During the World War II, America had invented a brand-new weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb
The 29th of August is the International Day against Nuclear Tests. The crazy nuclear weapon era had begun with World War II.
During the World War II, America had invented a brand-new weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb. After the war ended, they decided to take part in another war, a cold one. At first, they thought of blowing off the Russians sky high, but then they perceived that the USSR would not respond very kindly to that move. So, they decided that they could use it for peaceful purposes instead.
Therefore, they came with Project Plowshare. Though the name sounds like sharing farms, it mainly proposed using nukes in construction, among other things. It is as ridiculous as it may sound. Take for one instance, widening the Panama Canal, a waterway in Nicaragua.
One of the pioneer ideas of the project was to create a harbour in Alaska, using Hydrogen bombs! It was named Project Chariot. The project planned to detonate 5 thermonuclear bombs to create the harbour at Cape Thompson. The project was scrapped, as nuclear explosions have some pleasant effects, like radioactive fallout, radiation and a lot of broken windows. I am not sure if ships would want to cross a harbour full of radioactive water.
The Germans were not far behind too. A guy named Friedrich Bassler proposed a plan to detonate a nuke in the Sahara to create an artificial lake. But as crazy as it sounds, the plan was not too implausible. You see, there is a depression in Northern Sahara called the Qattara depression. And it's only 53 kilometers away from the Mediterranean. If a tunnel could be dug there, it would transport water into the depression. But why would you do it? That's because the Sahara becomes green every 41,000 years or so. Now, the next green will happen 15,000 years later.
As we know, humans are terribly impatient. So, we planned to terraform Sahara ourselves. And a giant lake would help create the right environment for that. That's where the nukes come into play. Here also, they decided to bury bombs in holes along the 53 km stretch. But as I mentioned before, nuclear bombs are exactly environment friendly. So, this was thrown into the bin too. Too bad, it would have been a very shiny lake, as a lot of sand would be turned into glass due to the heat.
Like everything else in the cold war era, the plowshare had a soviet counterpart too. It was called Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy. Maybe they thought that they would boost the economy with nukes. But the difference with Plowshare was that they mainly planned to use them in mines, which is not the safest thing to do too. A notable example is the Kraton 3 catastrophe, where nukes were used at a diamond mine to unearth diamond mines. The amount of diamonds retrieved was insignificant, but the plutonium level made the area inhabitable. After a few similar failures, the Soviets decided to scrap the programme in 1989.
The cruel irony here is that nuclear weapons actually made the world safer. After we became aware that we are capable of causing the extinction of our species, we became more careful. Eventually it turns out that treaties do not bring in world peace. Nukes do!