The following story came from the January 16, 1973 edition of the Daily Nexus. In the article, writer Matt Koerber describes what would happen to UCSB should a nuclear war break out.
Ten years ago, the threat of nuclear holocaust seemed imminent, but now that possibility seems remote. Yet a potential center of disaster existed and still exists uncomfortably close to UCSB. Vandenberg Air Force Base, only 50 miles to the north, is a site for the new ABM’s and missiles armed with nuclear warheads.
The Anti-Ballistic Missile, of course, will be eliminated from Vandenberg thanks to the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitations Talks) treaties. But with its generous stockpile of death-dealing missiles Vandenberg (with UCSB), can expect to be an early casualty should Word War III break out.
DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
Though the San Rafael Mountains lie between here and Vandenberg, and the prevailing winds would blow the atomic fallout westward (generally away from UCSB), these natural defenses would not prevent death and destruction at UCSB. Most likely the explosion would be on the order of 50 to 100 megatons of destructive power – easily large enough to totally demolish the countryside within a radius of several hundred miles.
Civil defense procedures would, of course, also be totally ineffectual. At UCSB there is an emergency operations plan that would dictate procedures to be carried out, organizing administrative, health and shelter services in the event of a disaster.
The actual effects of such an explosion on UCSB would be quite extensive. The first result of the explosion would be a wave of pressure that, considering the proximity of UCSB to Vandenberg, would level hills, raze to the ground most man-made structures and kill everyone in the open. Following this would be a heat flash, which would scorch everything in its way, trapping (as in the fire bombing of Dresden) many of those who sought underground shelter from pressure waves.
After these initial effects subside, the more insidious and pervasive effects of atomic fallout would begin to manifest themselves. The few survivors would be afflicted with radiation sickness, showing the symptoms of severe internal disorders, loss of hair and vomiting. Within a week, nearly all would perish. Any living things that managed to survive would face sterility. Even the land within the radius of destruction would be rendered sterile for many generations to come.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
The eventual outcome of this situation might not be all that dismal, however. If, indeed, war stimulates economic development, just imagine what effect a thermonuclear war could have. Many businesses would thrive, especially mortuaries. Numerous job openings would result, since the entire work force would be slaughtered and new lines of work would be created, including body carriers and counters. It would be an excellent opportunity for research scientists, too. They could investigate all the fascinating new aberrations and mutations caused by the radiation. Darwin’s theory could also be tested, with only the strongest, most resistant forms of life being able to withstand the new environment.