Post-nuclear climate change will threaten global food supplies and human health. Such conclusions were made by scientists from Rutgers University. The research results are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres.
A nuclear war will not only lead to many deaths. The smoke from the resulting fires will also cause climate change for up to 15 years. It will jeopardize global food production and human health.
In the new study, scientists have used a modern climate model for the first time to model the effects of smoke from regional and global nuclear wars on atmospheric ozone.
For example, a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan produces at least 5 megatons of soot. In the event of a global war between the United States and Russia, we are talking about 150 megatons of emissions.
Stratospheric heating and other factors will reduce the ozone layer by 15 years, with peak losses of 75% in the world and 65% in the tropics. It will take at least ten years to restore it.
This will result in more UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. It not only threatens human health by causing cataracts and cancer. Reducing the ozone layer and more ultraviolet radiation negatively affects agriculture and livestock.
This will disrupt food supplies. Ultimately, after a nuclear war, mankind will face famine for 15 years, scientists conclude.
What are the chances for humanity to survive after a nuclear war?
There is a widespread belief in popular culture that a nuclear war will provoke the death of civilization. For the first time the script of Armageddon was described by science fiction writer Paul Andresen in 1947 in the work “Tomorrow’s Children”. The idea became incredibly popular and later even found confirmation by leading American and Soviet physicists.
It was argued that those people who do not die in the first hours from explosions and radiation will inevitably become victims of earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis. Finally, humanity will be destroyed by the nuclear winter, which has come due to the accumulation of soot and dust in the atmosphere.
However, these subjects have nothing to do with science. An atomic war, no matter how large-scale it is, will not lead to irreversible climate change.
Hypothetically, nuclear strikes will be carried out on densely populated enemy cities. A powerful thermonuclear weapon will level all buildings to the ground and melt the surface, thereby blocking combustible materials. Such explosions will not cause prolonged fires and soot emissions.
According to the British scientist Fred Singer, extensive forest fires are much more dangerous for the planet, but no one will waste warheads for these purposes.
However, in 1991, the United States accidentally conducted an experiment by attacking Iraq. Hussein’s government set fire to 600 oil wells, hoping to undermine the atmosphere and drop the global temperature by 5-10 ° C. The wells were on fire for many months, but there was no effect on the climate.
In addition, over 80 years of nuclear weapons testing, about 2,000 warheads have been detonated. However, nothing catastrophic happened: the temperature did not drop, earthquakes and hurricanes were not noticed. The concept of a nuclear winter has been dispelled.
According to the researchers, the current stocks of nuclear weapons will not be enough to destroy even a tenth of humanity.
For modern warheads, the main damaging factor is the shock wave and light radiation. To achieve the greatest destruction, they will be blown up at an altitude of 1.5 km from the earth’s surface.
The approximate area of destruction in a megaton nuclear explosion is 176.5 km². Almost 14 of these bombs will have to be detonated to destroy Moscow. Not to mention the rest of the cities of Russia and the world.
Radiation is carried by dust and wind. But the higher the explosion, the lower the concentration of radioactive fallout. In turn, if you detonate a bomb closer to the ground, then due to the landscape, the shock wave will lose strength.
Most importantly, fallout is not a long-term threat. A good example is Chernobyl. In terms of radioactive contamination, it was equivalent to about 40 modern nuclear warheads. However, the region did not turn into a desert. On the contrary, today it is the richest region in Europe in flora and fauna.
And what about people? The United States and Russia each have 1,500 ready-to-use warheads. All Russian cities are home to 109 million people. In the USA – 250 million. However, none of the parties will blow up all settlements, because the emphasis will be on industrial facilities. It is also worth considering missile defense, which will protect many cities.
According to researchers from the United States, at best, a Russian missile strike would kill up to 100 million Americans. This will not affect the general human population in any way.
Nevertheless, the scenario of a nuclear war remains frightening and dangerous for the planet; not a single developed country and not a single rational person in the world wants to implement it.