On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing between 90,000 and 166,000, half on the first day.

English: "Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., pilo...

Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., pilot of the ENOLA GAY, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, waves from his cockpit before the takeoff, 6 August 1945. 208-LU-13H-5. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On August 9, 1945, we dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing 60,000 to 80,000 people.

You can argue, as we did, that there would have been more than a million American casualties, including at least 400,000 deaths, if we invaded Japan, as we were preparing to do.

Japan, with its 2.3 million-man Army preparing for defense of the islands, themselves estimated there would be 20 million Japanese deaths if we invaded.

The fact that Japan did not surrender immediately after Hiroshima, nor, indeed, after a warning a few weeks before, on July 26 that if they did  not surrender, “prompt and utter destruction,” would ensue, is convincing evidence to me that an invasion would have been bloody.

On August 14, 1945 (U.S. time), Japan contacted President Harry Truman and told him they planned to surrender and Truman announced this fact to the American people. This was when the famous photo of a sailor sweeping up a nurse and kissing her in Times Square was taken for Life magazine, as people poured into the streets to celebrate the end of the war.

On September 2, 1945, Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender, ending World War II on what is officially designated VJ (Victory over Japan) Day.

On December 10, 1945, scientists from the Manhattan Project, the project in which U.S. scientists had developed the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, published the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, in an effort to control nuclear weapons proliferation, understanding fully that once proven, the use of atomic weapons again would be tempting. They hoped to inform Americans of the implications of such a temptation, hoping to get countries to agree not to use them again.

A year and a half later, in June, 1947, the scientists put a Doomsday Clock on the cover of the Bulletin to show how close they thought the world was to nuclear destruction and why. They set it at 7 minutes to midnight.

Since then, it has been adjusted forward or back 20 times.

Twice a year, the atomic scientists meet to decide if the clock should be set forward or back. It is now set at 5 minutes to midnight, but has been as close as 2 minutes (1953 when both the U.S. and Soviet Union tested nuclear devices the same year) and as far as 17 minutes (in 1991, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Soviet Union collapsed).

In 2007, the Board added climate change as a risk to be considered when moving the clock as well as threats from biological weapons.

The last time the Doomsday Clock was changed was in 2012, when the Board moved it one minute closer to midnight because of their concern over nuclear weapons stockpiles and global climate change.

This month, January, 2014, the Science and Security Board will announce whether they will move the hands of the clock again.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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