Full-scale nuclear war could kill 5 billion people, shows new study
Five billion people would die in a modern nuclear war with the impact of a global famine — triggered by sunlight-blocking soot in the atmosphere — likely to far exceed the casualties caused by lethal blasts.
Scientists at Rutgers University mapped out the effects of six possible nuclear conflict scenarios. A full-scale war between the US and Russia, the worst possible case, would wipe out more than half of humanity, they said in the study published in the journal Nature Food.
The estimates were based on calculations of how much soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers used a climate forecasting tool supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which allowed them to estimate productivity of major crops on a country-by-country basis.
Even a relatively small-scale conflict would have devastating consequences for global food production. A localized battle between India and Pakistan would see crop yields decline by an estimated 7% within five years, the study suggested, while a US-Russia war would see production fall by 90% within three to four years.
Researchers also considered whether utilizing crops currently used as animal feed or reducing food waste could offset losses in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, but concluded that savings would be minimal in larger-scale battles.
The study comes after the specter of conflict between the US and Russia was raised following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in April that there was a “serious” risk of nuclear war breaking out.
“The data tell us one thing,” said Alan Robock, the study’s co-auther and a professor of climate science in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. “We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening.”
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.
Comments are closed.