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August 3, 1984

The Counterfeit Ark: Crisis Relocation for Nuclear War

Author Affiliations

Centers for Disease Control Atlanta

JAMA. 1984;252(5):689. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350050077034

"Counterfeit ark" refers to current efforts of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency to save civilian lives in a massive nuclear attack by relocating those living in areas at high risk of direct thermal and blast effects and sheltering them in low-risk rural areas. The contributors to the 15 chapters of this book examine the assumptions underlying these civil defense efforts in crisis relocation planning. They argue that these efforts give a false sense of security because such plans cannot achieve the intended goal of saving 80% of the American population after a 6,600-megaton nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

Excerpts from recent documents that rationalize these relocation plans begin 14 of the chapters and act as convenient foils. The first seven chapters, "Before the Flood," question the rationale of the plans for the interval before the attack. Can other disasters suggest what the disaster from nuclear war will be