August 05, 2017

Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

Seventy seven years ago tomorrow we dropped an atom bomb on the Japanese City of Hiroshima, destroying the city and killing literally hundreds of thousands of people. Three days later we did the same to the people living in Nagasaki, Japan. Never again! 

An ancient Chinese proverb tells us that “It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.” At a time when one of the world’s worst people is also the most powerful person on earth, we know that faith, hope, love and supreme effort can still transform our world for the better. It is and has always been darkest before the dawn. Now - more than ever - is the time to stand up, organize, speak truth to power, love our neighbors and make change.

From War to Peace believes that all things and all people are redeemable. We believe that turning swords into plowshares makes for a more productive and loving world. We believe that man & womankind can transform the ugly into the beautiful and the terrifying into the sublime.

All the best work, though hard, is a blessing. We are challenged to learn more than we knew, we are forced to renew our depleted energies as never before, we are compelled to be our better selves in achieving our best work.


Our best work will achieve a less dangerous & more loving world.

Our best work will provide economic justice & eliminate poverty.

Our best work will eliminate bigotry & misogyny.

Our best work will provide universal health care.

And all we’ve got to do is work like hell to achieve this heaven on earth.
So let’s all of us get out there and raise our voices, light the candle of justice, and organize, organize, organize!


From War to Peace

 Turning weapons meant to destroy us
Into art meant to restore us,
Swords into plowshares,
Bombs into beauty,
Hate into love, &
War into peace.


July 11, 2017

Why Does From War to Peace Exist?

Our little company exists for a simple and singular reason: to remind us all that everything and everyone on our planet is precious, and that nothing and no one is irredeemable. 

To that end we take the ugliest things ever created in our world - nuclear weapons meant to kill and destroy us - and transform them, through the magic of disarmament and recycling, into simple, elegant celebrations of peace.

This is the From War to Peace mantra:

Turning weapons meant to destroy us

Into art meant to restore us,

Swords into plowshares,

Bombs into beauty,

Hate into love, &

War into Peace


We can improve ourselves and our world. Let's get started.


March 13, 2017

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a Beautiful Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross was first introduced to our world almost 1,600 years ago by Saint Patrick, who was attempting to convert the pagan people of Ireland to Christianity. Some of these pagans worshiped the sun, so it is said that Patrick combined the Christian Cross with the circular pattern of the sun as a way to associate light and life with the Christian Cross in the minds of his converts. 

Another story has Patrick marking the pagan symbol of the moon goddess (a circle) with a cross, and blessing the stone, making the first Celtic Cross.  Other explanations of the origin of the Celtic Cross abound. Some believe it was a phallic symbol that was turned into a cross to hide its true meaning, others that the cross in the circle is a Druid symbol appropriated by Christians.

Whatever the truth of its original intent, the Celtic Cross remains one of our most delightful artistic designs. The Celtic Cross offered by From War to Peace features the beautiful design work of Petr Vodicka, a wonderful Polish artist, and is cast from the magical material Peace Bronze. Peace Bronze is an alloy created with copper we have recycled from disarmed nuclear weapon systems, and is used exclusively to create celebrations of peace. 

Today, the Celtic Cross has become a symbol of Irish national pride, and simple love of God and each other.

January 30, 2016

Valentine's Day Sale

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, here's a great opportunity to save money while announcing your passion for the important people in your life. Each of these pieces is lovingly hand-crafted from Peace Bronze, the magical alloy created from disarmed and recycled weapons of war. Each is suffused with beauty, transformation and peace, and makes a wonderful gift.

From War to Peace dedicates 20+ percent of all profits to peace and social justice organizations around our world, in the hopes of helping create a more loving and sustainable planet.

Make Love Not War
August 17, 2015

A Nation of Criminals

An estimated 65 million Americans have criminal records, meaning that they have been arrested at least once and possibly convicted of a crime. That represents more than one out of every five Americans.

We pride ourselves on being a "law and order" society, and we have the highest incarceration rate of any nation on earth to prove it.

While the United States represents just over 4% of the world's population, we house around 22% of the world's prisoners.

At the end of 2010, there were 2,266,800 people in U.S. prisons and jails. And an additional 5 million folks are on what's called Community Supervision, meaning that they are on either parole or probation.

Amazing, really: well over 7 million Americans - right now - are either in jail, in prison, on parole or probation.

Homeboy Industries helps young gang members recreate their lives with honor

The young, the male, the Black and the Latino are disproportionately incarcerated. Of men in their late 20s almost 9% of all Blacks and 4% of all Latinos are behind bars in our America. It’s little surprise that young minority men who represent our nation's highest levels of unemployment are so often found in our jails or prisons, folks with too little purpose and too much time on their hands.

My late wife, Sandra Gardebring Ogren, spent many years as a Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Often, while at home of an evening, she could be found reading copious legal briefs for cases before the court. On many occasions I heard her exclaim, "Damn, it's another B in B case!"

"B in B" was court slang for "Black in Blaine," Blaine being a St. Paul suburb notorious for pulling over black motorists under the thinnest possible pretext for the sin of having driven through their fair city.

Sandra and her colleagues on the Court routinely threw out those convictions resulting from Black in Blaine arrests, but by then huge damage had already been done as folks were dragged through the court system, their lives upset and their venial sins magnified. I'm afraid that same damage is still being done to Americans of color in too many communities across our nation.

I thought about this question a lot in recent months, as case after case of police killings of unarmed black men filled the news. And I was particularly disturbed when I saw a video of a little boy, just 12 years old, shot to death by the police for proudly displaying his new BB Gun. When I was a boy having a BB Gun was just about the greatest thing any fella could have. Hell, I still have a BB pistol I play with occasionally.

The Crime of Being Poor

An old friend of mine, Joe Quinn, was a District Court Judge back in Minnesota. We had lunch one day after Joe had been on the bench for several years. "The most frustrating thing about my job" he explained, "is that most of the defendants in my courtroom are really there for the crime of being poor."

If you're poor it often comes down to something like this: you are pulled over while driving your car because one of your brake lights is out, and found to be driving without proof of insurance. You haven't fixed the taillight and don't have insurance because you have a lousy job that doesn't pay worth a damn, and can't afford it.

As a result of your offense you lose your Driver's License and are subject to fines you can’t afford to pay. You still have to get to your low paying job somehow, and are subsequently pulled over and arrested, this time for driving without a license and failure to pay the court-ordered fines. More fines are added on, and now you are looking at jail time as well.

Pretty soon we have managed to turn that poor guy with the crummy job into a genuine criminal.

The Real American Crime

Over 7 million people in our jails, our prisons, or on parole and probation makes no sense, and is simply unsustainable. It is not true that Americans are somehow worse than folks everywhere else in our world. 

The real American crime is a criminal justice system that routinely turns inoffensive behavior into law breaking, and decent citizens into outlaws. And the further crime is a refusal to invest adequately in programs to alleviate poverty, improve public education, and provide good and consistent job programs and job training for young Americans.

I am a Criminal

I'll let you in on a little secret: I am one of the 65 million Americans with a criminal record.

When I was a teenager and a young man I thought I was of little interest and little value. I took a variety of drugs, whatever was available, in a vain attempt to become someone else. For a number of years I was simply lost, floundering about in a desperate attempt to reinvent myself. I was arrested for drug related offenses on several occasions, and only because my loving father was a well-connected lawyer and law professor did I avoid doing time in prison.

When I was first elected to the Minnesota State Legislature in 1980 I was 29 years old, and still on probation in the State of California for the crime of Marijuana cultivation. Those were the days before the Internet, thank God, and my sordid past was not common knowledge in my new home of Minnesota. And that's a good thing: I managed to help a lot of people with my work in the legislature, and found value in myself in the process.

These days I am again feeling lost in much the way I did as a young man. I've allowed unrecognized depression to curdle into anger, and I've been too often unkind to the people who love me most. I don't think I hurt people back in the day with my drug use. But hurting the people who love me is my true, and more recent crime.

It is so very hard to find someone who will share the center of your life, who knows who you really are, and who loves you anyway. If you are lucky enough to have such a person in your life, please know that he or she is a treasure beyond measure. And make sure you return the love. It might not come around more than once in a lifetime.

I won't be turning to illicit drugs for help this time, though a little Prozac might help. I need instead to get back in touch with that insight from the scripture, "I am wondrously made." And I need to realize that each of you are as well.

There are sometimes revelatory moments in our lives, often beaten into us one way or another, that allow us to reassess and move forward. Here's an aspirational prayer for us all:

I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see


Paul Ogren

August 12, 2015

Waiting in the Same Line

When my friend Tariq Majeed first came to America over 30 years ago he noticed something striking. When he went to the U.S. Post Office he often had to wait in line, but everyone else there had to wait with him in the same line. In his country of origin - Pakistan - and in the place where he spent most of youth, Dubai, there were always two lines at the Post Office. One line often stretched out the door and up the street as folks waited, often for hours, for service.

The other line at the Post Office was really no line at all, simply a separate door, guarded by a Policeman in splendid uniform, and available only to important people. When one of those important people arrived at the Post Office the Policeman would bow, open the special door, and escort that person in for expedited service.
Tariq has always told me that the Post Office was the perfect example of what made America special - we all had to wait in the same line. I wonder if that America is still with us.



Miss Butterfield

There are 157,800 kindergarten teachers in our America, and we entrust them with the hopes, dreams and nourishment of millions of our children. Do you remember your kindergarten teacher? Chances are you do.
My kindergarten teacher was named Miss Viola Butterfield. Miss Butterfield was quite wonderful, the magical guardian of the gate to that huge shiny world existing beyond the doors of my family home. She opened that gate wide, welcoming all of us into this exciting and sometimes scary new world. We got numbers, letters, amazing stories, a sense of personal responsibility, abundant joy, and huge amounts of sheer fun from Miss Butterfield.
How valuable was Miss Butterfield?  As I think back over my 64 years of life she was one of a handful of people who truly helped shape the person I am today. And I know she had that same profound impact on literally thousands of kids that went through her class.
In today's America Miss Butterfield and teachers like her are tragically undervalued. How do I know that? Let's take a look through the rather crass, but oh-so-American lens of money to reach our conclusion.


American Values

A young fellow I know just finished his third year of study at American University in Washington DC. He is a business major, and dreams of someday becoming a Hedge Fund manager. And here's why:

In 2013 four men, each of them Hedge Fund Managers, were collectively paid more money in bonuses alone than the combined salaries of all 157,800 kindergarten teachers in America.

Think of it: in America today a single Hedge Fund manager, David Tepper, is more valuable than 67,000 Miss Butterfields. Mr. Tepper's 2013 income averaged $9.6 million per day. The average wage of a Kindergarten teacher is $52,000 per year.
And here's the crazy thing: because the Hedge Fund manager's income - and that of most wealthy Americans - is considered by our government to be Capital Gains rather than Ordinary Income, it is taxed at a substantially lower rate than is the salary earned by a teacher.
That's right, our government considers money earned by working to be less worthy than money earned through investments. The rationale used by our billionaire friendly congress for this disparity is that low capital gains tax rates are a good thing because they promote investment and lead to job creation. It strikes me that a lower tax rate for the wealthy is merely a special door for important people disguised as public policy.


What in the World is a Hedge Fund Manager?

Now I know what a Kindergarten teacher does, and I know the extraordinary impact they can have on our lives. But what, precisely, does a Hedge Fund manager do? When I was a small boy in Miss Butterfield's class, back in the mid-1950s, there were no Hedge Fund managers in our America. How in the world did we get by without them?

Individuals wishing to invest in hedge funds must be quite rich. Since only the wealthy are allowed by law to invest in these largely unregulated investment instruments, 99% of Americans are not even permitted to participate. So what is a Hedge Fund manager's job? Simply put, they move money around for the richest people in our world to maximize their return on investments.
Hedge Fund managers don't actually make anything or provides any services that normal people need. They don't grow, serve or sell our food, teach our children, heal the sick, construct our homes or our automobiles, make our clothes, pickup our trash, build or maintain our roads, or create beauty in any way, shape or form. They simply make rich people richer, inevitably at the expense of the rest of us.
As of 2016, the 1% of America's richest individuals will own more than half of all American wealth. That leaves a bit less than half of all the available wealth for the other 99% of us to share.
More and more in our America income and wealth are divorced from traditional measures of productivity. For every Steve Jobs that makes something of true value, there are twenty David Teppers. Too often these days wealth is built using an economic model called Rent Seeking.


The Rent Seekers

The classic example of rent seeking comes to us from the Middle Ages: a feudal lord puts a strong chain across the river that flows through his land, blocking all passing boats, and hires a collector to extort a fee (rent) from anyone wishing to pass along the river. There is nothing productive about the chain or the collector. The lord has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that used to be free.
The modern equivalent of those feudal rent seekers now run our America. The bankers and Wall Street moneymen simply insert themselves in between economic transactions, and take their little piece. When their disastrous behavior led to the recent dramatic economic recession, our government told us that the rent seekers were "too big to fail," and made them whole again while the rest of us were left to suffer the consequences.
And what were those consequences: millions of Americans actually lost their homes, tens of millions lost their jobs, the middle class shrunk while the ranks of the poor grew, and typical Americans are worth substantially less today than they were just 15 years ago.
And the already rich have gotten much, much richer.
Our America is the richest nation on earth, and there is plenty enough to go around. Increasingly, though, Americans of differing economic status are waiting in separate lines. The shell game of Rent Seeking is available to the wealthy exclusively, and saps vitality from the rest of society. The application of special capital gains tax privilege and other loopholes means that the burden of taxation falls increasingly on ordinary income of the middle class. Even driving to work now often entails special Express Lanes or Toll Roads for those who can afford to buy their way into faster transit.


Getting Back in the Same Line

The American Dream is predicated on building and maintaining a substantial middle class. Henry Ford was not a good man, but he was a good Capitalist. Though a famous racist and anti-semite, he understood that good wages for his employees translated into more productive and responsible workers. In 1915, exactly 100 years ago, he introduced a daily wage of $5 for workers in his Ford Motorcar factories, literally twice the prevailing wage in America for manufacturing workers.
Within two years Ford's profits had more than doubled. He attracted better workers, and in so doing helped create the American middle class. He also understood that those well-paid workers would become the market for the very cars they produced.
There are too many Rent Seekers and too few Henry Fords in America today. Shortsighted consolidation of both income and wealth in the hands of the few guarantees an unsustainable economy and a society that betrays the American Dream. Our government needs to understand this, and needs to enact policies that benefit the many rather than enhancing and protecting the privileges of the few. Let’s get us all back in the same line.
Paul Ogren

May 18, 2015

Brighten the Corner Where You Are

Buddy Ogren
Each of us needs to do things that help further social and economic justice. But let's face it: when we pass from this earth there will still be plenty of inequity and iniquity left behind us. So if we can't quite manage to save the world, what can we do that makes this earth a better, more loving place?
When my late father was a little boy, around 1918 or so, he was entertained eachFriday morning at his home in Rockford, Illinois by his Mom's Methodist Lady's Sewing Circle. At the start and end of each meeting they sang a song, written just a few years before by Ina D. Ogden, the refrain of which goes like this:

Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor
you may guide across the bar,
Brighten the corner where you are!
My Dad lived for more than 93 years, leaving us on Christmas day in 2008.  AndBrighten the Corner Where You Are served as the guide for his life until his dying breath.
Buddy Ogren toiled in the vineyards of social justice his entire life. He organized mistreated workers into unions, marched for racial equality with Martin Luther King, Jr. on the streets of Selma, and vigorously opposed the U.S. war in Vietnam. His personal commitment to simple human kindness walked that same path.
Daddy always had a certain gift, one that he honed as he grew older. He was quite an intelligent fellow (a Constitutional Law Professor), but never came to grips with the modern practice of multi-tasking. He tended to focus, rather exclusively, on what was right in front of him. And if YOU were what was right in front of him he was going to get to know you.
You would always sense, after a conversation with Buddy, that he knew you, he realized what was special about you, and he liked you. And you couldn't help but feel a little bit better about yourself. He understood that both of you were - as the good book says - wondrously made.
In the final analysis, what distinguished my father was that he spread a lot of joy, and he was truly a happy man. Simply put, making others happy made Buddy happy. Maybe, if we give it a try, that approach will work for us as well.
It helped that Buddy had a booming laugh that seemed to find constant humor in the human condition. Researchers say that a baby laughs up to 400 times a day, while a typical grownup laughs as rarely as 15 times that same day. They never met Buddy!
Daddy’s approach to life was formed as a three year old, playing under the dining room table while those Methodist women sang and sewed. And while we may not have a Methodist Ladies Sewing Circle readily available, there is nothing to prevent us from getting down on all fours and playing underneath the dining room table. Who knows, there might be a piece of gum stuck under there with a little life left in it!
"A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” 
~Pablo Neruda

Buddy Ogren’s 10 Rules to Live By

  1. Let yourself Smile often
  2. Let yourself Laugh often
  3. Sing often, just for the fun of it
  4. Play every day, somehow, some way
  5. Try to do a lot of good, little things
  6. Be generous
  7. Be at least as interested in others as you are in yourself
  8. Pick up trash on the streets
  9. Cultivate intellectual curiosity
  10. Cultivate & express passion


So go out and brighten the corner where you are!
Much love from Paul Ogren & Ildiko Laszlo at From War to Peace
Ps. Here’s a link to Burl Ives singing Brighten the Corner. If you don’t know the song, give it a listen - you’ll like it:

March 03, 2015

What if a Nuclear Bomb Detonated Above New York City?

In light of the fact that President Obama is calling for funding and creating a new generation of U.S. Nuclear Weapons, it is appropriate that we examine just what a nuclear weapon would mean if it exploded over the largest city in the United States. I am not saying that such an explosion is likely - merely that it is possible. As a nation, we need to think long and hard before committing our resources to rebuilding our nuclear arsenal. This article is reprinted with the generous permission of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (

By Steven Starr, Lynn Eden & Theodore A. Postol

Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles are believed to carry a total of approximately 1,000 strategic nuclear warheads that can hit the US less than 30 minutes after being launched. Of this total, about 700 warheads are rated at 800 kilotons; that is, each has the explosive power of 800,000 tons of TNT. What follows is a description of the consequences of the detonation of a single such warhead over midtown Manhattan, in the heart of New York City.

The initial fireball. The warhead would probably be detonated slightly more than a mile above the city, to maximize the damage created by its blast wave. Within a few tenths of millionths of a second after detonation, the center of the warhead would reach a temperature of roughly 200 million degrees Fahrenheit (about 100 million degrees Celsius), or about four to five times the temperature at the center of the sun. 
A ball of superheated air would form, initially expanding outward at millions of miles per hour. It would act like a fast-moving piston on the surrounding air, compressing it at the edge of the fireball and creating a shockwave of vast size and power.
After one second, the fireball would be roughly a mile in diameter. It would have cooled from its initial temperature of many millions of degrees to about 16,000 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly 4,000 degrees hotter than the surface of the sun.
On a clear day with average weather conditions, the enormous heat and light from the fireball would almost instantly ignite fires over a total area of about 100 square miles. 
Hurricane of fire. Within seconds after the detonation, fires set within a few miles of the fireball would burn violently. These fires would force gigantic masses of heated air to rise, drawing cooler air from surrounding areas toward the center of the fire zone from all directions.
As the massive winds drove flames into areas where fires had not yet fully developed, the fires set by the detonation would begin to merge. Within tens of minutes of the detonation, fires from near and far would have formed a single, gigantic fire. The energy released by this mass fire would be 15 to 50 times greater than the energy produced by the nuclear detonation.
The mass fire, or firestorm, would quickly increase in intensity, heating enormous volumes of air that would rise at speeds approaching 300 miles per hour. This chimney effect would pull cool air from outside the fire zone towards the center of the fire at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. These superheated ground winds of more than hurricane force would further intensify the fire. At the edge of the fire zone, the winds would be powerful enough to uproot trees three feet in diameter and suck people from outside the fire into it.
The inrushing winds would drive the flames from burning buildings horizontally along the ground, filling city streets with flames and firebrands, breaking in doors and windows, and causing the fire to jump, sometimes hundreds of feet, swallowing anything not already violently combusting.
These above-hurricane-force ground winds would have average air temperatures well above the boiling point of water. The targeted area would be transformed into a huge hurricane of fire, producing a lethal environment throughout the entire fire zone.
Ground zero: Midtown Manhattan. The fireball would vaporize the structures directly below it and produce an immense blast wave and high-speed winds, crushing even heavily built concrete structures within a couple miles of ground zero. The blast would tear apart high-rise buildings and expose their contents to the solar temperatures; it would spread fires by exposing ignitable surfaces, releasing flammable materials, and dispersing burning materials.
At the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, about one half to three quarters of a mile from ground zero, light from the fireball would melt asphalt in the streets, burn paint off walls, and melt metal surfaces within a half second of the detonation. Roughly one second later, the blast wave and 750-mile-per-hour winds would arrive, flattening buildings and tossing burning cars into the air like leaves in a windstorm. Throughout Midtown, the interiors of vehicles and buildings in line of sight of the fireball would explode into flames.
Slightly more than a mile from ground zero are the neighborhoods of Chelsea, Midtown East, and Lenox Hill, as well as the United Nations; at this distance, for a split second the fireball would shine 10,000 times brighter than a desert sun at noon.  All combustible materials illuminated by the fireball would spew fire and black smoke.
Grass, vegetation, and leaves on trees would explode into flames; the surface of the ground would explode into superheated dust. Any flammable material inside buildings (paper, curtains, upholstery) that was directly exposed to the fireball would burst into flame. The surfaces of the bronze statues in front of the UN would melt; marble surfaces exposed to the fireball would crack, pop, and possibly evaporate.
At this distance from the fireball, it would take about four seconds for the blast wave to arrive. As it passed over, the blast wave would engulf all structures and crush them; it would generate ferocious winds of 400 to 500 miles per hour that would persist for a few seconds. 
The high winds would tear structural elements from buildings and cause them to disintegrate explosively into smaller pieces. Some of these pieces would become destructive projectiles, causing further damage. The superheated, dust-laden winds would be strong enough to overturn trucks and buses.
Two miles from ground zero, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with all its magnificent historical treasures, would be obliterated. Two and half miles from ground zero, in Lower Manhattan, the East Village, and Stuyvesant Town, the fireball would appear 2,700 times brighter than a desert sun at noon. There, thermal radiation would melt and warp aluminum surfaces, ignite the tires of autos, and turn exposed skin to charcoal, before the blast wave arrived and ripped apart the buildings.

Three to nine miles from ground zero. Midtown is bordered by the relatively wide Hudson and East rivers, and fires would start simultaneously in large areas on both sides of these waterways (that is, in Queens and Brooklyn as well as Jersey City and West New York).  Although the direction of the fiery winds in regions near the river would be modified by the water, the overall wind pattern from these huge neighboring fire zones would be similar to that of a single mass fire, with its center at Midtown, Manhattan.
Three miles from ground zero, in Union City, New Jersey, and Astoria, Queens, the fireball would be as bright as 1,900 suns and deliver more than five times the thermal energy deposited at the perimeter of the mass fire at Hiroshima. In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and in the Civic Center of Lower Manhattan, clothes worn by people in the direct line of sight of the fireball would burst into flames or melt, and uncovered skin would be charred, causing third-degree and fourth-degree burns.
It would take 12 to 14 seconds for the blast wave to travel three miles after the fireball's initial flash of light.  At this distance, the blast wave would last for about three seconds and be accompanied by winds of 200 to 300 miles per hour. Residential structures would be destroyed; high-rises would be at least heavily damaged.
Fires would rage everywhere within five miles of ground zero. At a distance of 5.35 miles from the detonation, the light flash from the fireball would deliver twice the thermal energy experienced at the edge of the mass fire at Hiroshima. In Jersey City and Cliffside Park, and in Woodside in Queens, on Governors Island and in Harlem, the light and heat to surfaces would approximate that created by 600 desert suns at noon.
Wind speed at this distance would be 70 to 100 miles per hour. Buildings of heavy construction would suffer little structural damage, but all exterior windows would be shattered, and non-supporting interior walls and doors would be severely damaged or blown down. Black smoke would effuse from wood houses as paint burned off surfaces and furnishings ignited.
Six to seven miles from ground zero, from Moonachie, New Jersey, to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, from Yankee Stadium to Corona, Queens and Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the fireball would appear 300 times brighter than the desert sun at noon. Anyone in the direct light of the fireball would suffer third degree burns to their exposed skin. The firestorm could engulf neighborhoods as far as seven miles away from ground zero, since these outlying areas would receive the same amount of heat as did the areas at the edge of the mass fire at Hiroshima.
Nine miles from ground zero, in Hackensack, Bayonne, and Englewood, New Jersey, as well as in Richmond Hill, Queens, and Flatlands, Brooklyn, the fireball would be about 100 times brighter than the sun, bright enough to cause first- and second-degree burns to those in line of sight. About 36 seconds after the fireball, the shockwave would arrive and knock out all the windows, along with many interior building walls and some doors.
No survivors. Within tens of minutes, everything within approximately five to seven miles of Midtown Manhattan would be engulfed by a gigantic firestorm. The fire zone would cover a total area of 90 to 152 square miles (230 to 389 square kilometers). The firestorm would rage for three to six hours. Air temperatures in the fire zone would likely average 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (200 to 260 Celsius).
After the fire burned out, the street pavement would be so hot that even tracked vehicles could not pass over it for days. Buried, unburned material from collapsed buildings throughout the fire zone could burst into flames when exposed to air—months after the firestorm had ended. 
Those who tried to escape through the streets would have been incinerated by the hurricane-force winds filled with firebrands and flames. Even those able to find shelter in the lower-level sub-basements of massive buildings would likely suffocate from fire-generated gases or be cooked alive as their shelters heated to oven-like conditions.
The fire would extinguish all life and destroy almost everything else. Tens of miles downwind of the area of immediate destruction, radioactive fallout would begin to arrive within a few hours of the detonation.
But that is another story.
Editor's note: This article is adapted from “City on Fire” by Lynn Eden, originally published in the January 2004 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Lynn Eden
Eden is a member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board and a senior research scholar and associate director for research at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Eden is also co-chair of U.S. Pugwash and a member of the International Pugwash Council. Her scholarly work focuses on the military and society, and nuclear weapons history and policy, including nuclear abolition. Eden’s Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation won the American Sociological Association’s 2004 Robert K. Merton award for best book in science and technology studies.
Theodore A. Postol
A physicist, Postol is professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. His expertise is in ballistic missile defense technologies and ballistic missiles more generally. Prior to coming to MIT, he worked as an analyst at the Office of Technology Assessment and as a science and policy adviser to the chief of naval operations. In 2001, he received the Norbert Wiener Prize from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for uncovering numerous false claims about missile defenses.
Steven Starr
Starr is the director of the University of Missouri's Clinical Laboratory Science Program, as well as a senior scientist at the Physicians for Social Responsibility. He has worked with the Swiss, Chilean, and Swedish governments in support of their efforts at the United Nations to eliminate thousands of high-alert, launch-ready U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons; he maintains the website Nuclear Darkness.
From War to Peace is dedicated to the elimination of all weapons of war. Through the magic of disarmament and recycling, we transform weapons of war into celebrations of peace. Join us in creating a better world.