Even talking about nuclear weapons brings us uncomfortably close to a nightmare too awful to contemplate

From the age of five until 10 I lay awake every night frozen in terror by the thought of the four-minute warning going off when I was at school, which I knew to be at least a five minute run away even on a day when your legs weren’t paralysed by fear. When I at last revealed all to my mother, she brought sweet relief and the return of Morpheus by responding: “Don’t be so daft! There’ll be all sorts of palaver before a war starts, and I’ll keep you home. And we’re in London! It’s the first place they’ll hit, and we’ll all die together! Now go to sleep.”

My understanding of global nuclear arrangements essentially arrested at this point. Teenage readings of Brother in the Land and Z for Zachariah, set in atomically- and apocalyptically bombed wastelands confirmed it was better not to know.

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Source: Guardian Environment