JF Ptak Science Books [Another in a long series of post on atomic and nuclear weapons.]
ITEM: The Concentration of Essential Personnel in American Cities. Margaret Bright Rowan. The RAND Corporation, May 1956. 72pp. 11x8 inches. RARE. No copies located in WorldCat/OCLC $350.00
Perhaps nothing is obvious unless it is established or labeled so; perhaps the obviousness must be stated at least once before it can be officially, recognizably, the case. And perhaps the greater the obviousness is, the more the need to make it officially so. Perhaps nothing is so incredibly obvious that it can be studied and dissected and established.
This seems to be more the case in more recent history than in time more further removed: that millions of dollars can be spent “proving” that children do not like to be separated from their mothers, or that cars will go faster downhill than up, or that people will respond to proper medication better than not, and so on, so on into the night, just seem not to need a vastly-funded proof.
And so the case with nuclear warfare, people, and cities.
In this RAND report from 1956, the great issue seems to be laid to rest, once and for all: the problem with nuclear weapons being exploded in/over cities is that since cities are filled with people, people will be killed. And if those people in the cities are there because of professions that depend on city-settings, then more of those people will be killed than not.
But what this report was really about was the unfortunate aspect of the impact if nuclear warfare on leadership and working positions in significant and strategic industrial/business/government professions. And what the report finds is this: since the vast majority of these positions are located in cities (defined as 100,000 population and above), and since cities will be the major targets in a nuclear “exchange”, the overwhelming majority of these people will be killed, thus leading to strategic human resource vacancies post-war.
It seems that 95% of aeronautical engineers in the U.S. would be killed in a nuclear war, which I guess would mean that it would be difficult to design new aircraft and such in the post apocalypse world. Of course these people would be killed because it was their industrial base that was being targeted and they were collateral damage, so there wouldn’t be any industrial base to produce the components necessary to build, say, a B-52. That part of the equation is not addressed here, though. Nor is there any sort of recommendation presented to fix the problem.
The RAND document just painfully points out the obvious, once and for all; no one really knew what to do with the information now that it was there, in black and white. Certain people could be evacuated, saved from the maelstrom; but saved for what? There were other evacuation plans that were completely doomed from the beginning, sheltering plans, Dr. Strangelove arrangements, but all of that would come into their pitiful being later on.
First, though, the bitter reality of what everyone already knew--one of the greatest of all obviousnesses–had to be make its appearance in print. And so it did.