How much did the Cold War cost everyone from 1948 to 1991, and how much of that was for nuclear weapons? The total cost has been estimated at $18.5 trillion, with $7.8 trillion for nuclear. At the peak the Soviet Union had 95,000 weapons and the US had 20 to 40,000. America’s current seriously degraded infrastructure would cost about $2.2 trillion to fix — all the gas lines and water lines and schools and bridges. We spent that money on bombs we never intended to use — all of the Cold War players, major and minor, told Rhodes that everyone knew that the bombs must not and could not be used. Much of the nuclear expansion was for domestic consumption: one must appear "ahead," even though numbers past a couple dozen warheads were functionally meaningless.
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Since we’re coming up on the Fourth of July, and towns everywhere are preparing their better-than-ever fireworks spectaculars, we would like to offer this humbling bit of history. Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will.
Back in 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb, creating what might be the greatest fireworks spectacular ever. People in Hawaii gathered on rooftops, sipping drinks, as they watched a radioactive rainbow display in the night sky.
Nevada’s Yucca Mountain is no longer an option for long-term storage of nuclear waste. But construction of a similar project is under way in Finland. In his film Into Eternity, director Michael Madsen questions the feasibility of safely storing waste for hundreds of thousands of years.