The conclusion of this approach is clearly dramatic : more than 5 billion people would starve if a large-scale nuclear war broke out between the US and Russia, according to a global study led by climate scientists at Rutgers and which has collected the journal Nature Food. A smaller regional nuclear conflict, on a smaller scale, could also starve billions of people.
“The data tells us one thing: We need to prevent a nuclear war from happening,” explained Alan Robock, distinguished professor of climate sciences in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and co-author of the study.
Devastating impact of a nuclear war
This study demonstrates the scope of a possible nuclear war as tensions rise between several nuclear-armed states amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, in the invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin last February. 2022. The experts based their calculations on the size of each country’s nuclear arsenal. As many as nine countries have a total of 13,000 nuclear weapons, but above all, the United States and Russia have large supplies of nuclear weapons.
The researchers worked to calculate how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. The researchers calculated soot dispersion from six war scenarios, five smaller wars between India and Pakistan and one major war between the United States and Russia, based on the size of each country’s nuclear arsenal. They then fed this data into the Community Earth System Model, a climate forecasting tool supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to estimate the productivity of major crops (corn, rice, spring wheat, and soybeans) across the country. for country.
In the largest war scenario ever tested, a full-scale nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia, the world’s average caloric output dropped by about 90 percent three to four years after the fighting.
The scenarios considered by the researchers explicitly focused on the feeding and impact of soot in the atmosphere. For example, heating of the atmosphere from nuclear detonations could destroy the ozone layer and allow more ultraviolet radiation to reach the planet’s surface. Many areas would be affected by radioactive contamination and many key tools for food production could disappear. This would impact the ability to access food and many, many millions of people would starve.
Experts said crop declines would be most severe in high-mid-latitude nations, including major exporters like Russia and the US.
“If nuclear weapons exist, they can be used, and the world has come close to nuclear war several times. Banning nuclear weapons is the only long-term solution. The five-year UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “Old, it has been ratified by 66 nations, but none of the nine nuclear states. Our work makes it clear that it is time for those nine states to listen to science and the rest of the world and sign this treaty,” Robock said.
In the event of such a nuclear war, in the first month after detonation, average global temperatures would drop about 10°C more than during the most recent Ice Age (which ended 11,700 years ago, when global temperature of the Earth shrank, ice caps and glaciers expanded, and ecosystems were transformed).
Referencia: Lili Xia, Global food insecurity and famine from reduced crop, marine fishery and livestock production due to climate disruption from nuclear war soot injection, Nature Food (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s43016-022-00573-0. www.nature.com/articles/s43016-022-00573-0