By: Chandrea Baster
With global tension rising due to disputes over Iran’s nuclear program, Russia’s increasingly aggressive nature, North Korea’s alarming threats, and Donald Trump’s commentary on foreign affairs, it is not surprising that many countries have recently felt the need to commence safety training for their citizens. With the severity of these threats quickly increasing, countries around the world have recently decided to begin the implementation of a variety of different safety precautions that may need to be enacted in the future. These factors are by no means considered “empty threats” with no tangible implications; rather, they are viewed as threats to global security which have recently been taken very seriously by a variety of different countries. Because of these intimidating threats, countries including Canada, Russia, and many others have already initiated plans to secure their citizens from threats that have the capability of being potentially incredibly destructive.
One country already taking an initiative, is Sweden. Beginning in the 1940’s, Sweden began to develop a large number of nuclear shelters with the intention to keep its citizens safe in anticipation of threatening situations. The process accelerated in the 1950s and 1960s when a more severe threat of nuclear war developed. The process subsided in 2002, however, and as of late, Sweden has yet again become involved in the creation of more secure spaces for citizens. As imminent threats from global superpowers grow daily, Sweden hopes to be prepared for any possible scenario. In early November, Sweden’s government decided that the development of even more nuclear fallout shelters would be beneficial for the overall safety of all the inhabitants of Sweden. As of today, Sweden has approximately 65,000 shelters—an amount which successfully secures 7 million people with a safe space. However, even with this grand amount of nuclear shelters that are already readily available, approximately 3 million people would still be left without safe shelters in the event of disaster. These bunkers are constructed primarily to protect individuals from a nuclear attack; however, they are also designed in a way that protects people from virtually any form of attack — whether it be nuclear, biological, or conventional. Sweden has taken the development of these shelters very seriously and within the next few years, the government hopes to be able to have enough shelters built to protect all 10 million Swedish residents.
It is interesting to note that Sweden is not the only country taking necessary safety measures at the moment. Switzerland, which has significantly fewer inhabitants than Sweden, is exceptionally prepared for any sort of possible security issue. Today, Switzerland has nearly four times as many nuclear shelters as Sweden—that’s enough to safely house all of Switzerland’s inhabitants and many others as well. Furthermore, Finland also has a considerable amount of nuclear shelters built with nearly 70% of its population being covered. With the admitted fear of a nuclear attack looming, Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland all have one thing in common: they feel that building safety features is a necessary measure to take on for the safety of their citizens.
Preparations perpetrated by these three countries stand in stark contrast to the United States. Throughout the last few years, the United States has barely begun creating protective measures for their citizens. However, within the last year, individuals have taken responsibility for their safety and many believe that nuclear shelters may be a smart investment. Since protective shelters in the United States are basically nonexistent, many companies are simply starting from scratch. While European countries are focusing on building more shelters and improving those that already exist, the United States is really only in the stage of designing, creating, and enacting these protective measures.
Despite the United States being generally unprepared to protect its citizens, one state is certainly different than all the others: Utah. Although the idea of nuclear shelters is slowly beginning to spread to other states, Utah has seen the greatest amount of people setting aside money for bunkers. In recent months, shelter builders say they have seen an increase in business “doubling and tripling” for nuclear fallout shelters. From shelters that can be buried under the ground to those that are easily accessible inside a home, many people nationwide are beginning to consider investing in shelters so that they feel more safe and secure from the threat of nuclear war.
The rise in desire for these safety shelters worldwide has occurred principally because people are becoming immensely concerned for their safety. Trump’s unparalleled rhetoric regarding North Korea’s power and Russia’s newfound strength and capability truly scares many. The current global climate has forced countries to rethink their domestic policy regarding civilian security measures, therefore leading to an increase in the number of nuclear shelters that are being created. Although countries want to create safe spaces for everyone, it is difficult to allocate limited resources and money for these projects. In Sweden, the creation and restoration of bunkers will cost two billion kroner — or approximately 120 million dollars. Moreover, shelters in Utah and beyond are selling shelters that cost anywhere from 35,000 dollars to millions of dollars — prices completely dependent on who you buy the shelter from and what the shelter is equipped with. Unfortunately, due to the extremely high price levels of these shelters, it is simply an unattainable goal for governments to try and cover all the necessary costs.
Fortunately, diplomatic considerations are being looked into by countries around the world to minimize the possibility of nuclear war or anything remotely similar from occurring. It is extremely regrettable that not everyone would have the ability to stay safe if a threat were to turn into reality; however, with an assortment of different countries taking precautionary steps to prepare for the future, we can only hope that other countries will find a way to follow suit so they too can protect their citizens.