Monday, December 26, 2011

The tower on Mt. Umunhum is back in the news

One of my favorite topics(1),(2),(3) has been back in the news in the past few weeks. A massive cold war relic rests atop the Santa Cruz mountains on the west side of the valley near the southern limits of San Jose.

The news first appeared on December 14 in the Mercury News which described multiple scenarios of cleanup and access. Scott Herhold added to this on December 21, as he realized that the report was biased towards the demolition of the tower.

I did not live in Silicon Valley when the dish was active atop the tower. I have, however, learned of the dark history of the cold war. We had nuclear-tipped missiles around all of our major cities, including some on the Chicago lakeshore, to defend against an attack from the Soviets. These missiles were not small: their warheads was as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. People forget that we once had 31,225 warheads and would like to believe that the problem is over: out of sight, out of mind. But we still had 5.113 warheads in 2009 and the New Start Treaty reduces that to 1,550. That is still massive destructive power. I also recommend an article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the nuclear threat and what our Secretary of State staff, among others, are doing about it.

We have our Nike missile museum in Marin that can remind aficionados how close we were to the brink; I do recommend watching the video on this site: Almaden AFS' part of this comes four minutes into the video. As Scott suggests, we should maintain this cube as a reminder of the cold war period in a way that is visible to everyone in the valley. I suppose we could demolish it when we achieve nuclear disarmament.

It's time to write your letters and be ready to appear at the hearings. And there is an online survey at the Mercury News where you can vote to keep it or tear it down. And I look forward to the day that I can ride my bike all way up to the cube.


At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember to vote! Should the tower stay or go?


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