 residents, and in Russia more than a million citizens continue to live in privileged living in secret cities.

This is in many ways the essence of nuclear weapons. They exist and they do not exist, it is all surrounded by linguistic euphemisms, and they blur the boundary between war and peace. But there is still a yardstick in the purely physical. By finding all the many spots on the map, where everything from test stations to the extraction of uranium are part of this mighty industry, one can create an overview and not least establish a good foundation for the protest that all this remains on. This belongs to the discipline of radical geography, and as one of the subject's distinguished practitioners, Becky Alexis-Martin of the University of Southampton has now written the book with the aptly named Disarming Doomsday.

Nuclear imperialism

The scope is appalling. The famous Castle Bravo blast in the Marshall Islands in March 1954 had a strength of 15 million. tonnes of TNT and it was 25 times more powerful than calculated. The Soviet Tsar Bomba at Novaya Zemliya was 3,3 times more powerful than Castle Bravo, and for 40 years 200.000 citizens of Semipalatinsk [today Semej, ed. . The British conducted 63 test blasts in Australia and the Pacific Islands, and although studies have since been conducted, much of it is still surrounded by silence.

Admittedly, Gorbachev and Reagan created history in 1986, but Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to completely cancel the agreements of that time.

The consequences for the thousands of people who were commissioned to take part in the test blasts have to some extent been mapped. But while this discussion continues, one is only just about accepting the responsibility of the many local people who, without the slightest co-influence, became victims of this nuclear imperialism. The Bikini Atoll, which was bombed 23 times over a 12-year period, is being rehabilitated and residents have recovered their destroyed homes. But this is only one known example of a long list. France banished the nomads from the Regans in the Sahara and the indigenous people of Maralinga in southern Australia were put at the gate of British science. The Soviet Union accounts for similar crimes in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan, and the Chinese have Lop Nor and much else on the conscience.

Useful tool

A total of 8.590 civilians participated in the trial blasts in southern Australia, but there are no sure figures on how many of the local population became nuclear refugees. Here it has become nailed to history in the form of the word puyu, which means black mist and is the term for the radioactive fallout that has spoiled their existence. While countless people have thus lost their natural homes, the atomic powers have their methods of marking the milestones. A large number of memorials and museums have emerged in the wake of the nuclear industry, and this has created the special phenomenon, which at Alexis-Martin is called black tourism. The power of fascination of that kind is enormous, and for many people, the Bradbury Museum at Los Alamos helps make the holiday a great experience. The gloomy rear thought is obvious. Institutions like this help to beautify the case and cover the bleak reality. Hardly so many ordinary tourists visit those parts of Congo where vast landscapes have been destroyed in the hunt for uranium.

In line with this, cartography has been used for many years to serve ideological purposes. Maps of the devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki turned into dehumanized blocks of red, black and white to make the human cost of the disaster slip more easily, but with the new geotechnology this has become more difficult. Satellite imagery has become widely available on the web, and it opens up new opportunities to find in each case some of the hidden truths. It has been said that cartography first and foremost serves to wage war, and this was probably the case even before, when general staff cards were the best in the field. But now it has become important to understand that the pacifist and the peace scientist have been given a useful tool in cartography. Thus, a cognitive connection can be established between the romanticized version of a Los Alamos museum and the tragic consequences of it all on the Pacific atolls and deep in the heart of the Congo.

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