Nuclear disaster: Okay to shoot your neighbor?
Last week, with wild fires raging in Oklahoma and Oklahoma, major flooding along the upper Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., earthquakes in Japan causing a Tsunami that even wrecked some harbors along the U.S. West Coast, and with the meltdown of a nuclear reactor in Japan, our thoughts probably ought to be turning to disaster preparedness.
The Internet abounds with lists of items for kits to keep on hand for use when disaster strikes. Everyone who has assembled a kit and worked out a disaster plan for what to do and where to go, please hold up your hands. Hmmn. Not many hands.
Okay. Potable water is the key item, and lots and lots of it. And also, some means of taking non-potable water and making it potable. In Vietnam, our troops carried iodine tablets. If you were lucky enough to serve in the Central Highlands where the clear streams gave the illusion of potable water, you added several iodine tablets to your canteen. Thirty minutes later, most of the bacteria were dead. The water was safe to drink, although the iodine made the water taste like really bad Scotch Whisky. Also, iodine may prevent radiation-induced thyroid cancer.
Back in the 1950s, school children were taught what to do in case of Soviet nuclear attack. Some families built backyard atomic bomb shelters and stocked them with water, food, medical supplies, firearms and ammunition. Now, Japans nuclear meltdown brings to mind Philosophy 101 as taught at the University of Oklahoma and that wonderful philosopher and teacher, Dr. J. Clayton Feaver.
Firearms? Yes, one of the major philosophy class discussions had to do with the “provident” versus the “improvident.” What if a nuclear holocaust caused the “provident” to take to their underground shelters and lock their shelter doors against intruders? What if the “improvident,” who had not demonstrated the foresight to stockpile water, food, and medicines, burst open the shelter doors in order to take the water, food, and medicines away from the “provident”?
Would it be proper, legal, moral, or whatever for the “provident” families to use their firearms on their “improvident” neighbors in order to safeguard the water, food, and medicines needed by their families? Needless to say, this question gave rise to a number of spirited debates.
The class even took some scenarios to the point that the only people left living on the planet were those who had exercised their 2d Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Meanwhile, the “anti-gun people” -- those who think only the police and the military should have firearms -- died off from dehydration, starvation, and disease.
The more liberal-minded said they would open their shelters and share what they had with their neighbors. But when confronted with the thought that their family might die as a result of their largess, they became conflicted. The more conservative-minded said they would regret shooting their neighbors; however, the preservation of their own loved ones was their primary concern.
Back to the present: It is probably fair to say that, rightly or wrongly, the nuclear meltdown in Japan is the end of any additional nuclear power plants in the USA. Moreover, if we were to shut down our nuclear power plants entirely, the energy loss would have to be replaced by fossil-fuel energy, making all-electric cars even more environmentally pointless. To repeat from an earlier column: According to the U.S. Department of Energy: 19.3% of electricity comes from nuclear power, 45.5% comes from coal, 24.2% comes from natural gas, 1.0% from oil, 6.43% hydro-electric, and only 3.57% comes from alternative energy sources.
So, when is it okay to shoot your neighbor? You decide. Meanwhile, the “provident” will likely stock up on water, food, medical supplies, and firearms.
Nationally syndicated columnist and aviator, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2011. William Hamilton.