Aug 16, 2022, 08:07 pm IST
According to a new international study led by scientists at Rutgers University, a nuclear war involving less than 3% of global stockpiles could kill one-third of the world’s population in two years. A larger nuclear battle between Russia and the United States, according to the Rutgers University study, could kill three-fourths of the world’s population in the same time frame. In the event of a full-scale nuclear war between the United States and Russia, more than 5 billion people would starve.
According to this significant global research, even a minor conflict between two nations involving nuclear weapons would result in widespread starvation. Even small-scale trade between countries such as India and Pakistan could have disastrous consequences for global food supplies and result in mass mortality around the world.
Researchers estimated the amount of ash produced by nuclear wars of different sizes as well as the effect on food production when major cities in India, Pakistan, the US, or Russia will be destroyed by fire. Furthermore, three to four years after the nuclear exchange, global food, animal, and fishery yields would have plummeted by 90 percent, causing widespread starvation, disruption, and collapse, as well as triggering additional feedback loops.
Academic scientists investigated six different nuclear war scenarios. In the worst-case scenario, a full-scale conflict between the United States and Russia would wipe out more than half of humanity, according to a study published in the journal Nature Food. The findings come at a time when, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war may be greater than ever.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned that ‘the prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, has now returned to the realm of possibility’. The researchers hypothesised that even a small proportion of the world’s nuclear weapons would cause large firestorms that would quickly inject sun-blocking soot into the sky, causing a sudden cooling of the climate.
Researchers used climate models to predict how much smoke would reach the stratosphere in the absence of precipitation, and how this would affect temperature, precipitation, and sunshine. They then calculated how these changes would affect agricultural productivity and how fish would react to ocean changes. As a result, they predicted that tens of millions of deaths in battle would be followed by hundreds of millions of deaths from starvation throughout the world.