Climate Change Threatening To Open America's Extremely Radioactive Nuclear Tomb

The truth is, climate change doesn't care whether you think it's a real phenomenon or not. This nightmare is happening, it's getting worse, and unless something is done about it — and fast — the consequences will become increasingly severe. 

However, while hurricanes, floods, and wildfire disasters appear on the news every few months, there are other, unforeseen disasters waiting in the wings. One notable example is the Marshall Islands, a chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean that the U.S. government has, for all intents and purposes, ruined with nuclear bombs. Decades later, the so-called "tomb" that America encapsulated its nuclear waste inside is threatening to crack because of rising sea levels, according to the Los Angeles Times... and the outcome, if not corrected soon, will be horrifying. 

How the United States royally screwed over the Marshall Islands

Everybody remembers the two nukes that were dropped on Japan, but in the years since, the United States has been guilty of many questionable nuclear policies. These days, as Vice affirms, the U.S. government tries to whitewash the tangled history it has with the Marshall Islands — namely, that from 1946 to 1958, America dropped 67 nuclear bombs right on them. As if that wasn't bad enough, the U.S. also dumped its own radiation-contaminated soil from Nevada on the islands, and tested biological weapons there. 

Following this, America "cleaned up" this colossal mess by fishing up all the radioactive soil, dumping it into a crater, and pouring concrete into a structure now called Runit Dome, or the Tomb. This concrete solution, though, didn't do much for the hundreds of Marshall Islands locals who'd already been exiled from their homes, to say nothing of the terrifyingly widespread birth defects, or the lingering frequency of radiation-caused cancers reported by the Washington Post. According to a study by Columbia University, there are still areas in the Marshall Islands with radioactivity levels higher than Chernobyl

However, as horrendous as America's screw-up might be, climate change makes things significantly worse.

As the Tomb threatens to split, the U.S. dodges the blame

Thanks to climate change, sea levels are rising. If the Runit Dome faces a rise of four-to-five feet — as it's predicted to, in the next century — this pressure will crack it open like an egg. Guess what happens, then? That's right: America's old nuclear waste will spill openly into the Pacific Ocean. 

Put bluntly, this catastrophic problem is obviously the U.S.'s fault. Back when the tomb was constructed, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged as much, claiming responsibility for any future repairs. Decades later, that's proven to be a false promise: as the Marshallese government begs for help, U.S. officials are instead arguing that because Runit Dome is part of the Marshall Islands, the Marshallese must deal with it themselves. Childish? Yes. A betrayal? Absolutely. Fairness aside, though, this nightmare is everyone's responsibility, and if it doesn't get fixed, the consequences will be horrifying.