More than 5 billion people would die of hunger following a full-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia, according to a global study led by Rutgers climate scientists, published Aug. 15 in the journal Nature Food. The team estimated how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms that would be ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers calculated soot dispersal from six scenarios—from a regional India-Pakistan exchange to a large US-Russia war.
The data then were entered into the Community Earth System Model (CESM), a climate forecasting tool supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The CESM Community Land Model was used to estimate productivity of major crops (maize, rice, wheat and soybean) on a country-by-country basis. The researchers also examined projected changes to livestock pasture and in global marine fisheries.
Under even the smallest nuclear scenario, a localized war between India and Pakistan, global average caloric production decreased 7% within five years of the conflict. In the largest scenario—a full-scale US-Russia nuclear conflict—global average caloric production decreased by about 90% three to four years after the exchange.
“The data tell us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening,” said Alan Robock, professor of climate science with the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and co-author of the study. (Phys.Org)