Nuclear war would create ‘catastrophic’ global hellscape, scientists say
The threat of nuclear war goes far beyond the war front.
Even far from the terror experienced by citizens and soldiers on the front lines, Russia’s continued advance into Ukraine has destabilized global economies as well as a sense of freedom and security abroad.
As it should, say the scientists, who warn of the grave danger that the aftermath of nuclear war poses for the planet.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, only nine countries in the world control more than 13,000 nuclear weapons. With that in mind, earth science and computer science researchers have sought to better understand — so we can better prepare — the dystopian landscape that could result from nuclear war.
Various computer simulations of nuclear firestorms have seen a future with little sunlight, food and resources – on a global scale.
As soot and smoke from the explosions fill the upper atmosphere, temperatures would plunge 13 degrees Fahrenheit in the first month — more than the drop that occurred during the last Ice Age.
With clouds blocking out the Sun, crops would fail, while algae – the base of the marine food chain – would disappear, bringing major fisheries to a halt. Meanwhile, expanding ice cover from the cold shock – increasing by more than 6 million square miles and 6 feet deep – would prevent major ports from receiving shipments of food and other goods across the seas, from Shanghai to Copenhagen.
« It doesn’t matter who is bombing who. It can be India and Pakistan or NATO and Russia. Once the smoke is released into the upper atmosphere, it spreads globally and affects everyone,” said Cheryl Harrison, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, in a statement on behalf of a team of international researchers. Their work was published Thursday in the Earth and space sciences journal AGU Advances, a Wiley publication.
Their simulations looked at the results after 4,400 100-kiloton nuclear weapons were dropped between the United States and Russia, which would release more than 330 billion pounds of sunlight-absorbing smoke and black carbon into the upper atmosphere – or if 500 bombs weighing 100 kilotons each exploded. between India and Pakistan, which would see somewhere between 11 billion and 103 billion pounds of ash and smog ejected. (For comparison, the bombs that hit Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 were 21 and 15 kilotons, respectively.)
It’s critical that world leaders heed their findings, said study co-author Alan Robock, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Rutgers University.
“Nuclear war has disastrous consequences for everyone. World leaders used our studies before as an impetus to end the nuclear arms race in the 1980s, and five years ago to adopt a treaty at the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons,” Robock said. « We hope this new study will encourage more countries to ratify the ban treaty. »
Current global affairs should be a wake-up call, Harrison added.
“The current war between Ukraine and Russia and the way it has affected gas prices really shows us how fragile our global economy and our supply chains are in the face of what can appear to be conflicts and disputes. regional disruptions, » she said.
Their models are no different from what happens during massive volcanic eruptions, the researchers noted.
“We can avoid nuclear war, but volcanic eruptions will definitely happen again. There is nothing we can do about it, so it is important when we talk about resilience and the design of our society that we think about what we need to do to prepare for the inevitable climate shocks,” said Harrison. “However, we can and must do everything in our power to avoid a nuclear war. The effects are too likely to be globally catastrophic.